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30 August 1945. Yokosuka Naval Base, Tokyo Bay. Commander Yuzo Tanno hands over the keys of the Yokosuka Naval Base to Captain H. J. Buchanan, Royal Australian Navy. Buchanan led the first British Commonwealth party to go ashore in Japan.
General Robert L. Eichelberger inspects the Australian Guard of Honour at Kure.

The British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), was the name of the joint Australian, British, Indian and New Zealand military forces in occupied Japan, from 21 February 1946 until the end of occupation in 1952. At its peak, the BCOF comprised about 40,000 personnel, equal to about 25% of the number of US military personnel in Japan.

History and role[edit]

While US forces were responsible for military government, the BCOF was responsible for supervising demilitarisation and the disposal of Japan's war industries.[1] The BCOF was also responsible for the occupation of the western prefectures of Shimane, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima and Shikoku Island. They were also supported by the Women's Auxiliary Service (Burma). BCOF headquarters was at Kure.

For most of the occupation period Australia contributed the majority of the BCOF's personnel. The initial BCOF presence included the Australian 34th Brigade; the 9th Brigade, 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (J Force); and BRINDIV, a British/Indian division of two brigade groups: the British 5th Infantry Brigade Group (from 2nd Infantry Division in India), and the 268th Indian Infantry Brigade. Major General David Cowan commanded BRINJAP Division from 1945 to 1947. The position of commanding officer was always filled by an Australian: Lieutenant General John Northcott, February to June 1946; Lieutenant General Horace Robertson, June 1946 to November 1951, and Lieutenant General William Bridgeford from November 1951 until the end of the occupation.

May 1946. The 2nd Battalion, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure soon after their arrival in Japan.

The British Pacific Fleet initially provided most of the naval forces. The air contingent, known as BCAIR, initially comprised the Royal Australian Air Force's No. 81 Fighter Wing, flying P-51 Mustangs, four Spitfire squadrons (including No. 11 and No. 17 of the Royal Air Force and No. 4 of the Indian Air Force), and No. 14 Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force flying F4U Corsairs.

During 1947, the BCOF began to wind down its presence in Japan. However, BCOF bases provided staging posts for Commonwealth forces deployed to the Korean War, from 1950 onwards. The BCOF was effectively wound-up in 1951, as control of Commonwealth forces in Japan was transferred to British Commonwealth Forces Korea.


Further reading[edit]

  • Singh, Rajendra (1958). Post-War Occupation Forces: Japan and South-East Asia. Delhi: Combined Inter-Services Historical Section (India & Pakistan) India, Orient Longmans [distributor]. OCLC 518916. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Commonwealth_Occupation_Force — Please support Wikipedia.
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80 news items


Thu, 28 Apr 2016 22:40:24 -0700

Ken Wighton was one of about 16,000 Australians, part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), sent to Japan following its surrender. The troops disposed of munitions and maintained military control. Before the troops were deployed, then ...

Taranaki Daily News

Taranaki Daily News
Sun, 24 Apr 2016 09:52:30 -0700

The only battle the nurses experienced was on the sports field. They had a hockey team and played the men because there was no one else to play, she says. Yearbury entered the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) games and was second in ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Sun, 17 Apr 2016 23:30:36 -0700

US soldiers arrived in Hiroshima in 1946, but direct control of the city was given to troops from the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, headquartered in the nearby port city of Kure. “There are no records of foreign troops actually helping with ...

The Japan Times

The Japan Times
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 13:03:59 -0800

... at locations in Southeast Asia, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Singapore, and almost seven months after Japan announced its surrender, Woollacott arrived in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF).

The West Australian

The West Australian
Sat, 08 Aug 2015 23:34:52 -0700

Fading Lights documents the experiences of the hibakusha and recognises a relatively unknown chapter of Australian military history — the role of about 16,000 Australians and their families in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. Dr Bender, a ...


Thu, 20 Aug 2015 08:41:29 -0700

But Mr Colenso did not return to the UK until 1947 as his unit was chosen to be part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. Based at Iwakuni on the Inland Sea and at Miho on the north coast of the main island, they repaired and serviced ...


Fri, 14 Aug 2015 18:36:37 -0700

NSW Veterans Affairs Minister David Elliott paid tribute to the 16,000 Australian soldiers who were part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. "The BCOF played an important role ensuring the Japanese met the terms of their surrender ...

The Conversation AU

The Conversation AU
Tue, 28 Apr 2015 19:01:04 -0700

... not have behaved as badly as the Russians in Germany, but thousands of Japanese women were raped in the years after the war, some of them by Australian and New Zealand soldiers who made up the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan.

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