75 Lt Col W. R. Hodgson, Secretary of Department of External Affairs, to Mr J. Tremoulet, French Consul-General in Australia

Letter CANBERRA, 16 August 1940

[The S.S. Commissaire Ramel, employed by the Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes on the Marseilles-Tahiti run, was requisitioned by the U.K. authorities in Suva on 24 July and sailed to Sydney. When arrangements had been made for the disposition of the crew (some were repatriated while others, despite Tremoulet's warnings, elected to continue serving on the ship) the Commissaire Ramel was taken over by the Shaw Savill Line. It was sunk in the Indian Ocean by the German raider Atlantis on 20 September 1940.]

I have the honour, by direction, to inform you that the Commonwealth Government has received reports from its officers in Sydney that you have been engaged in activities in relation to the crew of the S.S. Commissaire Ramel which are regarded by the Commonwealth Government as highly objectionable. In particular, it is reported that you have informed the crew of the vessel that if they sail in the ship under British orders they are liable to suffer such penalties as loss of nationality and non-payment of allotment to relatives. It is also stated that you have instructed the Master [1] to report the names of all members of the crew willing to sail under British orders, and that you have implied that the names of such persons will be communicated to the Petain Government.

I am directed by the Minister [2] to ask if you would be good enough to reply to the above-mentioned allegations without delay, so that the Commonwealth Government may be in a position to decide whether or not your recognition as Consul-General of France should be withdrawn.

W. R. HODGSON

1 Captain Georges Sabouret.

2 John McEwen.

[AA: A981, NEW CALEDONIA 1,iii]