J. C. S. Files

No. 1284
Memorandum by the United States Chiefs of Staff
top secret
C. C. S. 889/2

British Participation in the War Against Japan

The following extracts of a message from General MacArthur to the War Department under date of 9 July 1945 concerning British participation in the war against Japan are furnished for the information of the British Chiefs of Staff:—

The scope of the British proposal for participation in Coronet presents problems not heretofore encountered when the Canadian and French contingents were considered.

These problems must be viewed in their proper perspective as they relate to the specific operation in contemplation unless complexity, particularly as applies to logistics, and lack of homogeneity of forces destroy combat effectiveness or require a delay in target date.

This operation, as at present visualized, is confined to narrow limits. There will be no opportunity to assign separate sectors of responsibility along national lines.

The assault is to be made into heavily defended areas and calls for the closest coordination of air, naval, and ground forces, and within the ground forces themselves. Acceptance of the British in the assault with the differences in organization, composition, equipment, training procedures, and doctrines will complicate command, operations, and logistic support. Redeployment geared to the support of homogeneous forces and now well advanced, would have to undergo a large-scale readjustment, particularly taking into consideration a parallel line of British logistic channels, including separate bases, storage, issuance and maintenance facilities, and personnel therefor.

British forces participating in operations against Singapore in November could not be prepared for the assault phase in Coronet. It is considered doubtful that these forces could participate even in the follow-up. Certainly, to utilize considerable numbers of troops without adequate opportunity on the part of higher commanders of this area to exercise command functions prior to their use would be a most dangerous expedient.

Moreover, it would be entirely unsatisfactory to have the availability of troops scheduled for Coronet dependent in any way upon their release from another campaign. Availability of these troops as well as all others committed must be certain for a fixed date.

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The following general plan is suggested as being one which will obviate the full impact of the objectionable features indicated above.

This plan takes into consideration previous communications relating to the use of Australian forces as well as Canadian forces.

Limit British Empire participation to one corps of three divisions; one British, one Canadian, and one Australian.
Re-equip British division and corps troops and Australian division with American equipment, logistic support to be provided by the United States on the same scale as provided for our troops.
The Australian division to be either the 7th or 9th Division, now concentrated in the Borneo–Morotai area.
British division and corps troops to be concentrated by 1st December in the Borneo-Morotai area or, as an alternate, in the United States, if these units can be equipped there.
Amphibiously train one British division and one Canadian division prior to arrival in concentration area. The Australian division is already amphibiously trained.
Lift this corps on assault shipping to be provided by the British to arrive in the objective area about Y plus 10.1 It will there be used as the AFPac assault reserve afloat. Canadian division to be lifted directly from the United States, Australian division from the Borneo–Morotai area, and British division and corps troops from either area depending on where it is concentrated.
Fight this corps as an integral corps within a United States Army. Utilize divisions separately within American corps if the exigencies of the situation so demand.

I doubt the advisability of employing troops of native origin in this complex operation where homogeneity of language within the corps is required.

Likewise, there is a question of the advisability of utilizing troops of tropical origin in a temperate zone without an extended period of acclimatization. Hence, the acceptance of Indian troops is not concurred in. The British division should be Anglo-Saxon.

The foregoing comments are equally applicable to Allied air components, aggravated by the difficulties of integrating relatively small air forces in tactical operations under the restrictions imposed by a comparatively limited air deployment potential. There are ample American air forces in or projected for this area to support all troops in Coronet operation.

  1. i. e., ten days after the target date for Coronet.