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

Cablegram [370] [1] 12 July 1940,


Commonwealth Government has given close consideration question of New Caledonia.

Our present information is that position likely to deteriorate unless some positive action and assistance is immediately forthcoming. We have taken certain measures, as indicated in draft telegram below, and have arranged to send a representative of Broken Hill Pty. to New Caledonia with a view to assisting in disposal chrome and nickel concentrates and prevent them falling into enemy hands. [2]

Your telegram D.328 of 10th July relative Cameroons [3] was received with special interest and it is felt we can render assistance to New Caledonia along similar lines. Would be glad therefore if you would send us as early as possible details of your concrete measures to give effect to your decision.

In meantime, we think it desirable to send official representative of Commonwealth Government to New Caledonia immediately, and to submit proposal to Governor [4] through British Consul [5] along following lines- 'Please communicate following message from His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia to Governor of New Caledonia- (begins) The Commonwealth Government has noted with deep appreciation the resolution of your Council at its meeting on the 24th June to continue the struggle against the Berlin-Rome Axis at the side of Great Britain. We have also received your request through the Consul General of France [6] for a knowledge of the degree of co-operation and help you can expect from Australia.

As you are aware, the Commonwealth Government has taken steps to allow the sailings of French ships from Australia with provisions to New Caledonia and has given permission for British and Allied vessels to continue to voyage to the French possessions in the South Pacific.

We realise, however, that in the present difficult position in which your Administration is placed, you will require practical help and special consideration from Australia in the solution of your economic problems and in the maintenance of your well-being and stability.

To this end, it would seem necessary that we should be thoroughly seized, at the earliest possible moment, of your special difficulties and the nature and degree of help the Commonwealth Government can render. It seems to us that the most expeditious and practicable method would be to send to New Caledonia a representative of the Commonwealth Government to consult and co- operate with your Administration. We are prepared to send to New Caledonia the best man available for this purpose.

It is hoped that this proposal will commend itself to you and be regarded as a sincere attempt not only to preserve and protect your interests but to further the main objective to which the whole energies of the British Commonwealth are now directed, the liberation of France and the triumph of freedom.


Would be glad to receive your views on this proposal and nature of help and co-operation we can best furnish in the common interest as early as possible. [8]

1 There is some confusion over the numbering of this cablegram.

All Canberra copies, and the copy received in London (See file AA:

A2937, New Caledonia (1937-45)), were numbered 390, but in the Prime Minister's Dept outward cablegram register (AA: A3637) the number has been altered from 390 to 370, which appears to be correct in relation to other cablegrams in that series.

2 There is no evidence that this visit took place.

3 On file AA: A981, New Caledonia 1, iii. It reported that the officer administering the government of Nigeria had been authorised to inform the Governor-General of the French Cameroons that the United Kingdom would collaborate fully with him in the effective maintenance of the French Mandate.

4 Georges Pelicier.

5 W. A. Johnston.

6 Jean Tremoulet. See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937- 49, vol. III, Documents 429.

7 The cablegram was dispatched to Johnston on 18 July. See file AA: A816, 19/301/746.

8 The U.K. Govt replied on 17 July that it would welcome the visit of an Australian representative to New Caledonia, which should take place as soon as possible. See cablegram 252 On file AA:

A981, New Caledonia 1, iii.

[AA: A981, TRADE 87B, i]