SATURDAY - 19TH DECR. 14:
At the request of the Administrator, Colonel Pethebridge is recommending to the Minister for Defence that the troops under his command be now placed at the disposal of the Administrator, and form part of the relief force to his present command. With this object in view, it has been decided to withdraw outlying garrisons, and with ½ Coy. (25 men) of the new force to relieve garrison under command of Lieut Maughan. One Medical Officer will accompany the Expedition and remain at Kieta. The "Eastern" will leave on Monday, 21st, for Kaiwieng and Nauru with the object of relieving the garrisons at these places.
With reference to the Officers on the Staff who are willing to remain until the end of the War, as indicated in diary of 3rd. Decr., other Officers, on hearing that the Administrator had decided to remain, asked to be allowed to reconsider their case, and an amended return is now being prepared.The wireless message to the Minister giving particulars of Officers and men willing to re-engage, not having been despatched, has been cancelled.
The following wireless message from Colonel Pethebridge to Minister Defence has been prepared for despatch:-
"Eastern" and "Una" arrived Rabaul 17th; all well. After conferring with Administrator, and in view of the altered conditions due to absence of the enemy's ships, consider total force not exceeding 350 ample for whole of acquired possessions South of Equator. Understand about 50 Colonel Holmes force willing re-engage; that would therefore mean on that account, one more company of 100 need be sent from Australia. Colonel Holmes and most of his Administrative Staff willing remain if desired. Propose leaving in "Eastern" for Nauru with Wireless Engineer and to relieve garrison with 25 my men. Am leaving balance Rabaul. "Eastern" should be back Rabaul about Decr. 30th and leave on return Sydney with about 300 Colonel Holmes relieved troops early January. Transport to Australia for about 1000 troops should be at Rabaul not later first week February."
Health of troops satisfactory.