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

269 — The Prime Minister to the New Zealand Minister, Washington

page 299

The Prime Minister to the New Zealand Minister, Washington

10 April 1942

western samoa—Occupation by United States Forces.

An agreement was drawn up and signed on 20 March 1942 between Brigadier-General Larsen,1 Military Governor of American Samoa, and Lieutenant-Colonel Hunt,2 New Zealand Staff Corps, covering the establishment of United States forces in Western Samoa. A copy of the agreement is being forwarded to you by post. A summary of the main points covered follows:

The object of the agreement is to ensure that [United States forces for?] the defence of American Samoa and British Samoa would be established in Western Samoa with the utmost despatch, and that the defence of both American and British Samoa would be treated as one by the Commander of the American forces.

The United States is to have full and free use of the areas and facilities required; facilities include ports, land areas, roads, communications, seaplane base, etc.

The Samoan Group shall be considered as a tactical entity, both Western and American Samoa being under the same military status.

Under the principle of unity of command the Military Governor of American Samoa shall exercise the same authority in Western Samoa. The functions of civil government in Western Samoa will continue to be exercised by the Administrator, but in military matters the approval of the Military Governor will be required.

The local detachment of New Zealand troops will act as patrols and military police and may be assigned missions in the general defence scheme.

Camps, airfields, and similar areas placed at the disposal of the United States forces shall pass to their exclusive jurisdiction.

The New Zealand Government agrees to provide the United States forces with the necessary land and water areas and their unrestricted use during the period of the agreement.

The airfield facilities involve some 5000 acres of land, including the waterfront along the seaplane runway at Satapuala.

The provisions of the agreement became operative immediately and were to be subject to final ratification by the Governments of the United States and New Zealand.

I have today informed General Hurley that the New Zealand Government accept and ratify this agreement.3

1 Maj-Gen H. L. Larsen, US Marine Corps; Military Governor of American Samoa, 1942–44; island commander, Guam, 1944–45.

2 Brig F. L. Hunt, OBE, commanded 8 Bde, 3 NZ Div, May – Jul 1942; 16 Bde Gp (Tonga) Feb 1943 – Feb 1944; QMG, Army HQ, 1946–48.

3 The first detachment of United States Marines landed at Apia, Western Samoa, on 24 Mar 1942. Later, United States forces under this agreement were greatly augmented.