321 Department of External Affairs to Eaton

Cablegram 257 CANBERRA, 8 September 1947


Your 299. [1]

While the general report is most satisfactory, the greatest care must be taken in placing it before the Consular mission at this early stage. You are stating as a fact many matters with which your colleagues will disagree, bring[ing] to bear their longer experience and endeavouring to discredit your observations if they are not consistent with the reports they have already sent to their Governments. It would seem to us preferable that you should make no report to the Consular group, and certainly not to the Security Council, until each one of you is in a position to make a full report. You must realise that it is not merely a matter of reporting on facts as far as some other Governments are concerned.

They will be interested only in obtaining support for their political theories already formulated.

2. The schedule set out in your 301 [2] is suitable to us. The four military officers are Brigadier L.G.H. Dyke, Major D.L.

Campbell, Squadron Leader L.T. Spence, and Commander H.S.

Chesterman. We assume you will have arranged entry and we do not propose asking for visas.

3. Information we now have would suggest that 'cease fire' caught Dutch unexpectedly and, far from achieving all their military objectives, they are at present in a position from which they must either advance or withdraw. Withdrawal will mean very heavy casualties as implied in your paragraph 2 of 299. Consequently, there has been the attempt to obtain permission to advance which is probably politically impossible. Without mentioning matter to your colleagues, your primary objective at the moment should be to make a withdrawal possible without loss to the Dutch. It seems likely that the Dutch would be willing to withdraw their troops at the request of the Consular group, who would recommend this as the only effective means of maintaining the 'cease fire', if they had an assurance that their withdrawal would not be resisted. on the other hand, the Indonesians would be prepared to give some such undertaking if the Consular group gave some assurances as to the positions to which forces would be withdrawn. It would be necessary to arrange direct with the Indonesians for detailed instructions for their forces, and it would probably be necessary for the Consular group, or at least the Australian members, to be on the spot during the withdrawal. It seems to us that such a move is not only essential if the 'cease fire' is to be maintained, but is also a necessary preliminary before any mediation.

Glad of your comment on this aspect. [3]

1 Document 316.

2 Dispatched on 7 September, it advised that Ballard would fly via Sourabaya to Darwin in Eaton's aircraft, arriving on 10 September.

The aircraft could then fly the four Australian military observers to Sourabaya on 12 September.

3 Eaton replied on 9 September that in his opinion the Dutch would not consider withdrawal unless ordered by the Security Council, that such a withdrawal could be undertaken practically without casualties and that it would probably be guaranteed by the Republican Government.

[AA:A1838/274, 854/10/4/1]