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

334 — Letter from the Prime Minister to General Leese

Letter from the Prime Minister to General Leese

25 September 1944

Dear General Leese


It was a very great pleasure to me to receive your letter of 11 August,3 and I would like to say how deeply I appreciate your thoughtfulness in writing to me about the work of the 2nd New Zealand Division.

page 305

I was greatly impressed by what I saw on my own visit and was able to make a very full report to Cabinet and to Parliament on their organisation and achievements.

We have been awaiting the decisions of the Quebec Conference before coming to a final decision as to the disposition of our forces, but we have now decided that the New Zealand Division is to remain in Italy until the conclusion of the Italian campaign.1 Unless the situation in the Pacific necessitates a reversal of our present plans, we propose to use the personnel of the 3rd (Pacific) Division, which is now out of action, as replacements for the longer-service personnel of the Division in your Army. Many of the men in Italy have been overseas since 1940 and it seems essential that some system of relief should be instituted.

We were all greatly distressed to learn of General Freyberg's accident. As you know, he is held throughout the country in the greatest honour and esteem, and it is a great relief to know that he is making such a good recovery.

We watch the progress of the battle in Italy from day to day with the greatest interest and I know, from the appreciations I have received from General Freyberg, how difficult is the task of piercing the Gothic Line in time to permit our armour to be used on the plains before the onset of bad weather.

I would like to thank you for the high opinions you have expressed about General Freyberg, his staff, and the New Zealand Division. I can assure you that they are very proud to be serving in the Eighth Army and under your command, and I know that it is their keen desire to remain in the forefront of the battle until final victory has been achieved.

With kindest personal regards,
Yours sincerely


P. Fraser