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

461 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

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

4 August 1945

Your telegram of 31 July.1

Consideration has been given to the plans for British Commonwealth participation in the Japanese war, as set out in your telegram of 5 July [No. 458] and in the Prime Minister's summary of the major operational decisions reached in the Anglo-American military discussions at Berlin.2

The difficulties I referred to in my telegram of 14 July [No. 459] have now been surmounted and proposals have now been approved by Parliament for participation in the British Commonwealth Force in the forthcoming operations against Japan.

It has been agreed that New Zealand shall contribute two infantry brigades with Headquarters and Line of Communication units, as suggested in paragraph 4 of your telegram [No. 458], and that the Royal New Zealand Air Force should form part of the air component. Ships of the Royal New Zealand Navy will continue to operate with the British Pacific Fleet.

This two-brigade force will be made up of 12,000 men now serving with the 2nd Division in the European theatre, together with 4000 troops at present held in New Zealand and a further contingent of 2000 reinforcements to be sent to the Middle East training centre this year. It is planned to send 3000 further reinforcements early in 1946.

Considerable difficulties are being experienced in New Zealand at the present time owing to manpower shortages which are gravely affecting production.

2 Ibid.

page 492

In agreeing to the formation of this new land force, the Government and Parliament both consider that it is necessary at the same time to effect drastic reductions in the other two Services, including the air formations at present serving in the Pacific. Moreover, it will only be possible to provide the necessary men for the proposed land force from New Zealand if a sufficient number of suitable men are returned promptly from overseas to take their places in essential industry.

It is therefore most essential that the 20,000 men from the 2nd Division who are due to return to New Zealand to be demobilised should arrive at the earliest possible date, and I would be most grateful if urgent attention could be given to the solution of existing difficulties in regard to the provision of the requisite shipping, which is referred to in my [earlier] telegram.1

1 See Vol. II, Return of 2nd Division to New Zealand, No. 471.