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

409 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

page 379

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

1 December 1944

Reference your telegram of 22 November.

I agree with you that should it be necessary to go back into the line before the 14th Reinforcements arrive the whole situation will have to be reviewed, and it may be necessary to ask for an additional period in the rest area. The delayed departure of the 14th Reinforcements did not affect the present position here in Italy. We have always been quite definite that replacement must take place in Italy before long-service men are returned. As you know, 5300 men are involved in the next relief. I feel that all must go at the same time. The Division is now up to strength. The 13th Reinforcements will be available here by 14 January, and when we come out to train and effect the change-over there will be about 4300 men in our Base depots to replace 5300 returning to New Zealand. I propose to send the 5300 back to Egypt at once and train 1000 short until the 14th Reinforcements are available about the end of February. As it has been arranged for the Division to be out of the line until the end of March, it should be possible for us to carry out most of our collective training before undertaking any further operational role. I am sorry if my cable gave War Cabinet concern. I realise the shipping difficulties. The dates now fixed can be made to fit in with our training scheme. I will let you know from time to time how the replacement scheme is progressing.

As you know, we have been engaged in operations. So far these have not been on a large scale, as the battle is again rather static owing to heavy rain and swollen rivers across our front. We now await the dry spells which usually occur in December.

I am preparing a cable dealing with the proposed long-term reorganisation for the New Zealand Government's approval. Later I will send a short appreciation on the general situation.