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

287 — Army Headquarters (Wellington) to Headquarters 2nd NZEF (Cairo)

page 259

Army Headquarters (Wellington) to Headquarters 2nd NZEF (Cairo)

11 December 1943

We have been endeavouring to get a ship to move 5000 returning Ruapehus and replacements and have now been informed definitely that the Mooltan is the only ship available. Her capacity is stated as 4289, and we will despatch up to this number according to suitability of accommodation. Her estimated time of departure is 12 January and she should arrive about 21 February. The draft will be organised proportionately by arms. At present there are approximately 1800 Ruapehus available to return, but it is expected there will be further defections and these will be replaced by new men.

No definite arrangements have yet been made for the despatch of the balance, but the United Kingdom Government forecasts departure possibly late in January or early February.

War Cabinet has not approved General Freyberg's request for an additional 1000.1

The United Kingdom Government was informed that War Cabinet preferred that the Wakatipu draft should not be transhipped at Bombay, and the United Kingdom Government has now replied that the possibility of a direct ship is being explored and that they hope to give a definite decision shortly.2

1 See No. 284.

2 Although dated 10 Dec, No. 286 was not received until 7.35 a.m. on 12 Dec, i.e., after No. 287 had been despatched.