[General Freyberg's Farewell Speech, 1940]

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General Freyberg's Farewell Speech, 1940.

In this recording, General Bernard Freyberg delivers a farewell speech to the nation via radio, before departing with the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force in World War II.

Freyberg: I am speaking to you before I move off. I have been here for only twelve days. They have been days filled with hard work but everywhere I have gone I have met with kindness that I shall never forget. New Zealand to me has always meant home. I wish with all my heart that I had been able to bring my wife and my son with me. Secondly, I wish I had been able to spend some of the days looking at the beautiful things. When I went away, I left behind me the companions of my childhood and my youth. Coming back here 25 years afterwards has given me a new lease of life.

During the last week I have visited all the camps in which the First Echelon have been training: Burnham, Trentham, Ngaruawahia and Papakura. I have seen every man that I was able to see and met every officer of the First Echelon. In the course of our military life, soldiers get accustomed to looking at and inspecting men. I believe I am a fairly good judge of men and I say without any hesitation that I was impressed with the physique and the appearance of all the men I saw. I am prepared to back my military reputation that the men of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force will strive to uphold the traditions of their famous predecessors.

This afternoon I had a visitor, General Russell, who handed me a message which I will read to you: "I cannot let you go without a message for the young ones from the old ones. General Freyberg, G.O.C. New Zealand Expeditionary Force, good luck to you and your command. We of the old Expeditionary Force have confidence in you all. Signed Andrew Russell, G.O.C. First New Zealand Division."

It needs no words of mine to say how much that message means to us all. 'General Sir Andrew Russell' is a name that we who served in the last war remember with affection and with admiration. May I, on behalf of the young ones, thank the old ones with all our hearts for that message of confidence.

War is a hard and an unpleasant business. No amount of talking can make it otherwise. If you must go to war, it is important to pick your comrades well. I believe I am the luckiest man in the world. I remember going out to Gallipoli in February 1915 on the troop ship Grantully Castle, and I had probably the most distinguished lot of young officers that any company commander ever left the shores of Great Britain. I had Charles Lister, a great classical scholar who would have risen to the highest positions in the diplomatic service. I had Patrick Shaw-Stewart, possibly one of the greatest classical scholars for a century, a young man who at the age of 27 was Managing Director of Barings Bank, of whom Mr Asquith and Lord Balfour said, "If this man lives, there's nothing to stop him, he'll be Prime Minister of England". And my third sub-altern was our great national poet, Rupert Brooke. And those three men were all killed early on in the war.

I now find myself moving off by ship again. This time, with what I consider to be the greatest division in the war. When you get to my age, you have no military ambitions and I can say I have no military ambitions that are not already fulfilled. But I am very happy to be going with the New Zealanders, and I wish the people of New Zealand 'God Speed', and I am confident that the division will worthily uphold the traditions of the First New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Good night.

Transcript by Sound Archives/Ngā Taonga Kōrero.

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Year 1940

Reference number 32919

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Radio speeches
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits Freyberg, Bernard Cyril (b.1889, d.1963), Speaker/Kaikōrero

Duration 00:07:03

Date 05 Jan 1940