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

456 — The acting Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1

page 486

The acting Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1

21 June 1945

We are completing plans for a New Zealand land force for employment in operations in the war against Japan, very likely in South-East Asia Command, and these provide for a force of a capital strength of 16,000 men consisting of two brigade groups and units needed for lines of communication.

2. We are anxious that a suitable component should be added to this force in order to complete it to the strength of a division, so ensuring that it can fight to advantage and effectively as a unit of the forces deployed against Japan. We had it in mind, if this were agreeable to the Government of Fiji and yourself, that the Fiji Brigade, the majority of officers and NCOs of which are provided by New Zealand, might be attached to this force. We are aware that it was proposed to employ this brigade with the Australian forces but understand that this has not been pursued.

3. Recently we consulted General Freyberg regarding the use of the Fiji Brigade and he feels that good use could be made of their infantry battalions, their engineers and a number of men for small units. The approximate numbers would be: Divisional Defence and Employment Company, 250 other ranks; Brigade Defence Platoons (3 × 23), 69 other ranks; Field Company of Engineers, 259 other ranks; Infantry battalions (3 × 786), 2358 other ranks: Total, 2936 other ranks. First reinforcement for 1946, 500 other ranks. Grand total, 3436. We would be glad if we could be informed, and early advice on this point would be appreciated, whether the Fiji Government and His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom would be agreeable to the employment of the Fiji Brigade with the New Zealand forces.

4. We would like it to be understood that we have not yet reached a final decision in this matter, and indeed such a decision will not be taken until Parliament meets and the provision of a land force from this Dominion has been settled. No details of our proposals have been released to the press, and in the meantime we would be grateful if the fullest reserve with respect to this proposal could be maintained. Should the proposed employment of the Fiji Brigade be accepted and the decision to provide a force approved, then arrangements regarding announcement will be concerted with the Governor of Fiji and yourself.

1 Repeated to the Governor of Fiji.