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

78 — The Prime Minister to General Freyberg

The Prime Minister to General Freyberg

26 May 1940

In view of the way the situation appears to be developing and the threat of impending hostilities with Italy, the New Zealand Government are strongly of the opinion that you should remain in Egypt and that you should not proceed to the United Kingdom at this juncture. Please act accordingly unless you can show us strong reasons to the contrary, which will receive every consideration. We feel that Falla2 and Park, in co-operation with the High Commissioner, can adequately look after accommodation, &c., for the Second Echelon in the United Kingdom.

page 65

On the assumption that you remain in Egypt and retain immediate and personal command, we authorise you to use New Zealand troops as you suggest for operations against any possible fifth column, and subsequently on any necessary garrison or other duty in defence of Egypt for which your force is adequately trained, fitted, and equipped. This authority is subject to the express condition that you should not, except in an emergency of which you must be the judge, commit your troops to any operations for which, in your opinion, they are not yet adequately trained, fitted, and equipped.

Having regard to your telegram of 25 May (No. 77) and to previous reports on the subject, please telegraph at once a report as to: (a) the extent to which you are without necessary equipment or ammunition for the operations contemplated, and (b) the reserve supplies of ammunition and equipment in Egypt upon which you can draw if necessary. In particular we would like to know whether you have at your disposal, or can at once obtain, sufficient small-arms ammunition.

2 Brigadier N. S. Falla, CMG, DSO, Commandant 2nd NZEF Base, Maadi Camp, Egypt, Nov 1940 - Jun 1941; released from 2nd NZEF and attached to British Ministry of Transport, London, as New Zealand representative; died at sea, 1945. In Feb 1940 Lieutenant-Colonel Falla was appointed Base Commandant, NZ Overseas Base, and at this time was in the United Kingdom.