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War Economy

General Demobilisation

page 502

General Demobilisation

VE Day, 8 May 1945

VJ Day, 15 August 1945

IN the first half of 1945 men were being released from the armed forces at the rate of about 3000 a month. The rate of demobilisation was stepped up after VE Day, and from VJ Day general demobilisation started. The rate of discharge was then about 8000 a month, and, between 1 July 1945 and 31 March 1946, 73,000 men and women were demobilised.1

Where strengths of establishments were to be reduced gradually, priority was given to men whose release was applied for on industrial or compassionate grounds. Farming, dairy factories, sawmills, coal mines, and the building trade were given preference for release on industrial grounds. Apart from these special releases, the aim was to release first, if possible, those who had completed four years' service, and married men with children.

At 31 March 1946 there were still some 26,000 in the armed forces, 19,000 in New Zealand, 4000 in Japan and 3000 in other areas. These strengths included 1900 women, mostly serving in New Zealand. Before the war total armed forces strengths, excluding Territorials, had been 2600.

Early in 1946 a special force2 had been sent to join other Commonwealth forces garrisoning Japan. Initially raised from late reinforcements in the 2 NZEF, it was later recruited on a voluntary basis and kept at a strength of nearly 4000 until withdrawn in 1948.

page 503

Chart 78 shows the progress of demobilisation.

chart of demobilisation statistics

Chart 78

The rate of discharge was about 4000 a month from April 1946, and general demobilisation was virtually completed by July 1946. Armed forces strengths were then down to under 16,000, of whom 10,000 were in New Zealand and nearly 4000 in Japan.

1 Demobilisation figures are taken from reports of the Rehabilitation Board (H–18). They differ from those given in the 1946 report of the National Service Department (H–11A).

2 J Force.