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

268 — General Freyberg to the Prime Minister

General Freyberg to the Prime Minister

24 May 1943

Thank you for your telegram of 24 May which clears up a number of points.

There still remains the question of non-divisional units. As they have had few casualties, over a thousand qualify for return. We are examining paragraph 5 of your proposals regarding ‘ancillary units’. Non-divisional units presumably come under this heading. As Engineer personnel are difficult to replace in divisional units I feel it would be inadvisable to accept commitments in forthcoming operations for the non-divisional Engineers. My recommendations are accordingly as follows:


The Railway Construction and Maintenance Group to remain on present maintenance work and be drawn on as required for reinforcements for the Divisional Engineers.

page 244

Railway Operating Group personnel of the first three echelons are going back to New Zealand forthwith as part of the current scheme. The remainder of the Group complete should go back to New Zealand as soon as shipping is available. I feel that this will meet your wishes, particularly in view of the last sentence of your telegram.


The 18th Army Troops Company to be broken up as reinforcements for the Divisional Engineers.


The 19th Army Troops Company and the 21st Mechanical Equipment Company to remain on present work and be drawn on for reinforcements as required.

If you approve of the above proposals I would advise General Headquarters here at once. I am not aware whether, in addition, it will be necessary for you to notify War Office of the gradual disappearance of these units.

Would you please let me have your views?