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

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

page 124

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

12 June 1940

The Dominion Governments will have appreciated that the success of the German attack in northern France has produced a situation in which, possibly in the near future, an attempted invasion of this country has to be taken very seriously into account with practical effects on the disposition of all military forces available in the United Kingdom. Hitherto, the policy which it had been hoped to follow in respect of Dominion troops while training in this country was to allocate them to areas selected primarily on the grounds of suitability for training purposes, and entirely without reference to the possibility of the troops in question having to be used as part of the country's available defence.

Because of the altered situation with which we are now faced it has been necessary to reconsider the disposition of the Australian and New Zealand contingents which will very shortly be arriving in this country. It had been hoped, of course, to locate these contingents, and to make all other arrangements connected with their arrival here, with the continuation of their training solely in view, and the eventual completion of self-contained and fully trained Australian and New Zealand higher formations. As the situation now is, it is necessary to make such arrangements for the location of the contingents as will best suit the needs of the time. All efforts will of course be made to arrange for the continuation of their training on the most effective lines, including, so far as possible, avoidance of dispersal, but there is no alternative to locating contingents in any district in the United Kingdom where, having regard to the stage of training already reached and the high [quality of the?] troops, they will be best placed to carry out whatever defensive role it might be necessary to allot to them on the occurrence of an emergency. We are confident that in the circumstances no objection will be raised by His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia and His Majesty's Government in New Zealand.

Information to the fullest possible extent will of course be given Dominion Governments as arrangements are decided on and the closest touch will be maintained. His Majesty's Government in New Zealand already will have seen my telegram of 8 June (No. 168) and will no doubt have heard from General Freyberg in more detail.