131 Commonwealth Government to Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 495 21 September 1940,


Your telegram 348 of 19th September. [1] Assuming New Caledonia generally accepts De Gaulle regime, the situation will not be stabilised while French sloops DUMONT D'URVILLE and AMIRAL CHARNER remain in a position to interfere. In view of United Kingdom Government policy (telegram D.459 of 9th September [2]) and present operations off west coast of Africa, request concurrence in following proposed action.

(a) Prevent French sloops DUMONT D'URVILLE and AMIRAL CHARNER from entering New Caledonia territorial waters.

(b) Endeavour to intercept both sloops and inform them they will not be permitted to interfere with New Caledonia Government or people in any way.

(c) Endeavour to obtain assurance that both ships leave southern waters immediately.

(d) Allow them sufficient oil fuel to return to Saigon, if assurance paragraph (c)-is given.

(e) Force to be used only as a last resort to ensure compliance with (a), (b) and (c).

1 On file AA:A981, New Caledonia 1, iv. It reported that the Amiral Charner was due to sail from Saigon for Noumea on or about 14 September with 100 serving troops and that Governor Denis had been ordered by the French Govt at Vichy to take all possible steps to quell the Free French movement and if necessary to transfer his authority formally to the captain of the sloop.

2 On file AA:CP290/6, 65. It reported that the U.K. Govt had given General Charles de Gaulle a formal undertaking that it would assume responsibility for the defence from the sea of any French colony which declared its intention of continuing the fight under the Free French standard.