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

7 — General Wavell,2 General Headquarters, Middle East, to General Freyberg3

General Wavell,2 General Headquarters, Middle East, to General Freyberg3

8 July 1940

Your telegram of 4 July.4

To meet a possible attack on Egypt from the Western Desert, it is essential to organise into some battle order the incomplete formations available here. The principal factor affecting this organisation is the shortage of Signals units.

A draft Order of Battle was drawn up for discussion to enable the troops available to be most efficiently organised and commanded page 7 in the event of attack. The shortage of Signals made it most economical to form an Anzac Division of one Australian and one New Zealand brigade.

The Order of Battle was discussed on 5 July and it was decided to have separate Australian and New Zealand brigade groups instead of the Anzac Division. This arrangement is less economical of Signals but is workable. The New Zealand Brigade Group includes all New Zealand troops. Brigadier Puttick1 is quite satisfied with the new proposal. It is not intended to implement the Order of Battle till an attack appears probable.

2 Field-Marshal Earl Wavell, PC, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, CMG, MC (then General Sir Archibald Wavell); GOC-in-C, Middle East, 1939–41; GOC-in-C, India, 1941–43; Supreme Commander, South-West Pacific, Jan–Mar 1942; Viceroy and Governor-General of India, 1943–47; died 24 May 1950.

3 General Freyberg was at this time in the United Kingdom training the Second Echelon.

4 Not published. See Volume I, Concentration of the 2nd NZ Division (No. 245). This telegram read:

Have just received from Puttick your proposals for reorganisation with its repercussions upon the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Egypt. As no such change can be made without the approval of the New Zealand Government, I hope these proposals will not be proceeded with. I do not wish to have to disclose to the New Zealand Government the proposals as outlined by you to break up the New Zealand Force, as they would make a most unfavourable impression in New Zealand official circles with repercussions you probably have not foreseen. The answer to any such proposals would, I am sure, be an uncompromising refusal.

1 Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Puttick, KCB, DSO; commanded 4th New Zealand Infantry Brigade, 1940–41, and New Zealand troops in Egypt in 1940 during absence of General Freyberg in United Kingdom; commanded 2nd NZ Division (4th and 5th Brigades) in Crete, May 1941; Chief of the General Staff and General Officer Commanding, New Zealand Military Forces, 1941–45.