93 Dixon to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram S197 WASHINGTON, 24 December 1942, 11.26 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Reference your S.W.113.

Prime Minister's message to the President [1] was conveyed to Sumner Welles for urgent transmission to the President early in the afternoon of December 23rd, Washington time.

At 4.30 p.m. today I received direct from White House a letter dated December 23rd requesting me to transmit to the Prime Minister in reply to his message of December 8th, which is set out in Prime Minister's telegram No. 166 [2], the following:

'Dear Mr. Curtin:

I can appreciate your concern regarding the battle wastage in your current operations in New Guinea, because it coincides with the experiences of our troops there and in the Solomons. It is hoped that these fine Australian and American fighters may be given the rest they deserve, and that their units may be restored to full strength.

With regard to the 9th Australian Imperial Division, I feel that its withdrawal should be contingent on the conditions stated in my message to you of December 2nd. [3] When the decision has been made regarding its return to Australia, the equipment which is to accompany it should be a matter of determination by Australian and British Chiefs of Staff.

They will be influenced by the need for the equipment in the Middle East and by cargo space available. [4]

Sincerely Yours

Franklin Roosevelt.'

1 See cablegram SW113 of 22 December on file AA:A4763. It informed Roosevelt that Churchill had advised that shipping would be available for the 9th Division at the end of January and thanked Roosevelt for his co-operation.

2 Document 87.

3 Document 85.

4 The 9th Division eventually began embarkation on 24 January 1943 and arrived at Fremantle on 7 February.

[AA:A816, 52/302/143]