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

210 — The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

page 182

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

14 April 1943

With some confidence we may now look forward to the destruction of the Axis forces in Africa. At our conference at Casablanca1 it was decided that the next stroke should be HUSKY.2 The strategic advantages of this conquest will be apparent to you. Six British and four United States divisions will be used in the first instance for this purpose, together with all our landing craft, the whole operation being protected by a superior British battle fleet with dominating air support from the Tunisian tip and from Malta. Should success attend HUSKY it will be exploited to the full, with effects upon Italy and upon the whole war which cannot be measured but which will certainly be substantial.

For this operation the New Zealand Division is particularly requested by General Alexander, who, under the Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower, will be in charge of HUSKY. General Montgomery has represented that the 30th Corps, comprising the New Zealand and 51st Highland Divisions, is the most experienced and highly trained, and works together with unsurpassed cohesion. We hope, therefore, that the New Zealand Government will allow its famous Division to win further honour in Europe for the Dominion.

If the New Zealand Division is to be used in Sicily, it would be sent back to Egypt at once to have two months' intensive training in amphibious landings. We are arranging for a special ship with escort to bring the 3000 New Zealand reinforcements3 direct to join the Division in Egypt. You have been informed by the Admiralty of these arrangements. We earnestly hope that you will be able to help us in this important way.

1 President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill met at Casablanca on 14–24 Jan 1943.

2 The code-name for the invasion of Sicily.

3 The 9th Reinforcements left New Zealand for the Middle East on 14 May 1943.