274 Eaton to Burton

Memorandum BATAVIA, 11 October 1948

Before returning to Australia for discussion and leave I took the opportunity, with the permission of the Far Eastern Office, to visit the Republican Authorities at Djokjakarta, and the principal information and impressions I gained have been sent by this Consulate telegram No. 258 dated the 5th October, 1948. [1]

2. To find out the actual condition of the country the journey was made by car via Bandoeng, Cheribon, Tegal, Poerwakerto and the status quo line crossed at Gombong and Djokjakarta reached via Magelang. The N.E.I. Authorities insisted on providing me with an armed escort from Bandoeng to Gombong; however, on the return journey an escort was not insisted on from Tegal. Republican Authorities had an officer to meet me at the status quo line and he stayed with us as our guide-an armed escort was not insisted on.

3. The roads were reasonable, but dusty, but in Republican territory great care must be exercised on account of the many road blocks and disguised tank traps. In Dutch-held territory there is general destruction which occurred during the police action.

Progress in repairs was noticed and the population were working normally, particularly in agricultural pursuits, and were reasonably clothed, but N.E.I. soldiery are everywhere. In Republican-held territory the population were also working normally, but the poor clothing and in many cases, particularly with children, its absence, was most noticeable. Many women have resorted to a locally made sacking for covering-this, of course, is confined to the general working class. Except near the status quo line destruction has not occurred in Republican Territory, although trees have been made ready for quick felling across roads and all bridges, factories, etc. are prepared for quick demolition and burning.

4. Both the Dutch and Republican Authorities we met and stayed with were most kind, interested in the trip and gave all possible assistance and entertainment. En route, two nights were spent at Poerwakerto where we stayed with and were well entertained by the Dutch Resident and his wife. At Djokjakarta a house was made available for our visit and also a house at Kalioerang; time was spent between both places. A special lunch was given by President and Mrs. Soekarno and various other meals partaken with members of the Republican Government. The Sultan of Djokjakarta gave a Dinner at his palace and for the benefit of my wife native dances were arranged during this function.

5. During the trip advantage was taken to visit the well known Hindu temple of Boroboedoer and Tjilatjap town and harbour.

Shipping at this latter place was bombed during the war from North West Australia and later the town and harbour installations completely destroyed during the police action. Repairs to installations are now being carried out and at the present time ships are again loading copra from this port. Tea, rubber and copra estates in West Java are again in production and factories are being repaired. All estates are working under armed guards.

6. From general talking I gained the impression of general hatred, much more pronounced than a year ago, of both sides. The Republicans I feel would prefer complete chaos and to destroy their held country rather than give in to the Dutch and on the Dutch side there is the feeling, also most noticeable in Batavia, of no compromise with the Republicans even in spite of the obvious future benefit to Indonesia and Holland.

1 Document 264.

[AA:A4357/2, 48/260/1, iii]