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

223 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1

page 260

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1

5 April 1942

I am grateful for your telegrams [Nos. 221 and 222] and I appreciate the endeavours which have been and are being made by the United Kingdom Government to strengthen the forces in New Zealand. With regard to paragraph 2 of your telegram [No. 221], I have to confirm that we should be able to meet the personnel requirements referred to from our own resources, with the exception of certain key personnel asked for by the Air Department in their telegram A.313 dated 14 February to the Air Ministry.2 I confirm also that four troop-carrying aircraft are required as part of our larger requirements in this category of aircraft.

2. Paragraph 1 of your telegram [No. 221], which alludes to an exchange of departmental telegrams, states what were then regarded as New Zealand's immediate requirements in manned and equipped squadrons from overseas as distinct from squadrons manned and equipped in New Zealand, and excluding any air forces which might accompany United States naval forces based in New Zealand. These requirements were related to invading forces not exceeding one division. In the meantime, however, the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff have estimated that if the enemy attempted the invasion of New Zealand he might employ seven divisions out of an available ten or eleven divisions. In this connection I have asked the High Commissioner for New Zealand to furnish you with copies of my telegrams to him [Nos. 209 and 220].

3. It is, of course, of the utmost importance to New Zealand that the system of responsibility for the planning and conduct of operations in the Pacific should be decided upon with the least possible delay. When this is settled the defence requirements of New Zealand will take their place in the general allotment of forces to the Pacific from the resources of the United Nations. These requirements must be largely dependent upon the strategic intentions of the United Nations in relation to the Pacific, which so far have not been clarified. We hope then that plans will soon emerge which will provide by successive stages for the establishment of the requisite forces in New Zealand and Australia and the islands to the north, sufficient to arrest the southward movement of the Japanese and eventually sufficient to thrust the Japanese backwards whence they came.

page 261

4. In the meantime we will employ to the best advantage such forces as we have and such assistance as is now forthcoming. I will keep you informed of any urgent requirements, more particularly in specialist air personnel to enable us to form new units with equipment which may from time to time be shipped to New Zealand.

5. I still hope that all our requirements may be co-ordinated with those for Australia, and that the distribution of forces and equipment in both Australia and New Zealand may be directed by a Supreme Commander.

1 Repeated to the New Zealand Minister, Washington.

2 Not published.