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

242 — The High Commissioner for New Zealand (Canberra) to the Prime Minister

The High Commissioner for New Zealand (Canberra) to the Prime Minister

28 May 1943

My interview with the Prime Minister as a result of your telegrams1 was, as you will have expected, far from [easy ?]. The Prime Minister's reactions were strong. I took the line that while I understood and sympathised with him, the decision which had been come to was the result of a most meticulously careful and anxious consideration of all relevant factors, some of which, for example the detailed views of Freyberg and Churchill, were not available to us here. You had obviously gone to considerable lengths in expounding the Australian point of view in order that Mr. Curtin's views should be given the fullest possible weight. The decision had been almost a unanimous one. In any case the decision had been taken and could not now be altered, and anything which might possibly be construed as recriminations between Australia and New Zealand could do no good and, indeed, would probably do harm.

At the conclusion of the conversation, which grew somewhat less difficult as it progressed, the Prime Minister said he would like to consider what, if anything, he would wish me to convey to you, and undertook to let me know if and when he wished a message to be sent. I have been waiting for three days for him to move in the matter and I am inclined to think now that he will say nothing. I hope this is the case, as I am sure it will be the best solution, and that any temporary awkwardness is much more likely to disappear normally and rapidly if nothing further is said. I am certain that it would be most unwise for either you or I to raise this matter again unless and until Mr. Curtin does so.2

2 On 31 May Mr. Berendsen was advised: ‘The Prime Minister and War Cabinet very much regret to learn of Curtin's reaction, but they agree entirely as to the course you advise.’