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

447 — The Hon. W. Nash to the Prime Minister New Zealand Delegation, San Francisco

page 472

The Hon. W. Nash to the Prime Minister New Zealand Delegation, San Francisco

12 May 1945

There has been some discussion in various quarters about our men going to Burma, and the general opinion expressed is that it would be undesirable. There is as well general speculation as to the future of the Division and a clear public desire to have a definite statement of our intentions as soon as possible. Nothing has been said in the editorial sections of the press due, I am certain, to the fact that at the press conference I took the editors fully into our confidence, explaining that we were waiting for advice from the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff and yourself before a decision could be taken. It would be unwise to have an unduly long delay before issuing a definite statement of policy from the Government. The question will undoubtedly be raised at the Hamilton by-election….1

Public opinion is not rigid on the issues. At the ceremony in connection with the cessation of hostilities the references to carrying on against Japan were received with some applause. War Cabinet considers that a statement should be made as soon as possible indicating that the question is being given some attention, that we have sought the advice of the competent authorities overseas with a view to deciding how best we can make an effective contribution to the war against Japan, and that, immediately this information becomes available, a decision will be taken and publicly notified. I have it in mind to make this statement in the very near future, but would be glad of any comments you might have to offer. Receipt of the United Kingdom appreciation would certainly be helpful, and I am glad to note from your telegram received here yesterday that Park has been asked to telegraph it here to us.2

You will have seen Freyberg's telegram of 8 May in which he refers to the general question of future employment and seeks approval of a draft statement he has prepared for issue to the men.3 On this we expect to be telegraphing him very shortly.

1 A personal reference is omitted.

3 See Vol. II, Return of 2nd Division to New Zealand, No. 462.