892.01/3–1645: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

2730. Sterndale Bennett48 has told an officer of the Embassy that he has received from the British Embassy in Washington a telegraphic summary of conversations between officers of the Department and Sir George Sansom regarding the Free Thai movement. He stated that in this summary was included a brief account of a memorandum49 given the Department by a Free Thai delegation (this is presumably the memorandum enclosed with the Department’s top secret instruction No. 5146 of February 2650), and he inquired whether the Embassy could make available to him a complete copy of the memorandum. Sterndale Bennett was informed that the matter would be taken up with the Department. Please inform us whether we may give a copy of the memorandum to the Foreign Office.

In discussing the general problems raised by the Free Thai request for recognition, Sterndale Bennett referred to the fact, which he had apparently learned from Sir George Sansom, that the Free Thai representatives had made it clear that there was no question about the return to Burma and Malaya of territory taken from them by the Japanese and turned over to the Thais. He also mentioned the Free Thai proposal that the final disposal of the territory which the Thais obtained with Japanese help from French Indo-China be referred to an Anglo-American arbitration committee. Sterndale Bennett said it appeared to him that the Thais were making an attempt at “playing politics” and were trying to play off the British against the French. He gave it as his personal opinion that the British Government would [Page 1257] not wish to take part in such an arbitration committee and that the whole question of the Thai border should be left for discussion at a future date. In this connection, it is interesting to note that an official of the French Embassy in London, concerned with Far Eastern affairs, stated recently to an officer in this Embassy that as far as France was concerned, there was no question as to the return to Indo-China of the territory taken by Thailand. He said the French would demand it as a right.

Winant
  1. J. C. Sterndale Bennett, Head of the Far Eastern Department of the British Foreign Office. In a letter of March 5 to Mr. Ballantine, the Second Secretary of Embassy in the United Kingdom (Allison) reported a conversation with Mr. Sterndale Bennett “the other day” in which the latter was said to have made the categorical statement that the British Government had no definite plans regarding possible occupation or control of Thailand after the Japanese had left and that he “did not believe it was possible under present conditions to make definite plans and that the question of whether or not there should be Allied occupation or control would depend in large degree upon the manner of the Japanese withdrawal and the conditions obtaining in Thailand at that time”. Mr. Allison pointed out that this was contrary to the Department’s view of the British position as stated in Mr. Ballantine’s memorandum of January 25, p. 1244. Mr. Ballantine replied on March 14, enclosing a memorandum prepared the same day in the Office of Far Eastern Affairs which set forth the basis on which the Department’s conclusions had been reached and requesting information “if you discover any reason for believing there has been any recent radical change in the British attitude”. (740.00119 P.W./3–545)
  2. Dated February 14, not printed.
  3. Not printed.