Department of External Affairs to Legation in Washington

Cablegram 1500 CANBERRA, 18 October 1945


With reference to the series of cablegrams to Dominions Office repeated to you [1] on British Commonwealth Force, arrangements have now been completed for the Organisation of the Force and, with the concurrence of the British Commonwealth Governments concerned, the approach to the United States Government is to be made by the Australian Government.

It is accordingly desired that you take up the following with the United States Government and keep Dr. Evatt informed:-

1. The Australian Government, acting on behalf of the Governments of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and India desires to submit the following proposal to the United States Government.

2. Arrangements have been made by the Governments of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and India for the organisation of a British Commonwealth Force under an Australian Commander to participate in the occupation of Japan. The Force will be representative of the Fighting Forces of each of those countries and will comprise- (a) Land Forces: One British and one British/Indian Brigade with a proportion of supporting arms and administrative troops organised as a group under an Indian Army Commander.

One Australian Brigade and one New Zealand Brigade similarly organised as a group under an Australian or New Zealand Commander.

It is proposed to consider later whether a second Australian Brigade should be raised.

(b) Air Forces: An air contingent organised as a Tactical Group under an integrated Group Headquarters. It would be composed of- British- 1 Fighter Wing 2 Mosquito Squadrons 1 Transport Squadron Australian- 3 Mustang Fighter Squadrons New Zealand- 1 Squadron-type unknown 3. Lieutenant-General John Northcott, Chief of the General Staff, Australian Military Forces, has been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Commonwealth Force, and he will be served by an integrated British Commonwealth staff. For operational matters the Commander-in-Chief of the Force will be under the control of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and it is desired that he should have direct access to General MacArthur for this purpose.

On policy and administrative matters affecting the Force, the Commander-in-Chief will be jointly responsible to the British Commonwealth Governments concerned through a British Commonwealth organisation to be known as the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia and through Australian Government machinery, with both of which representative of the United Kingdom and New Zealand Chiefs of Staff will be associated.

4. It is proposed that British Commonwealth Naval Forces will also participate in the occupation of Japan and the United Kingdom Government will be communicating direct with the United States Government in regard to this matter.

5. The approval of the United States Government is sought for the participation in the occupation of Japan of a British Commonwealth Force organised and controlled as shown in paragraphs 2 and 3.

Authority is also requested for details regarding the role of the Force, its location in Japan, and its command and administrative arrangements in relation to the United States occupational layout, to be completed direct between the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and the Commander-in-Chief of the Force.

6. In this connection, the British Commonwealth Governments concerned do not wish to be made responsible for a Zone of Occupation in Japan. They would wish that apart from any other occupational task that may be allotted to the Force, British Commonwealth Forces should participate in the occupation of Tokyo prefecture. It is considered that for administrative convenience the area to be allotted to the British Commonwealth Force should include port facilities. It would also be convenient for the Air contingent to be located alongside the Land-forces and three airfields would be required for the Squadrons taking part.

7. The British Commonwealth Governments concerned trust that the United States Government will signify its early approval to these proposals which will be a further practical manifestation to Japan and the world at large of that co-operation between the British and American peoples and their Forces which have marked their common war effort as members of the United Nations.

8. An early reply would be appreciated in order that the organisation and movement of the Force to Japan may be proceeded with as soon as possible. [2]


1 Documents 240, 256, 291 and 296 were repeated to Washington as cablegrams 1292, 1352, 1417 and 1435 respectively.

2 Eggleston requested U.S. Govt approval by letter on 20 October.

See Evatt’s cablegram E5, from Washington, dispatched 28 October, reporting that he had subsequently seen Byrnes who promised to expedite a decision. On file AA : A816, 52/301/222.


[AA : A816, 52/301/222]