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

324 — General Freyberg to the Prime Minister (London)

General Freyberg to the Prime Minister (London)

20 June 1944

Our progress here on the Italian front is most encouraging, the enemy still retreating under pressure. There is evidence that they want to delay our advance south of the Pisa-Rimini line. He is, page 294 however, losing large quantities of equipment and transport, partly from lack of petrol for his motor transport and also by air action. Unless reinforced by several fresh divisions, it seems very doubtful whether they will be able to hold the Pisa-Rimini line for long. At the moment maintenance is delaying us. Further, owing to the lack of roads, only a portion of the Fifth and Eighth Armies can be deployed during the advance. Owing to damage to the railways there is a shortage of transport, and all available New Zealand second- and third-line transport is working forward to maintain the most advanced troops. We as a division are grounded, and there is every chance that we shall have a further month in which to rest our men and absorb some of our newly-joined reinforcements before undertaking active operations. This period of inactivity is welcomed by us as it will enable the New Zealand forces to train and also to further conserve our strength.

The New Zealand Club in Rome, the Quirinale Hotel, opens its doors to our men on Friday, 23 June. It is a large luxury hotel. We will serve 2000 meals a day at a small charge to officers, sisters, and other ranks. The Club staff arrives today, and in addition we will employ 150 Italians to wait and cook. We are arranging tours of the Vatican and ancient monuments and hope to get the bulk of our force to visit Rome before we move to further active operations.

A cable regarding long- and short-term policy follows.1 All goes very well. The morale of the force is high.