70 Curtin to Bruce

Cablegram 10111 CANBERRA, 4 November 1942


Reference your No. 179 [1] I agree with your interpretation of our attitude, in view of the situation with which we are now confronted, but it cannot be too strongly emphasized that the necessary reinforcements cannot be despatched from Australia to maintain the Division abroad for the reasons given in cablegram No. 461 to the Dominions Office. [2] The Government views the use of the Division in the present offensive as absolutely governed by the fulfilment of the conditions laid down by it some time ago.

[3] As stated in Johcu No. 43 [4], we are relying on the Division being returned in good shape and strength otherwise it will soon cease to be a fully effective fighting unit. 2. For your strictly personal information I find it very difficult to reconcile the statements by the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, to Major General Morshead regarding the important role allotted to the 9th Division in the offensive with the observance of the steps necessary to give effect to our repeated requests for the return of the Division. For example, in planning the operation, it is presumed that the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, would have noted that the use of the 9th Division had an important tag to it which might require clarification. On the other hand, if he fully realised the limitations on the use of the Division, there can be no doubt that the position is fully understood by him. However, his remarks to Morshead do not indicate that he was aware of it. I would also like to know whether the impending operation was discussed in War Cabinet with you and whether similar questions arose there. [5]

1 Document 69.

2 Document 62.

3 It is not clear whether this reference is to the cablegram conveying the original decision to leave the 9th Division in the Middle East (Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol.

IV, Document 465) or to the cablegram published as Document 64.

4 Document 66.

5 Bruce replied on 7 November that he could not obtain any satisfactory explanation as to why the Commander-in-Chief Middle East, did not appear to have been informed of the Commonwealth Govt's views on the 9th Division, but he doubted the wisdom of pursuing the matter. Bruce also advised that the matter had not been discussed in War Cabinet. See cablegram 187[A] on file AA:A4763.