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

374 — The Hon. W. Nash (London) to the Prime Minister

page 340

The Hon. W. Nash (London) to the Prime Minister

27 February 1944

The following most secret message dated 26 February has just been received from Field-Marshal Dill, Head of the British Joint Staff Mission to Washington:

I have had a busy day trying to get a firm recommendation from the United States Chiefs of Staff, and I may say the Navy in particular feel that the problem really is a serious one and that they must not be unfairly rushed. With many apologies from the War Department, I have just received the following:

‘The United States Chiefs of Staff appreciate New Zealand's need of manpower in the maintenance of its production of food supplies. The source from which the manpower is to be obtained, however, presents a complicated question due to requirements in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific, as well as to the changes in the situation which may occur prior to the time the men are needed. The United States Chiefs of Staff, in view of the above, wish to defer recommendation until they have given the source of this personnel further consideration.’

Dill continues:

I am afraid this does not help much, but it does at least accept the need of manpower in the maintenance of production. The War Department is doing what it can to hasten matters, but I fear it may be impossible to get a firm answer till Tuesday, 29 February, which means that you may not get it till 1 March.

I will telegraph again as soon as further information is available. In the meantime, I would suggest that you consider notifying the United Kingdom that you wish the New Zealand Division (less a brigade made up of men whose first engagement was subsequent to the conclusion of the North African campaign) to leave Europe for return to New Zealand after the fall of Rome, or about 1 August next, whichever is the earlier date, and also that you did not propose to send any further personnel for training in Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme after the end of the present calendar year. Leaving the Navy at its present strength, this would mean that our overseas commitments would be confined to 500 airmen a year for the United Kingdom, plus the personnel required to serve twenty-five squadrons in the Pacific, with a brigade of the 2nd NZEF in Europe, plus whatever Army strength you decide to maintain in the South Pacific.