138 Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 359 LONDON, 25 September 1940, 9.46 a.m.


Your telegram 495 21st September. [1]

We are not altogether clear as to the position with regard to DUMONT D'URVILLE, since recent messages from Sautot [2] to General De Gaulle [3] through the Commonwealth Naval Board imply that the Captain of this ship [4] is being interned or deported.

2. Subject to clarification on this point, we feel that it would be desirable to immobilise both French ships because- (1) they might go to Tahiti or the New Hebrides if given sufficient oil to reach Saigon.

(2) Whilst they are at large it might be necessary to retain H.M.A.S. ADELAIDE at Noumea.

3. For this purpose and in accordance with the United Kingdom Government's policy (my circular telegram D.459 [5]) with which it is hoped the Commonwealth Government is in agreement, the United Kingdom Government feel that force should be used as a last resource to immobilise these ships. [6]

4. The United Kingdom Government agree with your view that the present operations off the west coast of Africa are relevant. Any drastic action by Vichy Government in that connection during the next day or two might of course necessitate the use of force against the French sloops.

1 Document 131.

2 Free French Governor of New Caledonia.

3 Leader of the Free French movement.

4 Le Capitaine de Fregate Toussaint de Quievrecourt.

5 See Document 131, note 2.

6 Dumont d'Urville was in fact permitted to leave Noumea for Indo- China at 4.45 p.m. on 25 September (i.e. before this cablegram was dispatched). See cablegram 25 of 25 September from B. C. Ballard, Official Representative in New Caledonia, on file AA:A981, New Caledonia 37.

[AA:A981, NEW CALEDONIA 1, iv]