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231 Chifley to Attlee

Cablegram 390 CANBERRA, 20 November 1946


Reference your cablegrams Nos. D.1018 [1] and 363. [2]

1. We realize the difficulties which have caused you to raise the question of withdrawing part of the United Kingdom's contribution to the British occupation of Japan.

2. Your cablegrams were immediately referred to the Government's advisers who are examining them, and further advice will be forwarded after consideration of their observations.

3. The question of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom Brigade appears to divide itself into the following aspects:-

(i) The relief of your stringent manpower position.

(ii) The effect of the withdrawal on the commitments of the Governments participating in the B.C.O.F. arrangement.

(iii) The consequential effect of the reduction of the strength of the B.C.O.F. on the obligations accepted by the British Commonwealth in the Allied occupation of Japan.

4. We would hope to let you have our observations on 3(i) as soon as possible.

5. It may require longer to consider 3(ii). This will certainly involve an exchange of views between all Governments concerned and will probably require detailed examination by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia.

6. In regard to 3(iii), it will be necessary to obtain the views of the Commander-in-Chief, British Commonwealth Occupation Force [3], and for the matter then to be considered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia.

7. It is noted that you have authorised General Gairdner [4] to inform General MacArthur of the matter, and that it is proposed to carry out discussions between General MacArthur, General Gairdner, and the Chief of the Air Staff.

8. In view of the set-up for the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, it would appear that the Commander-in-Chief should be brought into this matter forthwith, and that he should participate in any discussions between your representatives and General MacArthur. It is considered that these should be confined to the necessity for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom Brigade, all other matters involving relations with SCAP being carried out through the normal channels.

9. We are informing the Commander-in-Chief, British Commonwealth Occupation Force, confidentially of your proposal.

1 Document 209.

2 Dispatched 15 November, it reported Bevin having informed Byrnes of the possible reduction of U.K. participation in B.C.O.F., a subsequent instruction to Gairdner informally to advise MacArthur, and the likelihood of the matter being discussed during the visit of Lord Tedder, the Chief of the Air Staff, to Japan late in November. So that Tedder might be briefed beforehand, it requested Australian and New Zealand views by 23 November.

3 Lieutenant-General H. C. H. Robertson.

4 Major-General C. H. Gairdner, U.K. Prime Minister's personal representative to MacArthur and Head of the U.K. Liaison Mission.

[AA:A5954, 1699/1]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History