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

72 — The Rt. Hon. P. Fraser (Cairo) to the acting Prime Minister of New Zealand — [Extract]

The Rt. Hon. P. Fraser (Cairo) to the acting Prime Minister of New Zealand

9 June 1941

During my talks with General Williams we discussed a quite impracticable scheme from Dill1 providing for the formation by New Zealand of an armoured division, which would number 28,000, for service overseas after the threat of danger to the Dominion has passed….2

1 General Sir John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

2 A personal reference has been omitted.

page 55

After discussion with Conway and myself, General Williams abandoned the idea of the armoured division as being beyond our capacity, although he said I would be confronted with the suggestion in London.

The question of the Tank Brigade and Corps troops was also discussed with Williams and Conway. I want War Cabinet to discuss both questions on their merits, having due regard to the manpower and industrial position.

The formation of an Anzac Corps composed of one New Zealand and one Australian division has been agreed to in principle, although the matter has not yet been decided between the New Zealand and Australian Governments….1

With regard to the Tank Brigade, Williams said that if the training of men for overseas were done in New Zealand then up to forty tanks could be provided from the United Kingdom. If this is not over-optimistic and is agreed to by Dill and the War Office when I reach London, the tanks will be a great contribution to the defence of New Zealand and the scheme is good. The effect on manpower of both Corps troops and Army Tank Brigade will be explained in detail by Conway, but it would appear that with Corps troops and the Army Tank Brigade the manpower limit will have been reached by the end of 1943.

Freyberg subsequently agreed that the training of the Tank Brigade can be carried out in New Zealand with advantage if tanks are made available there. The necessary instructors must be sent to New Zealand from the school in the Middle East after training. Although not sure whether this can be done, he will, if possible, get New Zealand instructors trained in time.

1 A reference to New Zealand's contribution of Corps troops has been omitted. See also Proposed Formation of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.