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

177 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

page 127

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

14 June 1940

Your telegram of 14 June (No. 175).

My personal opinion remains unchanged regarding the location of the Second Echelon in the United Kingdom. The concentration of the echelon and training for war should be aimed at. The British Government's strongly worded telegrams, however, must be given consideration, especially as our employment in the war area at this juncture may liberate other troops for service in France. My advice to the Government therefore is as follows:

If it is necessary in the British Government's opinion to use the New Zealand troops in the United Kingdom for home defence, they should be adequately equipped with fighting equipment even should a less modern type of equipment only be available. They could then be used as the tactical situation demands—the equipment of the force to be a sine qua non of their being so employed.

The New Zealand troops should not be placed under a British Divisional Commander but should work as a separate formation direct under the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the war area where they are stationed.

Replying to the questions raised in telegram No. 173, I have to advise the New Zealand Government that I have arranged that Brigadier Miles should command all New Zealand troops in the United Kingdom. As he is competent to carry out these duties I recommend that the decision should stand.

I am satisfied with the proposed administration in the United Kingdom. As we have an efficient administrative staff and as all arrangements have been made, I see no reason to delegate any special administrative powers given to me as General Officer Commanding New Zealand Expeditionary Force. This decision could be altered if the situation proves otherwise.

Referring to the special powers in the memorandum of 5 January signed by the Prime Minister, I feel that in my absence from the United Kingdom only the powers under paragraph (a)1 need be delegated. I suggest that these be delegated by the New Zealand Government to Brigadier Miles. As time is short I have warned Falla that a change may be possible. Air mail has been re-established now on a fresh route.

1 Paragraph (a) of the memorandum read: ‘In the case of sufficiently grave emergency or in special circumstances, of which he [GOC, 2nd NZEF] must be the sole judge, to make decisions as to the employment of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and to communicate such decisions directly to the New Zealand Government, notwithstanding that in the absence of that extraordinary cause such communication would not be in accordance with the normal channels of communication indicated in the following paragraphs…’