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

192 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom (Wellington)

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom (Wellington)

14 December 1940

Message from Mr Churchill for the most secret and personal information of Mr Fraser:

I have been thinking constantly about your inquiries, but I deferred answering till the results of the Libyan battle1 were made known.

1 The first British offensive in the Western Desert commenced on 9 December.

page 216 Those may well be far-reaching if full use is made of the success. We ran sharp risks at home in sending so many tanks and guns as well as troops all round the Cape to the Middle East when we were under heavy threat of invasion here. But now there is a reward. We are gathering in the Middle East a very large army, representing the whole Empire, in order, with all the Allies we can gather, to meet what I apprehend will be a German onslaught. This army, and the superior sea power which supports it, obviously sustain your position in eastern waters. If the Italians should be broken, Japan will become very cautious. Thus, all hangs together, and I hope that you will have good confidence in us. It has been a great comfort to feel that the New Zealand brigade group under the Great Assassin,1 as General Wilson calls him, were well forward in all this brilliant operation. At the moment I do not know whether they have yet been engaged.

2. We will certainly send you some Hudsons for action against raiders, but I know that you would not wish to take more from the north-western approaches to Great Britain than is absolutely necessary in these next few months.

3. When I spoke of our aircraft production being ahead of Germany, it was true, but since then their bombing has somewhat damped down our factories and, as we have had to lay off bombing their factories to bomb invasion ports, etc., their current figures are now slightly ahead of ours. This is only a passing phase, because our main expansion here and overseas is now on the threshold. We shall soon be better in the air.

4. The greatest anxiety is tonnage. When I mentioned the years 1943 and 1944, I was speaking of the slow processes of shipbuilding and agriculture which require to be always running in steady grooves. Of course this does not mean that I think that the war will go on as long as that. I can truly say that, having lived through a very rough time, as you will remember, I feel that we are more sure of the future than we have ever been since the war began. Every good wish.