Mountbatten to Chifley

Cablegram KLB45 [COLOMBO], 20 October 1945, 1.53 p.m.


With reference to our exchange of signals [1] regarding the 1400 Indonesians which you have guaranteed repatriation from Australia to Dutch Timor, Java and Sumatra.

2. In view of your insistence that these Indonesians should be repatriated to Timor, Java and Sumatra I had asked General Christison their Force Commander in Netherlands East Indies to make an exception and accept these people in the countries you specified. I did this in spite of the very grave situation at present in Netherlands East Indies in order that you might keep faith in your guarantee.

3. I did not then know that these Indonesians included large numbers of political prisoners exiled to New Guinea after the 1936 Revolution and who are extremists. [2] I understand Australia accepted these when New Guinea was invaded by the Japanese. [3]

4. Christison has represented most strongly after consultation with the Dutch Representatives in Batavia that they should be returned to Timor only and other small islands but on no account to Java or Sumatra where their arrival might tip the scales in favour of the Extremists.

5. In view of Christison’s representations and the likelihood of civil war breaking out in Netherlands East Indies at any moment I must request that you arrange at any rate as a temporary measure that the 1400 Indonesians go to Timor and the neighbouring small islands.


1 Documents 303, 309, 310 and 312.

2 Presumably a reference to the disturbances of November 1926 and January 1927 following which many communists were sent to internment camps in Dutch New Guinea.

3 In an unnumbered cablegram in reply, dispatched 20 October (on file AA : A1838/2, 401/3/6/1/3, i), Chifley reminded Mountbatten of the broad description of the party given New Guinea to Australia in 1942. Of the 18 classified by the Dutch as dangerous, 4 had successfully appealed against detention and 14 had been returned to Dutch New Guinea. The Esperance Bay party of 1400 included some 500 seamen and 800 ex-servicemen. The majority of the 100 thought to be extreme nationalists were believed to be seamen.


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