Commonwealth Government to Addison

Cablegram 240 CANBERRA, 17 August 1945


Your cablegram 290 of 13th August. [1]

1. We are desirous of rendering our contribution to the execution of the surrender terms in the Pacific and will gladly play our proper part in the tasks resulting from the Japanese capitulation.

2. Australia desires to take part in the occupation of Japan itself. We propose that the following Australian Force, comprising units of the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force, be made available for this purpose:-

Navy: Task Force 74.1, consisting of two cruisers and two destroyers. This will be additional to any H.M.A. ships attached to the British Pacific Fleet which may be sent to Japan.

Army: Two brigade groups drawn from 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions.

R.A.A.F.: Three Mustang fighter squadrons.

We must insist, however, that this contribution is being made by Australia as a separate belligerent of Japan, and that our Force will operate under an Australian Commander who will be subject only to the Supreme Allied Commander.

3. In these circumstances we are unable to provide any Australian forces for the occupation of Hong Kong.

However at the special request of the R.N. authorities we are making available for Hong Kong six units of the R.A.N. which will co-operate with two units of the R.N. manned by R.A.N. personnel for mine-sweeping purposes for a period of two months only.

4. We agree to your proposal that the Southwest Pacific Area should pass to the British and Australian Command, assuming that the division of responsibility between the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Government will be a matter for further consideration.

5. We are prepared to accept initial responsibility for Borneo and all Japanese occupied territories to the East thereof, including Ocean and Nauru Islands, subject to clarification of the term ‘initially be responsible’ and having regard to the advice which we have received at the service level that responsibility for Japanese in the Celebes and Halmaheras will probably be allocated to the 93rd American Negro Division, and Dutch New Guinea to the New Zealand Force. This is also subject to the provision of shipping as indicated in paragraph 5 of your cablegram. It is estimated that the undermentioned additional shipping will be required from United Kingdom resources:

11 Victory ships 3 large hospital ships-for prisoners of war, see paragraph 7.

40 L.C.T.’s.

3 troop ships.

Fuel oil and base facilities for amphibious craft.

Necessary tankers to provide aviation gasoline, fuel oil and lubricants.

5. A. We agree to proposed exchange of Service Liaison Missions between the Australian Commands and South-East Asia Command.

6. In view of the part played by the 8th Division in Malaya, we Wish, if possible, to participate in reoccupation of Singapore and we are prepared to make available a paratroop battalion for this purpose. We note from your cablegram 298 of 15th August [2] that you concur in our representation at the surrender in South-East Asia Command and we are grateful for this advice.

7. A primary consideration is the safe return of our prisoners of war and we would expect that this should be accorded the highest priority in every respect, including sea, land and air transport.

8. We feel we must point out that, in making these contributions, Australia is doing so not as subsidiary but as principal Pacific Power which has for so long borne the heat and burden of the struggle against Japan. We cannot but help feeling that this has not had sufficient recognition in the Armistice arrangements and this view is reinforced by the advice of your cablegram 302 of 16th August [3] regarding our representation in our own right at the acceptance of the surrender of Japan.


1 Document 186.

2 On file AA : A816, 102/301/19.

3 In AA : A5954, box 453.


[AA : A1838/2, 480/1/12]