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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III

463 — The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom2 to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom2 to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

4 August 1945

1. You will remember that in his telegram of 5 July [No. 458] Mr Churchill put to you a proposition for a British Commonwealth force of some five divisions to take part in the assault on the mainland of page 493 Japan. You replied in your telegram of 14 July [No. 459] that certain political difficulties made it impossible for you at the time to give a firm decision on the participation of a New Zealand contingent in the proposed force. In the meantime we have had discussions with the United States Chiefs of Staff at Potsdam and I now send you the result of these discussions.

2. Agreement was reached by the President and Mr Churchill on the recommendation of the Combined Chiefs of Staff that a British Commonwealth force should participate in the main operations against Japan next spring, subject to the resolution of operational and administration problems. These problems are to be worked out by the force commanders of the British Commonwealth force, in consultation with General MacArthur at his headquarters, as soon as possible. A plan will then be submitted for the approval of the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

3. Without prejudicing General MacArthur's recommendations, the Chiefs of Staff have come to the conclusion that his most likely plan will be something on the following lines. The British Commonwealth contribution would be a corps of three divisions to be used as an assault reserve afloat. The corps would be fought as an integral corps within the United States Army, though divisions might be used separately within United States corps if the situation so required. A plan of this kind would necessitate the re-equipping of the British Commonwealth force with American equipment and the provision by the United States of the logistic support. It may also be possible to arrange for the inclusion of a small British Commonwealth tactical air force drawn largely from the Dominion air forces at present in the South-West Pacific area.

4. It seems from the present position of divisions that a corps could be formed by the use of one United Kingdom, one Canadian and one Australian division, as indeed has already been suggested by the United States. We would welcome the participation by a New Zealand division if you so wish. It would seem that this could best be employed in the build-up. We hope that, in any case, some of your squadrons will help to form the tactical air force if this materialises.

5. I should therefore be glad to know if you can yet give a decision on the use of a New Zealand contingent in these operations so that the force commanders can be suitably instructed before they leave for discussions with General MacArthur in the very near future.

6. Agreement in principle was also reached at Potsdam on the proposal for revision of the boundaries of command in the South-West Pacific outlined to you in telegram [No. 458]. It was left that the British Chiefs of Staff should obtain the agreement of yourselves, of the Australian Government and of the Dutch Government, and that page 494 they should investigate and report the earliest date on which the transfer of command could be effected. The Australian Government, as being the party chiefly interested in the operational implications, are sending a representative to London to take part in discussions here in the next few days with Admiral Mountbatten, and I should be very grateful if I might have your general views as soon as possible.

2 The Rt. Hon. C. R. Attlee became Prime Minister on 26 July 1945 after the defeat of Mr Churchill's government in the General Election.