196 Brookes to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 35 BATAVIA, 18 April 1946, 9.50 a.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET

During a closer investigation on 17th April of Japanese war crimes against Australian service personnel conducted near Buitenzorg, Squadron Leader Birchall, Officer in Charge, Australian War Crimes investigation is missing and Flight Lieut. McDonald also of War Crimes and Captain MacKenzie Australian Comforts Unit, murdered.

One Australian civilian named Hanson [and a] British Army captain were wounded.

As there are no other Australian officers here and because of political and publicity angle, I have taken charge of the matter.

In this connection, I have approached Allied Headquarters on the highest level and everything possible is being done by them to locate Birchall.

The bodies of MacKenzie and McDonald have been recovered and I am arranging for their burial with military honours at approximately 1700 hours on April 18th.

I have also seen Sjahrir's representative in Batavia and the Senior Officer of the T.R.I. They have contacted the local Indonesian Government representative and T.R.I. commander in the area concerned. They have informed me that at approximately 2100 hours 17th April a search party was sent out.

The political and publicity angle are and will have to be handled most carefully as it is not known absolutely for certain that Indonesians were responsible for the murders and secondly, if so, whether they were members of T.R.I. (the Republican Army) or simply a band of cut throats.

I have signalled Lieut. Col. Smith, Officer in Charge of War Crimes Detachment, Major Quinton, Officer in Charge of Contact Unit and Massey in Singapore advising them regarding the position.

British War Crimes Investigation Units have signalled military details to the above mentioned officers.

[AA:A1838/2, 401/3/10/2, ii]