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

250 — Headquarters 2nd NZEF to Army Headquarters (Wellington)

Headquarters 2nd NZEF to Army Headquarters (Wellington)

8 February 1943

In reply to your telegram of 5 February.

The possibility of such a change-over of personnel has actually been discussed with the GOC at intervals in the last few months.

While the 2nd NZEF is so widely dispersed as at present (Syrian Tripoli to Libyan Tripoli) and as the 2nd New Zealand Division will probably be engaged in active operations for several months, the procedure for such a change-over presents obvious difficulties. I think also that the change-over will have to some degree an unsettling effect on the force. I am taking immediate steps to consult the GOC.

page 223

In the meantime the following points are relevant:


There are roughly 3200 of the First Echelon still serving, all of whom have now served three years; also 3000 of the Second Echelon whose three years are up in May, and 3200 of the Third Echelon whose three years are up in August. If the change-over is to be after three years' service the numbers to be sent from New Zealand will have to approach the above figures, i.e., exceed 10,000, and drafts would have to arrive at appropriate dates. It would in many ways be preferable to change over a whole echelon at one time.


Exigencies of the service here may demand the retention of certain key personnel.


Those selected for return would come from arms of the service proportionately to the numbers still serving. The draft from New Zealand should consist of the same numbers.


Shipping difficulties might impose long delays. We could probably arrange, however, to have our draft for return assembled at Maadi by the time the draft from New Zealand arrived.

The general conclusion is that we were beginning to expect something of the kind, and that if the Government think the scheme advisable we must do our best to comply. I must make it clear that these are my views only, and that the GOC will doubtless have certain points to put forward.