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

259 — The Prime Minister to General Freyberg

page 293

The Prime Minister to General Freyberg

26 December 1941

The following is secret and personal for General Freyberg:

Your telegram of 8 December.1 In view of the situation in the Pacific and the threat to Fiji, which has recently increased enormously in importance, we are considering the necessity of diverting to that area some or all of the 8th Reinforcements intended for the Middle East. We have, of course, no intention of ignoring our responsibility for maintaining the Middle East Forces at proper strength, though neither we nor you can disregard the possibility that events in this part of the world may greatly increase our difficulties in this respect. Should it be necessary to divert the 8th Reinforcements as suggested,2 I am sure you will understand the position, and I should greatly appreciate your comments.3

1 See Vol. II, No. 51. Headquarters 2nd NZEF asked if the outbreak of war with Japan would affect the supply of reinforcements to the Middle East.

2 On 27 December Army Headquarters advised Headquarters 2nd NZEF that the sailing of the 8th Reinforcements had been postponed indefinitely.

3 General Freyberg replied on 5 Jan 1942 that he fully appreciated the present circumstances in the Pacific, and added that the reinforcement situation in the Middle East was ‘quite satisfactory for some months to come’. See Vol. II, No. 54, for full text.