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

400 — The Minister of Defence to General Freyberg

The Minister of Defence to General Freyberg

13 October 1944

Thank you for your telegram of 8 October, which has been carefully considered by War Cabinet. As you know, the main reason for withdrawing the 3rd Division from the Pacific was to return some 11,000 men to essential industries, viz., farming, dairy factories, freezing works, coal mines, sawmilling, and building construction. These men were released on indefinite leave without pay and their absorption in industry is greatly assisting production. The busy season on farms, dairy factories, and freezing works is approaching while other industries which are under-manned are working at pressure. The programme for replacement drafts given by Army Headquarters1 was based on the ability to recall men of the 3rd Division as they were replaced by 2nd Division men returning to New Zealand and the tapering off of seasonal labour requirements, also by the call-up of men reaching the age of 21 and appeal releases. The number of 3rd Division men available for replacement drafts has been considerably reduced by exempting men over 36, married men with more than two children, those with more than three years' service overseas, and by medical examinations.

Your proposal to accelerate replacement would be readily agreed to by the Government if the men were available, but the manpower position definitely restricts the provision of men to the following:

14th Reinforcements 3000 Estimated time of departure, mid-November;
15th Reinforcements 3500 Estimated time of departure, mid-January;
16th Reinforcements 2500–3000 Estimated time of departure, April;

and, as you appreciate, the moves are dependent on shipping being available when required.

page 371

The new figures given for officers will accommodate practically all available officers, and while it was intended to send only 200 with the 14th Reinforcements this number can be increased, but it is desired to retain a proportion (a number of whom are in essential industry and not immediately available) to train and proceed with later drafts. This matter will be pursued with you by Army Headquarters.

1 See reference in No. 394.