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Historical documents

206 Curtin to Fraser

Cablegram 100 CANBERRA, 1 June 1943


Your High Commissioner has acquainted me with the decision of your
Parliament regarding the retention of your Division in the Middle
East. [1] As this represents the will of the New Zealand people, I
do not presume to offer any opinion on the conclusion reached. It
does not, however, alter the facts:-

(1) That the immediate defence of New Zealand is in the Pacific
Ocean and the concentration of enemy strength is being made in the
islands to the north of Australia, which is between the enemy and
New Zealand. If we had not insisted on the return of the A.I.F.,
New Guinea would have been lost and we would have now been
fighting on the mainland of Australia.

(ii) For every soldier New Zealand keeps away from the Pacific
theatre, either an Australian or American has to fill his place.

(iii) Australia has rendered substantial material aid to increase
and sustain the war effort of New Zealand on the basis of our
common defence in the Pacific. This has, in effect, amounted to an
export of our limited manpower.

(iv) It would appear to have been much preferable to have had the
Conference suggested by you to the High Commissioner before this
important decision was taken. In view of the set-up which governs
global strategy and operations in the respective theatres and the
machinery in London and Washington on which the various
Governments are represented, it is not apparent what can be
achieved by a conference between the representatives mentioned,
particularly as the Commanders of the South and South-West Pacific
Areas are not directly responsible to the New Zealand and
Australian Governments.


1 See the N.Z. Govt's cablegrams 43-4 of 22 May on file Defence:

MP1217, box 295, Retention of New Zealand division in the Middle
East. Cablegram 43 pointed out that in agreeing to the decision
members of the N.Z. Parliament had 'found themselves torn between
conflicting thoughts and emotions', as they had had to weigh the
Commonwealth Govt's desire for the return of the division against
the advice of Churchill, Roosevelt and Freyberg that it should
stay in the Middle East.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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