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

295 — The Governor-General of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

The Governor-General of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

18 June 1940

With reference to your telegram of 13 June (No. 293), my Ministers advise that the special troops asked for, totalling 2008 all ranks, can be ready for embarkation early in July. They would be grateful for information as to what shipping facilities are proposed. If it is desired to make shipping resources available from New Zealand it appears quite practicable to employ the Awatea2 and the Aorangi3. The earliest date on which these ships can be ready to sail in convoy is now being investigated.

page 217

It is suggested for your consideration that the convoy should proceed to Vancouver for onward passage overland to the Atlantic coast, whence it is assumed that for the voyage to the United Kingdom convoyed shipping can be provided.

Should these proposals be agreed to, the Ministry of Shipping and the Director of Sea Transport will no doubt take the necessary action to make the Aorangi available. As the Awatea is on the New Zealand register she will be dealt with by my Government.

My Ministers also ask what escort would be provided and whether it would be proposed in this connection to employ HMS Achilles.

2 RMS Awatea, Union Steam Ship Company; converted to armed merchant cruiser and subsequently sunk in the Mediterranean in the course of the Allied landings in North Africa, 11 Nov 1942.

3 RMS Aorangi, Canadian-Australasian Line, 17,491 tons; converted to troopship and was used as a tug depot-ship at Southampton during the invasion of Normandy; later became a recreation centre and floating hostel for submarine crews in the Pacific.