Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III
59 — 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
My telegram of 2 September [No. 54].
1. I am still inclined to think that Japan will not run into war with the ABCD powers unless or until Russia is decisively broken. Perhaps page 67 even then they will wait for the promised invasion of the British Isles in the spring. Russian resistance is still strong, especially in front of Moscow, and winter is now near.
2. Admiralty dispositions had been to build up towards the end of the year with the Rodney,1, Nelson2 and four R's,3 based mainly on Singapore. This, however, was spoiled by the recent injury to the Nelson, which will take three or four months to repair.
3. In the interval, in order further to deter Japan, we are sending forthwith our newest battleship, the Prince of Wales,4 to join the Repulse5 in the Indian Ocean. This is done in spite of the protests of the Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet, and is a serious risk for us to run. The Prince of Wales will be noticed at Capetown quite soon. In addition the four R battleships are being moved as they become ready to Eastern waters. Later on the Repulse will be relieved by the Renown,6 which has a greater radius.
4. In my view the Prince of Wales will be the best possible deterrent, and every effort will be made to spare her permanently. I must, however, make it clear that the movements of the Prince of Wales must be reviewed when she is at Capetown because of the danger of the Tirpitz breaking out and other operational possibilities before the Duke of York7 is ready in December.
2 Personal messages between Mr Churchill and Mr Fraser sometimes carried the distinguishing codenames Winch and Pefra, derived from the christian name and surname of the sender of the message.
1 HMS Rodney, 33,900 tons, nine 16–inch guns, 23½ knots.
4 HMS Prince of Wales, 35,000 tons, ten 14–inch guns, 27 knots.
5 HMS Repulse, 30,755 tons, six 15–inch guns, 29 knots.
6 HMS Renown, 32,000 tons, six 15–inch guns, 29 knots.