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

474 — General Freyberg (London) to the Prime Minister

page 440

General Freyberg (London) to the Prime Minister

28 August 1945

Reference your telegram of 28 August.1 I am sorry that I have not been able to send any shipping programme as the question of priorities in shipping is being dealt with on a Cabinet level and no decision is likely to be given until 10 September. I have certain facts and figures that I have gained by my contacts in the War Office, and for what they are worth I send you the following observations. These facts and figures are certain to undergo changes before they are cabled to you officially through Government channels. I need hardly say that it is being dealt with on a very high level and that I take no part in any of the deliberations.

I have seen the War Office shipping plans. So far as I can find out the proposals for shipping the New Zealand Forces from the Mediterranean theatre of war are as follows. In arriving at these figures some fresh priorities as a result of the cessation of hostilities against Japan have to be provided for.

  • Priority one: Movement of occupational troops.

  • Priority two: Repatriation of prisoners of war from the Far East.

  • Priority three: Movement back of Python2 and long-service British troops, and the repatriation of Dominion forces.

No figures can yet be given as firm. The whole shipping situation is being reviewed on 4 September by the Chiefs of Staff and on 8 September by War Cabinet. The decision will be given on 10 September. At the moment the latest figures from the War Office for shipping to New Zealand are as follows:

(1) Mid-September from Italy and Egypt 2,400
(2) October to December from Italy 13,000
(3) January to March from Italy 9,100
Total 24,500

Lift No. 1 above is firm and provision for this number will be made. If 5000 troops for the occupational brigade are found from the Mediterranean area, this will reduce our total from lift No. 2 by page 441 that number. It must be clearly understood that since I have got these figures through unofficial sources they cannot in any sense be taken as official, and I would be glad if you do not comment on them to the United Kingdom. No decision is possible, therefore, until after 10 September.

1 Not published. The Prime Minister in this telegram requested information on details of the United Kingdom leave scheme proposals, and stated that Cabinet was concerned at the possible effect of a public announcement about the scheme being made in New Zealand before the arrangements for the return of the Division had been announced.

2 This was the code-name given to the British scheme, which came into operation in September 1943, for the exchange between the United Kingdom and overseas theatres and garrisons of personnel who had had long service overseas.