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The Pacific

Appendix X

page 359

Appendix X

Mr. Fraser's telegram to Mr. Churchill, dated 9 September 1944, stating that cadres of 3 Division would be disbanded:

Thank you for making available your message to Mr. Curtin, the implications of which are of immediate concern to New Zealand.

You are well aware of the problem we face in regard to our two Divisions, and I appreciate the ready acceptance given by yourself and the Chiefs of Staff to the general understanding that our 2nd Division should return from Italy when it could be spared in order to enable us to build up a new division for service in the war against Japan.

I should like to add that since I saw you there has been a further change in the disposition of our forces in the Pacific. As you will recall, it was decided on the advice of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to withdraw 3rd Division from active operations in the Pacific and to concentrate cadres in New Caledonia, which were to be used for rebuilding a new division for service against the Japanese in 1945. At the instance of the Americans, however, these cadres have now been moved from New Caledonia back to New Zealand.

We have delayed taking a final decision with regard to the disposition of our land forces overseas, firstly, because we were reluctant to take our 2nd Division out of action in the European theatre unless we had some firm indication that New Zealand troops would be required in the Pacific and would be given a definite role in the war against Japan, and secondly, because we did not wish to request the withdrawal of our Division in Italy at a time when those forces were actively engaged in what may well be the final victorious stage of the war against Germany and in operations in which, as you yourself advised me only a few days ago, they are sorely needed.

From the tentative plans being discussed while I was in London, it was assumed that a New Zealand Division would take its place with United Kingdom and Australian divisions in a British Commonwealth force, but it would appear from your telegram to Mr. Curtin that the British Commonwealth task force—land, sea, and air—is now rated only as a second alternative to a British naval force which it is desired should serve with the Americans.

This continued lack of certainty as to the probable future use of our men, and the rapidly changing circumstances in Europe, have rendered it impracticable to reach any final decision. At this stage, however, we have come to the conclusion we should decide that our Division in Europe should continue to be maintained and that its future should be reviewed at the close of the Italian campaign, and further, that the cadres of the 3rd (Pacific) Division should therefore be disbanded and the men used as replacements and reinforcements for the 2nd Division. It will be appreciated that this course will necessarily delay the building up of another Pacific Division if such a force should be required.

In view of its bearing on future participation of New Zealand troops in the war I would be glad to have at the earliest possible opportunity the decision of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom as to their present plans for participation of British Commonwealth forces in the Pacific.