191 Full Cabinet Submission by Sir Frederick Stewart, Minister for External Affairs

Agendum 486 5 November 1940

ACTIVITIES OF FRENCH CONSUL-GENERAL, M. TREMOULET

Consequent on the collapse of France, and the installation of a 'Free France' Committee in London, the Commonwealth Government has been embarrassed by the extreme pro-Vichy activities And anti- British attitude of the Consul-General for France in Australia, M.

Tremoulet.

The French community in Australia, and in Sydney especially, are extremely antagonistic to this man. At the same time the fear of reprisals in France as regards their families and interests there, is hampering their efforts on behalf of Free France.

Authentic reports from a variety of sources indicate that a stage has been reached which calls for more drastic action. The development of the position is indicated by the following summary of events:-

1. In August, 1940, a report was received that M. Tremoulet had informed the crew of the S.S. 'Commissaire Ramel' that if they sailed in the ship under British orders they would be penalised.

He had also instructed the master to report the names of all members of the crew willing to sail under British orders and implied that the names of such persons would be communicated to the Petain Government. In reply [1] to a letter from the Department of External Affairs [2], M. Tremoulet admitted that he had done this and suggested that the Commonwealth Government, if it thought fit, could inform his Government that he was no longer persona grata. He hinted that the withdrawal of his exequatur would be 'considered very seriously' by his Government and made a veiled reference to the 'consequences that such a measure could have now and possibly when the war is over.' 2. A report was received from the Department of the Navy on 27th August that the continuation in office of M. Tremoulet had been interpreted by Frenchmen as apathy on the part of the Commonwealth Government to the pro-Ally attitude of the vast majority of French people.

3. A further report was received from the Navy on 31st August that M. Tremoulet had continually tried to frustrate the activities of Frenchmen in Sydney who wished to show their allegiance to de Gaulle. Many expressions of dissatisfaction of M. Tremoulet's continuance in office had also been received.

4. Early in September a further report indicating the anti-British attitude of M. Tremoulet was received from the Investigation Branch. This report indicated that the Consul-General had called 10 representative Frenchmen in Sydney to the Consulate and read cables received from France regarding the Oran incident.

Incidentally, it is believed over 90 per cent. of the French in Australia have pro-de Gaulle sympathies. M. Tremoulet had also warned M. Brenac, the leader of Free France in Sydney, that he would report the activities of the Free Frenchmen in Australia to the French Government and that relatives in France might be penalised.

5. A report was received from the Department of the Army on 16th September of certain statements made by M. Tremoulet to a lady. M.

Tremoulet had made no secret of his intention to support the Bordeaux Government and of his distrust of Britain. He said that as history proved Mr. Churchill's offer of union with France was only a trick to betray France.

6. On 18th September, by Ministerial direction, censorship privileges in regard to the use of cyphers and codes were withdrawn. Further action was taken on the 22nd October when all censorship privileges were withdrawn from French Consuls.

7. M. Tremoulet has also had difficulties with the press. He recently made a statement referring to the French people in the Pacific who had repudiated the Vichy Government and declared for de Gaulle as humbugs.

8. In giving a certificate to five pro-Vichy officials who had been deported from the New Hebrides, M. Tremoulet stated in the body of the certificate that the party had been repatriated from the New Hebrides by administrative order of the 'British and rebel French administrations' and that the officials were as 'loyal French citizens' entitled to enter Indo-China which was still under a 'loyal' French administration.

9. Numerous other reports have been received from the Department of the Army and outside anonymous persons. The last of these reports, which is from the Controller of Postal and Telegraph Censorship, is to the effect that M. Tremoulet is definitely pro- Vichy, is bitterly opposed to the British and dangerous to British interests. The Controller reports that he has information that the Consul-General is endeavouring to force other Consular officials at Sydney, who are genuinely anti-Vichy, to leave for Indo-China.

M. Tremoulet when desirous of communicating with France, is doing so by personal and not written communication. In this connection the Department of the Army indicates that M. Tremoulet is intending to report adversely to the Vichy Government on various de Gaullists and Australians. Authority has been given for the Department to prevent French Consular officials from visiting French vessels and conveying special mail from M. Tremoulet unless passed by the censor.

10. Finally, a confidential report on the psychological make-up of the Consul-General and the breach in the Consulate staff, has now been received from Mr. Loubere [3], a member of the Consular staff. This report clearly indicates the harm being done to the French cause in Australia by M. Tremoulet.

11. In view of all the circumstances, the following draft telegram is recommended for despatch to the United Kingdom Government:-

'My telegram 486. [4] Consul-General of France.

In view of anti-British attitude of Tremoulet who is causing us much concern by his activities, we would be grateful if immediate action could be taken to withdraw his exequatur. We have already withdrawn all censorship privileges but feel that nothing short of complete withdrawal of recognition will meet position. His eventual disposition will then be concern of Vichy Government.

Have no reason to suspect other Consuls and officials who we believe are themselves having difficulty with Tremoulet.' [5]

F. H. STEWART

1 Document 79.

2 Document 75.

3 R. L. Loubere resigned from the French consular staff in Sydney in December 1940 to join the Free French air force.

4 Dispatched 18 September. See file AA:A981, Consuls 127, i.

5 This submission was approved by Full Cabinet on 19 November and the cablegram dispatched as no. 597 the same day. See file cited in note 3.

[AA:A981, CONSULS 127, i]