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

62 — The Prime Minister to the Hon. P. Fraser

page 51

The Prime Minister to the Hon. P. Fraser

2 December 1939

I acknowledge your telegrams of 29 and 30 November (Nos. 60 and 61). The Government have decided to send the First Echelon overseas on the first voyage. Your suggestion relative to Freyberg's visit1 coincides with Duigan's recommendation but his arrival on 24 December in Auckland is very close to the present projected date of departure of the echelon, 28 December. However, if the departure is delayed by one week, which Batterbee says may be possible, this would give Freyberg approximately ten days in the Dominion before the men left. Moreover, a delay of a week would be particularly valuable in view of normal Christmas holiday arrangements and the transport difficulties connected therewith.

We have been advised by Duigan that all matters relating to disembarkation, preparation of encampment and assembly of equipment for training, and other matters connected with the reception of troops in Egypt, would be Freyberg's responsibility, and we are presuming that he will make the necessary arrangements before his arrival in New Zealand. Assuming that this could be done, we would be glad to know whether Freyberg wishes an advance party2 to proceed from New Zealand to assist in this work. While we assume that all the necessary arrangements have been made by the United Kingdom authorities in consultation with the Australian and New Zealand representatives overseas, we should be glad to know definitely that all fitting-out and equipment of transports will have been done before they arrive in New Zealand. We would also like to have explicit advice on the nature of the naval escort proposed. Presumably the only arrangements required of us here concern the men's clothing, blankets, and the provision of the thirty days' reserve food supplies asked for by the War Office. These matters are already in hand.

Whilst all staff positions will be subject to change if desired by Freyberg, the best procedure would be for the appointments already notified to be gazetted. Freyberg has already informed Duigan (No. 58) that he has full confidence in Duigan's selection of officers to fill these appointments.

2 The advanced party of the First Echelon, under the command of Major A. W. Greville, NZSC, DAQMG, 2nd NZEF, left New Zealand on 11 Dec 1939 and disembarked at Port Said on 7 Jan 1940.