89 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 707 LONDON, 17 October 1941, 9.45 p.m.


Your telegram 621 of 24th September. [1]

1. His Majesty's Ambassador at Lisbon [2] to whom the information in your telegram was forwarded reported that after having spun out negotiations as long as possible the Portuguese Government could no longer postpone concluding a Commercial Aviation Convention with Japan which will establish a fortnightly air service on the line Kobe-Palao-Dilli. Reports confirming this Convention have now appeared.

2. In view of the insignificance of Japanese interests in Timor, the Portuguese authorities regarded the determination of the Japanese to open this line as dictated by purely strategic considerations.

3. His Majesty's Ambassador also learned from a confidential source that matters were brought to a head when the Japanese Minister at Lisbon [3] addressed a note early in October to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announcing that a Japanese Delegation of 13 persons would arrive in Timor by air on 13th October for the purpose of concluding the Convention direct with the Government.

The Portuguese Government decided however at least to insist on signature at Lisbon.

4. The Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [4] also confirmed to His Majesty's Ambassador the report that the Japanese Consul [5] and 7 other officials will shortly arrive at Dilli. From a good source His Majesty's Ambassador has also learned that several other Japanese officials including a General have been resident for some months past at Dilli, presumably as the advance party for the Consul.

5. This being so we regard it as urgently necessary that a British Consular Office should be set up at Dilli with the least possible delay. We are, however, still faced with the difficulty of finding a suitable career officer who can reach Dilli. In these circumstances it has occurred to us that a possible way out might be if the Commonwealth Government were prepared to give Ross [6] Consular rank temporarily in order to meet the position during the next few months. The Commonwealth Government will recall that Archer [7] in his report on Portuguese Timor suggested that the best solution would be to give Consular title to Ross (see paragraph 10 of his report of 3rd May). We agree generally with the argument put forward by Archer for the establishment of a Consulate there and would be prepared to give Ross Foreign Office appointment if the Commonwealth Government see no objection.

6. According to our information this proposal would have considerable advantages in addition to getting over the immediate difficulty of bringing a man to Dilli. These advantages are:-

(a) There is not enough work to occupy the full time of a career Consular Officer with the consequent risk of deterioration of the Officer, as the place [lacks any amenities for alternative occupations.] [8]

(b) Climatic and other conditions of the post make it undesirable for an Officer to remain long in Dilli. Temporary appointment of Ross would thus for the time being solve the difficulties of reliefs.

(c) Such work as there is is largely concerned with aviation for which Ross has obvious advantages over a Career Consular Officer.

(d) The Governor of Portuguese Timor [9] is understood to be specially favourably disposed towards Commonwealth citizens and Ross himself is persona grata.

(e) The difficulty of finding suitable accommodation for a Consular Officer would be avoided if Ross were to be appointed since he could remain in the house he now uses.

7. In view of these circumstances we very much hope that the Commonwealth Government will be prepared to agree at least to the temporary appointment of Ross. [10]

1 See Document 74, note 1.

2 Sir Ronald H. Campbell.

3 Shin-ichi Chiba.

4 Dr L. Teixeira de Sampaio.

5 Tokitaro Kuroki.

6 Civil Aviation Dept representative in Dili.

7 C.H. Archer of the U.K. Consular Service visited Portuguese Timor in March-April 1941. A copy of his report of 3 May is on file AA : A981, Timor (Portuguese) 9.

8 Corrected from the London copy on file AA : A2937, Timor-Dilli Air Service.

9 M. de A. Ferreira de Carvalho.

10 On 23 October the Commonwealth Govt agreed that Ross should be appointed as Consul and that until the necessary formalities were completed he should be regarded as Australia's 'official representative' (cablegram 694) on 28 October, however, the U.K.

Govt suggested that it would be better to seek to have Ross provisionally recognised as Consul pending formal application for an exequatur (cablegram 726) and this course of action was accepted by the Commonwealth Govt on 30 October (cablegram 766).

All cablegrams are on file AA : A981, Australia 248.

[AA : A981, AUSTRALIA 248]