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

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

page 76

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

13 October 1941

I wish to thank you for your telegram of 5 October (No. 101). I shall be glad to receive the information as soon as it is available.

In the light of our experience in Greece, and particularly in Crete, you will understand that we are naturally apprehensive lest our troops should again, and for the third time, be committed to battle without adequate air support and in circumstances in which they are unable to defend themselves against unrestricted air attacks. We fully realise the exigencies of the present situation and the necessity for striking an early blow in the Desert, not only to improve our own position while the enemy is heavily engaged elsewhere, but also to ease to some degree the pressure upon Russia by such a diversion. Nothing could be further from our intention than to add unnecessarily to your burdens at such a time as this, but we would, if this is at all possible, be glad to be advised of the best appreciation possible of the prospective air, tank, and AFV strengths of the enemy and ourselves in the Middle East, with such details as may be possible as to the types of machines available on both sides and the degree to which and the time within which the enemy, air, tank, and AFV forces respectively could be reinforced from Europe. We should also greatly welcome an assurance that the question of air support, which we, having regard to our experience in the past, regard as a vital factor, has been fully considered and appreciated by those responsible, and that a situation in which our men are called upon to fight without the necessary means of defence and offence, particularly in aircraft, tanks, and AFVs, will not recur.