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

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

The Prime Minister to the New Zealand Minister, Washington

26 June 1942

Your telegram of 24 June.

Please inform Admiral King that, in accordance with the decision of the United States Chiefs of Staff, instructions have been given to General Mead to arrange with General Beightler all details concerning the transfer of New Zealand troops to New Zealand and the retention in Fiji of those required there until the arrival of the full American garrison.

At the same time please inform Admiral King that, while we accept this decision and are acting upon it, we must emphasise our view that 23,000 troops (ground and air) are inadequate to defend the Fiji Islands. It was because of our apprehension that the force proposed for the defence of Fiji would be inadequate to the task it might have to face that we made the offer to allow our troops to remain in Fiji in addition to the American garrison. We realise that Fiji is now solely an American responsibility, but we feel that we should be failing in our duty if we did not again at this juncture call to the attention of those who are now responsible our conviction—unanimously endorsed by all our Service advisers—that a minimum of two divisions in Fiji is required to achieve a reasonable degree of safety.2

2 At 6 a.m on 18 July Maj-Gen Beightler took over operational command in Fiji from Maj-Gen Mead.