335 Chifley to Attlee and Fraser

Cablegrams 428, 307 CANBERRA, 31 December 1946, 2.25 p.m.

IMMEDIATE TOP SECRET

Your telegram D No.1195. [1] I note that in order to have British troops available to meet an emergency in the Far East you have authorised the commencement of the move of the United Kingdom Brigade from Japan.

2. You will be aware that paragraph 3(B) of the MacArthur- Northcott agreement reads-

'It is understood that the British Commonwealth Force may be withdrawn wholly or in part upon agreement between the Governments of the United States and Australia or upon six months notice by either party.'

In your D.1018 [2] you advised that it was hoped to arrange the withdrawal of the Brigade by mutual agreement with the United States Government and in your 378 [3] advice was promised of any further progress made in the informal discussions between the United Kingdom and the United States authorities. We have not been informed of the results of these discussions which as indicated in my 404 [4] we are awaiting before seeking, on behalf of the British Commonwealth Governments concerned, the formal approval of the United States Government.

3. Following advice on a service level from London, J.C.O.S.A.

have instructed the Commander-in-Chief, B.C.O.F., to make necessary preparations for the movement of the Brigade when shipping can be made available. Unless, however, the matter has already been cleared directly between United Kingdom and United States Governments it would appear that the Australian Government might be placed in an embarrassing position in relation to the United States Government if any United Kingdom Forces a-re moved from Japan before the procedure prescribed in the MacArthur- Northcott agreement has been complied with.

4. Would appreciate further advice on this aspect as early as possible. [5]

1 Dispatched 24 December. Attlee advised that, following the agreement in principle of the Australian and New Zealand Govts, he had authorised commencement of the withdrawal of the U.K. Brigade from Japan.

2 Document 209.

3 See Document 255, note 5.

4 Document 255.

5 The U.K. Govt responded on 3 January 1947 that it had not formally approached the U.S. Govt, although the U.S. State Department, Chiefs of Staff and MacArthur had all been informed.

Movement had been authorised to avoid delay when the withdrawal was approved. It requested the Australian Govt to impress the urgency of the matter on the U.S. Govt, which gave formal agreement on 24 January.

[AA:A3196, 1946, O.24106/7]