452 Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 320 LONDON, 12 May 1941, 7.10 p.m.

MOST SECRET

Your telegram No. 241 and my telegram No. 263. [1]

Bayardelle has now arrived in London and Foreign Office have added their remarks to those from the Commonwealth Government and Ballard. [2] Free French Headquarters state that they have no intention of using code brought here by Bayardelle.

They now state however that they had already sent a cypher of their own to Sautot via Brunot. [3]

Foreign Office was making sure that this cypher is all right from security point of view. If, as they expect, it is similar to the cypher supplied to General Catroux [4] they feel that they cannot object to its use on that ground.

Foreign Office ask me to say that they had no idea that Brunot was taking out a cypher for Sautot otherwise they would have consulted with the Commonwealth Government on this aspect.

They had already conceded the principle that General de Gaulle should have the right of direct communication with his principal representatives abroad-a right enjoyed by other Allied Governments established here. My telegram No. 263 mentioned Catroux's cypher and this right has also been exercised for some time in communications with De Larminat. [5]

I have urged strongly that special considerations arise in the case of New Caledonia and the importance of the Commonwealth Government being kept fully informed of what transpires there.

Foreign Office are impressing on Free French Headquarters that Sautot's cypher must on no account be made a pretext for short- circuiting Canberra in matters of political concern.

In view of the fact that Sautot for the time being holds the same position in French Oceania as De Larminat in Free French Africa, Foreign Office feel that to object in principle to Sautot using cyphers would cause deep resentment amongst Free French and would be unlikely to achieve any result.

STIRLING

1 Dispatched 15 and 17 April respectively. They dealt with the Commonwealth Govt's opposition to the establishment of direct communications in cipher between General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French movement (in London), and Henri Sauter, Free French Governor of New Caledonia. The Commonwealth Govt's opposition was based not only on a desire to remain closely in touch with developments in French Oceania (Free French cablegrams had hitherto been sent via Canberra) but also on a concern that the Japanese might have obtained a copy of the code brought to London by Andre Bayardelle, the former Secretary-General of New Caledonia. See file AA: A2937, Free France.

2 Official Representative in New Caledonia.

3 Representative of de Gaulle on a special mission to French Oceania in April 1941.

4 Commander of Free French forces in Syria and Lebanon.

5 High Commissioner for Free French territories in Africa.

[AA: A3830, 1941, 1157]