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

Cablegram 426 11 August 1940,

Reference telegram 9th August [1] addressed to you by High Commissioner Western Pacific [2] concerning situation at Noumea.

Commonwealth Government is of opinion that action suggested in last paragraph of High Commissioner's telegram would be inappropriate and somewhat precipitate at this stage, even if extreme view is taken of position in New Caledonia, as it would amount to act of war against Vichy Government. From our information, the overwhelming majority of French population is wholeheartedly on side of de Gaulle. [3] Although the attitude of some officials is ambiguous, we believe Governor [4] desires to move in same direction as population. Governor, however, is in difficult position as he wishes to avoid giving rise to situation which might leave colony without a constitutional head.

The incidents referred to in High Commissioner's telegram are probably the work of a few extremists who believe section of administration is not moving fast enough along lines they desire.

As already intimated Commonwealth Government has now appointed Mr.

B. C. Ballard as its representative in New Caledonia and he will leave for Noumea aboard S.S. 'CAGOU' about 16th August. In the circumstances it is suggested no immediate action be taken till he can arrive in colony and submit considered report as to most appropriate course.

1 Document 58.

2 Sir Harry Luke.

3 Leader of the Free French movement.

4 Georges Pelicier.

[AA:A3196, 1940, 0.5648]