112 Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 778 LONDON, 9 September 1940, 7.20 a.m.


Your telegram No. 140. [1]

NEW CALEDONIA. This evening I saw Morton [2] (personal assistant to Mr. Churchill) who has been handling matter personally and Dawe assistant under-Secretary Colonial Office and put points contained in your telegram under reference.

With a view to clarifying for you what United Kingdom Government have in mind they made the following comments:-

(a) 'Paragraphs 1 and 2 of telegram from Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs dated September 6th [3] are based on actual telegrams sent from New Caledonia of which United Kingdom Government have obtained possession.' (b) 'Re nickel, United Kingdom authorities appreciate that agreement has been signed, but point they make is that Governor of New Caledonia [4] has reported to Vichy in sense of paragraph 2, which indicates alarm at situation.' (c) 'On position generally they referred to "great and growing basis of pro-de Gaulle [5] feeling in other territories, whole of French Equatorial Africa, Cameroons and French Congo, New Hebrides and Tahiti, have ranged themselves on his side. We confidently expect Guiana and at least parts of French West Africa shortly to follow suit. There are also at the same time signs of growing similar movement in Antilles, North Africa and Syria."' (d) 'Possible reactions of Japan. Their view is as follows: "There is a growing dispute between Japanese and Vichy Governments over Indo-China. If New Caledonia remains pro-Vichy there seems greater likelihood of Japanese intervention than if it openly renounces Vichy control."' (e) 'Finally they ask you to refer to telegram of September 7th from High Commissioner for Western Pacific addressed to Prime Minister [6] showing complete change of view from that which he had previously expressed giving his reasons, and advocating immediate action.'


1 Document 109.

2 Stirling noted of this conversation that: 'The latter [Morton] had a telegram from Sir G. Whiskard [U.K. High Commissioner in Australia] saying that "it was difficult to get on with the Matter (a) because of the elections & the P.M. [R. G. Menzies] being away & (b) because the Department of External Affairs were very apprehensive that action would lead to Japanese interference".

Morton added "De l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace" and "Bis dat qui cito dat".' See Stirling's note of 9 September to S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, on file AA:

A2937, New Caledonia (1937-45).

3 Document 105.

4 Lt Col M. E. Denis.

5 Leader of the Free French movement.

6 Document 107.