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42 Kirby to Evatt and Watt

Cablegram 516 SINGAPORE, 29 July 1946, 7.53 p.m.


I was grateful for your telegram 86 in reply to my 171 [1] regarding the movement of Dutch troops and equipment on the Manoora.

2. The information contained in your telegram was most helpful to me in my farewell conversation with Sjahrir in which as far as the ship's movements were concerned, I contented myself with informing him that neither the Manoora, nor any other Australian ship was carrying Dutch troops or equipment to any port in Java.

3. In general conversation I gave him the substance of your remarks on Australian policy as set out in your paragraph Six [2] and in particular stressed the fact that Indonesian leaders genuinely desire and spare no efforts to achieve a settlement by peaceful means. May I be forgiven for adding that the arranging of ports of destination outside Java in the difficult circumstances obtaining shows, in my opinion, a very real and practical appreciation of the local situation and has adroitly avoided what might have been an awkward situation.

4. Sjahrir was most cordial and obviously remains most anxious for a continuance of Australian sympathy. He told me that he had heard from a local Dutch broadcast that the Manoora was bringing troops and equipment to Batavia, and my intimation that this was not so more than countered any awkwardness caused by the original Dutch announcement. He said in particular he had feared local riots in Batavia had the Manoora brought Dutch troops and equipment there.

5. The general atmosphere in Java has deteriorated in the last few days. Sjarifoeddin presented Mansergh with a written protest at seven alleged breaches by the Dutch or British of the spirit and letter of Djokjarta agreement of 2nd April 1946 and threatening 'to suspend further evacuation of Allied internees' failing receipt of a written undertaking that no further violations will occur and that disciplinary actions will be taken against offenders.

6. Mansergh has replied in writing in a sort of argumentative travesty but one cannot [but] feel that in some instances particularly the Dutch bombardment of the rice port of Barjoewangi, the Indonesian protest is justified.

7. Further evacuation of internees has been suspended but I understand from Mackereth that this is not as important as it at first appeared, owing to the fact that all known APWI imprisoned by Japanese have been evacuated, thus satisfying British obligation in this respect, and that only those imprisoned or interned by the Indonesians themselves remain. In fact, it would appear that the Indonesians were very glad to get rid of these people at the R.A.F.'s expense.

8. I am leaving Singapore for Sydney on 30th. I have seen Ballard who arrived in Singapore to-day. I would like to elaborate, on my return, my personal and very confidential opinion that Foreign Office policy is sometimes hampered by Mansergh and his Brigadier General of staff, Waier [3], who claim in any subsequent discussion with Mackereth that their actions were justified by military necessity. I must add that this does not come from Mackereth, but from my own observation only, and that he has, I should think, no idea that I have this opinion.

9. I am also bringing down more detailed report on Malino, conference resolutions previously telegraphed by me.

10. At the time of my departure from Batavia on July 28th, the position in regard to the re-arrest of suspects was still obscure and that Bogor, where some were thought to be, has once again become an area of active fighting.

1 Dispatched on 25 and 22 July respectively, the cablegrams clarified the political implications of the sailing of the Manoora with a view to enabling Kirby privately to reassure Sjahrir of Australia's position vis-a-vis the Republican movement.

2 i.e. to press the Dutch to reach a reasonable agreement with the Indonesians as soon as possible.

3 Reference presumably should be to I. C. A. Lauder.

[AA:A1838/2, 403/3/1/1, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History