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

500 — The Prime Minister of Australia to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1 — [Extract]

page 529

The Prime Minister of Australia to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1

12 January 1946

My immediately preceding cablegram.2 Following is the text of the proposed announcement:3

‘1. As a result of discussion between members of the British Commonwealth, proposals for a joint British Commonwealth force to participate in the occupation of Japan were agreed upon and conveyed to the United States Government by the Australian Government, acting on behalf of the British Commonwealth Governments concerned.

‘2. Following recent representations in Washington by the Australian Minister for External Affairs, Dr H. V. Evatt, the United States Government have now formally accepted the participation of British Commonwealth forces in the occupation of Japan. Arrangements are now well advanced for the force to proceed on the following basis.

‘3. The force is drawn from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand4 and India. The Commander-in-Chief of the force is Lieutenant-General J. Northcott, CB, MVO,5 of the Australian Military Forces. His headquarters is fully integrated with representatives drawn from each service and from each Commonwealth country contributing to the force….

‘4. The force comprises:


Force and base troops drawn from each of the contributing countries.


A land component organised as a corps of one British Indian division and two independent brigade groups, one each from Australia and New Zealand.


An air component comprising squadrons drawn from the Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Royal Indian Air Force.

‘5. A squadron of the British Pacific Fleet which includes ships of the Royal Navy, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Indian Navy

1 Repeated to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and other addressees.

2 Not published.

3 This statement was released simultaneously in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and India on 31 January. A similar announcement was made in Washington and by General MacArthur in Tokyo. This text includes all later amendments.

4 The New Zealand contingent was known as J Force. Its first commander was Brig K. L. Stewart. The force sailed from Naples on 21 February and arrived at Kure on 19 March.

5 Gen Sir John Northcott, KCMG, CB, MVO; Chief of the General Staff, Australian Military Forces, 1942–45; C-in-C British Commonwealth Occupation Force, Japan, 1945–46.

page 530 is stationed in Pacific waters under the operational control of the Admiral Commanding the Detachment of the United States Fleet….

‘8. The British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) will form part of the occupation forces in Japan under the supreme command of General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP)…. Lieutenant-General Northcott as Commander-in-Chief BCOF is entirely responsible for the maintenance and administration of the British Commonwealth Force as a whole. He has direct access to General MacArthur on matters of major policy affecting operational commitments of forces. On policy and administrative matters affecting the force the Commander-in-Chief is responsible to the British Commonwealth Governments concerned through a British Commonwealth organisation set up in Melbourne and known as the ‘Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia’. Their instructions to the Commander-in-Chief BCOF will be issued by the Australian Chiefs of Staff. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia (JCOSA) comprise the Australian Chiefs of Staff and representatives of the Chiefs of Staff in the United Kingdom and New Zealand1 and of the Commander-in-Chief in India. This organisation is fully associated with the Australian joint service machinery. The Commander-in-Chief BCOF has the right of direct communication with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia on administrative matters affecting the force. On matters of Governmental concern affecting the policy and operations of BCOF he will communicate through JCOSA to the Australian Government, who act as the representative of the other Commonwealth Governments concerned.

‘9. The BCOF will be initially located in the Hiroshima Prefecture, including the cities of Kure and Fukuyama. It will be responsible for the demilitarisation and disposal of Japanese installations and armaments and for exercising military control of the area, but not for its military Government, which remains the responsibility of United States agencies….

‘11. The British Commonwealth Force may be withdrawn wholly or in part by agreement between the United States Government and the Commonwealth Governments concerned or upon six months' notice by either party. It has also been agreed that progressive reductions in the strength of the force will be made from time to time in conformity with progressive reductions which may be made in the strength of the United States occupation forces in Japan….2

1 The first New Zealand representative was Brig G. H. Clifton, DSO and two bars, MC.

2 The New Zealand army component ceased its occupation duties in September 1948.