Chifley to Mountbatten

Cablegram 294 CANBERRA, 12 October 1945


1. The British ship ‘Esperance Bay’ leaves Sydney on October 13th under special charter. She will carry approximately 1200 Indonesians now in this country who have volunteered to return to certain points of the N.E.I. These ports and the exact number of Indonesians involved will be advised as soon as possible. Ship will carry armed guard.

2. The Indonesians comprise seamen who have left their Dutch ships in Australian ports, servicemen demobilised from Dutch forces in this country and civilians. Some of the two latter groups derived from Dutch New Guinea where they had been political exiles before the Dutch entered that area. All are in sympathy with Soekarno’s movement.

3. Up to the present our attitude towards the situation in the N.E.I. has been that the Dutch and Indonesians must work out their own solution. In any case we were not prepared forcibly to return these elements to Dutch territory. Consistently with our immigration policy, we did, however, make it known that we proposed to deport them to Australian New Guinea and Nauru. All expressed a preference for the N.E.I. provided that we shipped them on a non Dutch vessel to selected points.

4. We desire to avoid incidents. So as to guard against these, Mr.

K.C. Plumb, an officer of the Australian Department of External Affairs will accompany the party on the ‘Esperance Bay’. Until he was demobilised, Mr. Plumb was on liaison duty for the Commonwealth Security Service with the Netherlands Indies intelligence Service.

5. After seeing the Indonesians to their various destinations Mr.

Plumb will at once proceed to Batavia where, as soon as the necessary arrangements are made, he will take up duty as an Australian Vice-Consul.

6. The purpose of this message is to inform you of the above movement and to request your assistance in ensuring as far as possible that the Indonesians are disembarked without incident and without risk of punishment by the Dutch.

7. We should also be most grateful if you would accept Mr. Plumb as an Australian political Liaison Officer with S.E.A.C. for the time being in the N.E.I. and if, pending the establishment of an Australian consulate at Batavia you would kindly extend to him (a) facilities for cypher communication with the Commonwealth Department of External Affairs, (b) transport facilities in and around the N.E.I., (c) quartering and rations and (d) any incidental courtesies that may help him in his assignment.



[AA : A1838/2, 401/3/6/1/3, i]