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

287 — The High Commissioner for the Western Pacific (Suva) to the Prime Minister1

The High Commissioner for the Western Pacific (Suva) to the Prime Minister1

9 May 1942

Your most secret telegram [No. 284] inviting my early comments on the proposal as approved by the President that the United States should assume full responsibility for the defence of Fiji and Tonga, and that the New Zealand forces now in Fiji should return to New Zealand on the arrival of an American Army division. I have, subject to the views of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, no objection in principle to the assumption of responsibility by the United States for the defence of Fiji and Tonga if this is considered necessary on the grounds of higher policy by all concerned. But, as I represented in my personal letter to you of 21 April,2 one division is not sufficient to hold Fiji and I had hoped for one United States division in addition, not in substitution for, the New Zealand forces page 322 at present here. If the New Zealand forces cannot remain, I consider that two United States divisions would afford the minimum margin of safety.

On practical as well as political grounds it would be necessary to preserve the identity of the Fiji and Tongan Defence Forces within the framework of the United States command, which has presented no difficulty hitherto with regard to the New Zealand command, and I imagine would be entirely acceptable to the United States Army authorities.

1 Repeated to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.