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

259 — The Prime Minister to General Freyberg3

The Prime Minister to General Freyberg3

14 May 1943

Full consideration is being given to the proposed scheme of relief of long-service personnel, and while it is felt that the complete page 234 proposal as envisaged in Mr. Jones's telegram of 30 April (No. 256), is beyond the immediate manpower capacity of the Dominion,1 a large measure of relief may be possible if it is decided that the Division should remain in the Middle East.

Pending a complete review of manpower and a final decision on the role of the Division after discussion by Parliament, it is desired that preliminary investigations and preparations should be continued for the inauguration of a relief scheme. A final decision as to the extent to which this can be carried out will be conveyed to you at an early date. As you are aware, 500 men are leaving with the 9th Reinforcements. War Cabinet have meanwhile come to the conclusion that the First, Second, and Third Echelons should be grouped as one and that the following order of return should be adopted:


Married men who have had active field service.


Remaining married men.


Single men who have had active field service.


Remaining single men.

Comments on questions raised in Mr. Jones's telegram under reference are as follows:


The special considerations concerning officers are agreed to.


Three months' leave on full pay and allowances from the date of disembarkation in New Zealand will be granted, and on the expiration of leave, personnel will in general be liable for further overseas service.


The wishes of the returned personnel are being observed generally, and this aspect2 will continue to receive full consideration.


Men enlisting in the United Kingdom should have the choice of going to the United Kingdom or New Zealand under the same conditions as in paragraph 2.


It is agreed that ‘only sons’ should be dealt with under compassionate leave machinery.


If the employment of the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group and the Railway Operating Group is agreed to by Parliament, it would seem preferable that at least a proportion of those eligible should be included in the first leave party. Further consideration will be given to this aspect when Parliament meets on 19 May.


Since the terms of this message were approved, a telegram dated 11 May has been received from the War Office, a copy of page 235 which has no doubt been repeated to you, proposing that 20 per cent of the total strength of the Division should be returned and that 6000 replacements would be required. This suggestion is now being examined, and the decision will be conveyed to you after discussion in Parliament on the whole question.

3 This telegram was repeated to Mr. Jones in London.

2 The paragraph of Mr. Jones's telegram referred to read: ‘It is considered here that any of the 2nd NZEF personnel should be allowed, if they so wish, to come back later to the Middle East.’