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

108 — General Auchinleck to the Chief of the General Staff (Wellington)

General Auchinleck to the Chief of the General Staff (Wellington)

3 December 1941

I have just seen General Freyberg who is well and in good heart. He has with him the remainder of the 4th and 6th Infantry Brigades which had to withdraw from Sidi Rezegh because of very heavy enemy pressure. These brigades fought magnificently and inflicted very heavy losses on the enemy, but I fear their own losses have also been severe. They are now going to Baggush to reform and refit.

Part of the 4th and 6th Brigades and the divisional transport are with the Tobruk garrison, which is still holding the salient created by our sally and Belhamed.

page 79

The 5th Infantry Brigade is still in the Bardia area and I believe has not yet been heavily engaged, though its headquarters was apparently captured at an early stage of the battle.1 It has now, however, a reorganised headquarters and is operating successfully under the orders of the 4th Indian Division.

I deeply regret the casualties, but the Division fought magnificently and its losses will not be in vain.

General Freyberg is communicating with the Prime Minister.

1 On 27 Nov Headquarters 5th Brigade was overrun by German tanks at Sidi Azeiz. Its commander, Brigadier J. Hargest, was captured, together with 46 officers and 650 other ranks.