528 Lt Col W. R. Hodgson, Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, to Lt Gen V. A. H. Sturdee, Chief of the General Staff

Teleprinter message CS 2684 CANBERRA, 23 June 1942

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Your message 22nd June. [1] Portuguese Timor.

As Ross is under close supervision by Japanese and is not a free agent it seems he must be under something equivalent to flag of truce. It seems to me just that he should not violate his safe conduct but return to his post at Dilli after full parley. Equally it would seem wrong for him to be forcibly detained by O/C Australian Forces. [2] I have consulted Minister for External Affairs [3] on question. He has no definite instructions for Ross, but would like him to be informed (a) of his appreciation of his efforts, (b) that he is endeavouring to obtain his inclusion in the mutual evacuation scheme for Japanese and British officials and (c) that he can still render best service to Australia, while he is in Timor, by remaining at Dilli and acquiring all information he can about Japanese.

Above is subject to General MacArthur's [4] approval.

1 On file AA:A981, War 72. It reported that David Ross, formerly Consul in Dili,had been sent by the Japanese to contact Australian forces and convey a Japanese demand that they surrender.

2 Lt Col A. Spence.

3 Dr H. V. Evatt.

4 Allied Supreme Commander in the South-West Pacific Area.

[AA:A981, WAR 72]