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

346 — Lieutenant-General Puttick to Commander, South Pacific Area (Administrative Headquarters, Auckland) — Employment of New Zealand Troops in the Pacific

Lieutenant-General Puttick to Commander, South Pacific Area (Administrative Headquarters, Auckland)

21 October 1942

Employment of New Zealand Troops in the Pacific

1. As you have already been informed,2 I have been compelled by the circumstances obtaining at the time to provide the garrison required for Norfolk Island and the battalion for Tonga from the 3rd Division, which has been preparing for overseas service in the Pacific.

2. The major deficiencies in Kiwi ‘C’ caused by the above withdrawals from the Division are being made good by drawing on the Home Defence Forces. I anticipate that Kiwi ‘C’, as constituted in the attached Order of Battle,3 will be ready to embark by the page 364 dates stated in your signal 170745.1 There may be shortages in personnel and equipment, but these will be made good at the first available opportunity.

3. I enclose herewith for your information copy of a memorandum to 3rd Division.2 To assist you, I have inserted against artillery units the number and type of guns each will have.

4. Obviously it is very desirable that the forces provided for Norfolk Island and Tonga should be relieved as soon as practicable, but I realise that some time may elapse before this can be done. I regard as impracticable and possibly dangerous the proposal to effect this relief now, with the troops mentioned in paragraph 2 above. My view is also that of the War Cabinet.

5. So far as Norfolk Island is concerned, I am making arrangements to provide suitable forces for relief but cannot say at the moment when they will be ready. Approval of War Cabinet would be necessary for any move of this nature and would be influenced by the circumstances obtaining at the time.

6. As regards Tonga, the request for a battalion to relieve a United States battalion there was recommended by me and approved by the New Zealand War Cabinet in view of the operations in the Pacific and because, presumably, the United States battalion was urgently required elsewhere. This move results in a New Zealand battalion forming part of an American combat team under American command, involves a mixture of arms, ammunition, etc., and leads to dispersal of New Zealand forces and increased administrative work. It appears to me to be inadvisable, except in cases of operational urgency, to mix our forces on this level and I suggest that the position should be rectified as soon as possible, by a United States battalion relieving the New Zealand battalion which could then rejoin its own infantry brigade, or return to New Zealand as War Cabinet might direct.

7. If you concur in this view, I would request that steps be taken to make the necessary re-adjustment as early as is practicable.

8. May I give my assurance of the earnest desire of the New Zealand Army to co-operate fully with United States Forces.

(Sgd) E. Puttick,
commanding new zealand military forces

2 This signal is not published.

3 Not published.

1 Not published. The date given for the main group was 7 November.

2 Not published.