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

181 — The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

15 April 1942

Following my telegram to you of 12 April, I wrote to Admiral King and raised the questions to which you required answers, and gave him copies of your telegram [No. 179] and my telegram [No. 180]. He has now replied as follows:

‘Dear Mr Nash,

Message number [179] of 5 April, addressed to you by the Government of New Zealand, raises certain points in connection with our proposed directive to the Commander of the Pacific Ocean area on which your Government desires additional information. The following is the position of the United States Chiefs of Staff:


With regard to the control of New Zealand forces in Fiji: although under the terms of our directive the forces in Fiji come under the operational control of the Commander of the South Pacific area, they remain directly under the New Zealand General Officer now commanding them. None of these forces will be moved from Fiji without informing and obtaining the concurrence of the New Zealand Government.


With regard to the possible movement of New Zealand troops out of New Zealand territory, the following by the United States Chiefs of Staff to the President is self-explanatory:

page 203

“The proposals of the United States Chiefs of Staff (for operations in the Pacific Ocean areas) made to the President of the United States as Commander-in-Chief are subject to review by him from the standpoint of higher political considerations and to reference by him to the Pacific War Council in Washington when necessary. The interests of nations whose forces or whose land possessions might be involved in these military operations are further safeguarded by the power each nation retains to refuse the use of its forces for any project which it considers inadvisable.” This communication is explanatory of and should be read in conjunction with the directive to which it thus becomes a part. The United States Chiefs of Staff would be glad to receive in due course the formal acceptance of the Government of New Zealand.

‘I wish at this time to express to you and to the New Zealand Government the appreciation of the United States Chiefs of Staff for the frank and direct way in which this subject has been handled. The co-operative attitude of New Zealand is emphasised in this instance by the fact that your Government does not agree with our strategical division of the Pacific theatre. The United States Chiefs of Staff will do everything in their power to prevent the occurrence of difficulties which your Government anticipate as the result of this division. I should also like you to know personally that your co-operation has been of the greatest assistance to us.

Very sincerely,
(Signed) E. J. King,
Admiral, United States Navy, Commander-in-Chief
United States Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations.’

In accordance with your views I have sent the following reply:

‘Acting on the instructions of my Prime Minister contained in his cable to me numbered [179], 5 April, and accepting the answers set out in your letter of yesterday (14 April) I now advise you of the agreement of the New Zealand Government with the proposed directives, and at the same time extend their assurance to you and the United States Government that all the resources of New Zealand and its peoples will be used in the fullest co-operation with you and your commanders to assist in carrying the present struggle to a successful conclusion.

Yours sincerely


(Signed) W. Nash.’