NEW ZEALAND troops in the Pacific were employed in two major rôles: first, as garrison troops in the defence of Fiji, Tonga, and Norfolk, and later, as the 3rd Division, in amphibious landings on the Japanese-held islands of Vella Lavella, the Treasury Group, and Nissan (Green Islands).
In the first defensive phase, small forces with inadequate equipment had the difficult task of preparing defences and then doing permanent sentry and coastwatching duty on the beaches, with the unpleasant knowledge that their presence might discourage but certainly could not withstand a determined Japanese attack. The task of the individual chaplains with these small forces was hard, for it was difficult to keep morale high as welfare and recreational facilities were small, and there was no well established Chaplains' Department to give advice and administrative support. Unfortunately the work of the chaplains with these garrison forces has been recorded in no documents and an account of it has had to be omitted from this history.
The 3rd Division was formed in Fiji in 1942. On being relieved by American troops it moved back to New Zealand, where the seventeen chaplains with the force had a chance to get to know their men and make arrangements for their future work. The Division moved to New Caledonia at the end of 1942 and made its headquarters at Bourail; later, in separate brigade groups, units saw action on Vella Lavella (September 1943), the Treasury Group (October 1943), and Nissan Island (February 1944).