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

175 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom (Wellington)1

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom (Wellington)1

14 November 1942

We are very anxious, as you know, to retain the New Zealand Division in the Middle East, in the first place because of the excellent work it has done, more particularly in the present operations. It was also our hope that it would be re-formed into a still more powerful weapon as a result of the promotion of the New Zealand Armoured Brigade in accordance with the arrangements contemplated in the New Zealand Government's telegram of 9 September.2 The shipping position is growing more and not less difficult and current operations naturally involve increased demands upon shipping, so that very serious embarrassment would be caused by the diversion of further shipping to replace the New Zealand Division in the Middle East. Lastly, however favourably the present North African operations may develop, the threat from the Caucasus to the Persia-Iraq Command will still remain and may become a grave danger, and we cannot afford to neglect our strength there or to weaken it unnecessarily.

At the same time, Mr. Fraser's difficulties as regards manpower are fully appreciated. Having regard to the manpower situation in New Zealand, the repeated requests by the United States authorities for more New Zealand troops for the Pacific theatre are clearly an embarrassment to the New Zealand Government.3 It would seem desirable to obtain the considered advice of the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Washington, who would look at the position in the light of the general situation (including both the North Africa and Persia-Iraq and Pacific theatres) and the shipping position as a whole. Please suggest to Mr. Fraser that the desirability of this course should be urged upon the United States authorities.4

1 Sir Harry Fagg Batterbee, GCMG, KCVO, High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in New Zealand, 1939–45.

3 See Volume III, Formation and Employment of 3rd New Zealand Division.

4 A copy of this message was delivered to Mr. Fraser on 18 Nov.