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

53 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

22 November 1939

In giving effect to the decision contained in my telegram of 20 November (No. 50) I desire to inform you that it seems essential that the actual despatch of the First Echelon must, in the light of circumstances at the time, be determined by the New Zealand Government itself. Before the First Echelon leaves for its destination my colleagues and I feel that we must satisfy ourselves that the seas through which the transports shall pass are considered to be free of submarines or of a heavily armed raider such as the Admiral Scheer.2 We are compelled for instance to take into account the effect on public opinion of such matters as press statements current page 44 at the present time that Germany is negotiating for the purchase of Russian submarines in the Far East. It is also possible that the situation vis-à-vis Japan may have deteriorated. These and similar factors must necessarily be taken into account by His Majesty's Governments in New Zealand and Australia in the interests of the security of their own peoples. I am sure that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will fully appreciate the force of the above reservations.

2 German pocket battleship, 10,000 tons, six 11-inch guns; capsized after being damaged in Royal Air Force bombing attack on Kiel on the night of 9–10 Apr 1945.