Chifley to Evatt

Cablegram 1833 CANBERRA, 29 November 1945


British Commonwealth Force. Following are the comments of the Australian Chiefs of Staff on the reply of the United States Government contained in your E.50. [1]

2. The Chiefs of Staff recalled that the Commonwealth Government originally agreed to the participation of Australian Forces in the occupation of Japan on the understanding that our Forces would operate as an independent force under an Australian Commander, who would be subject only to the Supreme Commander. Later it was agreed that Australia would participate in a British Commonwealth Force on the basis set out in our cablegram No. 1500 of 18th October, 1945, addressed to the Australian Legation, Washington.


3. Under the proposals agreed by the British Commonwealth Governments concerned, the British Commonwealth Force would operate as a separate Force under the Force Commander, who would be under the control of the Supreme Commander for operational matters and be responsible on policy and administrative matters affecting the Force to the Governments concerned, through the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia. Apparently General MacArthur wishes to make the Land and Air Forces comprising the British Commonwealth Force directly responsible to United States Commanders and the British Commonwealth Force would therefore cease to be a separate entity. Further, as the United States Government envisages that the Commonwealth Force will be integrated operationally into the United States Forces, it is possible that the various components of the Commonwealth Land and the Air Forces may themselves be split up into small parties under subordinate United States Commanders and removed from the command of the British Force Commander. If this view is adopted, it will be quite contrary to the original conception of a combined British and Dominions Force as an entity in the occupation of Japan and as originally agreed upon by the British and Dominions Governments concerned.

4. This proposed arrangement is therefore considered unsatisfactory. The British Commonwealth Governments concerned are responsible for the maintenance of their Forces and it is essential for administrative reasons, e.g. supplies, rationing, works matters, amenities, common services, etc. that the British Commonwealth Force is kept together as an integral Force. It would be impossible for the Force to be self-contained as envisaged by the United States Government unless all these administrative aspects could be coordinated under the one commander. For this purpose, too, it is important that the land and air force components should be located in the same area, which should include port facilities.

5. For operational purposes it is our view that the United States Authorities should consider the British Commonwealth Force as a task Force and following the practice adopted in the operations in the Pacific, the Force should be given responsibility, under a particular higher commander of United States Army or Air Forces if necessary, for such operations as may be allotted to it. The detailed allocation of the Force for particular duties or operations should be determined between the Force Commander and the Supreme Allied Commander. It is important too that the Force Commander should have the right of direct access to General MacArthur on all matters affecting the Force.


1 Document 413.

2 Document 321.


[AA : A816, 52/301/222]