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

364 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Hon. W. Nash (Washington)

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Hon. W. Nash (Washington)

1 February 1944

I have received your message of 25 January addressed to me at Canberra.2 Following my return to Wellington yesterday, I discussed with members of War Cabinet the views of the President, Dill, and Halsey as set out in your earlier messages regarding the disposition of New Zealand military forces overseas.

The whole position must of course be thoroughly examined by War Cabinet and the Government, who will be guided by the advice received from Roosevelt and Churchill. If the Second Front is successfully launched and the campaign in Italy progresses satisfactorily, there is clearly a strong case for withdrawing the 2nd New page 335 Zealand Division from Europe altogether to enable us to sustain a full division in the Pacific and to maintain, and if possible increase, food production. As indicated in my message of 12 January (No. 358), a clear-cut decision by us in favour of maintaining one division or the other would, in my opinion, be preferable to the present policy of reinforcing neither and of allowing each to diminish gradually in size.

I am very glad that you will be able to leave for the United Kingdom on 4 February and I have advised Mr. Churchill accordingly. Will you please arrange direct with him a suitable time for an interview?

Presumably you will not delay your departure until the President has replied to your written communication.

We are most anxious to come to a decision one way or the other before Parliament meets on 22 February to enable us to be in a position to state definitely what policy the Government proposes to follow. You will appreciate the desirability of having the earliest possible information to enable the necessary prior discussions to be held in War Cabinet, Cabinet, and caucus.

You will by now have received the survey of manpower prepared by the National Service Department on 1 January, which sets out the whole position and the outlook for 1944.1

2 Not published. In this telegram Mr. Nash notified Mr. Fraser of his plans for departure to the United Kingdom.

1 Not published.