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

(f) Climate, Relief, and Casualties

(f) Climate, Relief, and Casualties

2nd Division 3rd Division
(i) 2nd Division has been approximately four years abroad, the first year on a garrison and training role. It has had severe fighting punctuated by periods in reserve. Casualties have been light judged by 1914–18 standards.
The number of long-service men has been considerably reduced by earlier casualties and prisoners, and by exemptions and defections from the furlough draft. Practically all men of over three years' service have now had lengthy furlough.
(i) 3rd Division has been approximately two years in being, as regards 50 per cent of the force, a proportion having about three years' service, but both above categories have had a break of several months' Home Service. Remainder of the Division has had approximately 18 months' service.
The Division has had little fighting and negligible casualties.
(ii) 2nd Division has had some three years in a semi-tropical but healthy climate with good amenities. It is now in a temperate climate.
Normal relief from the forward area into a reserve role provides the necessary relief from active service strain.
(ii) 3rd Division has been in a tropical climate, which in the areas they have occupied during the last six months has been oppressive.
Amenities have been poor.
For climatic reasons, normal relief to a reserve role is not sufficient, and the Division requires relief at about six-monthly intervals in a more temperate climate.
(iii) 2nd Division will have fewer climatic casualties and less post-war ill-health on that account, but is likely to have higher battle casualties. (iii) 3rd Division will have higher climatic casualties with the possibility of a more or less serious legacy of postwar ill-health. It is likely to have lower battle casualties than 2nd Division, but it cannot be assumed that this will continue, in view of the isolated nature and amphibious character of its operations.
(iv) Periodic reliefs of 2nd Division from forward area raises no question of return to New Zealand and therefore no difficulties in return of the Division to the forward area. (iv) Periodic reliefs of 3rd Division could be suitably carried out by return to New Caledonia; but the absence of amenities and sentiment will lead to a demand for leave in New Zealand. If this leave is granted, there is likely to be difficulty similar to that experienced with the furlough draft when the men are due to return to the forward area.

The factors of length of service abroad and severity of fighting favour return of 2nd Division. The strain on these accounts can be efficiently met by periods of relief in the operational area.

The 3rd Division, however, must have relief from the climate requiring retirement to rear areas, which would bring them within easy distance of New Zealand and lead to insistent demands for leave in New Zealand. page 455 This, in turn, is likely to cause difficulty in the men rejoining the division. On the grounds of military necessity, therefore, and discarding sentiment the factors favour withdrawal of 3rd Division.