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

117 — The Minister of Defence to General Freyberg

The Minister of Defence to General Freyberg

21 January 1942

Your telegram of 10 January has now been considered by War Cabinet, whose views on the questions you raise are as follows:

Our general attitude in regard to the use of the New Zealand Forces is that they should be employed at the time and place and in the circumstances where they can be utilised to the best advantage of the common cause.

At the time we should naturally wish, as in the past, to be consulted before they are committed to any particular operation. In the absence of further information we do not feel that we are in a position page 89 to make any detailed comment or indeed to reply to the inquiry made by the Chief of the General Staff, Middle East, as to whether we would have any objection should the Division be used as a landing force in an overseas expedition. Before forming an opinion on such a matter we should wish to know a great deal more of the proposals, and if any information is at present available, for example, as to the area to which such an expedition might be proposed, we should be grateful to have it at once.

In any case, it seems to us that with the situation as it is in the Far East, the demand for reinforcements in that area is likely for some time to come to preclude an overseas expedition elsewhere. In particular the demand for air support in the Far East would seem to us to render impossible for some time to come the provision of adequate air support which, as you point out, would be essential before such an expedition could be successful.

We are not without doubt also as to the possible smaller operations to which you refer, and we shall be grateful for any further information you may be able to give us regarding these possibilities.