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The Pacific


page v


NOW that this record of New Zealand's contribution to the war in the Pacific is finished, I feel that it does, in a modest way, reveal achievements which have not yet been adequately appreciated by the great majority of the public. It is a tribute, also, to the men who fought in a campaign which was singularly lacking in spectacle and heroics, but nevertheless required high courage because of the fighting conditions and strong powers of endurance to withstand a climate as exhausting by day as it was by night.

Although comparatively close at hand, the islands of the Pacific, particularly those on which the actual fighting took place, were much less familiar than the historic and more romantic regions of the Old World, and the war on those islands was never fought in terms of European violence and ingenuity. But, whatever the circumstances, the death of young men is just as distressing whether it occurs in the jungle or the desert or in a cypress-studded landscape.

My task in writing this book was made easier because of my long association with the land forces which went into the Pacific, first to Fiji in 1940 and then to New Caledonia and on to the Solomons, so that I had first-hand knowledge of both conditions and territory and all the attendant misery of the acute physical discomfort. I was fortunate, also, that I afterwards spent some years on the headquarters of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, which enabled me to gather, from available sources, details of the Japanese account of the campaign.

A little of the material used here has been taken from two surveys I wrote for the New Zealand Army Board after I returned from the SolomonsPacific Story and Guadalcanal to Nissan— and from the thirteen volumes of 3 Division unit histories which I edited before going to Japan in January 1946, but most of it has been extracted from official documents and files.

My sincere thanks are due to the staff of the War History Branch for the ready assistance given to me at all times during my search through files and documents. I should like also to express my gratitude to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, who gave me permission to use any material I required from translated Japanese documents held by his headquarters in Tokyo; Lieutenant-General Sir Horace Robertson, Commander-in-Chief page vi of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, who permitted me to remain in Tokyo and freed me from all official duties while I searched Japanese documents; Major-General H. E. Barrowclough, who read my manuscript and spurred me with his enthusiasm; Colonel H. C. Parker, the Military Attache at the United States Embassy, Wellington, for checking some American details; Squadron Leader J. M. S. Ross, for information about the Royal New Zealand Air Force; Captain N. A. Fraser, for information about New Zealanders serving with the Fiji Military Forces; S. D. Waters, for some naval data; Miss P. M. Lissington, who wrote the official narrative on New Zealand's relations with Japan from 1900 to 1941; and to the narrative by M. B. McGlynn on New Zealand's manpower problems. The account of the activities of the Royal New Zealand Naval Squadron and Royal New Zealand Air Force in the Pacific is necessarily brief, as their histories will be told in separate volumes.

In order to keep this narrative in its proper perspective and make it as complete as possible, I have included the briefest practicable account of the part played by the American forces, Navy, Army and Air, of which the New Zealanders were a small part. It is inevitable, however, in works of this kind, that incidents of importance and acts of individual bravery should be overlooked. It was impossible also to record all changes of command; to do so would have cluttered the narrative with lists of names. For any such shortcomings in recording this not unworthy page of New Zealand history I apologize.

Oliver A. Gillespie

June 1951