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

212 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Governor-General of New Zealand

page 156

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Governor-General of New Zealand

8 June 1940

With reference to the second paragraph of my telegram of 2 June.1

The matter subsequently received further consideration here and as a result the Prime Minister of France2 was informed to the following effect:

It was emphasised by us that that portion of the British Expeditionary Force evacuated from Northern France must be completely re-equipped before being employed again and that considerable replacements in personnel and equipment would also be necessary in our air fighter force, the whole of which has been most intensively engaged.

The British Expeditionary Force Headquarters would be reestablished in France and as soon as possible a new British Expeditionary Force built up. Within a period of days two divisions and proportionate Corps troops would be sent over, and a third division would be despatched as soon as possible, but this would depend largely on when its artillery could be provided. The French asked if they could help in this respect. Accompanying the above formations would be an appropriate proportion of army co-operation aircraft.

The fighter squadrons now in France are being immediately brought up to strength and every effort would be made to send further help as soon as recent losses have been replaced.

As soon as possible the bomber squadrons now in France would be brought up to full strength, and the remainder of the bomber page 157 force in the United Kingdom would continue support as in the past, actions against objectives selected by the French High Command being given priority.

1 This telegram, which is not published, contained a summary of the main conclusions reached at a meeting of the Supreme War Council in Paris on 31 May 1940. Paragraph 2 reads: ‘A discussion took place as to further British assistance to France, and the United Kingdom Government, without making any definite promise, undertook to consider immediately: (a) what reinforcements could be sent to France, with particular reference to the impending battle on the Somme and the Aisne, and how soon they could be made available, (b) what air support could be given to this battle; and to communicate at the earliest possible moment, the results of this consideration to the French Government.’

2 M. Paul Reynaud, GCVO; Minister of Finance, Nov 1938–Mar 1940; Prime Minister, Mar–Jun 1940; interned Sep 1940; detained in fortress after trial by Council for Political Justice, Oct 1941; released from imprisonment by United States Seventh Army, 1945.