533 Mr F. G. Shedden, Secretary of the Defence Department, to Lt Col W. R. Hodgson, Secretary of the Department of External Affairs

Teleprinter message D2736 MELBOURNE, 28 June 1942, 9.55 a.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

The following message has been received through Army Dept:-

X8/1581.

To Landforces Melbourne from Norforce Darwin. T.O.R. 0245 28/6.

Originator's no. W.129 T.P.P. 2200/27 27th June. T.H.I. 2215/27.

(Begins) Most Secret. Most Immediate.

For External Affairs from Ross. [1]

Since occupation Dilli have been close prisoner in house which has been looted by Japanese soldiers.

For three months have been half starved owing lack of food for sale Dilli and refusal Japanese allow servants search for food in surrounding country. Japanese suggest I might convey to Australian Company guarantee of proper treatment (...) [2] prisoners in event of surrender. I agreed to convey this suggestion. I did not give any indication that I would return Dilli, but merely said that I would write and give the reply of the Australian Company. I do not intend returning for imprisonment in Dilli and am writing to Japanese to give reply that Australians will not surrender.

Do you want me to return to Australia if possible, or shall I become a fugitive and remain in this territory in hope that Japanese might evacuate Dilli. Cipher books have been destroyed.

Ends.

Advise earliest orders for Ross. [3]

1 Former Consul in Dili.

2 Word(s) apparently omitted as undecipherable.

3 Hodgson advised the Chief of the General Staff (Lt Gen V.A.H.

Sturdee) the same day that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr H. V. Evatt) wanted Ross to return to Australia as soon as possible. Ross was evacuated by sea and arrived in Darwin on 10 July. See Hodgson's teleprinter message [2494] of 28 June and Sturdee's teleprinter message M3030 of 10 July on file AA:A981, War 72.

[AA: A981, WAR 72]