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

83 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

14 August 1942

Your telegram of 25 July.3

General Freyberg has now asked whether the Army Tank Brigade could be sent to Egypt. He suggests that if the Valentine tanks (of which we have 120) cannot be spared, the Brigade could probably be equipped there. To assist us in considering the question we page 61 would like advice on this point. We understand the power and value of this brigade whether in New Zealand or in the Middle East, but we are not in a position to appreciate fully the relative claims of the Middle East and of the defence of New Zealand.

With the reservation that he has insufficient information, the Chief of the General Staff here suggests that in all the circumstances the Brigade should be sent to the Middle East with all the tanks available at the date of despatch, less 40 to 60 to be retained in New Zealand, and with the proviso that the despatch to New Zealand of General Stuart tanks (of which we have 24) should be hastened as far as possible; also, that the strain on our manpower could be reduced by not sending reinforcements to the Brigade and by requiring the Division to adopt the organisation of one tank brigade and two infantry brigades in due course. A broad survey of the situation as it affects the problem would greatly help us in reaching a decision.