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

238 — Memorandum from General Headquarters, Middle East, to Headquarters, 2nd New Zealand Division — ATTACHMENT—DOMINION AND BRITISH FORCES

page 182

Memorandum from General Headquarters, Middle East, to Headquarters, 2nd New Zealand Division

8 June 1940


It is possible that circumstances might arise in which British troops would take control of all means of transportation in a hostile country and of the systems of communication. If such an event occurred it would be necessary to find troops not only for the purpose of guarding the essential methods of transport and communication, but also actually to operate such services. The British troops at present in the Middle East are already short of their wartime requirements for railway and signal personnel, both in officers and other ranks. This possible added commitment would still further reduce the fighting efficiency of the British Troops in Egypt. In the case of railway personnel, of which there is at present only a negligible supply (the nucleus of one railway operating and construction company), it would be impossible to find personnel to operate railways.

The Commander-in-Chief fully appreciates the desire of the Australian and New Zealand Forces to operate as formations. Nevertheless, the situation envisaged in this letter is one in which the necessity for providing communications is paramount.

You are requested, therefore, to say whether in such circumstances you would be prepared to lend the British units skilled railway and signals personnel, both officers and other ranks, required for the emergency operation of railways and communications. Such personnel would be attached only until the period of emergency was ended.

Details are now being worked out of the minimum number of such personnel required for this emergency command. Notification will be sent to you of the numbers which we would ask you to find, if you agree to the principle of this attachment.

1Lieutenant-General Sir Ronald MacKenzie Scobie, KBE, CB, MC; Deputy Adjutant–General, General Headquarters, Middle East, May–Aug 1940; GOC, Tobruk Fortress, 1941; GOC, Malta, 1942; Chief of the General Staff, Middle East, 1943; GOC, Greece, 1944–46.


Deputy Adjutant-General1