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



The fourth year of war has brought New Zealand's manpower problem to an acute stage. To maintain overseas demands, and at the same time meet heavy industrial commitments, it has been necessary to reduce the Home Defence forces by some 25,000 men to a cadre and care and maintenance basis, and to reallocate the personnel to essential industry and for overseas units.

The Government's manpower policy for the year ending March 1944, recently approved by Parliament, involves an intake for the Armed Services of nearly 31,600 men (namely—Air 10,000, Navy 2300, and Army 19,300). The Government have further decided to replace 20 per cent of the longest service personnel of the 2nd Division in the Middle East. While this will place a heavy and immediate strain upon the remaining available men for overseas service, it should, on the other hand, assist the immediate decision as to the retention of the 2nd Division.

On account of the heavily increased commitments on industrial manpower to meet the requirements of the Allied forces in the Pacific, and also the expansion of the Air Force, only 12,000 Grade I men aged 21 to 40 will be available for the Army overseas for the twelve months ending March 1944. Apart altogether from the relief scheme for the 2nd Division, drastic readjustments will be required in order to provide the remainder of overseas manpower requirements already planned.

While every effort will be made to meet the overseas demands up to the end of the present year, beyond that date the maintenance of two divisions, in addition to Air Force and Naval requirements, will not be possible. Indeed, the question must then arise in the most acute form as to which division is to provide further reinforcements for the other.

28 April 1943