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

Relief of New Zealand Garrisons in Fiji and Tonga

page 318

Relief of New Zealand Garrisons in Fiji and Tonga

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

6 May 1942

During our discussion this morning Admiral King suggested that the United States Government should accept full responsibility for the defence of Fiji and Tonga.

The proposal as submitted in rough form would mean the transfer to New Zealand of the troops at present in Fiji, and the despatch to Fiji of the United States Army division promised to New Zealand.

I am to see Admiral King at noon tomorrow, Washington time, and it would be helpful if I could have your first reaction prior to the meeting.

The Prime Minister to the New Zealand Minister, Washington

7 May 1942

Your telegram of 6 May. Our first reactions are generally favourable to Admiral's King's suggestion, but if in the interests of strategy or efficiency it is considered better that New Zealand troops should remain in Fiji, we should like it made clear that we are entirely willing that they should do so. We should be glad of further details as they become available.

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

7 May 1942

1. Admiral King advises me that up to the present nothing has been done at Funafuti.

Action at Wallis is apparently held up by discussions with the Free French.

page 319

3. I stressed the need for Futuna to be protected.

4. I advised the Admiral that New Zealand would favourably consider the proposal for the transfer of the defence of Fiji and Tonga to the United States Forces and would be pleased to examine details of the transfer. He advised me that the President also had approved the change. I have to discuss the subject further at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Friday morning, and would be pleased if you would communicate with the United Kingdom with a view to if possible obtaining their reaction tonight. In any case, the islands are in the area for which the United States have strategic responsibility, and Admiral King's decisions, if approved by the President, must be carried out. I will cable you again after the discussion tomorrow.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Governor of Fiji

8 May 1942

We have recently been negotiating with the United States authorities with reference to an increase in the strength of the forces available for the defence of Fiji.1 Yesterday we were advised by Mr Nash of a suggestion made by Admiral King that the United States should assume full responsibility for the defence of Fiji and Tonga, and that the New Zealand forces at present in Fiji should return to New Zealand on the early arrival in Fiji of an American Army division. Our immediate reactions were requested and we replied that they were generally favourable and asked for further details. Today Mr Nash has informed us that the proposal has already been approved by the President. We are surprised at this rapid development of events, and we are immediately advising you and His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and will be grateful for your very early comments. For our part we are prepared to concur.

The High Commissioner for the United Kingdom (Wellington) to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

8 May 1942

The Prime Minister saw me today with reference to a suggestion made by Admiral King that the full responsibility for the defence of Fiji and Tonga should be assumed by the United States, that the American Army division intended for New Zealand should proceed to Fiji, and that the New Zealand forces there should then return to New Zealand.

page 320

This suggestion was conveyed to the New Zealand Government by the New Zealand Minister in Washington yesterday for the first time, with a request for their immediate reactions. The New Zealand Government, who had been negotiating with the United States authorities with reference to an increase in the force available for the defence of Fiji, replied last night that their first reactions were generally favourable and asked to be supplied with further details. They have this morning been informed by Mr Nash that the suggestion has already been approved by the President, and that as the islands are in the area for which the United States have strategic responsibility, Admiral King's suggestion, as approved by the President, must be carried out. This appears to be the case. The New Zealand Government, who intended, of course, to consult His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, the Governor of Fiji, and His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia as soon as it appeared possible that the proposal would receive the serious consideration of the American authorities, are surprised at the rapidity with which the situation has developed and regret that time has not permitted of fuller consultation. They would be grateful for a very early indication of the British Government's views. The New Zealand Government for their part are proposing to concur.

The New Zealand Government are today informing the Governor of Fiji and asking for his comments.

The High Commissioner for New Zealand in London has been supplied by Mr Nash with copies of the relevant telegrams.

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

8 May 1942

At my interview with Admiral King yesterday, I objected strongly to the rather precipitate method followed in connection with the proposal to alter the command at Fiji. In spite of this method of doing the job I am satisfied the weight of evidence supports the proposal and that it is the best procedure to follow.

This morning I discussed the matter again with the Admiral and he stated that the need for strengthening Fiji at once was discussed with Admiral Nimitz when King visited the west coast last week, and they both felt that the necessary urgent strengthening of the islands could be accomplished more quickly if they took over the defence of Fiji, and it was the fact that some troops were on the way which caused them to hurry; he agreed that the preliminaries were carried out rather precipitately.

page 321

Yesterday he advised Sir John Dill and Admiral Stark, so the question will be raised in London from several sources.

The discussion this morning was in every way helpful. I stressed the imperative need of six divisions being available fully trained in New Zealand if it was to be adequately defended, and urged that further amphibious divisions should be trained in the Dominion. The trouble at present is mainly that troops are limited in number and there are pulls for them from all sources, particularly Australia and Britain. I stressed again the fact that training in New Zealand would serve a double purpose—defence of the Dominion and readiness for the offensive when the time is ripe. I also suggested that we would train some of our men for amphibious work if essential equipment was provided and then they could take their part with Americans in the offensive. The position looked much better when I left.

When the proposed transfer of Fiji has been considered by the United Kingdom and yourself, and if approved, we can go into details, which will require much thought.

King said the proposal to take over would provide for United States forces on the way to get off at Fiji, and the ships to come on to New Zealand with our men.

I have arranged to discuss the Dominion position and the Fiji proposals with General Marshall at 11 a.m. Monday morning.

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.

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

10 May 1942

Further to my cable of 8 May [No. 286], the following is the text of a memorandum just received from Admiral King, dated 9 May:


As previously indicated, in the interest of homogeneity of the New Caledonia-Fiji-Samoa area, the United States division scheduled for New Zealand will be diverted to Fiji, thus ultimately relieving New Zealand troops and making Fiji a United States responsibility. With reference to troops on the way (cable [No. 286]), King now says that all troops are ready to embark on 17 May.


The suggested method is that two ships carrying the balance of the force (infantry, artillery) totalling 4500 men will be despatched direct to Fiji from the United States on approximately 17 May. The remainder of the division will be despatched direct to New Zealand on the same date.


Method. One of the two ships for Fiji will remain at Fiji and embark New Zealand troops to New Zealand. This ship is to run a shuttle service between Auckland and Fiji with United States troops from New Zealand and New Zealand troops from Fiji with comparable units. This arrangement is made necessary by comparison of the port facilities Auckland - Fiji. Owing to the shipping situation the New Zealand port must be Auckland.


The United States division now allocated to Fiji will eventually be increased by additional anti-aircraft and special service troops when shipping becomes available—estimated leaving the United States in July or August. In the meantime, anti-aircraft, etc., must remain in Fiji.


The United States intend to take over all the defence of Fiji, including naval, as soon as personnel, etc., becomes available. page 323 In the meantime New Zealand is to continue the responsibility for planned construction of all works and to operate port facilities until naval personnel are relieved by United States forces, when they will be returned to New Zealand.


The United States generally will eventually assume command of all Army, Navy, and Air forces in the Fiji Islands.


All plans are held up pending your approval.’

I am to see Marshall tomorrow in this connection, but before I further discuss with King and Williams sees Planners, could I have your reactions at the earliest moment?

Time has not permitted a full study of this suggested plan. My present view is that it does not meet the requirement of urgency. In your reply please include remarks on the capability of Fiji ports to handle more ships. July-August may be too late [group mutilated—unless?] urgency has passed.

The Prime Minister to the New Zealand Minister, Washington

12 May 1942

Your telegram of 10 May.

We agree generally with the proposals. Details of the relief will of course require to be worked out in consultation between USA, New Zealand and Fiji authorities. In the meantime we suggest that it is imperative that the first United States flight arriving in Fiji should go into a reserve camp until reconnaissances are completed, equipment assembled and reserves of ammunition suitably disposed, and that the first New Zealand troops relieved should remain in reserve in Fiji until the first flight of United States troops from New Zealand reaches Fiji. The ship proposed for the shuttle service would therefore proceed empty from Fiji to New Zealand except for such workmen and sick whom it is convenient to return to New Zealand. The shuttle system suggested in your cable could then commence. This system would result in an immediate increase in strength in Fiji during the somewhat dangerous initial period of the relief.

We recognise that economical use of shipping and the escort problem demand close attention and will affect the detailed planning. It may be possible to supplement from New Zealand resources the shipping required to transport United States troops from New Zealand to Fiji.

Action has already been taken to prepare for the accommodation of United States troops in the vicinity of Auckland.

page 324

Anti-aircraft, coast defence, and any other units and services required and now in Fiji will, as suggested, remain there till relieved by United States units.

New Zealand will continue works and the operation of port facilities until relieved.

We assume that the United States troops will bring vehicles with them and that, dependent upon the capacity of ships, either the New Zealand vehicles now in Fiji will be exchanged for vehicles brought to New Zealand with United States troops or the New Zealand vehicles returned to New Zealand. It is of course essential that all troops during all stages of the relief should have their vehicles available….1

It is desirable to effect the transfer of forces expeditiously but deliberately. To effect a too hasty transfer would endanger the defence of Fiji at what may well be the most dangerous time.

1 Text omitted gave details of the capacity of Suva and Lautoka ports.

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom (Wellington)

13 May 1942

Your telegram of 8 May [No. 285].

Please thank the Prime Minister for his message. The United States proposals have now been considered by our military advisers, and in all the circumstances we also for our part see no objection to them.

We have been given to understand informally that the United States authorities also propose to station in New Zealand a United States amphibian force, starting shortly with the elements of one Marine division and rising by the end of 1942 to two Marine divisions and several Marine battalions with Corps troops.

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

13 May 1942

The United States plan for the relief of Fiji was issued this afternoon. A copy is being forwarded to you by air, leaving tomorrow, also a copy to GOC Fiji. In the main it is the same as indicated in my telegram of 10 May [No. 288]. Details of individuals reliefs and shuttle service are to be worked out by Ghormley, the New Zealand page 325 Chiefs of Staff, the United States General1 designate (who accompanies the first echelon to Fiji, arriving approximately 9 June) and Mead. Your point about individual reliefs is agreed with in principle. The ship Coolidge2 detailed for the shuttle [service] is capable of carrying 3250 troops, 10,000 tons of cargo, cruising speed 17 knots. The United States Staff estimate that the United States division will be complete in Fiji sixty days after the first troops arrive in Fiji.

The United States Staff request that RNZAF units remain in Fiji until the changeover is completed, the date to be determined by local commanders.

1 Maj-Gen R. S. Beightler; GOC 37 US Div; Commanding General, United States Forces in Fiji, 1942.

2 President Coolidge, US liner, 21,936 tons; troop transport; sunk at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, on 25 Oct 1942.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Governor of Fiji

16 May 1942

Your telegram No. 72 of 15 May.3

We have just received advice from His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom that they concur in the proposed transfer to the United States of responsibility for the defence of Fiji and Tonga and have ourselves advised the United States authorities of our own concurrence. The comments that you have made as to the strength required in Fiji are fully appreciated and, for our part, we have done our utmost not only to stress the case for greater strength but also to ensure that there will be no weakening of the defences during the changeover. We understand that, as now proposed, the changeover, which should commence next month, will lead to an immediate increase of over 4000 in the troops available in Fiji, which will be maintained throughout, and there is every prospect of increased forces when they can be made available.

3 Not published. Requested information whether any decision had been reached regarding the change of responsibility for the defence of Fiji and Tonga.

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

18 May 1942

The following is personal for the Prime Minister from the Secretary of State for the Colonies:

Since the outbreak of war with Japan I have often had occasion to feel gratitude for the generous and unselfish manner in which page 326 your Government has balanced the defence needs of Fiji and the High Commission territories in the Western Pacific, for which I am ultimately and in part responsible to His Majesty, against the urgent calls for the defence of New Zealand herself.

I do hope you will never feel that we are taking your constant care and helpfulness for granted. Your sympathetic understanding is a powerful aid in ensuring that all resources are disposed in defence to the best advantage. It will hasten the day when we shall start to throw the invader out of the South Pacific.

With respect I express my thanks and admiration for your generosity and judgment.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

21 May 1942

Your telegram of 18 May.

The following is personal for the Secretary of State for the Colonies from the Prime Minister:

Thank you so much for your very kind message. I am glad to know that what we have tried to do for Fiji has been so fully appreciated—we have done our best and, as you know, to this end, have taken real risks in New Zealand.

For very many reasons it is a matter of regret to us that on grounds of broader strategy our direct responsibility for Fiji will shortly cease.

Believe me, we in our turn have much appreciated the very full and complete co-operation which has been extended to us throughout by the United Kingdom and Fijian authorities, who have done everything possible to facilitate our task.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1

26 May 1942

On the urgent representations of Admiral Ghormley2 as to the necessity of strengthening the defences of Fiji, His Majesty's Government in New Zealand are willing to leave their troops in Fiji in the meantime in addition to the American division shortly to arrive there. page 327 The New Zealand Government fully realise that this will add appreciably to the risks to be taken by this Dominion, which they regard already as great, but in the circumstances they feel that they must accept these risks. While their decision is quite unconditional, the situation has been explained to Admiral Ghormley who will, it is understood, represent the position to the American authorities with a view to obtaining American troops in substitution at the earliest moment circumstances will allow.

1 Repeated to the New Zealand Minister in Washington.

2 Admiral Ghormley arrived in New Zealand on 21 May.

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

2 June 1942

Following from Prime Minister to Prime Minister:

Your telegram [No. 295] is yet another example of the consistently helpful and generous attitude which your Government never fail to adopt however difficult the circumstances. Your selflessness is a source of comfort and strength to us all and we are deeply grateful. All best wishes.

The Prime Minister to the New Zealand Minister, Washington

9 June 1942

Will you please see Admiral King and give him the following personal message from me:

‘We wonder whether there has been some misunderstanding of our attitude in connection with the proposed retention in Fiji in the meantime of the New Zealand troops now stationed there.1 We felt that they would be an additional insurance in circumstances of considerable risk, with comparatively little to resist it, of an attack in force by the Japanese. Despite the risk which we apprehended and still do apprehend to New Zealand itself, we had felt that these troops would be of greater value in Fiji than in New Zealand, and our decision to leave them there, if this was considered desirable, was one

1 Mr Nash had reported on 30 May to Mr Fraser, ‘exclusively for your personal information’, an interview with Admiral King ‘at which I discussed Ghormley's proposal re leaving our men at Fiji. I think Ghormley's proposal good and your response to the suggestion excellent, and I told King so. His feeling, however, is that Ghormley should not have made the suggestion, which might affect the United States' promise to send a division to New Zealand and their plans for disposition in the Islands. I still think that your decision on Ghormley's suggestion was correct and reiterated this to King.’

page 328 which we hoped would be welcomed in Washington. We wonder whether in arriving at what we believe to be your decision on this matter you might perhaps have felt that our agreement to leave our men in Fiji might lead to a request, which might be embarrassing to you, for additional United States troops for New Zealand in substitution. If this thought did in fact influence you, I hasten to assure you that this is not the case and that our offer was and remains completely unconditional. We still feel that it is undoubtedly the right course to take, and we hope that it is still perhaps not too late for you to reconsider the matter. A substantial reason, not previously referred to, for considering it essential to augment the forces in Fiji is the necessity for supplementing the facilities for operating air forces by building new airfields. These new airfields should not we think be constructed without disposing forces for their defence, which under the establishment contemplated would not be available. I should make it clear in case of misunderstanding that this message is from the New Zealand Government and not from Admiral Ghormley, whom we have not in the circumstances again consulted.’

2. If it is not possible in your opinion to alter Admiral King's views on the retention in Fiji of the New Zealand troops, we will ask you in due course to endeavour to ensure that our suggestion as to individual reliefs, which you have told us in your telegram [No. 291] was agreed to in principle, will actually be applied in practice….1

1 A reference to morale in the United States plan for the relief of Fiji has been omitted.

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

8 June 1942 2

… Your telegram [No. 297] to hand subsequent to my return from an interview with King, during which I again strongly emphasised that his decision re Fiji was completely wrong and that our offer in every way was unconditional.

2The apparent incongruity in the date of this telegram and that to which it replies is explained by the international date-line. No. 297 was despatched at 1.30 a.m. on 9 June.

I am to see him again tomorrow morning at 11.30, when I will give him your message….3

3 In the text omitted Mr Nash reported on other matters discussed in a recent interview with Admiral King.

page 329

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

9 June 1942

I have just returned from Admiral King after delivering the message in your telegram [No. 297].

Without waiting to draft a written reply he asked me to convey to you his personal thanks and appreciation of the co-operative spirit of yourself and the Government. The message was particularly helpful, so he said, in that it unmistakably conveyed to him the fact that the New Zealand Government had a complete understanding of the importance of his strategic plans for holding Fiji and other strong points to the north of New Zealand.

I emphasised that you would at all times co-operate in any plans that would achieve our mutual objective and asked if any action of the New Zealand Government or anything in the directives were in any way limiting him in his plans. He said ‘No’ but, reiterating his suggestion of yesterday, he felt that New Zealand should train an amphibious force to take part with America when the time for offensive action came.1 I mentioned that your exclusive desire, in addition to providing for the security of the Dominion, was to use the whole of the Dominion's resources—air, naval and army—in the way that he considered would most effectively assist in defeating [group omitted—the Axis?] powers.

King said he would consult with the United States Chiefs of Staff and would then communicate with me.

As soon as I hear from him I will advise you.

1 See Formation and Employment of 3rd NZ Division, p. 349 ff.

No previous reference to this suggestion by Admiral King can be found in any of Mr Nash's telegrams during the preceding few days.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Governor of Fiji

10 June 1942

In case of any possible misunderstanding of the attitude of the New Zealand Government in respect of the defence of Fiji, I think you should know for your private information that the New Zealand Government some little time ago offered to leave their troops in Fiji in the meantime in addition to the Americans. Admiral King, it is understood, was not favourable to the suggestion but we repeated the offer yesterday. No conditions at all were attached to the offer.

page 330

The Governor of Fiji to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

10 June 1942

Your telegram [No. 300] in fact answers my telegram to you of yesterday No. 891 which it must have crossed. I greatly appreciate the generous attitude of your Government and earnestly trust the renewed offer will now be accepted.

1 Not published. The Governor of Fiji asked whether the prospect of increased forces envisaged in the last paragraph of No. 292 of 16 May was likely to be realised.

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

11 June 1942

The following message has been received from Admiral King, which he has asked me to transmit to you in reply to your personal message contained in cable [No. 297]:

‘Your personal message to me conveyed through the Minister for New Zealand is most welcome and encouraging in that it indicates recognition and confirmation of the basic strategic concept that the defence of New Zealand is most likely to be effectively done by the holding of Fiji, together with New Caledonia and Samoa, as strong points which the enemy will hesitate to pass by.

‘Moreover it conveys the cheering assurance that you and your Government intend full and cordial co-operation in military developments that will in time lead us to victory, for which all of us are working together.

‘I will take up with General Marshall your generous and understanding proposal to strengthen Fiji by retaining some, if not all, of the New Zealand Forces.’

The High Commissioner for the Western Pacific2 to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

16 June 1942

The following telegram has been received from the Agent and Consul, Tonga:

‘The General Officer Commanding has received a telegram from New Zealand indicating the likelihood of the withdrawal of New Zealand army personnel, arms and equipment. The local Defence Force has a definite part in and is essential to the defence of Tonga. page 331 The Government of Tonga and I most strongly urge that the Defence Force, including the artillery unit, should be maintained at the highest level of efficiency and equipment, particularly in view of the likelihood of the United States Forces being transferred when the actual theatre of war becomes more restricted. The withdrawal of New Zealand personnel would mean the dissolution of the Defence Force and would be strongly resented by all Tongans. The most serious aspect is that such a withdrawal would create the impression that Dominion Government political control of the Kingdom might be abandoned to the United States. Rumours to this effect are already current, though definitely quashed by the General Officer Commanding and myself.’

While I fully realise that the recent arrangements for the defence of the Pacific area may involve the withdrawal from Tonga of New Zealand forces, I should be grateful for any action that might be possible to avoid disturbance of the organisation and equipment of the local Defence Force, and offer the suggestion that the question be discussed by the New Zealand Commanding Officer in Tonga with the Agent and Consul with a view to devising some mutually satisfactory arrangement.

2 On 16 June Maj-Gen Sir Philip Mitchell, KCMG, MC, succeeded Sir Harry Luke as Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific.

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

24 June 1942

The following message, dated 23 June, was received today from Admiral King:

‘With reference to my letter of 10 June,1 will you be good enough to transmit to the Prime Minister the following:

‘General Marshall and I have given further consideration to your proposal that the New Zealand troops in Fiji should remain there. After discussing the pros and cons, we are of the opinion that a greater service to our combined effort in the Pacific would be served by carrying out the present plan for their relief. The New Zealand troops thus relieved we hope can be made available for amphibious training with our 1st Marine Division in anticipation of joint offensive action to the north-west.

‘It is our intention, as you know, to further reinforce the Fijis, building up by September to a total of about 23,000 troops (ground and air). Pending the arrival of these reinforcements, it will probably be desirable to supply some New Zealand troops

1 See No. 302.

page 332 in Fiji. This matter we believe should be decided locally by General Beightler, United States Army, after consultation with General Mead. In this connection it will not be possible to delay the United States transport Coolidge longer than required to transfer the United States troops at present in Auckland to Fiji.1 Other arrangements can be made for [group mutilated—tanks?] and General Beightler and Admiral Ghormley will be so informed.’

I will see Admiral King later, but will hold up the visit until I receive your comment and instructions on this message.

1 Part of 37 US Division; the rest had arrived in Fiji, direct from the United States, on 10 June.

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.

page 333

The Prime Minister to the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific

29 June 1942

Your telegram of 16 June [No. 303] and telegram from the Agent and Consul, Tonga. It has been decided that the two 18-pounder guns, the personnel to man them, and the engineer personnel at Tonga are to be withdrawn. This will leave in Tonga New Zealand personnel, (a) to man the 4-inch coastal guns, and (b) all New Zealand personnel at present serving with native troops. This action is in accordance with the wishes of the War Department, Washington, with which this Government agrees. This information will remove the concern which you and the Agent in Tonga feel. General Mead has been instructed accordingly.