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

451 — General Freyberg to the Prime Minister (San Francisco)3 — [Extract]

General Freyberg to the Prime Minister (San Francisco)3

20 May 1945

…. The general situation here is at the moment most unsatisfactory. There is the makings of trouble both here and in Austria. The Yugoslavs have moved a large force into and around Trieste and Gorizia. We are now following suit, and the 2nd American Corps are moving in between our 13th Corps and 5th British Corps in Austria. The 10th Indian Division is moving into line to the north of the New Zealand Division. When these moves are completed we shall be in a stronger position.

In considering the military side of this situation it is just as important not to overestimate the strength of the Yugoslav Army as it is [not] to underestimate it. Their army with its horses, its lack of heavy equipment and transport, compares unfavourably with Allied formations. In this war material has counted for much, and the Yugoslav Army is not upon a continental basis. Nevertheless, I page 423 want the New Zealand Government to know the fact that we are sitting at the point of greatest tension and that fighting may break out. If it does we must expect a number of casualties….1

3 Nos. 447, 448, and 451 were repeated to Mr. Nash.

1 The text omitted refers to the relief of the 6th and 7th Reinforcements and their return to New Zealand.