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

143 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

20 June 1942

The Division is now passing through the Delta and will arrive at its destination west of Mersa Matruh on 25 June.

The situation in the Western Desert is that Eighth Army has been forced onto the defensive and holds a line on the Libyan frontier with a garrison at Tobruk.

The New Zealand Division may be used either in a defensive role, or later, should opportunity present itself, for a counter-stroke in an offensive role together with other troops.

page 111

The state of your Division is good. The men have benefited from the period of training in Syria. Although we greatly miss our tried commanders, the younger ones are maturing quickly. We are complete in equipment except for infantry anti-tank guns and a few controlled stores, which are to be supplied in Eighth Army area. We are short of transport.

Will you please acknowledge this cable. I shall, of course, keep the Government in touch, but that will be more difficult as operations approach.1

1 The Prime Minister replied on 22 Jun that the Government fully understood the situation.