509 Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 237 LONDON, 12 November 1947, 4 p.m.


My telegram 8th October No. 220.

I am sorry that there has been some delay in replying to your telegram No. 265 about the withdrawal of the United Kingdom Forces from Japan, but we have had to re-examine the whole question in the light of your views.

2. We appreciate your desire to retain a number of the United Kingdom component of B.C.O.F., and we agree in principle to the retention of certain specialist and key members of the Army and of No. 1415 Communication Flight. The number of service men to be retained in Japan will, of course, affect the revised totals for the United Kingdom services and our service authorities will, therefore, need to have exact numbers of those whose services you wish to retain before giving final agreement to your proposals. I understand that an estimate of the numbers likely to be involved has already been sent to our service authorities and I hope that it will be possible for them to be notified of the exact figures as soon as possible.

3. I am afraid that the reduction we must make in the strength of the British Pacific Fleet (about which I shall shortly be telegraphing to you in greater detail) means that we must withdraw completely the United Kingdom contribution to Naval Force 'T'.

However, it will, no doubt, be possible for Naval Units from the British Pacific Fleet to be temporarily for short periods to Japanese waters if required. We had intended also to withdraw the entire Naval Port Party Kure, but, in view of what you say, we agree that the Party should remain, provided that it is progressively reduced as rapidly as possible and finally withdrawn as soon as you can make alternative arrangements.

4. We should be glad if you would now make the necessary formal approach to the United States Government.

5. My personal representative with General MacArthur informed me that, when he first told the Supreme Commander of our decision, MacArthur suggested that for publicity purposes some mention might be made in the eventual announcement about the withdrawal that it has been made possible by the success achieved by the military administration of Japan. Though this reason is, from our point of view, subsidiary to the main reason for withdrawal, which I set out in my telegram of 28th September, I think you will wish to know of the Supreme Commander's suggestion, which, personally, I should be quite prepared to accept. [1]

1 Chifley replied on 22 November, reporting Robertson's advice that withdrawal of UK Army and Air Force components, with the exception of some 750 members, should not affect BCOF control of the present area under existing conditions, and noting that a tentative program for the withdrawal had been communicated on a service level to London and Wellington. A formal request for US Government agreement was sent through the Australian Embassy in Washington on 24 November.

[AA : A1838, 481/1/2]