Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Australian move to Palestine in November to December 1942

Very quickly, the Australians sent "advance parties" to Palestine. Prior to leaving they took care of some details like "Requium Masses" and "Memorial Services" at the cemetary at El Alamein. They actually started the move to Palestine on 30 November 1942. Every day, two convoys were sent off to Palestine until they had twelve convoys on the road. They would stop at night "bivouacking". They traveled until they arrived at Gaza after traveling for four days. The convoys traveled through Cairo on the way. Some Australians stole Egyptian headware from Egyptians they met. Despite the rowdy Australians, a message was published praising the Australians for good behaviour. After General Morshead arrived in Palestine, he took time to visit the Australian hospital "at Gaza".
The British and American leadership was opposed to sending the 9th Australian Division back to the far east. It was on 29 October 1942 that the Australian prime minister, Mr. Curtin, sent a message to Winston Churchill expressing his desire to have the 9th Australian Division returned to Australia. He wanted the division returned in good shape, and not having been affected by use in the Middle East. President Roosevelt sent Mr. Curtin and message saying that he believed that the overall cause would benefit the most by keeping the 9th Australian Division in the Middle East. Roosevelt promised to send an American division from Hawaii to Australia and expected that would remove the need to send the 9th Australian Division back to Australia. The Australian Prime Minister finally heard on 21 November that General Alexander had made a "firm committment" to send the 9th Australian Division back to Australia. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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