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

374 — The Governor of Fiji to Lieutenant-General Puttick1

page 396

The Governor of Fiji to Lieutenant-General Puttick1

2 July 1943

Your telegram of 30 June [No. 372].

Please ask to see my telegram to the Prime Minister which gives in full my reason for being unwilling to break up the Brigade and despatch single battalions to different places out of the Colony. Native troops are most valuable, but account has to be taken that they are natives with language and domestic complications, and the more I consider the matter the more impracticable the proposal appears.

2. Moreover, the consequences will obviously be known to the public here and I shall have to explain to the Legislative Council why we have gone to great pains and expense to raise, train, and equip a brigade only to break it up unused and scrap the battery, engineers, etc. I can think of no reasonable explanation.

3. General Thompson2 in conversation told Wales yesterday he was confident the Brigade could soon be spared from here as United States troops who will be here anyhow to recuperate will amply suffice for all the garrison Fiji will need in future. If you like, I will ask him to confirm this to me officially and it can then be used with comsopac.

4. If you see no objection please show this to the Prime Minister and repeat to the War Office. I am most anxious to fall in with your wishes but cannot go to the length of tearing up the project agreed between New Zealand, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Colony last September.3

1 Repeated to the War Office and the Colonial Office.

2 Maj-Gen C. F. Thompson, US Army; Commanding General, US Forces in Fiji.

3 Sir Philip Mitchell and Colonel Wales had discussions early in October 1942 with Admiral Ghormley and with the New Zealand Government on the expansion and future role of the Fiji and Tonga Defence Forces. War Cabinet later approved the expansion of the Fiji Defence Force to a brigade group and agreed to supply some personnel and equipment.