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

Salisbury Plain Area, — Bulford Barracks, — Wiltshire — 6 November 1939

General Officer Commanding,

Salisbury Plain Area,
Bulford Barracks,
6 November 1939

My Dear Berendsen,

I realise how difficult it must be for you and your Minister at the present time, and my only wish is to do anything I can to be of any assistance to the New Zealand Government.

Perhaps my best contribution would be to put upon paper my views upon the two problems we discussed at our meeting last night:


The choosing of the GOC for the New Zealand Forces.


The problem of mobilising, training, and maintaining the New Zealand Division in the field.

The latter question is a very big one, involving many problems that must affect the speed and efficiency by which the Division can be prepared for war. All these problems and the decisions that must be taken carry with them serious financial repercussions. I have discussed this in attached Appendix II.2

After my talk with the Deputy Prime Minister, I was diffident about discussing the question of your choice of GOC. But since these are such unusual times, I feel that you will appreciate that any advice I give you is from an entirely detached point of view.

The choosing of a GOC is so much a matter of opportunity. As you will realise, the number of first-class, experienced, and fully trained Commanders in a small Regular Army, such as we possess here in England, is relatively not great. The New Zealand Division certainly deserves to get a Commander who will appreciate and understand the wonderful material with which he is being entrusted. Further, and this is most important, he should be a man who will weld the Division into one large happy family. I am sure that it is only upon these lines that best results can be achieved.

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With such a Commander and building upon the traditions that already exist, the New Zealand Division will be second to none. Mr. Fraser was kind enough to inquire whether I would like to be considered as a possible Commander. I need hardly say that I feel highly honoured. If, after due consideration, the New Zealand Government wanted my services, the New Zealand Government would have to apply to the War Office for me. I for my part would come to you even if it meant giving up the command of an Army Corps to do so.

I have put as Appendix I my views upon some of the essential qualities necessary for a GOC.

In any case, whatever your decision may be, I hope that you get the GOC that you want and that he will do full justice to the New Zealand Division.

Yours sincerely,
Bernard Freyberg