98 Sir Harry Luke, U.K. High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered VILA, 4 September 1940, 12.45 p.m.


Yours [1] and my [2] telegrams 3rd September and telegram same date from Navy Office, Melbourne, addressed to British Resident Commissioner, New Hebrides. [3]

H.M.A.S. 'ADELAIDE'. I have not seen telegram 31st August from the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to which you refer. [4] Adhesion of Tahiti to De Gaulle [5] may change the situation of New Caledonia by 7th September when H.M.A.S. 'ADELAIDE' if still available is due at Vila. Subject to what may have happened by then I would deprecate her taking Sautot French Resident Commissioner, New Hebrides to Noumea where at present he has no jurisdiction unless he goes there on appointment by De Gaulle as Governor of New Caledonia and the French High Commissioner of Western Pacific. I understand that De Gaulle has this appointment in mind when New Caledonia openly and formally declared for him but it is in my opinion important that Sautot should not be taken to Noumea in British man-of-war without credentials from De Gaulle.

Sautot, whose attitude and actions here have been marked by considerable moral courage, is anxious to deport three of his most troublesome opponents at the first suitable opportunity. Such an opportunity would arise if the presence of H.M.A.S. 'ADELAIDE' here coincided with the next visit of the S.S. 'MORINDA' due to leave here on 16th September. Presume that you would have no objection to these persons whose early departure from the New Hebrides is considered highly desirable not only by the French Resident Commissioner but by the British Resident Commissioner [7] and myself being repatriated via Australia. There is unlikely to be direct sailing from here for Indo China before October.

Please repeat to the British Resident Commissioner, New Hebrides your reply to this telegram.

1 Document 93.

2 In addition to the cablegram printed as Document 96 Luke dispatched to Menzies on 3 September copies of his cablegrams Touring 3 (two parts) and Touring 4 and also a cablegram which read: 'Your telegram 3rd September. just received on my return to Vila this morning. Suggest, if possible, your deferring action proposed until you receive my detailed situation-telegram later today. Propose leaving Vila for Suva tomorrow, arriving there 7th September.' See file AA:A981, New Caledonia 37.

3 Document 92.

4 Document 88.

5 Leader of the Free French movement.

6 The deciphering of this word was queried in the original.

7 R. D. Blandy.