3 Commonwealth Government to Attlee

Cablegram 360 CANBERRA, 8 July 1942

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET

Your telegrams 497 [1] and 498. [2]

1. In view of fact that we received cablegrams from Bowden up to

February 10th, and advice that he stated on the day before the

actual capitulation took place he proposed to remain, we are not

satisfied with the Japanese statement that he left Singapore for

the N.E.I. about the end of January. [3]

However, as there is a doubt about his present whereabouts, and as

Ross is outside Japanese control [4], we are prepared to proceed

with exchange scheme as a whole, on lines and on basis of

priorities originally suggested. [5] As, however, scheme

contemplates further ships at a later stage we would insist that

the Japanese be specially requested to agree to the repatriation

of Bowden and his staff as soon as their whereabouts become known.

2. As Free French have agreed to surrender Japanese from New

Caledonia for whom priority has been requested, we have

reconsidered this question. As military position in relation to

New Caledonia has substantially altered recently with the arrival

there of American forces and in regard to which internees probably

cannot be so well informed, we now withdraw our previous

objection.

1 Document 2.

2 Dispatched 6 July (FA:A3195, 1942, 1.26571). It expressed

concern at the Commonwealth Govt's proposal to exclude from the

exchange plan Japanese from New Caledonia held on behalf of the

Free French.

3 See Document 2, note 1.

4 See Document 2, note 2.

5 Between 27 August and 9 September two Japanese ships arrived at

Lourenco Marques carrying some 1800 U.K. and Dominion nationals

from Japan, Manchuria, Japanese-occupied China, Indo-China and

Thailand, while three British ships arrived with an approximately

similar number of Japanese who had been interned in the British

Empire. Among the Australians repatriated were the staff of the

former Legation in Tokyo and their families.

[AA:A981, CONSULS 13, ii]