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

418 — General Freyberg to the Prime Minister

General Freyberg to the Prime Minister

17 February 1945

Reference your telegram of 3 February (No. 415).

My appreciation is delayed for a few days while I verify certain facts and figures. Meanwhile, I give you my personal opinion on the general situation. It is more optimistic than my appreciation, which for planning purposes must be based on a conservative forecast.

From information gleaned from a number of sources, including high officers from South-East Asia Command and United States Pacific forces, it would seem that the Japanese soldier falls far below the German standards when the odds are against him. Operations in the Pacific and Burma have made good progress. It is possible that page 389 the existing forces in South-East Asia Command will clear up Burma and embark on operations in Malaya without waiting for reinforcements from the European theatre. Further, the defeat of Germany, which cannot be long delayed, will have a great effect on Japanese morale.

My personal opinion is that Japan may be defeated before the end of 1946, in which case our participation in the Japanese war would be very short.1 Even if the war in Europe ended on 1 July and the Division reformed in Egypt, I do not think it would be ready to take the field until March 1946 at the earliest.

However, planning must be based on a more conservative forecast, and whatever happens I feel that should the New Zealand Government decide to take an active part, the announcement that the Division will take part in the war against Japan after the defeat of Germany will have a good effect with the Allies.

I realise the need for an early announcement of policy and my appreciation will follow as soon as possible.

1 See Volume III, Proposals for Participation in Operations against Japan.