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

420 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

27 February 1945

Although we are still in the line astride Route 9 west of Faenza, we have completed the change-over of officers and NCOs from the 3rd Division and men from the 13th Reinforcements. We are 1000 under strength until the men of the 14th Reinforcements are available. All Brigadiers speak highly of the replacements and I have met and talked to all the officers and NCOs, who will, I know, do well.

The Tongariro draft are now all away either at Maadi or en route to Egypt. They will leave Port Tewfik about 16 March in the biggest convoy yet sent back to New Zealand. They travel in four good ships and comprise approximately 600 officers and nursing sisters and 5700 other ranks. I will confirm numbers by cable.

The change-over has been carried out smoothly in spite of difficulties. We are due to be relieved in March and will be out of the page 394 line for a month's rest and training in the back area. We then come forward to take part in the general offensive which will be launched when the ground dries up.

I expect to be able to bring the Division up to full strength for training in March, and the Division will take the field in April in good shape with three infantry brigades and three armoured regiments.

The 9th Infantry Brigade are now fully formed, complete in every detail. They are training hard in a rear area.

The continuation of the replacement scheme has given general satisfaction. The long-term reorganisation of the Division is now completed. I am confident that after rest and training the Division will take the field in excellent condition. Morale is very high.