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

429 — General Freyberg to the Prime Minister

page 399

General Freyberg to the Prime Minister

27 September 1944

Reference your telegram of 26 September in which you ask for my views.

If it were a question of sending the force to liberate Greece the position would be different, but I feel, as you do, that at this stage it would not be advisable to take part. As you know, there are several factions in Greece, with all of which we are on friendly terms, and if we were to involve ourselves at this stage in support of one or other of the parties we might prejudice our very friendly relations with the rest of the Greek people. There is an additional reason which would make it difficult to send a detachment. Owing to the return of the 4th Reinforcements and the present rather high jaundice rate throughout the Division, our reinforcement situation will be at a rather low ebb until the 13th Reinforcements arrive and are trained. In any case, as a result of replacement schemes very few of the original New Zealand Division who fought in Greece will be available. Further, this proposal would mean making a detachment, which has always been against our policy.

I would suggest that the invitation might be declined for the reasons that the men who fought in Greece and Crete are not available and that, in any case, the reinforcement situation due to replacement schemes and illness would make it extremely difficult for us to spare personnel.

Later on, perhaps, when the position in Greece is stabilised, you might consider sending to Greece and Crete a token force of New Zealanders who fought there to hold memorial services at the graves of our fallen comrades.

Will you please cable War Cabinet's decision? In the meantime I have warned General Wilson that you may decide against sending a force to Greece.