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

140 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Governor-General of New Zealand

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Governor-General of New Zealand

15 May 1940

With reference to my telegram of 11 May (No. 139).

Today the War Cabinet have considered the position in regard to US 3 and they have concluded that in view of the present situation in relation to Italy it would be inadvisable for the convoy to proceed towards the Middle East. Accordingly, arrangements are being made for diversion towards Capetown.

page 107

As regards the ultimate destination, it is felt that for the reasons described in my telegram of 30 April (No. 123) it would be desirable for the contingents to proceed to the United Kingdom, and it is hoped this will be agreeable to the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments. It is the intention that the escort will be maintained at its present strength as far as Capetown, except that the 6-inch cruiser will have to be withdrawn on account of fuel endurance. The arrangements for onward escort are at present under consideration, and full particulars of proposals will be communicated as soon as possible together with a short appreciation of the factors on which they are based.

It is understood that two vessels1 have Chinese crews who decline to proceed into the Atlantic, but this difficulty can be met by the transfer at Capetown of the troops at present on these ships to other ships of the convoy in which accommodation can be provided without undue overcrowding. This would ensure the minimum delay at Capetown and that the troops would be able to reach the United Kingdom in one body.

1 Transport X 5, Empress of Canada, and transport X 6, Empress of Japan.