|British Commonwealth Occupation Force|
|Active||February 21, 1946– 1952|
|Role||Occupation, demilitarisation and disposal of Japan's war industries|
Operate staging posts for Korean War
|Headquarters||Kure, Hiroshima, Japan|
|Lieutenant General John Northcott (February to June 1946)|
Lieutenant General Horace Robertson (June 1946 to November 1951)
Lieutenant General William Bridgeford (November 1951 to end)
The British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) was the British Commonwealth taskforce consisting of Australian, British, Indian and New Zealand military forces in occupied Japan, from 1946 until the end of occupation in 1952.
Whilst US forces were responsible for military government, the BCOF was responsible for supervising demilitarisation and the disposal of Japan's war industries. The BCOF was also responsible for the occupation of the western prefectures of Shimane, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima and Shikoku Island. BCOF headquarters was at Kure, a naval port near Hiroshima.
The participation of BCOF in the Allied occupation of Japan was announced on the 31 January 1946, however this announcement was already in planning stages since the end of the war. On the 21 February 1946, the initial contingent arrived. 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 (sometimes known as BRINJAP), a composite British and Indian division made up of the British 5th Infantry Brigade Group (from 2nd Infantry Division in India), and the 268th Indian Infantry Brigade. BCOF was supported by the Women's Auxiliary Service (Burma) (which derived its name from its formation during the Second World War, to provide amenities to Commonwealth forces in the Burmese campaign).
The position of commanding officer of BCOF 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. BRINDIV was commanded by Major General David Cowan, from 1945 to 1947.
The British Pacific Fleet initially provided most of the naval forces, with it consisting of primarily British ships alongside contingents of Commonwealth and US ships. The air component, known as BCAIR, initially comprised the Royal Australian Air Force's No. 81 Fighter Wing, 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.
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.
The major units that composed the force were
- 34th Australian Infantry Brigade
- 9th New Zealand Infantry Brigade (J Force)
- Brinjap Division
- 5th British Infantry Brigade (renumbered, 25th Independent Infantry Brigade)
- 268th Indian Infantry Brigade
General Robert L. Eichelberger inspects Australian Guard of Honour at Kure.
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