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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I

98 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

13 December 1940

Our Divisional Signals, Petrol and Ammunition companies, Supply Column, and Reserve Mechanical Transport Company took part in the recent battle, the 4th Brigade Group being in reserve at Baggush. The 6th Brigade continue training at Maadi and are quite fit to fight the Italians when equipped.

There is no doubt that we have had very great success. Apart from prisoners, estimated at over 30,000, we have captured a large portion of the guns of Italy's Libyan army which will be hard to replace. The result of the battle is far-reaching—we now have the initiative, but I warn you against undue optimism as the enormous distances and the lack of roads, railways, and motor transport must limit success. Had we the necessary rails and rolling stock we could knock out the Italians in Libya before the hot weather. Meanwhile, our success will influence the situation in the Balkans and should stiffen resistance; in any case, little can happen there until the spring.