22nd March, 1928


My dear P.M.,

The Dominions Office sent you a despatch by the last mail, in which they advised that the French Government had offered a decoration to Captain Robins, R.A.N., to mark their appreciation of something that he did in the New Hebrides in his naval capacity.

I am asked by the Foreign Office to advise you, personally and privately, that, in view of the present and past negotiations with the French with regard to the New Hebrides, they are anxious not to be put in the position of having to receive favours at their hands-and so they hope that you will not accede to the French request that this decoration be granted.

The Foreign Office go on to say that this, of course, has nothing to do with the merits of whether Captain Robins deserves this decoration or not. They realise that it may be hard on the man but they submit that the interests of this country in negotiations with France should come first. [1]

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 In a letter of 16 March 1928 the Dominions Office advised the Australian Government that the French Government wished to award the Cross of Officer of the Legion of Honour to Captain John Robins, recently retired from the Royal Australian Navy, for his part in a police action following, the murder by indigenes of a French colonist in the New Hebrides in 1918. The Australian Government, in a cable to the Dominions Office of 2 May 1928, agreed with the Dominions Office view that the award should not be accepted because the service had been performed more than five years earlier. It was already well-established policy in Britain and Australia that foreign awards to civilian public servants were acceptable only in the most exceptional circumstances. The letter and the cable are on file AA:A461, AF 336/1/2.