92 Mr A. R. Nankervis, Secretary of Department of the Navy, to Mr F. Strahan, Secretary of Prime Minister's Department

Teleprinter message D192 [MELBOURNE], 2 September 1940


The following copy of a message which is being despatched by the Naval Board addressed to the Acting Resident Commissioner, New Hebrides [1], and repeated to the New Zealand Naval Board is forwarded for information (begins) Following instructions have been issued to the Commanding Officer, H.M.A.S. 'ADELAIDE' [2] (begins) PART I 1. After fuelling proceed to Vila, New Hebrides, forthwith arriving there Saturday, 7th September:

PART II 2. On arrival at Vila place yourself in communication with British Resident High Commissioner [3] for latest information and instructions.

3. Situation may alter before your arrival, but present intention is that you should embark French Resident High Commissioner of New Hebrides [4] and convey him to Noumea. He is adherent of De Gaulle. [5]

4. General feeling New Caledonia understood to be favourable to good relations with Australia and British Empire,. but French Sloop 'DUMONT D'URVILLE' is probably at Noumea and is endeavouring to sway opinion in favour of Vichy Government. Your presence and that of French High Commissioner of New Hebrides may counteract this and may result in 'DUMONT D'URVILLE' leaving New Caledonia.

These are principal objects of your presence, Your instructions do not include the use of force at any rate at present.

5. Australian Government representative at Noumea is Mr. Ballard and Admiralty Reporting Officer is British Consul Mr. Johns [t]on.

You should get into communication with them on arrival.

6. French Colonies under rule of Vichy Government are instructed to detain all British shipping until permission of German Government is given. You should represent to the High Commissioner, New Hebrides, and Mr. Ballard that any system of nominal adherence to Vichy Government which maintained this provision would be unacceptable, and that until it is removed British ships are not being allowed to call at Noumea.

7. Great care should be taken to avoid impression that annexation is intended. This is not the case. Sole object is to maintain good economic relations.

8. Your actions at Noumea, subject to above guiding instructions and any others you may receive from Naval Board, are at your discretion.

9. Pretext for visit could be given as operations in search of raider which sank 'NOTOU' and 'TURAKINA'.

10. It may be possible to arrange for French High Commissioner, New Hebrides, to fly from Vila in flying boat, joining you at or near Noumea, and thus rendering visit to Vila unnecessary. You will receive instructions by W/T [6] if this can be arranged.

Fuelling arrangements will be signalled later.

11. This message is being repeated to Acting Resident Commissioner, New Hebrides, for information of Sir Harry Luke, High Commissioner for Western Pacific, who has recently been in New Caledonia and who is being asked to advise you of latest situation there. Acknowledge. (ends).

Request you will show the above to Sir Harry Luke and obtain latest advice from him for the Commanding Officer, H.M.A.S.

'ADELAIDE'. Sir Harry Luke is being asked by Commonwealth Department of External Affairs whether he advises visit of H.M.A.S. 'ADELAIDE' to Noumea. [7]

1 R. H. Garvey.

2 Captain H. A. Showers.

3 R. D. Blandy, whose correct title was Resident Commissioner.

4 Henri Sauter, whose correct title was Resident Commissioner.

5 Leader of the Free French movement.

6 Wireless telegraphy.

7 There appears to have been some disagreement about Australian policy on New Caledonia: the External Affairs Dept drafted a cablegram to the U.K. Govt on 2 September opposing the dispatch of H.M.A.S. Adelaide to Noumea and reiterating the view that the best administration for the colony would be one owing nominal allegiance to Vichy, but sympathetically inclined towards co- operation with the Allies. The cablegram was not sent. See file AA: A981, New Caledonia 1, v.

The document hue printed was addressed also to the External Affairs Dept, to which a copy was dispatched by the Prime Minister's Dept on 3 September. See copy on file AA: A1608, D41/1/9, ii.

[AA: A981, NEW CALEDONIA 1, iii]