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

Headquarters 2nd NZEF to the High Commissioner for New Zealand

Headquarters 2nd NZEF to the High Commissioner for New Zealand

3 June. Following for Brigadier Falla: As a permanent base the Colchester area is definitely out of the question. My Government now want to concentrate the Second Echelon in Southern Command. Will you therefore discuss the question with Colonel Allen, who knows all areas, and make the best arrangement possible with the War Office? Any arrangements made must visualise a complete base for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in barracks or hutted camp, together with a concentration area capable of taking the Second Echelon and with possible expansion for further troops. The area should be adjacent to good training areas and musketry facilities; tents are preferred to billets.

The situation disclosed seems thoroughly unsatisfactory. The New Zealand Expeditionary Force is split up with no policy to reunite, particularly the First Echelon, which apparently has been relegated to garrison duties in Cairo owing to the absence of mobilisation equipment, while the Second Echelon appears worse off than the First, with no likelihood of taking its rightful place in the field. Further, as no decision as to the final destination has yet been made, no plans can be made for the base organisation. In spite page 119 of the equipment situation disclosed in Falla's cable, I have replied asking that the Second Echelon should concentrate if possible in Southern Command.

Until the Italian situation is clarified, the separation of the First and Second Echelons must now be accepted, and it is for your consideration whether the present policy of keeping the New Zealand troops out of action until the Division is concentrated should be temporarily abandoned. That both echelons will be kept low on the priority list for equipment and employed in garrison duties seems to be the alternative. This would have an adverse effect on the men now that active operations have commenced. If Italy does not enter into the war, or the situation in the Mediterranean or the Red Sea is cleared up, I advise that the First and Second Echelons be concentrated in England at the first opportunity with early despatch to France if another brigade can be made available by the War Office or the Australians in the United Kingdom.