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

396 — The Prime Minister to General Freyberg — [Extract]

The Prime Minister to General Freyberg

27 September 1944

The arrangements you outline for the replacement scheme seem most satisfactory. It would appear from the Quebec decisions that there is no immediate prospect of New Zealand troops being allotted an offensive role with any British Commonwealth land force in the war against Japan, though the possibility cannot be entirely discounted….1 It seems desirable, despite the existing uncertainties which render planning for the future so unsatisfactory, that Barrowclough should proceed to the Mediterranean theatre for discussions with you regarding the possible planning of any new or reorganised division and, with this end in view, to discuss the possibility of your absorbing a proportion of his officers.

Barrowclough has represented that special consideration should be given to the officers, warrant officers, and non-commissioned officers of the 3rd Division, and points out that if the usual proportion of reinforcement officers, WOs, and NCOs only is included in replacement drafts this will result in large numbers being retained in New Zealand.

Practically all the officers, WOs, and NCOs are of an age which renders them liable for further compulsory service, and it would be undesirable to hold them in New Zealand indefinitely while their men are sent abroad again, and some of them immediately. Apart from the difficulties of reducing officers, WOs, and NCOs in rank, page 363 there would be a feeling of unfairness, especially among those who have held rank for several years, some since before the war. The position of these officers, &c., is analogous to those who after the demobilisation of the Home Defence forces were demoted and included in the 2nd Division reinforcement drafts, mostly as temporary sergeants, with the exception that the 3rd Division officers, &c., have in their favour the fact that they hold substantive rank in a 2nd NZEF formation.

Barrowclough proposes that replacement drafts from here should have a full complement of officers, WOs, and NCOs, carefully selected as suitable for further service, to form a pool from which some of your replacements might be drawn to fill casualties and vacancies caused by the return to New Zealand of long-service officers, &c. He further suggested that those not used as replacements should remain at Maadi and undergo training until such time as the 2nd Division is withdrawn, and then be available for inclusion in any new division, if its formation is decided upon, especially for replacing long-service officers.

Barrowclough further proposes:


That the officers to be sent with drafts should be captains and below.


That officers (captains and below), WOs, and NCOs should proceed in their present ranks and the question of reducing them be left over until they can be measured against their opposite numbers in the 2nd Division.


That acceptance of officers above captain, to replace senior officers whom you are prepared to release either now or in event of reorganisation of the Division, be the subject of consultation with you.

1 In the text omitted some officer appointments are discussed.