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

237 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

1 October 1940

I thank you for your personal message2 which is deeply appreciated. Will you convey to the Prime Minister and the people of New Zealand our thanks for the message on the arrival of the Third Echelon, which has been conveyed to them. The standard set by the First and Second Echelons is high, and I have never seen a fitter or better body of men than those I inspected this week in the Western Desert, where they have been carrying out very important work. The achievements of the Second Echelon in England also deserve mention. Mr. Churchill and the Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces, were genuinely impressed when they saw them at the end of August. When the threat of invasion appeared imminent early in September, the Commander-in-Chief specially selected the Second Echelon for the vital task of counter-attack troops in the Dover area, from where the Prime Minister refuses to move them until the invasion threat is past. In order to carry out the task they have given us tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and everything we asked for. The confidence displayed in your force must be gratifying to you and is, in my opinion, fully justified.

2 Not published. In this telegram, dated 30 Sep 1940, the Minister of Defence expressed his thanks for recent telegrams notifying the safe arrival in Egypt of the Third Echelon and of General Freyberg himself, and for the General's ‘encouraging reports’ on the equipment position. A message from the Prime Minister to the officers and men of the Third Echelon conveying congratulations on their safe arrival and the good wishes of the Government and people of New Zealand was included in this telegram.