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

288 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

14 December 1943

Army Headquarters has advised Brigadier Stevens by cable that the suggestions in my telegram of 23 November (No. 284) have not been agreed to by War Cabinet. Before you send me your decision may I raise the following points:

When I met War Cabinet on 3 July the question of manpower and its effect on the future employment of the Division were considered. The statement I submitted, setting out requirements to ensure that your Division would be battle-worthy, was accepted.3 page 260 In it certain dates for return to the Middle East of the Ruapehu and Wakatipu drafts were envisaged, and it was expected that 60 per cent of the trained soldiers would come back from New Zealand. As a result of the unavailability of shipping and other difficulties with which you have been faced, neither condition will be fulfilled. Although this will not in the long run have an adverse effect on the fighting efficiency of the Division, it will involve delay in making the men battle-worthy and will cause a shortage of reinforcements during the campaigning season in 1944. It was to rectify this shortage and enable us to return the married men of the 4th Reinforcements promptly, that the extra 1000 were asked for in my telegram of 23 November.

Since we are at present engaged in active operations and I have not got my complete records with me, I have asked Stevens to draft a cable setting out figures to compare the situation as contemplated on 3 July with the present position. I feel that these figures will be a help to War Cabinet in considering this difficult question.

We are now fighting north of the Sangro. The weather and ground are difficult but all goes well. Casualties have not been heavy and everyone is in good heart. I will send a detailed report later.1