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

184 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the New Zealand Minister (Washington)

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the New Zealand Minister (Washington)

1 December 1942

Your telegram of 5 December (No. 182). The matter referred to in Williams's message to Puttick has been disposed of for the present so far as New Zealand is concerned, as indicated in my telegram of 5 December.2

In view of the implication that consideration for the defence of New Zealand was the reason for my raising the question of the return of the New Zealand Division with Churchill, I am most anxious that our attitude should not be misunderstood, and I should be glad if you could find it possible to make it plain to all concerned that this was not the case. The desirability of associating ourselves in some substantial manner with the offensive in the South Pacific was the primary consideration in our minds. Our power to do this is, of course, at present very much limited by manpower difficulties, though we are as you know endeavouring to prepare the 3rd Division for this task. In this connection, and with reference to your most secret and personal telegram of 4 December,3 you should note that page 152 the 3rd Division is at present very much scattered with portions in New Caledonia, New Zealand, Fiji, Norfolk, and Tonga. Until it has been concentrated, strengthened, equipped, and trained as a unit for its task, it cannot be ready for offensive operations. This will, of course, take some time.

2 Not published. This telegram from Mr. Fraser repeated for Mr. Nash's information the texts of Nos. 1779 and 181.

3 Not published. In this telegram Mr. Nash reported on discussions with Sir John Dill, Head of the British Joint Staff Mission, Washington, and Admiral E. J. King, Commander-in-Chief United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, on the utilisation of New Zealand troops in the Pacific. He stated that Admiral King had said that he ‘was anxious to use our men in the best way possible. He recognised their fighting quality and would see they were used. Some relief was needed for the men on Guadalcanal and we might be able to help.’