338 Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 427 LONDON, 23 October 1945, 10.30 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET

Your telegram of 23rd October, 360. [1]

1. I am very sorry to learn of the difficult position which has arisen with regard to the 1,400 Indonesians now in the ESPERANCE BAY on her way from Darwin to the Netherlands East Indies.

2. The position in Java and Sumatra is so delicate that we feel bound to avoid any step which might aggravate it. We must, therefore, attach great weight to the view of Admiral Mountbatten and those on the spot that to land these Indonesians in either island at the present time would embarrass our force commander and might precipitate a crisis.

3. We are not finding it easy to handle the Dutch Government over the Netherlands East Indies problem, and the landing of Indonesians in the islands while we do not allow Dutch forces to land would make a most unfortunate impression on the Dutch.

4. In these circumstances, we feel strongly that the Indonesians in the ESPERANCE BAY should not be allowed to land in either Java or Sumatra. I, therefore, ask you in the light of the deterioration in the situation in those islands to reconsider your decision not to permit these men to go to Timor or elsewhere in the Netherlands East Indies. I suggest that you could properly regard the pledges of the Australian Government to repatriate them to the Netherlands East Indies as being satisfied by landing them in Timor or elsewhere in the first instance. If challenged you could say that refusal of permission to land in Java or Sumatra is the result of the decision of the Allied Military Commander.

1 Document 334.

[AA : A1838/2, 401/3/6/1/3, i]