281 Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister, to Mr P. Fraser, N.Z. Prime Minister

Cablegram 48 10 February 1941,

Your telegrams of 6th February, No. 3 and of 27th January, (unnumbered). [1]

The understanding of the Commonwealth Government is that, as French Pacific has always been a single Defence command, Sautot [2] will be responsible for Defence of all French possessions in Pacific, and that the administration of Defence of these Territories will be centralised in New Caledonia. To simplify the task of administration, it has been agreed that Australia should accept financial responsibility for assistance to Free French Forces in Oceania, subject to later adjustment with other Governments. This does not mean that Australia accepts operational responsibility for the whole of this area. We shall continue to look after New Caledonia, and the intention is that New Zealand should still have responsibility for assistance in Defence of Free French Territory on New Zealand Station, e.g. Naval measures, local fixed Defences and strength and training of forces necessary for local Defence.

2. It is considered that arrangements for movement of French forces overseas should be undertaken by the two Governments acting in collaboration. In regard to this de Gaulle [3] has instructed Sautot that, apart from first contingent 300 men from Tahiti and 300 from New Caledonia (600 total) who are to be shipped to the Middle East when ready to fight, that is to say, when commanded, officered, armed, equipped and trained, all troops now drafted or to be recruited are to be posted to the Defence of New Caledonia and Tahiti until further orders. We propose that arrangements for shipment of troops from Tahiti to Noumea referred to in your cablegram of 6th February be made direct between Australian and New Zealand Naval Boards.

3. De Gaulle has agreed to Commonwealth Government's proposal to send military mission to New Caledonia for discussion matters relating to Defence of New Caledonia and has issued necessary instructions to Sautot. Mission comprising a Naval officer (Lieutenant-Commander G. A. Gould) and an Army officer (Lieutenant-Colonel R. E. Fanning) will leave Sydney by Trans- Tasman flying boat on 14th February, proceeding to Noumea by American clipper leaving Auckland 15th February. They will travel as civilians in plain clothes.

4. After staff talks in New Caledonia, the Australian representatives will be returning to Australia via New Zealand and will be available for discussion of purely Defence aspects with New Zealand authorities, if you so desire. We appreciate that there [are] a number of points relating to administrative and financial arrangements which require clarification, but we wish to defer expression of opinion these matters until we have had an opportunity of considering position in light of information ascertained at Staff talks in New Caledonia. We suggest that determination of these matters need not hold up any action now in course by you as indicated in your various cablegrams.

5. I should be grateful if you would approach Pan American Airways with a view to two passages being reserved for Gould and Fanning from Noumea to Auckland 27th February. It would also be appreciated if passage could be reserved for Gould from Auckland to Sydney 1st March and for Fanning 8th March.

1 On file AA:A1608, D41/1/9, iv.

2 Free French Governor of New Caledonia.

3 Leader of the Free French movement.

[AA:A3196, 1941, 0.1679]