Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume II
231 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of the Unitea Kingdom (Washington)1
The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of the Unitea Kingdom (Washington)1
Following upon a further review of the manpower situation and in anticipation of a full discussion in Parliament next week, we are forced to the conclusion that there is no possibility beyond the end of the year of New Zealand's maintaining two divisions and detached troops overseas and also the rapidly expanding Air Force, the units of which are being moved up into the offensive area in the Pacific as quickly as equipment comes to hand. There are, of course, in addition our commitments under the Empire Air Training Scheme and those to the Royal Navy. There is just not sufficient suitable manpower available to maintain and reinforce all these forces.
It would be entirely unwise, we feel, to let either the Pacific or the Mediterranean division complete its organisation and training and prepare for, and perhaps go into, action in major theatres of war knowing that within a few months from now it was inevitable that one force was to be used for the purpose of reinforcing the other. We attach full weight to the importance of our Division participating in any invasion of Europe alongside their tried and trusted comrades of the Eighth Army, but we are also fully aware of the necessity for maintaining the British element in the United Nations' forces in the Pacific to the greatest strength possible. Full consideration must be given to the desirability of New Zealand's forces, on land as well as in the air, playing their part in the Pacific war, which so directly affects our own immediate interests and security. This Dominion is, of course, the only country from which British forces can at present be made available for service in the South Pacific Area.
The time to face up to the problem is, we feel, the present, and we would be most grateful if you would take the opportunity while you are in Washington to discuss the matter with the President, and, having in mind New Zealand's inability to provide divisions for each theatre, advise as to where you and, if possible, the Combined Chiefs of Staff, consider that New Zealand troops could most usefully be employed.
It is of course for Parliament to express its will after considering all the factors involved, and members will undoubtedly attach the greatest importance to the views of the President and yourself. Their one objective, I can assure you, and that of the Government and people of New Zealand, is to ensure that this Dominion should, in the future as in the past, make the greatest and most effective contribution which the capacity and resources of the country render possible.1