The Royal New Zealand Navy
By Admiral Sir Edward Parry, kcb
ALTHOUGH it was not till 1941 that the ‘New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy’ reached the status of an independent service and became the ‘Royal New Zealand Navy’, there has always been a very intimate connection between the personnel of the Royal Navy and the people of New Zealand. This is not altogether surprising, for it was Captain Cook, Royal Navy, who first charted New Zealand and so literally put her ‘on the map’; and it was another naval officer, Captain Hobson, who formally annexed New Zealand as a colony and became the first Governor. And, as Mr Waters describes in his first chapter, New Zealand has always contributed generously, both materially and in manpower, to the Royal Navy.
The expansion of the New Zealand naval forces during the war was unfortunately curtailed by the difficulty of obtaining warships from elsewhere and the lack of a shipbuilding industry in the country. The Government of the United Kingdom was itself so desperately short of small warships that it wished to retain three anti-submarine vessels ordered by New Zealand and building in the United Kingdom when the war broke out. Fortunately the New Zealand Government persuaded it to release these ships, which proved invaluable when the Pacific war started, owing to the dearth of anti-submarine vessels in the United States Navy. In spite of their small numbers the New Zealand warships played a conspicuous part in the war, and they can justly claim that they were represented in the first and the last battles.
Owing to the shortage of opportunity for naval service in New Zealand ships, the War Cabinet wisely decided to allow a number of her finest young men to join the Royal Navy. From my own personal experience, I can vouch for the remarkable aptitude they showed for service at sea, including naval aviation. Mr Waters has rightly devoted part of his history to their valuable contribution to the final victory.
Navy Office was fortunate in enlisting the services of Mr Waters early in the war. His long experience as a writer on naval questions, combined with his deep knowledge and zest for naval history, make him the ideal author for this book, which cannot fail to appeal to that seagoing sense innate in all New Zealanders.page viii
I cannot end this foreword without expressing my admiration for the wide outlook taken by the New Zealand War Cabinet. It would have been so easy for them to have taken a parochial view and concentrated their effort on local defence. But they realised, even when disaster followed disaster, that the defeat of the enemy could only be attained by fighting with their allies in areas dictated by the general strategy of the war as a whole – e.g., in the Middle East. It was a liberal education for a naval officer, unused to the ways of politicians, to see how they tackled the difficult problems which arose.
Little did I think, when I was appointed to command His Majesty's Ship Achilles in January 1939, that it would lead to my taking part in such stirring events as to bring my ship and her magnificent New Zealand ship's company into battle, and later, after leaving them with the greatest reluctance, to my becoming the Government's adviser on naval matters during two years of a World War. I feel very proud that my association with New Zealand has been remembered by my being asked to write a foreword to this book.