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

Proposed Withdrawal of 2nd New Zealand Division (November-December 1942)

page 141

Proposed Withdrawal of 2nd New Zealand Division (November-December 1942)

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom (Wellington)1

14 November 1942

We are very anxious, as you know, to retain the New Zealand Division in the Middle East, in the first place because of the excellent work it has done, more particularly in the present operations. It was also our hope that it would be re-formed into a still more powerful weapon as a result of the promotion of the New Zealand Armoured Brigade in accordance with the arrangements contemplated in the New Zealand Government's telegram of 9 September.2 The shipping position is growing more and not less difficult and current operations naturally involve increased demands upon shipping, so that very serious embarrassment would be caused by the diversion of further shipping to replace the New Zealand Division in the Middle East. Lastly, however favourably the present North African operations may develop, the threat from the Caucasus to the Persia-Iraq Command will still remain and may become a grave danger, and we cannot afford to neglect our strength there or to weaken it unnecessarily.

At the same time, Mr. Fraser's difficulties as regards manpower are fully appreciated. Having regard to the manpower situation in New Zealand, the repeated requests by the United States authorities for more New Zealand troops for the Pacific theatre are clearly an embarrassment to the New Zealand Government.3 It would seem desirable to obtain the considered advice of the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Washington, who would look at the position in the light of the general situation (including both the North Africa and Persia-Iraq and Pacific theatres) and the shipping position as a whole. Please suggest to Mr. Fraser that the desirability of this course should be urged upon the United States authorities.4

1 Sir Harry Fagg Batterbee, GCMG, KCVO, High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in New Zealand, 1939–45.

3 See Volume III, Formation and Employment of 3rd New Zealand Division.

4 A copy of this message was delivered to Mr. Fraser on 18 Nov.

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

19 November 1942

I feel that the time has come when I must raise with you the question of the return from the Middle East of the 2nd New Zealand Division. In doing so I assure you that I am fully aware of the exigencies of the war situation both in this part of the world and in the North African theatre. For some considerable time we in New Zealand have been of the opinion that, in view of the growing difficulties of the manpower position and of our increased and increasing commitments in the Pacific area, this request should be made, but both my colleagues and I felt that it would be inappropriate to do so in the adverse circumstances which have existed hitherto in the Middle East and in Russia. However, it was always my intention at the proper time and when the situation in Egypt became easier, to place the whole position before you. It was felt as late as August of this year, when approval was given for the despatch of reinforcements for the Middle East,1 that the urgent needs of that theatre outweighed those of the area in which New Zealand itself is situated. Now, however, with the launching of the most promising Anglo-American offensive,2 the immediate security of the Middle East, which we have always regarded as of such vital importance, appears for all practical purposes to have been achieved, and with the accession of large new forces from the United States and Britain the presence of one New Zealand division in this theatre becomes a matter of diminishing importance. Here in the Pacific, on the other hand, we are faced not only with the possibility that Japan may launch further offensive action, both to retrieve the situation resulting from her recent setbacks and to take advantage of the preoccupations of the United Nations in Europe and in Africa, but also with what we regard as the necessity that the United Nations should launch a counter-offensive at the earliest possible date. It is felt that the place of the 2nd New Zealand Division in either case is here in the South Pacific.

Now that, at our own request, the New Zealand land and air forces have been placed under the Commander of the South Pacific Area,3 we anticipate that increasingly heavy demands will inevitably be made upon the resources of this Dominion, both in manpower and in materials. Already, as you know, in response

2 United States and British forces under the command of General Eisenhower landed in North Africa on 8 Nov.

3 Vice-Admiral W. F. Halsey, United States Navy, had succeeded Vice-Admiral R. L. Ghormley on 18 Oct 1942 as Commander South Pacific Area. See also Volume III.

page 143 to requests from the Commander of the South Pacific Area, we have readily and promptly agreed to send a New Zealand division for service in the Islands, and part of it has already proceeded to its several destinations.1 It has been decided that, in addition to our Army commitments, the New Zealand Air Force also should be trained and equipped to undertake an offensive role in the Pacific, and I should add that for some time now a large proportion of our limited force of modern aircraft has been operating in Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, and other Pacific islands. New Zealand is now endeavouring to complete preparations for an air force of sixteen squadrons to serve in the Pacific, with an ultimate aim of achieving a force of thirty squadrons.

It will be appreciated that with our extremely limited manpower resources, which have now reached straining point, it is impossible for us to maintain two divisions overseas and an adequate Home Defence force in addition to our air commitments, which include of course the Empire Air Training Scheme, and our comparatively small, but increasingly useful, naval units. In fact the limit of our manpower resources in New Zealand has been reached. Up to the present over 163,000 men and 5000 women have been taken from industry. We now find ourselves unable to reach the establishment which our Chiefs of Staff laid down as the minimum force required for the defence of the Dominion.2

The question of production of food and other supplies, both for the United Kingdom and the South Pacific Area, also arises. The United States Forces are becoming increasingly dependent on New Zealand's resources for those essential supplies and services which we must endeavour to provide under the Mutual Aid Agreement.3 To maintain production it has already become necessary to strip the Army of a large number of its personnel and return such men to industry, and in considering the needs of essential industry and our commitments in respect of the armed forces, we are now forced to come to the decision to reduce establishment below the level which our military advisers regard as sufficient.

I think that you should be told also of the attitude of the New Zealand people, both Maori and European, towards the return of the 2nd Division from overseas. The First Echelon left New Zealand three years ago next January and the greater proportion of

1 See Volume III, Formation and Employment of 3rd NZ Division. The 3rd NZ Division sailed from New Zealand for New Caledonia in November–December 1942. In October the 34th Battalion had been detached from the 3rd Division to garrison Tonga and the 36th Battalion was sent to Norfolk Island.

2 See Volume III, Defence of New Zealand.

3 On 3 Sep 1942, by an exchange of notes between the United States Secretary of State (Cordell Hull) and the New Zealand Minister in Washington (Hon. W. Nash), New Zealand and the United States agreed to exchange mutual aid.

page 144 the men now fighting in the Middle East have been away from this country for well over two years. There is general feeling in the country that our men have a strong claim to return, particularly in view of the extremely heavy casualties which our Division has suffered—some 18,500 so far out of a total of 43,500 sent to the Middle East—and further, that our own tried and well-trained troops should be used in the Pacific area for the defence of New Zealand.

Lastly, I must draw your attention to the effect on public opinion in New Zealand of the possible withdrawal of the 9th Australian Division from the Middle East, concerning which Mr. Curtin has now sent me advice.1 It will be appreciated that it would be absolutely impossible for the New Zealand Government to resist the strong feeling to which I have referred should it become known that all three Australian divisions have returned. Therefore, I feel bound to place the whole matter fully and frankly before you and to ask that effect should be given to this request as soon as circumstances permit.

I fully realise that there will be difficulties and embarrassments, particularly in regard to shipping, but I hope that it will be possible to make some adequate and early provision.

The despatch of the reinforcements which we had undertaken to send to the Middle East, and for which transport is already bound for New Zealand is, of course, the urgent question at the moment. It will be necessary, therefore, to give further consideration to this matter upon receipt of your reply to this telegram.

In conclusion, I would like to make it plain that it is not our intention to regard the 2nd NZEF as a force to be stationed permanently in New Zealand itself. We are firmly convinced that a long and difficult conflict with Japan lies ahead, irrespective of the success of any operations against Italy and Germany, and that a forward move against Japan must be made by the United Nations at the earliest possible date. We would wish to participate to the fullest extent of our capacity in any such offensive in the Pacific.

Unmistakable evidence of its fixed determination to fight this war through to the end has, I hope, been given by this Dominion, and the losses we have suffered in successive campaigns are proof of the spirit of the New Zealand people and of their willingness to make every sacrifice to this end.

I know that you will give full and sympathetic consideration to this matter, and that the reasons which induce me to raise it will be appreciated.

1 This telegram, dated 16 Nov, is not published. It contained for Mr. Fraser's information a copy of a telegram from Mr. Curtin to President Roosevelt on the withdrawal of the 9th Division from the Middle East.

page 145

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

24 November 1942

Your telegram of 19 November.

It would cause me much regret to see the New Zealand Division quit the scene of its glories, but I quite understand your feelings and am aware how embarrassing the withdrawal of the 9th Australian Division would be to you. At my request the whole situation is being reviewed by the Chiefs of Staff in London. In the meanwhile, I send you a copy of the telegram I have today despatched to Mr. Curtin. I am sure that, having regard to the great contribution the United States are now making to the defence of the Southern Pacific and the still greater efforts we must expect from them, it would be a mistake for Australia and New Zealand to ignore the opinion of the United States military authorities.

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

24 November 1942

The following is a repetition of my telegram to Mr. Curtin:

We recognise, of course, that the withdrawal of the 9th Australian Division from the Mediterranean theatre rests with the Commonwealth Government. However, the United States Forces are now heavily engaged both in helping to defend Australia and in mastering French North Africa as a prelude to further action in Europe. Therefore, they are entitled to have the opportunity of considering the position as a whole and of making any representations to you which may appear to them desirable.

It appears probable that the Eastern Mediterranean will be the scene of large-scale action in the early spring, and the position of Turkey is therefore of peculiar interest. Should the 9th Australian Division be withdrawn to Australia, it will, of course, have to be replaced in time either by British or American forces. The present acute and aggravated shipping stringency makes it necessary to save tonnage as much as possible. For instance, it might be most economical to move one of the American divisions in Australia or destined for the Pacific direct to Suez, where the 9th Australian page 146 Division could be picked up on the return journey. There might be no other way of maintaining the necessary strength in the Middle East. On the other hand, it might be possible to transport the Australians from the Middle East as an isolated shipping operation. This again would necessarily be at the expense of our general power to move troops about the world, and would have to be considered in its relation to the dominating military exigencies. The matter is one on which the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Washington, who alone have the central point of view, should advise in the first instance.

So far as we are concerned, your wishes, of course, will not be opposed, although we greatly regret the departure from the Middle East theatre of a division which has rendered distinguished service. The object should be to bring the greatest number of United Nations' divisions into contact with the enemy, and certainly it would appear more helpful to the common cause if fresh troops were moved from the United States into the Pacific and into action against Japan, rather than that troops already engaged with the enemy in another part of the world should be withdrawn.

I feel bound to put these points before you as I know the great importance which you have always attached to American opinion, and also how much you value the substantial aid the United States has given to the defence of Australia.

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

2 December 1942

Your telegram of 19 November (No. 176).

The following is the text of a further telegram I have sent to Mr. Curtin about the return of the 9th Australian Division:

My professional advisers and I are very sorry that you continue to press for the move of the 9th Australian Division, which we do not consider is in accordance with the general strategic interests of the United Nations.

Nevertheless, to meet your wishes I shall recommend to the President that the 9th Australian Division returns to Australia as soon as shipping can be provided. This will probably be early page 147 in the New Year. I may say that a loss to us in personnel shipping-lift of 10,000 men in the WS1 convoys and 20,000 in the trans-Atlantic build-up for the invasion of the Continent will result from this move.

We very much regret that we cannot arrange for the equipment of your division to be returned to Australia. The cost to our offensive operations of the cargo and MT2 shipping necessary for this movement could not be faced.

You will like to know that, in response to an urgent request by the Americans for naval help in the Pacific, we are proposing to offer them the two modern armoured aircraft carriers Victorious3 and Illustrious4, under the command of a British Admiral, for service under American orders in the Pacific. These are among the most vital units we possess, and we have only four of this class. In exchange we are asking for the Ranger from the Atlantic. I hope that an additional and important re-insurance for the safety of Australia will result from this movement.

The fact that we are losing the Australian Division makes the retention of the New Zealand Division in the Middle East more necessary for us though your difficulties are understood. The return of the New Zealand Division would involve a further loss in shipping-lift of 10,000 men in WS convoys and 40,000 in the trans-Atlantic build-up for the invasion of the Continent. The reason for the loss of lift for the move of the New Zealand Division being greater than that for the move of the Australian Division is that the big personnel ships happen to be arriving at Suez at a convenient time for the move of the latter. To move the New Zealand Division they would have to return to Egypt from Australia. I could not, therefore, commit myself to any definite date for the shipping.

1 WS were the letters used by the Admiralty to designate convoys outward bound from the United Kingdom, as distinct from inward-bound, or US, convoys.

2 Mechanical transport.

3 HMS Victorious, Fleet aircraft carrier, 23,000 tons, 16 4.5-inch guns.

4 HMS Illustrious, Fleet aircraft carrier, 23,000 tons, 16 4.5-inch guns.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia

4 December 1942

For your information I am repeating in my immediately following telegram a message I have sent today to Mr. Churchill regarding the return of the 2nd New Zealand Division from the Middle East.

page 148

It will be noticed that we fully realise, and have indicated to Mr. Churchill, that the situation of Australia is not necessarily the same as in New Zealand and, indeed, that in material respects they do differ.

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.

page 149

The New Zealand Minister (Washington)1 to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

5 December 1942

The following is for the Chief of the General Staff from Brigadier Williams:2

At a meeting on 4 December which I attended, the Combined Chiefs of Staff considered the question of the return of the Australian and New Zealand divisions from the Middle East.

The following is the decision reached:


Every military argument is against the move, which will involve a definite reduction of impact upon the enemy in 1943 and a major diversion of shipping resources urgently required.


The ships required for the move would not be available for urgent troop movements for three months at least. This would seriously dislocate United Kingdom and United States movements now in train.

Both the Australian and New Zealand representatives strongly represented the manpower situation, as well as the demands being made for Australian and New Zealand troops in the South-West and South Pacific and the likelihood of them increasing.

The United States Chiefs of Staff spoke bluntly against the move. Marshall3 stated that he was fully convinced that the defence of Australia and New Zealand would be weakened by the return of these divisions at this stage. The Combined Staffs were now hard put to find ships for movements already approved. Lack of ships was preventing the reinforcement of Burma and the Far East, where operations under consideration would put troops in contact with the enemy. This would have important repercussions on the defence of Australia and New Zealand. He appreciated the points advanced but expressed grave concern regarding military implications which impeded the war effort as a whole.

It was stated by the Combined Planners that if movement was decided for reasons other than military: (a) shipping could be found for personnel only at the expense of United Kingdom and United States troop movements, but not for the return of divisional

1 Hon. W. Nash.

2 Brigadier A. B. Williams, DSO; Commander Royal New Zealand Artillery, Army HQ, Dec 1939–Feb 1942; New Zealand Army representative on British Joint Staff Mission, Washington, Feb 1942–Oct 1943; Commandant, Central Military District, Oct 1943–Dec 1944; Commandant, Northern Military District, Mar 1945–Apr 1947.

3 General of the Army the Hon. George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, United States Army, 1939–45; Special Representative of the President to China (as Ambassador), 1945–47; Secretary of State, 1947–49; Secretary of Defence, 1950–51.

page 150 equipment; (b) the ship now en route to New Zealand1 for reinforcements would have to be stopped and returned to South Africa empty.

During the discussion Marshall stated that another United States; division was now en route to Australia; he also suggested that if it was not possible to reinforce the divisions in the Middle East it would be better in the circumstances to reduce establishments. Dill pointed out that maintaining troops with dwindling numbers was bad for morale, but he appreciated that shipping considerations were of enormous importance.

It was also pointed out that the move would weaken the forces, in the Middle East while operations are in progress, and that the reduction of forces for subsequent operations envisaged would have a bad effect on the British and Indian troops who have been in the Middle East for a longer period.

The decision of the Combined Chiefs of Staff is being submitted to Mr. Churchill and the President.

1 Aquitania, 44,786 tons, Cunard White Star.

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

6 December 1942

We are deeply grateful to you and to the Government and people of New Zealand for the most generous manner in which you have responded to our appeal to allow the glorious New Zealand Division to represent the Dominion on the African battlefield. Naturally you are free to reconsider your decision at any time, especially if your own situation deteriorates. I am sure that our feelings of admiration for New Zealand and all she stands for will be shared by the President of the United States.

It looks as if Rommel will not stand at Agheila, and by the time this reaches you he may well be taking another big bound backwards. We shall follow hotfoot on his heels. The haunting anxiety that the fortress of Malta would be starved out, which we have endured for so many months and for the sake of which we have made such heavy sacrifices both in warships and supply vessels, has been swept away by the arrival there of a second British convoy from Alexandria. In Tunisia our vanguards have been sharply checked and it will be necessary to go over to the defensive for a week or more while air and armour come up from the main body. While the going was page 151 good it was quite right to go on pell-mell, and thereby we have gained an immense amount of territory, including seaports from which we can strike with our surface craft at enemy convoys. Everything will be done to drive the Axis out of Tunisia at the earliest moment. The war in that theatre is very costly for them because of the immense toll we shall levy on their reinforcements.

The United States have preferred to have only one British armoured carrier1 and to keep their own Ranger instead of sending us the Ranger and taking two armoured carriers from us. The latter plan would have been preferred by us as it would have given us more say in the tasks we will be set. Still, as a result of the moves there will be two more carriers in the Pacific. All good wishes and kindest regards.

1 HMS Victorious joined the United States Pacific Fleet in March 1943.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the New Zealand Minister (Washington)

1 December 1942

Your telegram of 5 December (No. 182). The matter referred to in Williams's message to Puttick has been disposed of for the present so far as New Zealand is concerned, as indicated in my telegram of 5 December.2

In view of the implication that consideration for the defence of New Zealand was the reason for my raising the question of the return of the New Zealand Division with Churchill, I am most anxious that our attitude should not be misunderstood, and I should be glad if you could find it possible to make it plain to all concerned that this was not the case. The desirability of associating ourselves in some substantial manner with the offensive in the South Pacific was the primary consideration in our minds. Our power to do this is, of course, at present very much limited by manpower difficulties, though we are as you know endeavouring to prepare the 3rd Division for this task. In this connection, and with reference to your most secret and personal telegram of 4 December,3 you should note that page 152 the 3rd Division is at present very much scattered with portions in New Caledonia, New Zealand, Fiji, Norfolk, and Tonga. Until it has been concentrated, strengthened, equipped, and trained as a unit for its task, it cannot be ready for offensive operations. This will, of course, take some time.

2 Not published. This telegram from Mr. Fraser repeated for Mr. Nash's information the texts of Nos. 1779 and 181.

3 Not published. In this telegram Mr. Nash reported on discussions with Sir John Dill, Head of the British Joint Staff Mission, Washington, and Admiral E. J. King, Commander-in-Chief United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, on the utilisation of New Zealand troops in the Pacific. He stated that Admiral King had said that he ‘was anxious to use our men in the best way possible. He recognised their fighting quality and would see they were used. Some relief was needed for the men on Guadalcanal and we might be able to help.’

Letter from the United States Naval Attaché (Wellington) to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

8 December 1942

My Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I have the honour to transmit the following radio message from the President of the United States of America:

I have been delighted to learn you are leaving the New Zealand Division in the Middle East for the present. This action on the part of your Government is a renewed evidence of our mutual military interests. I believe you have done the right thing. It is altogether generous. Roosevelt.

J. P. Olding


Captain, US Navy,
US Naval Attaché

Letter from the Prime Minister to the United States Naval Attaché

11 December 1942

Dear Captain Olding


I am very much obliged to you for your note of 8 December conveying to me the text of a message from President Roosevelt. Would you be good enough to forward the following reply from me to the President:

Thank you so much for your kind message. As you know, our one object is to further the common cause to the best of our ability and resources. We are most anxious to assist effectively in due course in the offensive in the South Pacific, and this was our primary motive in raising with Churchill the possibility of the return to this area of our Division in the Middle East.

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In the circumstances we have agreed that this is at present impracticable, and though our contemplated co-operation in the Pacific will necessarily be less powerful we will, nevertheless, do all we can.

Yours sincerely


P. Fraser


Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of Australia to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

14 December 1942

Your telegram of 4 December (No. 180).

In my immediately following telegram I am communicating for your information the text of a message which I have sent to the President regarding the return of the 9th Division to Australia.1

Although New Zealand and Australia are in separate areas, you will recall from our exchange of telegrams in March, when the proposals for the sub-division of the Pacific theatre were being discussed, that we both considered that our two countries should be in the one strategical area. We accepted the arrangements but retained our view that, from the aspect of defence, our two countries were interdependent and that, to quote from your telegram of 26 March,2Australia and New Zealand were inevitably one strategical whole in which already a substantial degree of co-operation, both military and economic, has been achieved.’

You will agree, I am sure, that nothing has since transpired to alter that view, and the division which has been made should not affect a united front against Japan by Australia and New Zealand. To that end we have sought to assist you with munitions and other supplies to the greatest extent of our capacity.

The struggle in New Guinea has, I believe, important implications from the point of view of the security of New Zealand. You will note from my telegram to the President the difficulties of the New Guinea campaign, and the fact that there is a pressing need for the services of the 9th Division in the South-West Pacific Area. You

1 Not published. In this telegram Mr. Curtin emphasised the pressing need for the services of the 9th Australian Division in the South-West Pacific Area because of the ‘immense wastage’ in personnel in New Guinea through battle casualties and malaria and the need for the 6th and 7th Divisions to have a prolonged rest after the Buna operations. He also advised President Roosevelt that the manpower position in the Commonwealth necessitated a reduction in the strength of the Australian Army by two divisions.

2 See Volume III, Command in the Pacific: Extension of Anzac Area.

page 154 will also recall from paragraph 11 of my message of 16 November to President Roosevelt1 that our advisers consider that three further divisions are necessary in the South-West Pacific Area, of which the 9th Australian Division will be one. In view of the very direct interest which New Zealand has in the outcome of operations in New Guinea, we feel that you should be in no doubt about the situation confronting our forces there. In Timor, where we have small guerrilla forces only, a considerable increase in enemy activity and reinforcements has also been noted.

1 Not published. Paragraph 11 read:

Decisions on global strategy have been taken by Mr. Churchill and yourself. At considerable risk to the security of Australia, the Commonwealth Government has shown a ready willingness to co-operate in other theatres. This has been demonstrated by the service overseas of our naval, land, and air forces and our continued participation in the Empire Air Training Scheme. The Government considers that the contributions it has made to other theatres entitles it to the assurance that the fullest possible support will be given to the situation in the Pacific. You will recall that the military advisers of the Commonwealth Government consider that three further divisions are necessary in the South-West Pacific area. In view of its responsibilities for the local defence of Australia and in the light of the views of its advisers, the Government feels that the maximum strength of the Australian forces should be concentrated in the South-West Pacific area to meet all the contingencies of the military situation in the Pacific.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of Australia

16 December 1942

I have to thank you very much for your telegram of 14 December and for the texts of your communications to President Roosevelt and of Earle Page's message to Mr. Bruce.2 The views that we have previously expressed on the sub-division of the Pacific theatre have not been altered in the slightest degree, and we are as firmly convinced now as we were then that Australia and New Zealand should be in the one strategical area. However, like you we accepted the arrangements and are doing our best to make them work. It is a great satisfaction to us to know that Australia still holds the same view and, as I am sure you know, we have never been unmindful or unappreciative of the assistance that is being given us by the Commonwealth. The importance to us and to the Allied cause in the Pacific of the magnificent effort made by Australia in New Guinea under such tremendous difficulties is fully realised, and we fully concur in your view that the struggle in New Guinea has important page 155 implications from the point of view of New Zealand's security. The struggle in the South Pacific has, of course, similar implications from the standpoint of the security of Australia, and, as you no doubt know, in spite of the very real manpower difficulties that we are experiencing, we are now in the process of sending a division to New Caledonia which will play its part in operations against the Japanese in due course. There is no doubt whatever in our minds that nothing that happens in the South-West Pacific can fail to affect the South Pacific and vice versa, and we fully share your view that whatever the division of the Pacific we must both regard our problems as one and should co-operate to the fullest possible extent in policy and in the exchange of material, information, and if necessary, of actual forces.

With regard to the question of the return to the Pacific of the 2nd New Zealand Division now in the Middle East, our primary object in raising this matter with Mr. Churchill was to enable us to play a more effective part in operations in the Pacific. We fully realised then, as we do now, that Australian and New Zealand problems are one in essence. Nevertheless, and notwithstanding this general principle, we felt that different considerations did apply to the return of the 9th Australian Division as compared with that of the 2nd New Zealand Division, and that the decision to be made by Australia did indeed differ materially because of different circumstances from that to be made by New Zealand. Of such fundamental importance did the matter seem to us that we felt it necessary to refer it to Parliament in secret session, and it was the unanimous opinion of the House that it would be impossible for us to press at this time for the return of our Division. As you know, I personally and specifically reserved the right to raise the matter again, and I hope it will be possible for us to keep in the closest contact in the future on this question.

2 This message, dated 15 Dec, from the Rt. Hon. Sir Earle Page to the Rt. Hon. S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner for Australia in London, is not published. It contained Page's views on the need for the immediate return of the 9th Division to Australia.

The Prime Minister of Australia to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

18 December 1942

I wish to thank you for your telegram of 16 December.

I am pleased to know that we remain in complete agreement on the aspect of the strategical interdependence of our two countries. Your remarks on the question of the return of the 2nd New Zealand Division to the Pacific are noted. On this matter I should greatly appreciate the maintenance of the closest contact between us.