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

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

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

4 December 1942

We have given most anxious consideration to your telegram of 2 December (No. 179), and the general question was discussed at length yesterday in a secret session of the House of Representatives.

The facts set out in your telegram under reply and the dangers involved in attempting in the present circumstances to move the 2nd New Zealand Division have greatly impressed us, and we have come to the conclusion—unanimously shared by all my colleagues and by all the members of the House of Representatives—that we cannot take the responsibility, in the circumstances that you outline, of pressing for the return of the New Zealand troops at this juncture. We realise that our situation differs in material respects from that of Australia and we feel that we must leave the 2nd New Zealand Division in the Middle East for a further period. At the same time, we feel that we must make it clear that the considerations advanced in my telegram of 19 November (No. 176) retain, in our opinion, their full validity and cogency, and in addition we attach great weight to an aspect which was not then brought to your notice, namely, that it would be neither wise nor proper to allow the offensive against the Japanese in the South Pacific to be conducted entirely by the Americans without substantial British collaboration.

We know that you fully realise the difficulties of these problems with which we have to contend, and the very generous and understanding attitude that you have taken throughout and, in particular, the sympathetic consideration you have given to my telegram of 19 November, have been warmly appreciated.

I am sure that you will understand it if in different circumstances and at a later date we again feel ourselves obliged to raise this matter.

I am sending Mr. Curtin a copy of this telegram.