Chifley to Attlee

Cablegram unnumbered CANBERRA, 24 October 1945


I have just received your message regarding the Indonesians. [1] The ship is due to sail in 12 hours. To hold this ship will break faith with the men and would cause widespread industrial trouble here and prejudice our relations with the peoples in the Pacific area in the future.

I do not wish to recapitulate the facts stated in my previous telegram [2] and I note that you have not commented on them but have based your refusal of our request on the grounds that it would embarrass you in handling difficult situation with the Dutch.

This I can appreciate and I am most anxious that your attempts, to reach permanent settlement without conflict will succeed. I realise this can be done only by your influence on the Dutch to adopt a modified system of administration or perhaps to accept a form of temporary trusteeship.

In order not to increase your difficulties in attempting to find a solution I am prepared to take steps to land at Timor with undertaking of ultimate return to Java those of the 1400 who might be regarded by the Dutch in agreement with us as extremists or dangerous. We anticipate no more than 100 of these. I am not sure whether I can succeed in doing this without serious trouble but I shall endeavour to do so. The remainder must be returned to their homeland and in fact a great number of them were demobilised from labour parties by the Dutch for this purpose. In their own interests the Dutch would be well advised to accept this solution as any alternative will result in increased antagonism towards them in this country and amongst even moderate elements in Java.

Accordingly I am instructing the Navy immediately to escort the ship to Dutch Timor in the first instance and I hope that the rest of the movement which I remind you was arranged by us in consultation with the Dutch authorities here will not be interrupted.

The Acting Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Immigration have discussed this suggested way out with the Acting High Commissioner for the United Kingdom who will probably communicate with you.



1 Document 338.

2 Document 334.


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