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

317 — Letter from the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister

page 230

Letter from the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister

30 October 1940

My Dear Prime Minister,

With reference to my letter of 12 September regarding mechanical equipment, Mr. Semple1 will no doubt have told you of the conversation which I had with him earlier this month. As a result of that conversation I sent a telegram to London explaining that a survey of all machinery available in New Zealand was being made with a view to considering what could be spared, but that in their consideration of the matter the New Zealand Government felt bound to take account of the Far Eastern situation.

I have now received a telegram from the Secretary of State saying that the United Kingdom Government appreciate the reasons for the New Zealand Government's hesitation to release machinery for a Mechanical Equipment Company. In the circumstances, steps are being taken in the United Kingdom to purchase machinery, but the problem of providing men is not an easy one. As you are aware, there is not in the United Kingdom the same experience in the use of earth-moving machinery as there is in New Zealand. The telegram states that a Mechanical Equipment Company is most urgently required in the Middle East and that it would be of the greatest assistance if New Zealand could provide the personnel only for such a company. Details of the composition of a Mechanical Equipment Company are explained in the third paragraph of my letter of 12 September. It is suggested that the financial arrangements would appropriately be the same as those agreed upon in the case of the Forestry and Transportation units.

Having regard to the serious situation now developing in the Middle East, the United Kingdom Government desire me to express the strong hope that this suggestion may receive most early and sympathetic consideration. Such a from a co-operation would be of the utmost possible value at the present time.

Yours, &c.,

H. F. Batterbee

1 Hon. Robert Semple, Minister of Public Works, 1935–41; Minister of Works, 1943–49.