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

372 — Lieutenant-General Puttick to the Governor of Fiji2

Lieutenant-General Puttick to the Governor of Fiji2

30 June 1943

Reference your telegram of 29 June.

I appreciate your desire to maintain the identity of the Fijian Brigade but consider it very unlikely that Halsey would agree to the proposal to attach the Brigade to the 3rd Division, with one battalion detached to the Solomons and Brigade Headquarters and one battalion in Fiji. I feel it unwise to risk irritating Halsey by raising a third time a matter which he has already given a decision on. I could not justify the proposal on military grounds, and he would suspect some ulterior motive such as my ultimate intention to endeavour to secure the whole brigade or to deprive the United States Command of the Solomons battalion. In view of United States responsibility for the defence of Fiji and Halsey's comments that the move of the Fiji Brigade to the 3rd Division would ultimately mean tying down United States troops as the garrison in Fiji, I feel certain he would object to the Burma proposal also and might feel resentful if his hand were forced. I succeeded in obtaining his consent to the despatch of one Fiji battalion to the 3rd Division by suggesting that when Fiji was safe enough to move the United States garrison, Tonga could safely move the New Zealand battalion to Fiji, and also that the move of the Fiji battalion to the 3rd Division would ease disappointment in Fiji over the refusal to use the whole Brigade. I consider the move of the Fijian battalion is urgent and that the best course is to regard the page 394 Fijian troops remaining in Fiji as possible reliefs for Fiji battalions in the Solomons and in the 3rd Divison, and recommend your approval to the present plan. War Office was informed of the proposal to employ the Fiji Brigade and of subsequent comsopac approval of one battalion.

2 Repeated to the War Office and to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.