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

480 — General Freyberg (London) to the Prime Minister

General Freyberg (London) to the Prime Minister

22 August 1945

Your telegram of 21 August.

The total number of single men in the 11th to 15th Reinforcements now in the Mediterranean area is only 7500. I am not hopeful of getting 5000 all ranks as volunteers for service in Japan from this number. Further, we would not get the correct proportion of officers, NCOs or specialists to form a balanced brigade group. In the circumstances I do not feel that a voluntary system will succeed. I do not wish to call for volunteers unless you so direct, because should we fail, as I feel we should, it would prevent the subsequent detailing of these men as an ordinary military duty. As an alternative plan, I feel there will be no difficulty or hardship should we detail 5000 single men from the 11th to 15th Reinforcements under the conditions set out in your telegram of 21 August. Even so, I feel that certain officers and key personnel outside the 11th to 15th Reinforcements will have to remain until replacements from New Zealand are made available. If you decide to provide the force from our resources in the Mediterranean page 514 area, I feel that such a course is the only solution to the problem. I realise the reliefs suggested in your telegram will have to be accelerated unless the men are called upon to remain a few months after their present engagement for military service has been completed.1 I have consulted [Brigadiers] Stevens2 and Gentry,3 who is at present administering command of the Division, and the above also represents their opinion.

1 Members of the 2nd NZEF enlisted ‘for the duration of the war and twelve months thereafter, or until lawfully discharged’. See Vol. I, Formation and Despatch of First Echelon, p. 34, note 4.

2 Maj-Gen W. G. Stevens, CB, CBE; Officer in Charge of Administration, 2 NZEF, 1940–45; GOC 2 NZEF, 22 Nov 1945–6 Jul 1946.

3 Maj-Gen Sir William Gentry, KBE, CB, DSO and bar, MC (Gk), Bronze Star (US); comd 6 Bde Sep 1942–Apr 1943; Deputy Chief of General Staff 1943–44; comd NZ Troops in Egypt, 6 NZ Div, and NZ Maadi Camp, Aug 1944–Feb 1945; 9 Bde (Italy) 1945; Deputy Chief of General Staff, 1946–47; Adjutant-General, 1949–52; Chief of General Staff, 1952–55.