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

380 — Letter from the Prime Minister to the Governor of Fiji

page 400

Letter from the Prime Minister to the Governor of Fiji

23 July 1943

My Dear Sir Philip,

I entirely appreciate and sympathize with the viewpoint you so clearly express in your personal letter to me dated 8 July.

The reasons you put forward against the splitting up of the Fijian Brigade are, I feel, from the point of view of the Native troops, thoroughly sound. I can assure you that we were just as disappointed as you were with Admiral Halsey's unwillingness to agree to the incorporation of your Brigade with our Division. We have now been forced by our manpower difficulties, as you are probably aware, to reduce our force in the Pacific to a two-Brigade Division, and we had counted on the Fijians to bring the Division up to its full strength.

In view, however, of Admiral Halsey's decision, which was expressed in very definite terms, we felt after our prolonged negotiations on the matter that we just could not press it further. General Puttick was still of the opinion, however, that it would be of the greatest advantage to our Division if we could have the assistance of at least one Fijian battalion—a course which, we considered, might have enabled us eventually to arrange for the transfer of the whole Fijian Brigade.

After the receipt of your message, members of War Cabinet and I myself on several occasions discussed the matter further with General Puttick, but we felt with him that it would be impolitic to press the matter further with Admiral Halsey at any rate for the time being.

The Hon. W. Perry,1 who has taken Mr Coates's place in the War Cabinet as Minister in Charge of Armed Forces and War Co-ordination,2 is leaving at the beginning of the week on a tour of the New Zealand Forces in the South Pacific, accompanied by General Puttick, and opportunity will no doubt be taken to refer to this matter in discussions with Admiral Halsey and perhaps they may be in a position to talk it over with you also when they arrive in Fiji.

The very kind personal wishes contained in the last paragraph of your letter are, I assure you, warmly appreciated. The happy association of my colleagues and myself with you and the Fijian Government are greatly valued and I trust that our mutual collaboration will continue to contribute in some measure towards the achievement of ultimate victory in the Pacific.

With kind regards and best wishes,

Yours sincerely


(Sgd) P. Fraser

1 Hon. Sir William Perry, Kt, MLC; Member of War Cabinet as Minister of Armed Forces and War Co-ordination, Jun 1943 – Aug 1945.

2 Mr Coates died on 27 May 1943.