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

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

page 5

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

12 April 1940

With reference to your telegram of 23 March (No. 3). The formation of an Anzac Corps would be welcomed by the Army Council, particularly in view of the magnificent traditions connected with the name. At the same time, they desire to make the following comments:

Since the complete Corps would not be ready for active service until some distant date, it is not possible for the Council to be certain at this stage that a three-division Corps of Australian and New Zealand troops would be required to take the field as a complete Corps. Therefore, they suggest that if such a Corps is formed, the New Zealand and Commonwealth Governments should both be prepared to agree to the New Zealand Division being detached from the Australian Forces, either for operations in another theatre of war or for its combination with a United Kingdom division, in order to form a two-division Corps should operational necessities at the time make either of these courses desirable.

The Army Council has been asked by the Commonwealth Government what Corps troops the Commonwealth should provide for a two-division Corps. A list of the Corps troops considered necessary is being forwarded to Australia, together with a list of the additional Corps troops needed for a three-division Corps. Copies of these two lists are also being despatched by air mail to Army Headquarters, Wellington. As the Commonwealth Government may ask for the balance of Corps troops not raised in Australia to be provided by New Zealand, the New Zealand Government, before coming to any agreement with the Commonwealth Government, may wish to consider the extent of this commitment.1

1 After considering a report on the proposal by the Chief of the General Staff, Major-General J. E. Duigan (in general, he concurred with General Freyberg's views), the New Zealand Cabinet Defence Committee on 17 May 1940 decided that the matter should be discussed with the Australian authorities by the Hon. W. Nash during a forthcoming visit to the Commonwealth. However, the projected visit by Mr. Nash did not take place.