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51 Mr B. C. Ballard, Official Representative in New Caledonia, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 391 NOUMEA, 27 August 1941, 8.20 a.m.


My telegram No. 386. [1]

I saw the Governor early August 26th, when he told me that the
Conseil at its meeting the day before unanimously resolved to send
a telegram to de Gaulle [2] personally, of which substance is:

Conseil welcomes d'Argenlieu to the Pacific but submits that his
appointment and presence here should be subject to the following

(1) that authority and prerogatives of Sauter as Governor of New
Caledonia should remain unimpaired;

(2) functions of High Commissioner should be confined to matters
of defence and external relations;

(3) that no part of expense of High Commissioner's organisation
should be borne by New Caledonia;

(4) that authority of Conseil in economic matters remains

(5) that under no circumstances should Bayardelle [3] return to
New Caledonia.

This telegram was to be sent through the British Consul [4] who
will give me a copy as soon as he gets it, but he has not yet
received it from the Governor. Possible that the draft is still
under discussion.

The Governor seems to regard this as satisfactory, but repeated
that if de Gaulle wanted to combine both offices he was prepared
to offer his resignation. He is obviously hurt but is prepared to
put national issues involved before his personal feelings.

Apparently the Free French Headquarters has maintained its
decision in spite of the views expressed in your telegram No. 4145
and the warship would seem to have left with High Commissioner's
party on board before the Governor was advised. For this reason it
may be too late to meet the views of Conseil.

My feeling is that the arrangement proposed is a bad one, because-
(1) Noumea is too small to hold both a High Commissioner and a
Governor, the former's office being bound to expand at the expense
of the latter's;

(2) a considerable amount of intriguing can be expected, and
(3) it will tend to encourage disunity instead of promoting unity.


1 Dispatched 25 August. On file AA:A1608, D41/1/9, iv. It reported
that Henri Sautot, Free French Governor of New Caledonia, believed
that his own office and that of Free French High Commissioner for
the Pacific (to be occupied by Commandant Thierry d'Argenlieu)
should be held by the same person; in consequence Sautot intended
to offer his resignation.

2 Leader of the Free French movement.

3 Secretary-General of the Free French administration in New
Caledonia until March 1941
4 W. A. Johnston.

5 On the file cited in note 1.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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