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

198 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

10 October 1940

The War Office now report considerable delay in the transfer of the Second Echelon to the Middle East. This is greatly to be regretted as the troops are now fully trained and completely equipped. War Office have just replied to a telegram from me as follows:

The composition of convoy WS 4 sailing in November, which has now been decided, does not include the New Zealand contingent in the United Kingdom, though it includes part of the Australian contingent. There were about 100,000 competitors for a shipment capacity of 30,000. The policy remains to concentrate the New Zealand contingent in the Middle East as soon as practicable. Although I hope that this will be the case, it would be misleading for me to give you an assurance that the New Zealand contingent will be included in WS 5 sailing in December. I do not think that His Majesty's Government could possibly give such a guarantee to His Majesty's Government in New Zealand.

Full efficiency and smooth administration require the earliest possible concentration of the entire Division in Egypt, and I feel that any representation the New Zealand Government can make to speed up the despatch of the Second Echelon should be made.