184 Report by Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia

Extracts [MELBOURNE], 10 April 1946




By agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom, India, Australia and New Zealand it was decided to send a British Commonwealth Force to participate in the occupation of Japan. To implement the planning for this Force it was decided that the higher Defence machinery of Australia should be used and that, accordingly, the Australian Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Defence Committee should be expanded by the inclusion of overseas representatives. The extended Chiefs of Staff Committee, known as Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia is vested with control of B.C.O.F. including administration; it deals primarily with matters of essentially military significance. The extended Defence Committee, in conformity with Australian practice, deals with the broader administrative matters affecting Government control and policy. The first meeting of J.C.O.S.A. was held on 5th December, 1945. Representatives of the other British Commonwealth countries concerned have been integrated into the machinery of the Defence Department and the Australian Service Headquarters, for the implementation of J.C.O.S.A. and Extended Defence Committee decisions.

2. Considerable discussion has taken place concerning the organisation of planning and administrative staffs to serve J.C.O.S.A. and covering the procedure to be followed. As an interim measure, and to ensure speed in planning, with the minimum dislocation of the Australian Staffs, Directors of Joint Plans, U.C.O.S.A.) have been appointed with a small Joint Planning Staff (J.C.O.S.A.) to provide permanent assistance. These directors work under the direction of J.C.O.S.A.

3. Arising out of the experience of the first four months of planning for B.C.O.F., for purposes of concise record and for guidance in the setting up of a similar organisation in future, J.C.O.S.A. has recommended that its functions and responsibilities should be set out in the form of a directive, to be issued by the Australian Government after concurrence by the other Commonwealth Governments concerned. A draft of this directive is now in course of preparation.


4. The original specific proposals to the State Department, Washington, concerning the participation of a British Commonwealth Force in the occupation of Japan, were contained in a letter dated 20th October, 1945, from the Australian Legation, Washington, to the State Department. [1] General Northcott, as Commander-in- Chief, B.C.O.F., went to Tokyo, arriving 12th December for discussions with General MacArthur. A 'Memorandum for Record' was signed by General Northcott and General Marshall on behalf of S.C.A.P. on the 18th December, outlining tentative arrangements for the participation of a British Commonwealth Force in the occupation of Japan. [2]

5. By 23rd December agreement in principle to the 'Memorandum for Record' had been given by the Governments of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and India. Notification of the agreement of the U.S. Government was not received until 24th January-only 8 days before the first advance element of the Force was scheduled to arrive in Japan. The uncertainty engendered by this delay was a considerable embarrassment in planning for the Force, particularly in the allocation of shipping.


6. The British Commonwealth Force totals approximately 35,500 Navy, Army and Air Force personnel. The approximate strengths of the national contingents are shown in the following table:-

Country Total % United Kingdom 9,954 28.1) 55.2 India 9,611 27.1) Australia 11,446 32.3 New Zealand 4,425 12.5 Total B.C.O.F.: 35,436 100%

7. The principal formations of the Force which are commanded by an integrated Force Headquarters are:-

(a) A port party of shore based R.N. personnel;

(b) Integrated Force and base units;

(c) One British and one Indian Brigade, together with British and Indian ancillary troops forming a two brigade division;

(d) One Australian Brigade Group;

(e) One New Zealand Brigade Group; and (f) An Air Component, organised into a tactical group under an integrated headquarters, including the following:-

(i) One Single Engined Fighter Wing comprising two R.A.F. and one R.I.A.F. Spitfire Squadron and one R.N.Z.A.F. Corsair Squadron.

(ii) One Single Engined Fighter Wing comprising three R.A.A.F.

Mustang Squadrons.

(iii) One Squadron R.A.F. Regiment.


8. The initial area allotted to the Force was the Prefecture of Hiroshima. The area has now been extended to include the Prefectures of Shimane and Yamaguchi, and it is anticipated that, subject to Governmental approval, it will be further enlarged by June, 1946, to include the Prefectures of Tottori and Okayama and the island of Shikoku. The Commander-in-Chief, B.C.O.F., has stated that he considers the resources of the Force as at present planned quite adequate to handle the additional responsibilities of this further extension.

9. With regard to these further extensions of the B.C.O.F. area of responsibility, the United Kingdom has suggested that consideration be given instead to taking over the areas of Kobe and Osaka. General Northcott has reported that the U.S.

authorities are not opposed to handing over these areas but as the two Prefectures are very thickly populated and as they are a possible centre of civil strife, he considered that to take them over complete would be beyond the capacity of B.C.O.F. at the present time. The possibility of taking over only a portion of the Kobe and Osaka Prefectures is now being examined, by General Northcott and he will submit a report later on this aspect.


10. The occupational role of B.C.O.F., under the direction of S.C.A.P., within the allotted area, as set out in the Directive to the Commander-in-Chief, B.C.O.F., submitted to the four Governments concerned for their concurrence, is- (a) The safeguarding of the Allied installations and of all Japanese installations awaiting demilitarisation;

(b) The demilitarisation and disposal of Japanese installations and armaments; and (c) Military control, not including Military Government.

11. The U.S. Military Government organisation is remaining in the B.C.O.F. occupation area with its Headquarters in Kure. In the interim period between the withdrawal of U.S. Forces and the arrival of the various elements of B.C.O.F., the guarding of buildings, etc., required by the British Commonwealth Force has been made the responsibility of the local Japanese police.


12. B.C.O.F. is under the supreme command of S.C.A.P. to whom Commander-in-Chief, B.C.O.F., will have the right of direct access on matters of major policy affecting the operational commitments of the Force. The shore based Naval personnel are under the operational control of the U.S. Naval Commander exercising jurisdiction over Japanese ports; the Army component under the operational control of the Commanding General of the 8th U.S.

Army; and the Air Force component under the operational control of the Commanding General, Pacific Air Command, U.S. Army, as a separate Air Command under 5th U.S. Army Air Force.


13. The results of early planning were embodied in a draft Joint Army Administrative Plan which was issued 15th February, and a draft Joint Air Administrative Plan issued 30th January, which have been circulated to all concerned for use as an interim working basis. These plans have been used as the basis of a 'Plan for a British Commonwealth Force to participate in the Occupation of Japan', which is an Overall Plan in four parts, Part I concerning Service matters and Parts II, III and IV embodying matters peculiar to the Naval, Army and Air components respectively. This draft Overall Plan has been circulated for comment to the Principal Staff Officers at the Australian Service Headquarters, which are the Headquarters through which executive action concerning administration of B.C.O.F. is taken. A number of paragraphs of the Overall Plan have still to be completed, or are contingent on Governmental approval to certain J.C.O.S.A.

proposals such as those which appear in the draft directive to Commander-in-Chief, B.C.O.F., and in connection with financial arrangements.

14. in addition to the delay, already mentioned, in obtaining a formal agreement from the United States Government a number of other early planning difficulties were encountered:-

(a) Probably the outstanding early planning difficulty was lack of knowledge of the port capacity which would be available to the Force at Kure. Definite information was not received until 15th January. This, in addition to the world shortage of shipping and the wide geographical dispersion of the contingents of the Force, rendered the preparation of a firm movement programme extremely difficult.

(b) The national contingents of B.C.O.F. had by January been waiting for many months for their move to Japan. Headquarters, B.C.O.F., and certain integrated units, on the other hand, had only just begun to assemble. Consequently, it was not possible to carry out the normal Force planning, whereby the Commander prepares his plan with the assistance of his staff and submits it to the Chiefs of Staff for approval.


15. A final draft directive for the guidance of Commander-in- Chief, B.C.O.F., has been recommended by J.C.O.S.A. and is at present being considered by the British Commonwealth Governments concerned. A draft standard directive for senior National Commanders, suitable for issue by the Governments concerned, will shortly be considered by J.C.O.S.A. and similarly will be submitted for Governmental consideration.


16. As a temporary measure pending Governmental agreement to the Directive to Commander-in-Chief, B.C.O.F., it was decided by J.C.O.S.A. that, with effect from 18th March, the channels of communication for Headquarters, B.C.O.F., should become- (a) On matters of policy to J.C.O.S.A. through the Australian Chiefs of Staff as agents.

(b) Direct with the appropriate Australian Service Headquarters on other matters, particularly those requiring staff action in relation to the current activity of B.C.O.F.


17. The Extended Defence Committee recommended on 25.2.46, for consideration by the British Commonwealth Governments concerned that the costs of B.C.O.F., other than those which it shall be agreed as being the separate responsibility of such Governments, should be apportioned according to the following percentages:-

United Kingdom 30% India 30% Australia 30% New Zealand 10%

No decision has yet been reached. [3]

18. The additional major policy decisions to be made on a Governmental level are:-

(a) Whether resources allocated to B.C.O.F. should be regarded for accounting and administrative purposes as the common property of the Force, and as in a common pool;

(b) Whether the pool costs should be inclusive of those of initial convoys and the value of initial personnel and unit equipment.


19. The objects of publicity in connection with B.C.O.F. and J.C.O.S.A. have been to ensure adequate and coordinated publicity on a British Commonwealth basis, to stimulate voluntary recruitment for B.C.O.F., to maintain public interest in the Force and also from a 'long term' point of view, to further British Commonwealth co-operation and co-ordination.

[matter omitted]


23. An approved personal instruction concerning fraternisation has been issued by the Commander-in-Chief to all ranks of B.C.O.F.

Details of this have been forwarded to the Governments concerned.



24. S.C.A.P. has agreed that British Commonwealth families should be allowed to come to Japan, in conformity with the policy concerning families of U.S. Service personnel. General Northcott has ordered a survey of suitable accommodation in B.C.O.F. area and is submitting recommendations on this subject to J.C.O.S.A.


25. Maintenance of the Force, (including the Naval Port Party) has been arranged on the following general principles.

The stores and supplies for the initial maintenance of each contingent are provided by the authority responsible for mounting the contingent and despatching it to Japan. As soon as possible the whole of B.C.O.F. will be maintained as one entity and not as four separate contingents. It is planned to complete the changeover to this system by 1st January, 1947. The source of supply of each commodity for the long term maintenance plan has been selected in relation to national economy and length of haul to Japan. For this reason Australia has been selected as the principal source for all commodities except petrol, and also items which are peculiar to Indian troops and can only be obtained from India. Responsibility for the maintenance of the whole of B.C.O.F.

is vested in the Australian Serice Headquarters. They will deal direct with the Service Ministries or headquarters of the other interested British Commonwealth Governments in order to ensure complete co-ordination of the arrangements for maintaining B.C.O.F. Details of the maintenance plan for the more important commodities are given in the following paragraphs.

26. Australia and New Zealand eventually become the source for almost all food supplies, except those items provided from India.

The proportion of food supplies to be provided by New Zealand is still the subject of Government discussion. All canteen stores, except Indian items and cigarettes, will come from Australia. U.K.

is responsible for provision of cigarettes.

27. Arrangements have been made for the bulk delivery of petroleum spirit and diesel oil to Kure by U.S. authorities during 1946. The subsequent source of supply is a matter for decision by the London Petroleum Board. Provision of other oils and lubricants will be partially from Australia and partially under U.K. arrangements until such time as present Australian surplus military stocks have been consumed, when presumably U.K. will be responsible for provision for the whole of B.C.O.F.

28. Australia will after 1st January, 1947, be the source of supply of all common user items of ordnance (excluding ammunition) and medical stores. Other items will be laid off by Australian Service authorities on to U.K. authorities. Ammunition will be provided both from Australia and U.K. stocks.

29. Common user items of engineer stores will be provided from Australia except certain building materials. These are in such short supply that requirements for the whole force cannot be met from Australia.


30. Information originally received from Air Ministry, London, that as from 1st March American Commanders no longer possess authority to make transfers of supplies and equipment to our Forces on any terms, has caused some apprehension, particularly over the immediately pressing problem of provision of P.O.L. and L.C.T. [5]

31. A signal has been received from the Principal Administrative Officers Committee of the Cabinet Offices, London, stating that the United States War Department has unofficially intimated that it would be prepared to regard B.C.O.F. as a contingent Force under U.S. Command, to which S.C.A.P. would have authority to issue supplies against payment. Cabinet Offices, London, have instructed the Joint Staff Mission, Washington, to clear this matter officially with the American Government.


32. The Commander-in-Chief, B.C.O.F., has stated that, once arrangements for the stationing of a B.C.O.F. unit in Tokyo have been implemented, he will be able to undertake the local administration from the Service aspect of the various British Commonwealth Missions in Tokyo.

[matter omitted]


42. The Naval Port Party commenced arriving in Kure on 1st February and by the end of the month the Australian and United Kingdom/India reconnaissance parties and the Australian advance party had arrived in Japan.

43. The Australian Liaison Mission in Tokyo closed and officially re-opened in Kure as advanced H.Q., B.C.O.F., on 14th February.

44. General Northcott arrived in Japan on 22nd February and established his Headquarters in Kure on 26th February. At the request of the Australian Prime Minister he returned to Australia on 16th March for a short visit. [6]

45. The Air Officer Commanding BCAIR arrived at Iwakuni on 8th March to take up his command. Main Headquarters BCAIR is now established there.

46. The following is the present position with regard to the movement of the main formations of B.C.O.F.:

(a) The arrival of the first echelon BRINDIV, some 5,000 personnel, was complete by 1st April, with the exception of one MT/Stores ship.

(b) The build up of the Australian contingent should be completed by 13th April.

(c) The New Zealand contingent has arrived at Kure with the exception of two of their MT/Stores ships, which are expected by 12th April.

(d) 73 Mustang aircraft of 81 Wing, R.A.A.F., have reached Bofu and 7 Mustangs are still en route. 3 Mustangs and one Mosquito escort were lost in the movement of this wing.

(e) The R.N.Z.A.F. Squadron on H.M.S. Glory arrived Kure on 23rd March.

[matter omitted]

D. S. CLUES Joint Secretary

1 See Volume VIII, Document 321.

2 See Document 49, note 1.

3 Cabinet approved on i May recommendation of the proposed apportionment to the governments concerned. Percentages eventually agreed were: United Kingdom 32%, India 24%, Australia 31%, New Zealand 13%. Adjustments were made in 1947 to reflect changes in the composition of the force.

4 It noted the impossibility of defining appropriate conduct in all circumstances and urged members of BCOF to be mindful of their 'dual capacity' as service personnel and as representatives of the British Commonwealth. Behaviour should be formal and correct, unofficial dealings with Japanese should be kept to a minimum.

Entry to homes and participation in family life was forbidden. The instruction was conveyed to participating governments on 20 March.

5 Petroleum Oil Lubricants and Landing Craft Tank respectively.

6 Northcott had returned for consultations in connection with his proposed appointment as Governor of New South Wales. He took up the office on 1 August.

[AA:A5954, BOX 1850]