425 Lt Col W. R. Hodgson, Secretary of Department of External Affairs, to Mr B. C. Ballard, Official Representative in New Caledonia

Memorandum 24 April 1941,

With reference to the discussions had last week with the Commonwealth authorities by yourself and Captain Dubois of New Caledonia [1], it is desired that you should make a communication along the following lines to His Excellency the Governor of New Caledonia [2]:

His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia has considered the question of assistance to New Caledonia in the light of the report of the Australian Military Mission to New Caledonia and the recommendations of its Service Advisers.

2. In view of the assurances given to the Commonwealth Government by Captain Dubois on 17th April that- (a) the political situation in New Caledonia is definitely stabilised in favour of the Free French;

(b) the disaffected element is not capable of bringing about a change in the situation because they lack 'dynamic' organisation and arms;

the Commonwealth Government is prepared to grant certain measures of assistance to New Caledonia.

Defence Measures 3. The Commonwealth Government has decided to make available supplies of arms, clothing and equipment to New Caledonia as set out in the attached Schedule A. [3] It has also reached certain other decisions respecting military assistance to New Caledonia, which are shown in Schedule B. [4] Attention is invited to the following matters in respect of which the concurrence of the New Caledonian Administration and also of General de Gaulle [5] is necessary:-

(a) The establishment of an Air Advanced Operational Base (including an aerodrome and flying boat base) in New Caledonia and the location permanently in New Caledonia of nucleus R.A.A.F.

personnel (approx. 40) required in connection with the establishment and maintenance of the base. Personnel and equipment to be under the control and direction of the Commonwealth Government which will be solely responsible for the operation of the base.

(b) The provision by Australia of instructors for training New Caledonian personnel in the use of arms and technical equipment made available by the Commonwealth Government, such instructors to be withdrawn when the training of New Caledonian personnel is completed.

(c) The despatch from Australia to New Caledonia of an advance party to arrange for the installation of the coast defence battery and to undertake the training of New Caledonian personnel. When the training of New Caledonian personnel has advanced sufficiently, the party will return to Australia.

(d) The despatch to Australia of two officers and ten other ranks of the New Caledonian Military Forces for training in connection with the operation of the coast defence battery.

(e) The proposal to establish military and air liaison with New Caledonia, it being understood that the duties of the Australian Officers who would be made available to New Caledonia will be solely connected with the development of effective military liaison between Australia and New Caledonia. Details of such arrangements will require further consideration, but adoption of the arrangement is not to imply any alienation of New Caledonia's sovereignty and independence.

(f) The principles governing the provision by the Commonwealth of financial assistance to the Free French Forces in the Pacific as outlined in paragraph (e) of Schedule B. Advice as to the extent to which the New Caledonian Administration is able to assist in connection with local defence works was desired.

Economic Assistance 4. The Commonwealth Government has also decided that New Caledonia should be accorded the same treatment as an Australian State or Territory of the Commonwealth, insofar as the purchase by New Caledonia of its requirements from Australia is concerned and that export licences will be granted in accordance with this principle.

5. The Commonwealth Government will also arrange for the settlement of outstanding economic questions with the New Caledonian Administration especially those relating to coffee and the stock of copra ex-'Suva' as soon as possible.

Copies of the Schedules A and B above referred to are attached hereto.

W. R. HODGSON

1 At the request of the Commonwealth Govt Ballard and Dubois flew from Noumea to Australia on 12 April and were present at a meeting of War Cabinet on 17 April when the question of Australian assistance to New Caledonia was discussed (see Documents 420 and 440).

2 Henri Sautot.

3 & 4 Not printed.

5 Leader of the Free French movement.

[AA: AA75/215, 18/41]