508 Chifley to Attlee

Cablegram 265 CANBERRA, 7 [October] [1] 1947, 4.05 p.m.


1. We regret that your position in relation to finance and manpower has forced you to the conclusion that you ought to withdraw forthwith the remainder of the United Kingdom forces from Japan. We are fully conscious of your difficulties and are desirous of assisting you in this matter to the greatest possible extent.

2. Your proposal has been examined by our Service advisers who have represented that B.C.O.F. was organised as a composite force and a substantial share of the administrative backing for the Force was provided by the United Kingdom Army personnel, which you agreed to retain in Japan when the United Kingdom Brigade was withdrawn earlier this year. The strength of the remaining United Kingdom Army personnel is 1499 and as many of these are in specialist and key units and responsible staff appointments, their retention or replacement is essential for the maintenance and efficiency of B.C.O.F. Certain personnel could not be replaced at short notice as qualified Australian personnel are not available and in many cases lengthy periods of training would be involved.

In view of this position we hope you will agree not to press for the immediate withdrawal of the whole of the Army component. We have asked J.C.O.S.A. to examine urgently in consultation with the C. in C., B.C.O.F. all practicable measures including a reorganisation of administrative services whereby the greatest number of these personnel may be released at the earliest date.

3. We concur, however, subject to the approval of the United States Government, in the immediate release of the R.A.F.

component (less 1,415, Communications Flight), totalling 2,240 personnel. The Communication Flight, the establishment of which is 51 all ranks, carries out all internal air transport duties for B.C.O.F. in Japan, but the practicability of the early release of R.A.F. personnel of this Flight will be examined urgently.

4. As the Naval Port Party (whose establishment is 95) is responsible for certain logistic duties for Naval Forces 'T' as well as essential sea transport duties for B.C.O.F. at Kure, it has been assumed that your proposals do not include the withdrawal of this detachment whilst B.C.O.F. and Force 'T' are in being.

5. On receipt of a reply from you with further advice on the matters raised in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 above, I shall arrange for a formal approach to be made to the United States Government to agree to the additional reductions in United Kingdom forces.

6. In the light of the new situation, our Service Advisers have been instructed to examine the entire basis of participation of Australian Forces in the occupation in Japan in order to ensure that the organisation and strength, the system of command and administration, and the method of control from Australia are such as to secure the most economic and effective results, having regard to our manpower and other resources. This would also entail a review of the relation of the present B.C.O.F. area to the prospective strength of the Forces. You will appreciate that the re-organisation in view will take time to effect.

1 Date on cited copy had been corrected by hand from September to October.

[AA : A1838, 481/1/2]