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

69 — New Zealand Military Liaison Officer (London) to the Minister of Defence

page 52

New Zealand Military Liaison Officer (London) to the Minister of Defence

4 December 1940

The views of the War Office on General Freyberg's proposals to form an armoured brigade are as follows:

The War Office strongly approve of the desire of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force to have its own armoured formation. It is considered preferable in the existing circumstances to send to the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, fully trained reinforcements from the United Kingdom, instead of relying on training from the beginning troops in the Middle East to make up armoured formations. It would be wrong policy to equip a New Zealand armoured brigade by drawing upon equipment scheduled for trained troops from the United Kingdom, who can effectively man tanks soon after they have been issued.

New sources of tank supply must be tapped to equip a New Zealand armoured brigade, or else the issue of equipment to the brigade must take its place in the present production programme when the state of training of the New Zealand troops justifies its introduction. It is possible that General Freyberg has underestimated the time it takes to train a tank soldier from the beginning. Events in the Middle East in the near future also seem likely to render reorganisation and training there a difficult matter.

Therefore, the formation of a New Zealand armoured brigade must be considered a comparatively long-term project. The source from which equipment could be supplied would be a matter for discussion after the New Zealand Government have expressed their views generally on the scheme. In the meantime, the following suggestions on the organisation which could be adopted for a New Zealand armoured brigade are put forward. The brigade should include an armoured car regiment, two armoured regiments, and a machine gun battalion, with the necessary workshop repair organisations, &c.

These views have been communicated direct to General Freyberg by the War Office.