'With the utmost precision and team play' : the 3rd New Zealand Division and Operation 'Squarepeg' : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts i(Defence & Strategic Studies)
This thesis examines the influences and course of the 3rd New Zealand (NZ) Division’s preparations for Operation ‘Squarepeg’ in the Green Islands, in February 1944. It argues that as the largest New Zealand amphibious operation of the Second World War, ‘Squarepeg’ holds a key place in identifying the development of amphibious and jungle warfare doctrine within the New Zealand Army during the war. As such, it can indicate the abilities of the 3rd NZ Division to conduct combat operations in the South Pacific in 1944. The thesis shows that the New Zealand Army was unprepared for operations in the South Pacific, as it had neglected relevant inter-war developments.
The hasty formation of the 3rd NZ Division in 1942, as a response to Japanese expansion in the South Pacific, served to highlight the challenges that the division and its commander, Major-General Harold Barrowclough, had to overcome. The studying of foreign doctrine to supplement the dearth of New Zealand material was vital for the 3rd NZ Division’s preparations for deployment. The thesis finds that matters were compounded by the influence of British military organisational standards despite the division operating in an American-run theatre of war. It provides details of the manner in which members of the division approached these issues while coordinating operations with the United States Navy. The importance of thorough training, a combined planning process, and stable relationships between commanders of all forces are identified as decisive factors to the outcome of operations in joint-combined theatres.
The thesis concludes that the 3rd NZ Division’s preparations for Operation ‘Squarepeg’ were part of an incremental process of operational learning. This process, which was mostly successful, was unable to be properly tested on account of the division’s reliance on foreign assistance, lack of resources, and a lack of domestic support. These findings may prove an important source of information for a region which will become of increasing military importance.