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

455 — The acting Prime Minister to General Freyberg

The acting Prime Minister to General Freyberg

21 June 1945

Your telegram of 14 June and earlier messages.

War Cabinet plan to provide a capital force of 16,000 as proposed by you for participation in operations against Japan, and to furnish a reinforcement of 2500 men this year with the necessary reinforcements next [year]. We concur in the proposal outlined in your message P. 307 of 10 June2 for the retention of certain officers, but as we have decided that personnel of the reinforcements up to and including the 10th should be returned, it is considered that the 3133 men of the 3rd Division should also be repatriated.

2. We note that of the numbers required for the capital force, 12,000 are available in the Middle East. There are sufficient men now in camp page 485 with the 16th Reinforcements to permit of the despatch of an additional 1300, making a total of 4300. This will complete the capital force of 16,000 required and give 300 men towards the reinforcement of 2500 for this year. Arrangements will be made for a sufficient number of Category A men to enter camp to complete the first reinforcement which we hope to despatch from New Zealand early in October.

3. The foregoing is provisional at this juncture and it will not be possible to give a final decision until after Parliament has met and discussed the matter. The first opportunity for debate is not likely to occur until Wednesday, 4 July, and the final decision should come very shortly after that.

4. We are informing the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the Governor of Fiji1 generally of our proposals, and are inviting their agreement to employment with our forces of those elements of the Fiji Brigade indicated in your message of 12 June [No. 453]. We shall let you know the result immediately a reply is received. On the assumption that the United Kingdom and Fiji Governments are agreeable to the proposed employment of the Fiji Brigade, concerted arrangements will be made for publicity and we shall let you know in good time.

5. The United Kingdom authorities have been informed of the plans outlined in your telegram P.308 of 10 June2 for the movement of personnel to New Zealand and a request made for the provision of shipping on the dates indicated.

6. Questions concerning the disposal of divisional equipment have been discussed with the Army authorities, who are telegraphing our proposals to you separately.

7. South-East Asia Command seems the most likely theatre of employment and, in order that a decision may be taken as to this, we would be grateful if, as suggested, you would proceed and discuss the position with the Commander-in-Chief.3 We have some reservations on political grounds about the employment of our forces in Burma since the engagement of our forces in this area would have certain repercussions here. It would be preferred that our forces would be employed in some other part of the theatre, although there would be no objection to their being deployed through Burma so that they could participate in operations.

2 Not published.

1 Sir Alexander Grantham, GCMG; Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, 1944–47.

2 Not published. Contained General Freyberg's proposals for the return of various reinforcement drafts to New Zealand. The General requested the New Zealand Government to make representations to the United Kingdom Government regarding the provision of shipping.

3 The proposed visit by General Freyberg to South-East Asia Command did not take place.