384 Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 210 4 April 1941,

MOST SECRET

Wallis Island. Your telegram 71 of 3rd February transmitting message for Sautot from de Gaulle [1] and reply from Sautot No.

189 of 27th March. [2] It is clear from the latter that resistance on the part of the Islanders is most likely. We are of opinion having regard to the fact that the Islands are of little economic or political importance, that bringing them into the fold of Free France would only result in added liability with little or no corresponding asset. His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia feel that the proposed operation should therefore not be encouraged unless some substantial advantage is likely to be gained. We doubt the wisdom of the proposal as we feel that it might very easily be used by Japan as an excuse for retaliatory action against New Caledonia.

With regard to the proposal that an Australian warship should be in the vicinity of these Islands at the time the proposed expedition arrives His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia is not sympathetic to this request in view of the position outlined above.

We therefore suggest this matter might be discussed with de Gaulle to ascertain his views before we communicate with Sautot. In view of proposed early despatch of military force from New Caledonia to these Islands early reply would be appreciated.

FADDEN

1 See file AA: A981, New Caledonia 1, vi. It conveyed a recommendation from General Charles de Gaulle (leader of the Free French movement) to Henri Sautot (Free French Governor of New Caledonia) to extend his control over Wallis and Futuna Islands, between Fiji and Samoa.

2 See file AA: A1608, B41/1/8, i. It reported Sautot's determination to rally Wallis Island to the Free French cause in spite of opposition from French officials on the island.

[AA: A3196,1941, 0.4210]