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

31 — The Hon. P. Fraser (London) to the Prime Minister of New Zealand — [Extract]

The Hon. P. Fraser (London) to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

7 November 1939

I have discussed the command of the New Zealand forces with the Chief of the Imperial General Staff1 and Mackesy.2 The Chief of the Imperial General Staff speaks most highly of Freyberg both from the point of view of command in the field and administration. He thinks we could not do better and indeed states that Freyberg will be given an English division in France at a very early date, though he would be happy to release him if we wanted him. I gather that Freyberg would be glad to accept the New Zealand Division though I have not discussed this with him. I have satisfied myself about Freyberg's fitness and personal qualities by long personal interview….3

1 Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff during the war were:

7 Sep 1939 – 26 May 1940Field-Marshal Lord Ironside, GCB, CMG, DSO (then General Sir William Edmund Ironside).
May-Dec 1941Field-Marshal Sir John Greer Dill, GCB, CMG, DSO (then General Sir John Dill). Head of British Joint Staff Mission, Washington, 1942–death, 4 Nov 1944.
Dec 1941 – Jan 1946Field-Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke, KG, GCB, OM, DSO (in 1940, General Sir Alan Francis Brooke).

2 Major-General Pierse Joseph Mackesy, CB, DSO, MC; Commander 49th (West Riding) Division and Area, Territorial Army, 1938; commanded land forces in Narvik area 1940; visited New Zealand in 1939 at request of New Zealand Government and made a report on the New Zealand Military Forces.

3 Text omitted concerned the proposed retention in New Zealand of Major-General J. E. (later Sir John) Duigan as Chief of the General Staff.