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The Pacific

Appendix VII

page 344

Appendix VII

Mr. Fraser's public statement on role of New Zealand's Armed Forces, made in September 1944:

As a result of the Quebec Conference, and of the advice just received from Mr. Churchill, it is now possible to come to decisions regarding the role of our Armed Forces in the remaining phases of the war against Germany and in the war against Japan, and for a decision to be made regarding the disposition of New Zealand land forces overseas. War Cabinet has had this question under continual examination, and it has also been the subject of discussions with both the British and American Chiefs of Staff, as well as with Mr. Churchill. Since the beginning of the year, it has been agreed that New Zealand cannot maintain two Divisions overseas, a large Air Force, and its naval contribution, and, at the same time, increase production of foodstuffs and raw materials, which are so urgently needed, and so essential, for the United Kingdom and for the Allied Forces in the Pacific. In the light of the Quebec decisions, and in view of the developments in Europe and the Pacific, it has been decided therefore that New Zealand land forces, at the present time, can be of the greatest use in Italy, and that the Second Division should remain overseas until the conclusion of the Italian campaign, after which its future role will again be examined. It may be necessary at a later stage to give consideration to the question of making New Zealand land forces available in the war against Japan. Meanwhile, however, the personnel of the Third Division now in camp, and those who are due to return to camp on the expiration of their leave, will be drafted to district mobilisation camps, where the men will become available for posting to the Second Division. Because of the developments and decisions to which I have referred, it is now possible to make arrangements for the introduction of a scheme for replacement of long-service personnel in the Second Division. I discussed this question with General Freyberg while I was in Italy, and it has since been thoroughly examined, and details are being worked out. The object of this scheme is progressively to relieve the men who have been overseas for three years or more by others who have not, so far, had an opportunity to serve, and by those who have had a short period of service overseas. The replacement drafts from New Zealand will comprise, in the first place, men still remaining in the Third Division who are fit and of the required age and domestic status, and Grade A men held on appeal as soon as they can be released, and all others liable for military service, including men from the Third Division temporarily released to industry earlier in the year, and who remain liable to be called up for overseas service. The policy of replacement will take the place of the furlough scheme in future, and, as men become available for sending overseas, the various reinforcements will be returned in succession, and also the men of the First, Second, and Third Echelons who returned to the Middle East at the conclusion of their furlough. It must be made clear that, under the replacement scheme, page 345 men who return to New Zealand will be released from military service and directed into essential industry. This direction is necessary, so long as the war lasts, for two reasons—first, to enable a scheme of industrial replacement to be carried out, namely, the substitution of men in essential industry now held back from military service by those of similar skill who return from overseas; secondly, to enable New Zealand to continue to produce the foodstuffs and raw materials which are so essential a contribution to our own and the United Nations’ war effort.