36 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom

Cablegram 4339 CANBERRA, [9 August 1941] [1]


Reference your 615 -Free French. [2] We are concerned at decision that d'Argenlieu is to be appointed as High Commissioner for the Western Pacific with headquarters at Noumea.

Ballard reports that administration in New Caledonia is running satisfactorily and that political position, unlike Tahiti, is now quite stable. [3] Sautot [4] is popular and present appointment will be blow to his prestige and to New Caledonian pride.

Ballard suspects that intriguing of Bayardelle [5] and reports of Brunot [6] are at back of decision. Our information as to activities of Brunet, especially in Tahiti, all suggest[s] he is most disturbing factor and that sooner he is recalled the better.

As you may be aware, he has re-instated Edmonds [7] and Foreign Office has ordered Archer [8] now in Canberra to proceed to Tahiti as a career consul.

Our aim, apart from maintaining the economic position, has been to promote political stability in French Oceania and in our view the appointment of high officials from outside who are not conversant with local conditions, and with the characteristics of a people who differ greatly from those in metropolitan France and other parts of French Colonial Empire, does not assist us in this objective.

Glad if you would bring above views to the notice of United Kingdom Government and to Free French Headquarters.


1 Inserted from the copy on file AA : A1608, D41/1/9,iv. The cablegram was repeated to B. C. Ballard, Offical Representative in New Caledonia, as no. 414 on 10 August.

2 Dispatched 6 August. On the file cited in note 1.

3 See cablegram 357 of 6 August on file AA : A816, 19/301/842.

4 Free French Governor of New Caledonia.

5 Secretary-General of the Free French administration in New Caledonia until March 1941, when he left to join the staff of General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French movement in London.

6 In charge of the Free French administration on Tahiti.

7 U.K. Consul in Papcete until May 1941 when he was deposed by a group of British subjects for his allegedly pro-Vichy sympathies.

8 U.K. Consul in Tamsui (Taipei) until the expulsion of U.K.

consular staff from Formosa early in 1941. He visited Portuguese Timor in March April 1941, proceeded to Australia on leave and took up duty in Papeete on 20 September 1941 9 Inserted from the London copy on file AA : A2937, Free France.