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

260 — General Freyberg to the Prime Minister1 — [Extract]

General Freyberg to the Prime Minister1

17 May 1943

I have to report that on the collapse of enemy resistance in Tunisia I at once made arrangements for the Division to be withdrawn in order to have the maximum time for implementing the scheme for returning personnel….2

I received your telegram of 14 May today. Preliminary investigations are being made to ascertain the effect of War Cabinet's proposals. The method of selection you propose was considered by us during discussions here, but that set out in Mr. Jones's telegram of 30 April (No. 256) was felt to be preferable. With matters of fact governing selection, the scheme treating the First, Second, and Third Echelons as one is quite workable. It avoids comparisons between echelons and would be quick and fair. From the operational point of view it has one distinct advantage in that it distributes replacement evenly between all units of the Division.

Reference your paragraph 7. I have seen the cable to which you refer.3 To date we have been considering a first draft numbering 1000 to be returned at the earliest opportunity. The whole question of the return of married men with service in the field is being examined, and we will do the utmost to get the maximum number away in this fast ship. Opportunity will be taken to send senior key officers on leave, and as many low category men as possible will be included. It would help us if Army Headquarters could see their way to send technical personnel to replace key personnel here. Investigations are in progress to ascertain what key personnel will be required. It will be realised, of course, that we cannot release the larger number referred to until reliefs arrive in Egypt.

1 This telegram was also repeated to Mr. Jones in London.