420 Pritchett to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 313 BATAVIA, 21 December 1948, 9.48 p.m.


My telegram No. 311 [1] and telegram No. K.218. [2] The Americans mentioned in paragraph three of K. 218 report that MATHER was detained at DJOKJAKARTA airfield on Sunday morning for about six hours. They say that he is safe and unhurt. However, there is still no official news of him.

After discussions with Cutts, I handed SCHUURMAN a note this morning requesting advice as to the whereabouts of and welfare of our delegation and MATHER and permission to telegraph to them and to receive their reply. He said he had no news at all, not even about MATHER, and would only promise to keep me informed. I could telegraph as soon as DE RANITZ reported contact with them. I said that the army reported the military situation to be so quiet that someone should have been able to drive to KALIURANG during the last two days and DE RANITZ should certainly have been able to, and to have reported by now. SCHUURMAN thought there were probably matters of prior importance for the military and appeared to think that the despatch of DE RANITZ and a Belgian military observer took full care of the situation. Should news still be unavailable tomorrow morning do you wish me to request that an Australian military observer be sent to report? It is possible that the military situation is not so quiet as made out. The Dutch are reported to be using AMBONESE troops in DJOKJAKARTA.

3. At 1800 hours there is still no word from SCHUURMAN.

4. ALAGAPAN has shown me in confidence a report from radio KEDIRI of a speech made last night by the Republican General SUBRAFRUDDIN, a TAN MALACCA supporter, which calls on the Republicans to take the offensive and immediately to institute sabotage and SCORCHED earth inside and outside the Republic. The report claimed that TJEPU and several estates in central Java have been fired and that there was heavy fighting between MADIOEN and SOLOLETOV. The radio said TAN MALACCA was in KALIURANG but there is no news as to whether PKI prisoners have been released.

1 Dispatched on 20 December, it reported that, with the exception of Lieutenant Commander Mather, all Australian military observers were safe in Dutch-occupied territory.

2 Document 418.

[AA:A1838, 854/10/4/3, i]