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

472 — The Prime Minister to General Freyberg (London)2

The Prime Minister to General Freyberg (London)2

14 August 1945

I have to thank you for your telegram of 11 August.3 Except that we are endeavouring to prepare for demobilisation at the quickest possible rate, our plans are also at a standstill. A further telegram on policy will depend on the Japanese reaction, and meanwhile I page 439 think you should stay in London. In anticipation of the cessation of hostilities, War Cabinet are of the opinion that you should make personal representations to War Office and to the Ministry of War Transport regarding transport. Apart from the question of the return of the 11th and later Reinforcements, we are disturbed at the prospect of delays in bringing the main body of 20,000 men back to New Zealand. From recent reports it would appear there is a likelihood of unrest amongst the men in Egypt,1 and for this and every other reason we feel we should take all possible steps to obtain the necessary shipping. Please ask Campbell2 to show you our previous telegrams to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs on the transport situation.3

2 General Freyberg had gone to London at the end of July to discuss with War Office plans for the repatriation of the 2nd Division and for the participation of a New Zealand force in the war against Japan.

3 See Volume III, Proposals for Participation in Operations against Japan. General Freyberg advised that plans for the participation of an Empire land force in operations against the mainland of Japan were at a standstill as a result of the Japanese surrender offer on 10 Aug.

1 In a telegram to the Minister of Defence on 13 Aug (not published) General Freyberg suggested that he should take advantage of his presence in London to discuss with the War Office the possibility of arranging leave in the United Kingdom for New Zealand troops in Italy awaiting repatriation. ‘To date the men have been good humoured and have given little trouble,’ he said, ‘but they are being called upon to face a period under trying conditions, and it is probable that there may be unrest after a time. I feel that the offer of short leave to the United Kingdom would do much to avoid possible trouble.’

The proposal was approved by the Government.

2 Dr. R. M. Campbell, Official Secretary to the High Commissioner for New Zealand in the United Kingdom; Chairman of the Public Service Commission, 1 Nov 1946–.