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

387 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

page 354

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

21 August 1944

There can be no doubt that the finish of the war is only a matter of time. This will bring with it large problems, one of the biggest being the method of return of the 2nd NZEF to New Zealand.

In accordance with the policy which has been observed between us for the last four years, I report to you a conversation with General Alexander on 6 August. He referred to post-war questions. In the event of peace he said that Dominion troops would probably go home first. It is proposed to send two British corps to Austria as a garrison. He said it had been suggested that the New Zealand Division might be sent to garrison Greece for a short time and then go home. I told him that this would be a matter for consideration by the New Zealand Government.1 As there are many sides to the Greek question, I feel that careful consideration should be given before this proposal is agreed to. I am, of course, purely reporting a casual conversation for the private information of War Cabinet. I should be glad to know if you wish me to keep you in touch unofficially with these embryo plans and if you would wish me to give you my personal views on definite proposals, if and when they are made.

We have now handed over the sector west of Florence to the Americans and are resting out of the line. We are to be in Army reserve for the next phase in our traditional role of exploitation as a fast-moving force. Everything is going well and all ranks are in good health and spirits. There is a distinct feeling of victory in the air.

On 17 August I travelled by air to Taranto and inspected the Greek Brigade and arranged plans for their battle training. I was much impressed by their bearing. Their keenness to serve with the New Zealand Division was very obvious.2 I also inspected all three Base hospitals, the Convalescent Depot, and the Bari and Rome clubs. I am glad to be able to report that the condition of our battle casualties is most satisfactory although, of course, there are the usual number of very sad cases. Penicillin has done much to make wounds heal cleanly and quickly. Both clubs are very popular and efficiently run.

1 See Proposal to Use New Zealand Detachment for Garrison Duties in Greece.

2 See Attachment of Greek Brigade to 2nd New Zealand Division.