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

71 — Report by the General Officer Commanding, 2nd NZEF, to the Minister of Defence — [Extract]

Report by the General Officer Commanding, 2nd NZEF, to the Minister of Defence

19 February 1940

….1 The journey of the First Echelon ended at Suez on 12 February…. It was a most impressive moment for us all. Soon after daybreak on the 12th, the leading transports steamed into the harbour and were met by me and such members of our staff as had already arrived in Egypt. A little later a launch bearing the Ambassador's flag brought out Sir Miles Lampson, the British Ambassador to Egypt, Mr. Anthony Eden, and the immediate military chiefs. After introductions all round to the senior officers on the ship and the nurses, the distinguished visitors went to the after-deck. Speaking from the hatch cover, under the red ensign of the Mercantile Marine, with the men filling every vantage point, page 60 including the rigging, the Ambassador announced that he had a message to read from His Majesty the King, signed by the King's own hand. This was loudly cheered. The King's message was as follows:

I know well that the splendid tradition established by the armed forces of New Zealand will be worthily upheld by you, who have left your homes to fight for the cause that the whole Empire has made its own.

Now that you have entered the field of active service, I send you a very warm welcome, together with my best wishes for your welfare.

(Signed) GEORGE R.I.

1 This extract is from a long report by General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence. The report gave an account of the voyage from New Zealand to Egypt and reviewed the behaviour of the troops during leave at ports of call; the arrival and official welcome at Suez, accommodation and welfare facilities at Maadi, leave arrangements, health precautions, and training programme were other subjects covered.