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

49 — General Freyberg to the acting Prime Minister

General Freyberg to the acting Prime Minister

10 July 1941

Your telegram of 9 July.

The maximum number overseas, that is on the arrival of the 5th Reinforcements, was 32,300. Killed, prisoner of war, missing, and returned to New Zealand amount to 5800. Left in Egypt total 26,500, not 31,000 as estimated by you. Even under normal conditions, at any one time there are approximately 1800 in hospital, leaving 24,700 available fit for duty in the field and at Base. The establishment is 26,000 so that at the moment there is a deficiency of 1300 and not a surplus of 5000.

The 6th and 7th contingents number 9700. The deficiency of 1300 above, plus the estimated wastage of 600 between now and October, reduce the figure to 7800, of whom a large part will still require about two months' training. The figure should thus be 7800 and not 14,700.3

Should the 8th Reinforcements not be sent, it means that we get no further reinforcements for six months. On the wastage table 7800 should be sufficient for eight months, but against that I would page 35 stress the following two points: First, the period October to March is likely to be the next period of great activity for the Division, and losses over that period might well exceed 7800; second, the wastage table is now regarded as giving much too low a figure for periods of normal and no activity.

Therefore, I would strongly deprecate withholding the 8th Reinforcements as the fighting units might find themselves with no replacements available.

Finally, to enable future planning of the 2nd NZEF, I would appreciate early information of the Government's decisions. The men have now fully recovered from the recent difficult times and are in good condition. Units are almost up to strength.1

3 Army Headquarters replied on 22 Jul: ‘For the purpose of estimating future reinforcements we have accepted the position as set out in the first two paragraphs of your telegram of 10 July.’

1 This telegram was repeated to Mr. Fraser in London.