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

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

page 39

The Prime Minister to the Hon. P. Fraser

11 November 1939

In reply to your telegram of 7 November (No. 46), Cabinet has agreed to the despatch of the First Echelon to Egypt. Its three months' training and final leave will be completed by 20 January. Transport will be required for 354 officers and 6416 other ranks, making a total of 6770.1 This number includes 26 officers and 608 other ranks as a first reinforcement for the First Echelon. The War Office have already been informed concerning the units which will compose this force (No. 42). So far as the Second Echelon is concerned, the officers are already in training,2 NCOs enter camp at the end of the month, and other ranks when the First Echelon leaves New Zealand.3 Should the sailing date in January be adhered to the Second Echelon could then be ready for transport in mid-April, but we do not contemplate consideration of arrangements for the transport of the Second Echelon until the disposition of troops has been approximately determined.

The Government would be glad if you could discuss arrangements with the Director of Sea Transport4 in the United Kingdom, who will act in collaboration with the responsible official here in providing the necessary vessels for the transport of the force. Please ascertain whether the fitting-out of vessels could be done overseas. It should be borne in mind that neither horses nor the equipment referred to in the telegram from the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Governor-General—No. 45 of 6 October—are to be taken overseas. It is presumed you will discuss with the Admiralty the nature and adequacy of the escort to be used for the safe conduct of the force.

We will have to announce almost immediately our intention to despatch the force overseas and the publicity procedure is now being prepared.

Your telegram of 10 November has just been received.5 A further message will be sent to you within the next few days.

1 The numbers actually embarked were: 354 officers, 6175 other ranks: total, 6529.

2 Officers of the Second Echelon entered camp on 8 Nov 1939.

3 The first draft of other ranks for the Second Echelon entered camp on 12 Jan 1940.

4 Sir William George Hynard, Kt, CB, CBE; Director of Sea Transport, 1939–42; Assistant Director-General, Ministry of War Transport, 1942–44; representative of the Ministry of War Transport in Canada, 1944–46.