Addison to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 352 LONDON, 4 September 1945, 8.42 p.m.


Your telegram No.269. [1] Portuguese Timor.

We entirely appreciate your desire to reach some early agreement with the Portuguese Government regarding the questions concerning Timor referred to in the correspondence exchanged with the Portuguese Government in Lisbon in September and October, 1943. We shall be glad to discuss this matter with Dr. Evatt when he arrives.

2. It seems important, however, to dispose separately and quickly of the Japanese surrender issue. We have, therefore, instructed His Majesty’s Ambassador [2] to make representations in Lisbon on the lines indicated in my immediately following telegram [3] as soon as you confirm to us that these instructions have your approval.

3. Since, however, Dr. Evatt is now due to reach this country by the end of this week and since we have now learnt that the earliest date on which any Portuguese ship can possibly reach Timor is 19th September (see paragraph 5 below) it occurs to us that there might be considerable advantage in postponing any communication to the Portuguese Government until we have had an opportunity of discussing the whole matter with Dr. Evatt here.

From our knowledge of Portuguese mentality, we fear that even though they might be induced to concur albeit with reluctance in the proposed surrender arrangements, the making of such representations would arouse their suspicions and so poison the atmosphere as to make it much harder subsequently to obtain the Australian Government’s long-term desideratum in respect of Portuguese Timor. We may not have made this point sufficiently clear in our earlier telegram [4] and wish to be quite sure that the pros and cons of the suggested action in Lisbon have been considered by you before we instruct His Majesty’s Ambassador to take any action. It might well be possible to achieve the desired result by handling the matter rather differently.

4. We think it most important that the proposed action by Australian authorities regarding surrender should not be taken without Portuguese concurrence and that nothing should be done to prevent the Portuguese re-establishing their authority over the Colony at the earliest practicable moment. We do not consider that it would be justifiable to attempt to delay restoration of Portuguese authority. In our view, any discussion with the Portuguese about the future arrangements for Timor should come after such restoration.

5. For these reasons, we would not feel justified in insisting on the sailing of Portuguese forces being delayed even if we had the power to do so. The position as regards these forces is that the sloop ‘Bartolomeu Dias’ is now at Colombo but apparently needs dry docking which would delay her for some days. Even if she sails at once without docking, the earliest date of arrival in Timor is estimated as 19th September. The two next sloops are due at Colombo about 12th September and could not possibly reach Timor before 25th September. The transport ‘Angola’ left Lourenco Marques on 1st September. If she proceeds via Colombo as she was advised to do, the earliest date of arrival at Timor would be 26th September.


1 Document 231.

2 Sir Owen O’Malley.

3 Cablegram 353, dispatched 4 September. On file AA : A1838/2, 377/3/3/2.

4 Document 225.


[AA : A1838/2, 377/3/3/2]