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

165 — The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

28 October 1942

The great battle in Egypt has opened well, although one cannot yet forecast its result. The enemy are short of ammunition and fuel, and we have just destroyed a most important tanker on which page 131 they were counting. Our forces are substantially superior in the air, in armour, including the best armour, in artillery fire, and in numbers, and they have far easier lines of communication. Rommel is seriously ill and has only been brought back as an extreme measure. In Alexander1 and Montgomery we have Generals determined to fight the battle out to the very end. Should they succeed, it will be very difficult for the enemy army to make a good retreat on account of his shortage of transport and fuel. It is therefore much better for us to fight him to a finish on this ground than farther west.

You will have seen with pride and pleasure all that your valiant New Zealanders are doing and the part they are playing in what may well be a memorable event.

1 Field-Marshal Viscount Alexander, KG, GCB, GCMG, CSI, DSO, MC; GOC-in-C, Southern Command, 1940–42; GOC Burma, 1942; C-in-C Middle East, 1942–43; commanded 18th Army Group, 1943; Deputy C-in-C, North Africa, and Allied Forces, Mediterranean, 1943; GOC Allied Forces and Military Governor, Sicily, 1943–44; C-in-C Allied Armies in Italy, 1944; Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theatre, 1944–45; Governor-General of Canada, 1946–.