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

Appreciation of the Problem of the Withdrawal of One or Other of the 2nd or 3rd New Zealand Divisions

Appreciation of the Problem of the Withdrawal of One or Other of the 2nd or 3rd New Zealand Divisions


As directed I have prepared the attached appreciation for your perusal.


I have the following comments to submit regarding it:


The appreciation deals with the problem of withdrawing one of the Divisions and does not discuss the question whether such action should or should not be taken.


You will appreciate that certain factors such as ‘Relative Strategical Importance of European and Pacific Theatres’, ‘Present and Pending Operations’, and ‘Shipping’ to some extent, require a more extensive knowledge of Allied resources, strategical plans and intentions, and of enemy resources than is available to me to discuss them exhaustively, but the arguments advanced in the appreciation in respect of these matters admit, I suggest, of little variation, being generally in the nature of principles or self-evident truths.


In arriving at a final conclusion, the chief difficulty is to give appropriate weight to each factor. In my view, practically all considerations on the military side are strongly in favour of the retention of the 2nd Division overseas, while on the political side, of which my knowledge of probable and genuine reactions is admittedly superficial and based chiefly on hearsay, the considerations, on the short view at least, favour the retention overseas of the 3rd Division. The difficulty confronting the statesman is to weigh the military considerations against his more intimate knowledge of the political considerations, while the soldier is in precisely the opposite position.


While the question of whether New Zealand's war effort should be concentrated more on production than hitherto, and if necessary at the expense of the fighting effort, is a matter for advice from the highest Allied authorities, the question of how the increased production is to be obtained, whether in fact it is necessary to reduce the fighting effort to obtain it, and if so by how much, is clearly a matter for the New Zealand Government, which alone is able to determine what sacrifices should be required of the people, what reorganisation or adjustments are feasible, and the effect of them.

page 450

It may interest you to know that after preparing the appreciation, I discussed the main factors and my conclusions with my colleagues at the conclusion of a Chiefs of Staff meeting, and the Chief of the Naval Staff and the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (in the absence of the Chief of the Air Staff) have authorised me to say that they agree with my conclusions.

(Signed) E. Puttick


Chief of the General Staff