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

440 — The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Prime Minister of New Zealand — [Extract]

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

18 September 1944

winchNo. 4. I send you herewith for your personal information a summary of the major operational decisions reached at OCTAGON1….2

4. War against Japan. The over-all objective is to force the unconditional surrender of Japan by:


Lowering Japanese ability and will to resist by establishing sea and air blockades, conducting intensive air bombardment, and destroying Japanese air and naval strength;


Ultimately invading and seizing objectives in the industrial heart of Japan.

5. Pacific Area. One of our greatest difficulties has been to find room and opportunity for deploying the massive forces which the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations are ardent to engage against the enemy.

6. The Allied superiority in naval and air power is to be exploited to the full, and costly land campaigns will be avoided as far as possible. Unremitting submarine warfare against enemy shipping will be continued. Very-long-range bomber operations against Japan proper will be continued from bases now being established in the Marianas and from others to be seized in the future. The Philippines are to be reconquered and the seaway opened to China from the United States.

1 Code-name for the second Quebec Conference between Mr Churchill and President Roosevelt on 11–16 September. See also Vol. II, p. 361.

2 Paragraphs 2 and 3 dealing with the Allied plans for North-West Europe and Italy have been omitted.

page 463

7. So far as British Empire participation is concerned, it has been agreed that the British Fleet will participate in the main operations against Japan. The actual method of employment of this fleet will be decided from time to time in accordance with prevailing circumstances. It has also been agreed in principle that the British Empire air forces shall take their share in the heavy bombardment of Japan. Proposals for this are now being prepared.

8. In view of the fact that the Americans have given us our first choice (see paragraph 9 of my winch No. 3)1 the alternative suggestion in paragraph 10 of the telegram does not arise.

9. Operations in South-East Asia. Our immediate object is the destruction or expulsion of all Japanese forces in Burma at the earliest possible date. To this end the operations in Upper Burma will be pressed on and operation DRACULA (see my immediately following telegram)2 will be launched in March 1945 if it is in any way possible to assemble the necessary resources in time. The most determined efforts are being made to do so. With the liquidation of the costly and tiresome Burma campaign considerable extra forces will be freed and many operations across the Bay of Bengal will be open to us. No attempt has yet been made to decide which of these will be adopted.

10. Re-deployment after end of War in Europe. The whole problem of re-deployment of forces after the end of the war in Europe is being earnestly studied in all its aspects.

11. Duration of War against Japan. For the purpose of planning production and allocation of manpower it has been agreed that the end of the Japanese war should be set at eighteen months after the defeat of Germany, this date to be reviewed periodically in the light of developments.

1 No. 438.

2 Not published. This telegram advised that DRACULA was the code-name for the capture of Rangoon.