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War Economy

Pacific Division Becomes a Token Force

Pacific Division Becomes a Token Force

Faced with these urgent British needs and with increasing American requisitions for food and services for her forces in the Pacific; finding, moreover, increasing difficulty in providing a minimum flow of manufactured goods to fill her own most pressing civilian requirements, New Zealand finally, in March 1944, decided to divert 11,000 men from the Pacific division, reducing it to a token force. The division in Europe was to be kept up to strength, and it was hoped, later, to have an effective force in the Pacific.

As an additional measure, to step up food for Britain, meat rationing was introduced in the same month.

page 492

It fell to the lot of General Barrowclough, commanding 3 Division in the Pacific, to pass on War Cabinet's decision. In a special message to his division on 7 April, he said:1

‘No modern war can be won by the fighting services alone. The production of warlike equipment and stores and primary products (including food) is as essential to the war effort as is the work of the soldier in the front line. By virtue of her geographical position on Allied lines of communication and because of her natural resources, New Zealand has been requested by the highest Allied authorities and as part of the general war strategy, to undertake a greatly increased programme for the supply of food and other primary products. This she cannot do without some reduction in the numbers of her armed forces. It has been agreed that she ought to recall from active service certain categories of men whose work in primary and essential industries at home is likely to be of greater assistance to the war effort than is their continued service with the colours.’

1 Quoted by Gillespie in The Pacific at p. 198.