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

82 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

8 August 1942

In your telegram of 11 March1 you said that the decision to retain the Armoured Brigade in New Zealand would be reviewed in July 1942. In Libya last November and in the recent fighting our infantry brigades have been overrun by tanks on three occasions, with heavy casualties, especially prisoners.2 We have felt keenly the lack of our own armoured component. I am endeavouring to obtain some Grant tanks for the Divisional Cavalry which would be a help, but the Armoured Brigade would of course strengthen us immensely in attack and defence. I would therefore be very grateful to have an indication from you as to the possibility of the Armoured Brigade being despatched to us. The New Zealand Government may consider that the tanks should be retained, but would they then agree to send trained personnel, in which case I am certain equipment could be made available for them from the Middle East pool.

1 On 11 Mar General Puttick had advised Headquarters 2nd NZEF of the postponed despatch of the Army Tank Brigade, in similar terms to No. 81.

2 The three occasions were Belhamed (Nov–Dec 1941), Ruweisat Ridge (15 Jul 1942), and El Mreir Depression (22 Jul 1942).