59 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram K63 BATAVIA, 12 February 1948, 6.10 p.m.


Your telegram 29 [1] and my telegram K58. [2]

The following is military position on February 11th.

2. In Sumatra, the implementation of the Truce Agreement was influenced by (a) The distances and [p]aucity of the Republican communications, road, rail, air and signals.

(b) The fact that the Dutch Commanders at Medan, Padang and Palembang with the co-operation of the Military Observers exercised a considerable degree of initiative in interpreting the spirit of the truce.

The direct result of (a) was delay in establishing original contacts between the Dutch and Republican Officers with the consequent growth of anxiety as to whether the truce would be implemented.

However (b) above with pressure by the Military Observers brought satisfactory result. In every case where contact was established both parties co-operated fully. Because of (a) above the greater strain fell upon the Republican Representatives. All Republican armed forces have now withdrawn to their own controlled territory.

3. In Java the situation is complicated by the large demilitarised zones involved and the large number of Republican forces to be withdrawn. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 Republican forces will have been transported by road, rail and sea when the evacuation is complete. Moreover, wide distribution of Republican forces throughout the territory under Dutch control has created difficulties in establishing contact and arranging evacuations.

4. In Java in distinction to Sumatra, local Dutch Commanders have had very little delegated power. The Dutch Army communications system is well established and a contract of control can be retained. In these circumstances frequent interpretations of the Truce Agreement were sought by the local Commanders with consequent delays.

5. Because of isolation [of] the Republican forces (within Dutch territory) from their Command Headquarters at Djokjakarta, Republican Liaison Officers were used with Military Observers. In some instances treatment of these Liaison Officers was contrary to the spirit of the Truce Agreement. In some cases Republican Officers were hesitant to take action when some exercised initiative would have produced more desirable results.

6. In East Java there has been delay in the evacuation of Republican forces but measures taken by Republican authorities for improvements are considered reasonable and adequate.

7. All practical factors considered, the Republic has made every reasonable effort to adhere to the spirit of the Truce Agreement.

8. The following particulars show approximately the number of evacuations effected to date in Sumatra and Java.

Sumatra 1500, Padang and Palembang areas. Java to Bantam (Republican territory) 2700. To the Republic by road and rail 6400: by ship 5800 Cheribon to Rembang, by road and rail 2800 from East Java. Total 19,200. [3]

1 Dispatched on 8 February, it conveyed the text of Kirby's Cablegram UN80 of 5 February. It also requested Critchley's advice on developments in Indonesia, particularly on the implementation of the truce.

2 Dispatched on 9 February. Critchley informed the Department of External Affairs that there had been no discussions between the Dutch and the Republic about a Provisional Government and that he had suggested that Hatta formally advise Van Mook that the Republic would be prepared, with conditions, to join an Interim Federal Government.

3 Punctuation in the last paragraph has been corrected with reference to a copy on file AA:A4357/2, 48/254, ii.

[AA:A1838, 403/3/1/1, xv]