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

377 — General Headquarters, Middle East, to the War Office

General Headquarters, Middle East, to the War Office

28 April 1941

This message is personal for the Chief of the Imperial General Staff from General Wavell. Repeated to the Chief of the General Staff (Wellington) for the Prime Minister of New Zealand and to General Sturdee for the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The evacuation situation so far as is known at present, is that 30,000 to 35,000 troops have been embarked, including those on the night of 26–27 April. Of the above, about 20,000 are believed to be in Crete, and the remainder on the way to Egypt. Those in Crete being organised for the defence of the island apparently comprise part of the New Zealand Division with some British and Australians.

It was hoped to embark 7000 troops last night, leaving 8000 for embarkation on the night of 28–29 April; 4000 are reported to be cut off at Nauplion by an enemy air landing and may have been captured. The morale of the troops is reported to be good and the majority are complete with personal weapons and equipment.

page 278

There has been a number of ships sunk during the operations, but the casualties are not known.

Pending confirmation, all the above should be taken with reserve.