The Free French High Commissioner for the Pacific (d’Argenlieu) to the Secretary of State


Your Excellency: I have the honour to introduce the bearer of this letter, Mr. Maurice Schwob, Attaché to my Civilian Cabinet.

I have asked Mr. Schwob to inform you personally of the assistance which I believe it is absolutely essential that we obtain immediately from your Government to insure the defence of the French possessions in the Pacific, especially New Caledonia, and the problem of supplying their civilian and military requirements.

New Caledonia is participating to its fullest extent and with all its energy to supplying the United States with Nickel and Chrome, products essential to their armament program.

It is my hope that while constantly increasing the production of these minerals, we can protect these sources of supply against any attack.

But I must have the wherewithal.

I have, of course, taken all precautions to eventually destroy and render useless to the enemy all existing installations: nickel refining factories, mines, docks, etc.

These measures will be taken immediately in the event of Japanese troops or other non-allied troops landing on the island.

However, I think it preferable from all points of view that we defend and keep that which we possess.

I am happy to be able to assure you that not only the troops under my command, but also the civilian population of New Caledonia are prepared to endure all rather than surrender.

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But, in order to maintain this high morale, and to make their defence effective, they must see that the necessary armaments are provided.

The Fate of the French Possessions in the Pacific is in your hands. Persuaded of the interest you will not fail to take in our situation, and thanking you for the reception which you have been kind enough to grant to my representative, I remain [etc.]

Thierry d’Argenlieu

High Commissioner of France for the Pacific
  1. The translation and original of this message were left at the Department by Mr. Schwob on March 13, 1942.