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

227 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Governor-General of New Zealand

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Governor-General of New Zealand

9 August 1940

Your telegrams of 3 August (No. 224) and 5 August.2

The willingness of His Majesty's Government in New Zealand to despatch the Third Echelon to the Middle East in a situation in the Far East and the Pacific which cannot fail to give rise to some page 175 anxiety is greatly appreciated by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. We fully realise that New Zealand's wish is to retain sufficient trained forces in the Pacific area to make it possible for a brigade group to be despatched to Fiji and, as has already been indicated, it is considered that the very substantial increase in Fiji's security, which this decision represents, is a most valuable form of assistance to the common cause.

With regard to the contingent for the Middle East, we have noted the numbers of the New Zealand troops which will be ready to sail with US 4. A short postponement in the sailing of this convoy has become necessary, and it is now not expected to leave Fremantle before 1 September. The transport to be provided for the New Zealand troops will comprise the Mauretania, Empress of Japan, and Orcades, with respective capacities for 2500, 2500, and 1500 persons. Full details of movement will be notified as soon as possible, but it is hoped to arrange for the above ships to sail from New Zealand on or about 23 August.1 The escort proposed for the Tasman crossing is HMS Achilles and/or HMAS Perth, as may be arranged between the Australian and New Zealand Naval Boards, and for the onward passage to Colombo, HMAS Canberra.

As soon as a decision is reached the New Zealand Government will be informed of the detailed arrangements for the onward passage from Colombo, which are under discussion with the Commander-in-Chief, East Indies.

2 See Volume III, Defence of the South Pacific. In this telegram the New Zealand Government asked the United Kingdom Government to concur with its proposal to send a brigade group to Fiji.

1 A postponement of this date was later notified, and the convoy left New Zealand on 28 August.