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

Cablegram 391 NOUMEA, 27 August 1941, 8.20 a.m.


My telegram No. 386. [1]

I saw the Governor early August 26th, when he told me that the Conseil at its meeting the day before unanimously resolved to send a telegram to de Gaulle [2] personally, of which substance is:

Conseil welcomes d'Argenlieu to the Pacific but submits that his appointment and presence here should be subject to the following conditions:

(1) that authority and prerogatives of Sauter as Governor of New Caledonia should remain unimpaired;

(2) functions of High Commissioner should be confined to matters of defence and external relations;

(3) that no part of expense of High Commissioner's organisation should be borne by New Caledonia;

(4) that authority of Conseil in economic matters remains unimpaired;

(5) that under no circumstances should Bayardelle [3] return to New Caledonia.

This telegram was to be sent through the British Consul [4] who will give me a copy as soon as he gets it, but he has not yet received it from the Governor. Possible that the draft is still under discussion.

The Governor seems to regard this as satisfactory, but repeated that if de Gaulle wanted to combine both offices he was prepared to offer his resignation. He is obviously hurt but is prepared to put national issues involved before his personal feelings.

Apparently the Free French Headquarters has maintained its decision in spite of the views expressed in your telegram No. 4145 and the warship would seem to have left with High Commissioner's party on board before the Governor was advised. For this reason it may be too late to meet the views of Conseil.

My feeling is that the arrangement proposed is a bad one, because- (1) Noumea is too small to hold both a High Commissioner and a Governor, the former's office being bound to expand at the expense of the latter's;

(2) a considerable amount of intriguing can be expected, and (3) it will tend to encourage disunity instead of promoting unity.


1 Dispatched 25 August. On file AA:A1608, D41/1/9, iv. It reported that Henri Sautot, Free French Governor of New Caledonia, believed that his own office and that of Free French High Commissioner for the Pacific (to be occupied by Commandant Thierry d'Argenlieu) should be held by the same person; in consequence Sautot intended to offer his resignation.

2 Leader of the Free French movement.

3 Secretary-General of the Free French administration in New Caledonia until March 1941 4 W. A. Johnston.

5 On the file cited in note 1.