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

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

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

19 March 1942

Your telegram of 19 February1 and connected correspondence. The following is the text of a message sent to the Joint Staff Mission at Washington by the Chiefs of Staff as COS (W) 122:2

‘The New Zealand Government asked last month for a review of their defence problem. The following are our conclusions, though we realise it is likely to become an American problem when the Pacific area question is settled:


An early review of the proposals for the defence of New Zealand has brought to light the urgency of completing the following measures regarding New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa, which you should bring before the Combined Chiefs of Staff at the earliest possible moment:


The Anzac area should be enlarged to include the Samoan Islands (Eastern and Western).


Naval forces allocated to the Anzac area should be reinforced by three 8-inch cruisers, one large aircraft carrier and eight modern destroyers, bringing the total strength in this area to six 8-inch cruisers, three 6-inch cruisers, one large and one small aircraft carrier, four armed merchant cruisers, and twelve destroyers. This cannot be done from British resources.


The Army and Air Force should be completed to the target figures in WW 13 (see my telegram of 6 February, No. 97)3 with the following additions:

Fiji – one long-range General Reconnaissance squadron, one torpedo-bomber or medium bomber squadron.

New Caledonia – one long-range General Reconnaissance squadron.

This is not possible from British resources.

2 A copy of this message was also sent by the British Chiefs of Staff to the New Zealand Chiefs of Staff.

3 Not published. This telegram contained an estimate of the garrisons recommended for Fiji, Canton and Christmas Islands, and listed the naval, army and air requirements for their defence.

page 248

An Air Commander should be appointed to co-ordinate all air forces in islands under the strategic direction of the Commander-in-Chief Anzac area, who should also direct the necessary aerodrome development.


The United States should be invited to assume responsibility for Western Samoa, Fanning Island and French Oceania.1


The development of a protected fleet anchorage in the Fiji Group should be accelerated and adequate anti-submarine and minesweeping vessels provided.


Improved coastwatching and RDF systems should be organised.


A copy of the above has been telegraphed to New Zealand, who have been invited to comment direct to you.


Report follows by air.’

It is suggested that New Zealand views on the above be communicated to Washington for the Joint Staff Mission.