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BCOF Japan

Participation in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) marked the first time that Australians were involved in the military occupation of a sovereign nation which it had defeated in war. BCOF participation in the Allied occupation force was announced on 31 January 1946, with the main body of Australian troops arriving in Japan on 21 February and departing in April 1952 with the beginning of the Korean War.

A set of 7 current Australian stamps to 5s was overprinted “B.C.O.F. JAPAN 1946” of which there are several varieties including the seldom seen different colours of the Type 2 (Smaller) overprint, which in fact were overprint trials.
These comprised ½d overprint in red
1d ovptd in black or red
3d ovptd in black, red or gold. (The gold can turn brown with age)
Stamps supplied to the Army by the GPO were charged at full face value and the Army had to make provision in its accounts for the trial colour stamps supplied for approval. Rather than going through a complicated accounting write off, one sheet of 160 stamps of each trial value was put on sale with the normal stamps through the FPO system and they can be found mint or used with FPO cancellations.

The entire BCOF force totalled 45,000, from Britain, India, New Zealand, and Australia. About 16,000 Australians served in BCOF, including an infantry contingent of 4,700, base units consisting of 5,300, an air force wing of 2,200, and 130 from the Australian General Hospital. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) also had a presence in the region as part of the British Pacific Fleet.

BCOF headquarters were located at Kure, the army was encamped at Hiro, the RAAF at Iwakuni, and the naval shore establishment at the former Japanese naval base at Kure. The main task of the BCOF was to dismantle the Japanese war capability with the Americans responsible for the Military Administration of the country. At the peak of its involvement the Australian component of BCOF was responsible for over twenty million Japanese citizens and 57,000 sqaure kilometres of country. By early 1947 BCOF had begun to decline and, by the end of 1948, was composed entirely of Australians. The force was dismantled in 1952, as responsibilities in Japan were handed over to the British Commonwealth Forces Korea. BCOF ceased to exist on 28 April 1952, when the Japanese Peace Treaty came into effect.

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