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

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

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

19 April 1943

The fullest consideration has been given by War Cabinet to your telegram of 18 April (No. 214). We fully realise the necessity for an early decision as to the composition and training of the force for the special operation, and I should like to say how deeply sensible we are of the very high honour which is being paid to our Division. In view, however, of the decided differences of opinion which were page 186 manifest when the future role of the 2nd New Zealand Division was last discussed by Parliament, I feel I am unable to forecast their decision with certainty. It is with regret, therefore, that I cannot give you in advance the assurance you require. There is also the possibility that any such assurance on my part at this stage could, and indeed probably would, be interpreted by members as a commitment not in accord with the spirit of my pledge to them and would prejudice their final decision.

Meanwhile, I think that Mr. Jones should go immediately to Tunisia to discuss these matters with General Freyberg, who has advised me today that he could see Mr. Jones in the forward area at once.1 This arrangement would enable me to place the views of both General Freyberg and the Minister of Defence before Parliament, which after full discussion will then decide the future role of the Division.

I would like to say how very much I appreciate your acceptance of the proposal that a proportion of the personnel of the Division should be relieved by further troops from New Zealand, and trust that it will be possible at an early date to make the necessary arrangements to bring back progressively 20 per cent of those men who have been overseas longest.

Would you please convey to Mr. Jones the contents of this message.