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

441 — The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

27 January 1945

winchNo. 1.

1. Our plans for the prosecution of the war against Japan are now taking more definite shape, and we are considering how to employ our resources in formations, stores and shipping to the greatest advantage when the war with Germany ends. I feel that you may wish at this stage to consider with your Government the best method whereby New Zealand land forces can be brought to bear against this final enemy.

page 464

2. The considerations you advanced in your message to me, PEFRA No. 4 of 9 September 1944 [No. 439], are well appreciated here. Your decision to leave your 2nd Division to finish their great task in Italy was most welcome. They always maintain their high standard. I am glad to know that you are taking the opportunity to relieve the long-service men and thereby to refresh this famous Division.

3. If, as I believe, the New Zealand Government wish to be represented in active operations against the Japanese after Germany's defeat, the following broad alternatives for the employment of the 2nd Division are open:


To operate in South-East Asia Command under Admiral Mountbatten.


To return to New Zealand and, thereafter, possibly to be re-formed for operations in the Pacific under United States command, either in conjunction with the Australian divisions or as a unit in a United States force.

4. We should, of course, rejoice in the accession of your Division to the Commonwealth forces operating in South-East Asia Command. The development of operations for the reconquest of the Japanese-occupied territories in this theatre depends both upon the quantity and the quality of the forces which we can build up against the enemy. The presence with us of the New Zealanders would thus bring at once a contribution of the first order.

5. We do not know yet what tasks the United States Chiefs of Staff will allot to the Australian forces after the completion of the Philippines campaign, nor of the role which they would assign to a New Zealand division if it were placed under American command.

6. I hope, therefore, that when you have had an opportunity to weigh carefully the factors involved, you will decide once again to keep your Division alongside ours to the end. Anyhow, God bless you all.1

1 On 3 February General Freyberg was informed of the contents of this telegram and asked for his views and for an appreciation on the employment of a New Zealand force in the war against Japan. See Vol. II, Nos. 415, 416, 418, and 419.