Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

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

page 307

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

29 April 1942

The following précis of a report prepared by the United States Joint Working Committee after discussions with Williams is being submitted to the United States Joint Staff Planners. The report is still in the preliminary planning stage and is highly secret. It is strongly emphasised that it is submitted to you for the information only of the New Zealand Chiefs of Staff and not for transmission to any other source.

Part I. general

‘(1) The United States Joint Working Committee have considered the forces and facilities required for the defence of New Zealand and Fiji as related to the South Pacific problem. They are aware of the views expressed by the New Zealand Chiefs of Staff in telegrams [No. 209] of 14 [13] March1 and [No. 273] of 22 April and relevant papers. The recommendations have still to be considered by the United States Joint Staff and must not be considered as finally approved.

‘(2) The United States Staff refused to consider Fiji as a separate problem and insist that it is one of a series of mutually supporting islands, and that the security of the Pacific area and subsequent operations must be considered as a whole.

‘(3) The Committee recommends the following be completed by December 1942:


Bora Bora – 4000 troops now in position.


Samoa and Wallis – 23,000 troops; 13,000 troops are to be mobile and be “for operations anywhere”. This mobile (amphibious) force may come to New Zealand before a large offensive undertaking, but will remain in Samoa until the defensive situation is more satisfactory.


Tongatabu – 7000 troops, including airmen.


New Caledonia – 24,000 now in position.


Efate – 7000 troops.


Fiji – 1000 United States troops; includes United States air staff. New Zealand to provide another 12,000 troops from New Zealand.

‘(4) Initial movements of troops for Tongatabu, Samoa, Efate, already scheduled as follows:

Tongatabu – arrive 7 May; in position 7 July.

Samoa – arrive 5 May; in position 5 June.

Efate – arrive 12 May; in position 12 July.

page 308

Part II. navy

‘(5) The Joint Working Committee is recommending to the United States Joint Staff that anchorages at Suva and Nandi are deficient in coastal, anti-aircraft and underwater defences.

‘The authorised requisition of more urgent material for the above and Auckland is quoted and is the same as BAD's [British Admiralty Delegation] 1539 of 31 March.1

‘(6) Projected operations in the South Pacific are to be under the Supreme Naval Commander in New Zealand, with a Deputy Commander to command all troop and air garrisons and all amphibious troops in the area. An advance command post is to be in Tongatabu.

‘(7) The Committee's recommendations for Fiji include:


Two 6-inch naval guns and ammunition by the United States for Malolo Island.


The construction of the necessary houses, magazines and store-houses in Viti Levu by local resources.


Cold-storage facilities for approximately an 800-bed hospital from the United States.


One harbour tug, United States supplying.


One net tender for laying nets and loops, and one gate vessel for Nandi and one for Suva from the Pacific Fleet.


Two minesweepers from the Pacific Fleet.


Four units AMTB2 guns.


Four 37-millimetre anti-aircraft guns.

‘(8) Notes by New Zealand Naval Attaché:


The Committee's attention was drawn to the request for four anti-submarine minesweeping vessels and three double L sweepers in your telegram [No. 273]. The recommendation is that these should accompany Fleet units when using Nandi harbour.


Ocean-going tugs cannot be spared from America and smaller tugs cannot be shipped.

The provision of flat-bottomed barges with two-ton derrick is being considered for gate vessels. Can New Zealand or Fiji assist with the latter?


Any Fleet requirements of ammunition in Fiji would be met by ammunition ship.

‘(9) The Committee's recommendations for New Zealand include:


Warehouses and storehouses to be provided locally.


Three 6-inch Navy guns from the United States for harbour defence in New Zealand.

1 Not published. Contained details of naval requirements to be supplied for Nandi, Suva and Auckland by the United States Navy Department.

2 Auxiliary Motor Torpedo Boat.

page 309

Part III. army

‘(10) The United States Joint Working Committee contend that when the New Zealand Chiefs of Staff asked for six divisions for New Zealand they were not aware of United States intentions in the South Pacific as a whole, and that in view of these dispositions New Zealand will be reasonably [well] off with four divisions, viz., two New Zealand divisions, two United States divisions—the remaining New Zealand divisions to be moved to Fiji.

‘(11) The United States Joint Working Committee recommend that no air facilities except [those] which can be provided as a temporary measure by the United States Navy should be established at Vanua Levu, and in consequence the forces suggested in the Prime Minister's telegram [No. 273] of 22 April should be reviewed.

‘(12) Reference No. 144 of 12 April,1 showing deficiencies in major items of equipment, the Joint Working Committee submit that owing to the munitions situation generally they can only recommend absolute essentials. Will you please advise urgently the minimum quantities required to complete the full establishment:


present New Zealand troops in Fiji;


one division Fiji reinforcement from New Zealand;


one division in New Zealand;


remaining New Zealand troops in New Zealand, in that order of priority.

1 Not published.

Part IV. air

‘(13) The Committee recommend that the air strengths given in my telegram No. 143 of 12 April2 should be increased as follows: the Catalinas in the Islands area to be increased to 60 and considered as a mobile force based on the general line New CaledoniaSamoa, and that a reinforcing reserve of 48 Catalinas and 70 land plane heavy bombers be based on Hawaii.

‘(14) The following then becomes the distribution of aircraft:

Bora Bora 6
Samoa (includes 104 aircraft of Marine mobile division) 207
Wallis 24
Tongatabu 25
New Caledonia 111
Mobile 60
Reserve at Hawaii 118
Total 551
page 310

‘(15) Fiji: The Committee recommends the following air strength and facilities—it is desired that these be based in Fiji and maintained by the Royal New Zealand Air Force: Fighter 50; medium bomber 26; observation (Army co-operation) 13; Navy type seaplane 12.

‘In addition, facilities to be provided for the operation of United States squadrons of four patrol bombers (48 flying boats), three heavy bombers (36 land planes). Note: It was strongly represented that permanent air squadrons at Fiji be increased, and the Joint Working Committee agreed to include New Zealand representations that Fiji should be increased by at least two dive-bombing squadrons.

‘(16) New Zealand:


Based and maintained in New Zealand by RNZAF: Medium bomber (Hudson) 57; fighter 80; Army co-operation 64.


Replacement carrier group based in New Zealand maintained by United States Navy: Fighters 27; dive-bombers 37; torpedo bombers 18.


Based in New Zealand as part of the mobile forces of the South Pacific, maintained by the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps: Fighters 36; dive-bombers 36; observation-utility (boats) 39; patrol bombers (flying boats) 12; patrol bombers (amphibian) 12.

‘(17) The Committee recommends the following torpedo storage and maintenance facilities:

Auckland: for one carrier.

Fiji: for one Navy patrol-bomber squadron.

‘(18) It is recommended that the additional aircraft required for strengthening the Royal New Zealand Air Force be made available by the Munitions Assignment Board.

‘(19) It is realised that these proposals do not fill your requirements, but they are related to present strengths and production. In view of the shortage of air strength in other and equally important theatres it is not reasonable at present to press for greater allocations. For instance, the total fighter strength in India, Burma and Ceylon at today's date is approximately equal to the total allocations of fighters advised in Air 1171 of 23 April.’

1 Not published.