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

(c) Present and Pending Operations

(c) Present and Pending Operations

2nd Division 3rd Division
(i) 2nd Division is engaged in full strength against the enemy in Italy and has been allotted a highly-important tactical role, for which its special organisation, training and experience make it peculiarly suitable.
There appears to be little if any surplus Allied strength in the Italian theatre, while the operations there are undoubtedly part of the greater invasion plan.
Consequently the replacement of 2nd Division by another division would be essential, and within the next several months appears likely to create peculiarly difficult problems of suitability of the replacement division and disorganisation of prepared plans, quite apart from administrative difficulties such as the provision of shipping. The particular value of the 2nd New Zealand Division in influencing the outcome of large-scale operations has already been emphasised on at least two occasions.
(i) 3rd Division has ?rds of its strength in a very forward position on the South Pacific front, i.e., Nissan Island, with the remainder chiefly in Treasury Island in close proximity to strongly-held Japanese areas.
Both components of 3rd Division are now in a garrison role, though it is possible and perhaps probable that the force holding Treasury Island will shortly be given an offensive role, i.e., to capture islands north of Nissan Island.
Operations of 3rd Division are undoubtedly part of a general offensive plan designed to isolate Rabaul, in which, probably, all available divisions have been allotted their roles.
Withdrawal of forces in Nissan Island is a dangerous operation and may be classed as impracticable until Allied forces are much farther north.
Withdrawal of forces in Treasury Island though exposed to attack is possible, while withdrawal of reinforcements &c., in Guadalcanal and New Caledonia is also practicable, but would result in forward units being unsupported and falling below establishment, besides disorganising the United States offensive plans during a critical period.
page 453

The withdrawal of either 2nd or 3rd Division is impracticable at the present time and its practicability in future depends upon tactical developments.

The disruptive effect of withdrawal would be most serious in either case but would have wider and more important disadvantageous effects in the case of 2nd Division though tactically less dangerous to the New Zealand troops in their present situations than in the case of 3rd Division.