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

412 — The Prime Minister to General Freyberg

page 382

The Prime Minister to General Freyberg

18 December 1944

I very much regret to advise you that the National Service Department and Army have reported that it will not be possible for the 15th and 16th Reinforcements to be ready for sailing on the dates previously proposed.1

After full examination of the facts and with a full realisation of the embarrassment this situation must cause you in your reorganisation, War Cabinet have reluctantly come to the conclusion that there is no practicable alternative at the present time.

This delay has been caused mainly by the fact that owing to their employment in the production of essential foodstuffs, which is now at the height of the season, 3rd Division personnel temporarily released to industry have not been returned to the Army on the dates expected. Difficulty is also being experienced in obtaining the release of men held on appeal, the majority of whom are also employed in primary industries. Armed Forces Appeal Boards are urgently reviewing the cases of all men who have previously been held up from military service, but in spite of a very rigorous examination of all fit men held on appeal, it is not anticipated that sufficient men will be available to enable the 15th Reinforcements to sail before the middle of April and the 16th Reinforcements by the middle of June. As the Division will be out of the line during the months of February and March, and as the 14th Reinforcements will be in the Middle East early in February, I anticipate that the revised sailing dates for the 15th and 16th Reinforcements should not interfere with the despatch of the Tongariro draft early in March as originally arranged. The return of these men will greatly facilitate the release of further men from industry to enable the replacement scheme to be continued.

Members of the War Cabinet join with me in extending congratulations to the New Zealand Division for its part in the capture of Faenza, the announcement of which has just come over the air.2

1 See No. 400.