Chifley to Evatt

Cablegram 1776 CANBERRA, 21 November 1945


Your E.30. [1]

1. We are growing somewhat concerned about the following aspects of the delay in receiving any answer to our communication to the United States Government:-

(A) The despatch of the Australian component of the British Commonwealth Force.

(B) The organisation of the arrangements, for which Australia has accepted responsibility if the British Commonwealth Force is to be proceeded with.

2. In regard to 1 (A), War Cabinet on 19th September [2], stressed the importance of the time factor in organising and despatching the Army component to Japan and directed that (I) The initial Brigade Group is to be organised immediately in forward areas and not on the mainland of Australia.

(II) To facilitate the organisation and despatch of the initial Brigade Group to Japan, it is to be comprised, as far as possible, of volunteers from the Forces in forward areas.

Our Brigade Group is expected to be concentrated at Morotai by 15th December, and the R.A.A.F. Component is ready to move. In the absence of advice from United States Government, shipping made available this month for movement of the Australian Forces to Japan has had to be rejected. Other British ships have been nominated for our use in early January, but acceptance of them will depend on early authorisation of the movement of the Force to Japan.

3. We view with some concern the reactions on the Forces if they are held up indefinitely at their places of concentration. The Service Authorities have also indicated that it will be necessary to retain a considerable strength in the islands until the Japanese are repatriated. The Minister for the Army has also reported that the delay in the relief of Australian troops in Borneo may have the result of requiring 25,000 troops, whom it was anticipated would be available for return to Australia, to remain in the Borneo area for the time being. There has also been criticism from the public and the Forces regarding the prospective rate of demobilisation.

4. With reference to 1 (B), there is considerable work involved in the organisation of the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief, in establishing the control and planning machinery which will be representative of the participating countries and in making the plans for the organisation, control and maintenance of the Force.

5. You will recall that, when proposals were under consideration for a British Commonwealth Force to participate in the invasion of the Japanese Home Islands, we emphasised the importance of the fact that, in view of the part played by Australia in the war against Japan, we must press on with our participation in the final offensive, even if the arrival of other components of the British Commonwealth Force might be delayed. The same principle would appear to have equal force on this occasion. The New Zealand component has to come from Italy, and the British and Indian components may be delayed by shortage of shipping or commitments in the South East Asia Area.

6. It would therefore appear, irrespective of whether the set-up asked for is approved or whether it is modified in accordance with General MacArthur’s views, if they are supported by the United States Chiefs of Staff, that authority should be given for the despatch of the Australian Land and Air components without prejudice to the ultimate decision on the organisation of the Force. I shall be glad if you could obtain this as soon as possible when it is proposed that an advance party of the Commander-in-Chief’s Staff should proceed to Japan to make preliminary arrangements for the reception of the Force. The organisation of the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief and the establishment of the control and planning must, of course, await the decision on the organisation of the Force.


1 Dispatched 12 November. On file AA : A816, 52/301/222. It advised that an approach was being made to the U.S. Govt for an ‘immediate decision’.

2 Minute 4401.


[AA : A816, 52/301/222]