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

187 — The Governor-General of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

page 211

The Governor-General of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

19 October 1940

Your Circular telegram of 16 October.

His Majesty's Government in New Zealand much appreciate the information which you have been good enough to forward with reference to the production and distribution of warlike stores in relation to the needs of Dominion land forces, and warmly welcome the steps that are being taken and the prospect of regular reports concerning the supply situation from time to time.

They attach particular importance to the early receipt of modern equipment suitable and adequate for schools of instruction and training establishments, and would be grateful for an intimation in due course of the scale and character of equipment for this purpose that is contemplated, and of the date or dates upon which it might be expected to arrive in this Dominion.

They gather also from paragraph 4 of your telegram that requirements for the coast defence of this Dominion would be regarded as of high priority and they warmly welcome this interpretation. They feel it essential, however, to express their considered views concerning that portion of paragraph 4 which indicates that New Zealand requirements other than for coast defence must be assigned a low degree of operational priority while the deficiencies in British equipment generally (the cause of which is fully understood and appreciated in New Zealand) are being overtaken. His Majesty's Government in New Zealand fully appreciate the primary necessity of supplying the needs of His Majesty's forces in the United Kingdom and in the Middle East, but it seems to them, and they hope that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will on reflection agree, that recent developments in the Far East have radically altered the whole situation in that area and that a serious attack on New Zealand, which would some months ago have been generally accepted as a highly improbable contingency, must now be looked upon as sufficiently within the bounds of possibility to warrant the preparation of plans and the provision of troops and material to meet such a threat. Recent events in this area have therefore caused His Majesty's Government in New Zealand to revise the scale of attack against which preparation must now be made, and their appreciation of the possibilities is adequately indicated by the steps that they are taking to bring the New Zealand Territorial Force up to war strength and to train the whole of it. These plans provide for a home defence Territorial Force aggregating 45,000 all ranks, and it is of course obvious that the training of page 212 these troops will lose a great part of its value unless the necessary equipment and material for their use in war is provided in adequate quantities and at the appropriate time.

As another indication of the serious view they take of the position, they have, with the concurrence of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, already arranged to despatch a Brigade Group to Fiji1 and the movement of these troops is now taking place. The provision of this force has of course made further inroads upon the equipment available in New Zealand.

It is the view of His Majesty's Government in New Zealand, therefore, that in the light of recent events it is really not possible for them to concur in the view expressed by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom that deficiencies in the requirements of the New Zealand Forces stationed within this Dominion (a full list of which has recently been despatched by air mail to the New Zealand Army Liaison Officer2 in London) can properly be assigned a low degree of operational priority, and in the circumstances they would beg His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to reconsider this matter and to request their service authorities, in co-operation with the New Zealand Army Liaison Officer, to peruse the above-mentioned list of deficiencies with a view to ascertaining to what extent and how soon it may be found possible, either from the United Kingdom or elsewhere, to meet those deficiencies.

2 Brig R. S. Park, CB, CBE; NZ Military Liaison Officer, London, 1939–46.