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

227 — The Prime Minister to the Hon. F. Jones

page 197

The Prime Minister to the Hon. F. Jones

7 May 1943

I was very glad to receive your personal telegram (No. 225) and to learn of the extent and success of your visit to the forward areas. I am, however, at a loss to understand what is meant by your ‘impression that there is no desire on the part of the men here to fight in the Solomons’. What exactly is in their minds if they don't want to go into the Pacific after they return? Do they wish merely to have leave and then return to the Middle East? Has it been made quite clear to them that Americans are here not as garrison troops for the defence of New Zealand, but that they are using this country only as a base for training or recuperating after service in the Pacific? It is I think essential that this state of affairs should be clearly understood.

You will appreciate the importance which Parliament will attach to your views, and I would like to be certain that it is your considered opinion that the officers and men wish the Division to return to New Zealand, or alternatively, that their own desires would be met by furlough, for a proportion at a time, of the longest service men.

The second point upon which I am in doubt concerns Freyberg's appointment as a Corps Commander. In his telegram to me dated 4 May (No. 224) he states he was instructed by Montgomery to take over command of 10th Corps when General Horrocks was sent to take the place of a Corps Commander wounded on the First Army front, and that he had accepted temporarily after discussing the matter with you. He also told me that Kippenberger was temporarily in command of our Division in 10th Corps. From the tenor of his remarks I assumed that this was a purely temporary measure, and having had no other advice of an official character I did not assume that the New Zealand Government was required either to give consent to such a temporary arrangement or to consider it as a permanent appointment for which their consent was being requested. Would you please elucidate this point so that I may bring it before War Cabinet?

The fact that the 4th Armoured Brigade is still without full equipment is most disturbing, and I would be glad if you would represent this matter in the strongest terms when you return to London. I agree entirely that the 4th Armoured Brigade should not be placed in the British armoured pool, but that it must remain an integral part of the 2nd New Zealand Division under our own control.

page 198

The suggestion that Freyberg should visit New Zealand is, I think, an excellent one, and I will discuss this and the other matters raised in your telegram with War Cabinet at the earliest opportunity.