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

247 — Memorandum from Headquarters, British Troops in Egypt, to Headquarters, New Zealand Division — NEW ZEALAND DIVISION—TRAINING

Memorandum from Headquarters, British Troops in Egypt, to Headquarters, New Zealand Division

19 October 1940


Reference your memorandum dated 10 October 1940 (No. 244), and confirming conversation on 12 October between GOC-in-C and Major-General B. C. Freyberg, VC, CB, CMG, DSO. Your desire to concentrate all the Division as early as possible for training is fully appreciated.

You will, however, understand that at the present time there is a large part of your Division filling an important role in the Western Desert, and it is highly likely to be involved in any battle which may take place in that area, and has, in fact, carried out reconnaissance and planning to that end.

It is therefore out of the question for the time being, until the situation clears up considerably, that the 4th New Zealand Brigade, or the units you mention, should be withdrawn to Maadi.

With regard to other units or detachments which are at the present time away from the Division, everything possible is being done to have them relieved and returned to you at an early date. My letter dated 4 October 1940 (No. 243), explains the position. The two most difficult cases, as you are probably aware, are the Ammunition Company and the Divisional Signals. As regards the former, the position in transport will improve in this country within six weeks, permitting units to fulfil their proper function; and as regards the latter, relief of some of the sections now operating in the Western Desert is beginning at once.

It is not easy to fix a date when either your Division or the bulk of it can be concentrated at Maadi for training. This depends to a large extent on enemy action, but it is the GOC-in-C's intention, provided nothing happens to stop it, that your Division and the 6th Australian Division should relieve each other in the Western Desert. Meanwhile you may be satisfied that every New Zealander in the Western Desert Force is getting very good training whatever he is doing, in addition to which arrangements will be made as soon as work on the Baggush Box has sufficiently progressed, for the page 190 4th New Zealand Brigade Group to carry out training in the neighbourhood under your direction, provided of course that the tactical situation permits it; GOC, Western Desert [Force],1 would be glad to be informed of what your plans are in this respect. The group will, of course, as long as it is in the Desert, remain under GOC, Western Desert Force, for operations and administration.

2Lieutenant-General Alexander Galloway, CB, CBE, DSO, MC; Brigadier, General Staff, British Troops in Egypt, 1940; BGS, Greece and Crete, 1941.

A. Galloway,2 Brigadier,

General Staff

1 General Sir Richard Nugent O'Connor, GCB, DSO, MC; commanded Western Desert Force, Libyan Campaign, 1940–41; taken prisoner Apr 1941; escaped late in 1943; Corps Commander in France, 1944; GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, India, 1945; GOC-in-C, North-Western Army, India, Nov 1945–46; Adjutant-General to the Forces 1946–47.