184 Mr B. C. Ballard, Official Representative in New Caledonia, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 495 NOUMEA, 11 December 1941, 2 P.m.


Following for Prime Minister [1] from High Commissioner d'Argenlieu. [2]

(Begins) MOST SECRET AND URGENT Telegram 185.

(1) I have the honour to inform your Excellency that since the commencement of hostilities between the British Empire and Japan Free France is also at war with Japan. All our resources will be used for the purpose of defending our territories and collaboration with our allies in the common fight for victory.

(2) Your Government must be fully aware how limited are our military resources. [3] A large part of military material that the Commonwealth agreed in last June to supply to New Caledonia remains undelivered. Aerodromes here are now guarded by troop detachments with only a few machine guns. Works in progress with modifications requested by Americans in agreement with your Air Board are proceeding without delay.

(3) I request your Government send as a matter of urgency adequate number of reconnaissance aircraft and also fighters and bombers to deal with any enemy attacks by sea or air, such aircraft to be based in New Caledonia. In default of adequate air defence aerodromes now under construction will, owing to lack of anti- aircraft guns, offer enemy aviation opportunities for attack and invasion. (Ends)


1 John Curtin.

2 The Commonwealth Govt was informed the same day that the Free French National Committee had appointed d'Argenlieu as its Delegate for the Pacific also, and placed all Free French civil and military representatives in the Pacific and Far East under his authority. See cablegram 810 of 10 December from the U.K.

Dominions Secretary, Lord Cranborne, on file AA:A981, New Caledonia 20.

3 This statement was supplemented by a message from General Charles de Gaulle, President of the Free French National Committee, which emphasised that d'Argenlieu had substantial forces available to defend Free French territory in the Pacific and appealed to the Commonwealth Govt to equip them with modern arms. See cablegram 126 of 13 December from S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, on file AA:A981, New Caledonia 5A, ii.