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

337 — New Zealand Legation (Washington) to the Prime Minister of New Zealand — [Extract]

page 349

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

8 July 1942

To the Chief of the Naval Staff1 from the New Zealand Naval Attaché.

Following is a summary of a conversation between [Commodore] Parry and Rear-Admiral Cooke,2 who has relieved Turner3:

Reference Minister's cable [No. 304] of 24 June.4 Cominch5 considers the naval situation is considerably improved as a result of the Midway Island battle, thus reducing the probability of a Japanese attack in the South Pacific.

2. Cominch therefore proposed the removal of New Zealand troops from Fiji and suggested that New Zealand might be willing to allow them to be trained with a United States amphibian division with a view to eventual participation in offensive operations. If New Zealand agrees, the United States would provide equipment as it becomes available.

3. Owing to the shipping situation, the supply of landing craft would be facilitated if these could be assembled in New Zealand. Navy Department inquired whether the necessary plant was available, observing that plates, etc., are welded and not riveted….6

5. When offensive operations start, cominch will also require garrison troops to hold captured islands, thus allowing amphibian troops to carry out a further step forward. There will therefore be a demand for troops other than those trained in amphibian operations.

page 350

6. Navy Department also inquired whether New Zealand can provide small vessels capable of carrying 100 to 300 tons of stores and sufficiently seaworthy to follow up the operations of amphibian troops. Endurance at least 1000 miles. Ships should use oil fuel, or preferably diesel, in order to facilitate refuelling.

1 Commodore Sir Atwell Lake, Bt., CB, OBE, RN, succeeded Commodore Parry as Chief of the Naval Staff at the end of June 1942. He held the appointment until July 1945.

2 Rear-Admiral C. M. Cooke, USN; Assistant Chief of Staff to Commander-in-Chief US Fleet, 1942–44; Chief of Staff to C-in-C US Fleet, Sep 1944–Oct 1945; Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, 1945.

3 Rear-Admiral R. K. Turner, USN; Director, War Plans Division, Navy Department, Oct 1940–Jun 1942; commanded amphibian forces in the Pacific, 1943–45.

5 Commander-in-Chief (Admiral E. J. King).

6 Paragraph 4 is omitted. It dealt with the channel of communication for requests for equipment.