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

157 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

31 May 1940

Owing to the proximity of Colchester to the present theatre of war, the Eastern Command in England is now organised as a war area, necessitating the dispersion of units. Falla cables:

page 116

Owing to the situation I have arranged provisional accommodation for one battalion at Harwich, one battalion at Frinton, the Artillery and Engineers at Reedhall, Royal Army Service Corps and Royal Army Medical Corps at Romanway, and the remainder under canvas, the Maori Battalion at Berechurch and one battalion at Wivenhoe.

Both from a training and disciplinary point of view this arrangement is a thoroughly bad one for us; further, Essex is now in a bad area for air attacks. Therefore, I have wired Falla as follows:

Cannot agree to the arrangements suggested for the Second Echelon. Tell the War Office that although I am sure that the New Zealand Government wish to help in the way most acceptable to the British war effort, especially at the present moment, I would point out that the collective training of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force is already grievously interfered with by lack of equipment and the separation of the Second Echelon from the First. The arrangement suggested in the Eastern Command is bad for discipline and will further hamper training for war. I would therefore press to concentrate the Second Echelon in the Southern Command, with preference at Hungerford. I am communicating with the New Zealand Government.

I hope this action has your approval.