Ball to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 6 BATAVIA, 11 November 1945


Following is a summary of my reaction so far.

Unable to estimate the strength and unity of Soekarno Movement owing to fragmentary and inconsistent reports of the attitude of the Indonesians outside the small British perimeter of Batavia and Sourabaya. Yet I suspect some form of nebulous emotional enthusiasm for the nationalist movement almost universal amongst the Indonesians. Violent action is sometimes but not always due to Dutch provocation. Reliable reports of lawlessness, and disorder in many areas. There is impressive evidence of subversive activities by the Japanese, of whom some thousands are still at large. Even in Batavia there has been sporadic shooting and violence and apart from involving public utilities, general disorganisation. For example Japanese prisoners of war are used as servants in this hotel. Though Soekarno and Cabinet are idealistic well-meaning, actual timing of new responsibilities and introduction is dependent on world support. They are quite incapable of efficient administration in Java without European support. The Dutch are acting under intense emotional strain, leaders baffled and depressed, others trigger happy. Consequently at present incapable of calm balanced negotiation. The British are temporizing, anxious to escape responsibility here at the earliest. There is no policy except gradually transferring their powers to the Dutch within the small perimeter presently held.

Soebardjo has written to me thanking Australia for sending the Esperance Bay but protesting most strongly to our action of returning 27 Indonesians to Koepang where they will fall into Dutch hands. He courteously requests an explanation for this inhumane illegal action. I have told him I would make immediate enquiries to Canberra, addressing him as Doctor Soebemojo [sic] not Minister for Foreign Affairs. Please instruct.

Please arrange diplomatic bag at the earliest. Also telegraph urgently concerning advance of our expenses and pay. Please produce large advance on my behalf. Impossible to give an estimate of my needs at present, since exchange and prices here are chaotic. Nevertheless expenses are high.

I was Christison’s guest at lunch to-day. After lunch he said aside to me:-

‘I am privately convinced that immediate United Nations action is the only solution here’.

Our signal channel Batavia to Australia is wireless station here in charge of Wing Commander Pitt Hardacre, R.A.A.F. who is in direct contact with the establishment in Brisbane commanded by Captain Ray Wattall, R.N.R. who relays signals to Landforces, Melbourne. Suggest you use the same channel for communicating most immediate messages to me. Immediate priority signals should be sent via S.E.A.C. Address is Australian Government Representative Headquarters, Allied Forces, Netherlands East Indies, Batavia.



[AA : A1838/2, 401/1/2/1]