Jay Force was the name by which New Zealand’s contribution to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) was known. Between 1946 and 1948 approximately 12,000 New Zealanders served in Japan as part of the Commonwealth Occupation force. The first kiwis to land in Japan were sent over as part of the Featherston Camp Japanese POW repatriation. The 8 guards on board the two LST’s (LST 273 & 275) transporting the 800 former POW’s stayed on in Japan and later joined the first batch of servicemen who arrived from Italy in March 1946. The initial contingent of the NZEF (Japan) was formed in Florence, Italy, on 19 November 1945.
The initial draft consisted of two infantry battalions—the 27th and 22nd Battalions—as well as the 2nd Divisional Cavalry Regiment, the 25th Field Battery, and the 5th Engineer Company along with supporting elements which included signals, transport, workshops and medical units. Among the first draft were 36 Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps personnel (WAACs) and 30 women from the New Zealand Army Nursing Service (NZANS). All were volunteers.
Jay Force’s first task was searching for and collecting military equipment. Little was found as Yamaguchi had not had a major military presence during the war. Jay Force also oversaw the repatriation of Japanese soldiers coming home from the war and Koreans being returned to their country. Post-war Japan was economically devastated which made it an ideal environment for black marketeering. As such, Jay Force’s policing duties included monitoring black market groups and also large gatherings of people on public occasions and generally keeping order until civilian government could be re-established. Jay Force also assisted the Americans in promoting democracy in Japan by supervising local and national elections in the prefecture. For a period of a month Jay Force also provided a guard battalion to Tokyo. This was based at Ebisu Barracks and took part in ceremonial guard duty at the Imperial Palace and the British Embassy.
When Great Britain and India withdrew from the BCOF in 1947 enthusiasm for New Zealand’s ongoing involvement waned. In April 1948 the New Zealand government made the decision to withdraw from Japan. The last New Zealand Jay Force troops returned home in September 1948.
My first figure represents an Major of the 22nd Battalion dressed in a wonderful badged service dress and type 1 cap.
The ribbons on his chest indicate pre war Territorial service. They are, from left to right, War Medal 1939-45, New Zealand War Service Medal, Efficiency Decoration and Rosette, and finally NZ Territorial 12 Year Service Medal. The last two medals are particular to the Territorial Force. The NZ Territorial 12 Year Service Medal was introduced in 1911 and replaced by the Efficiency Medal in 1931. The Efficiency Decoration was introduced in 1931 as an Territorial officer only long service medal recognizing 12 years service, clasps were awarded after an additional 6 years.
On the left shoulder is the first type red diamond distinguishing patch of the 22nd Infantry Battalion.
On the right shoulder is a nice example of the British Commonwealth Forces patch and another 22nd Battalion distinguishing patch.
The BCOF patch is not the standard type of model (almost looks like watered pattern silk). Below, on the right, is an example of the standard BCOF patch and next to it is a standard patch that has had the crown over wire embroidered.
The second figure represents a Driver (same rank as an infantry Private) of the 19th New Zealand Army Service Corps Company.
Close shot of the General Service Cap with standard NZ “Onward” badge, shirt, tie and Battle dress blouse.
On the left arm is an example of a Japanese silk made white distinguishing patch of the NZ Army Service Corps.
On the right sleeve is example of the standard BCOF patch and another white diamond distinguishing patch that have been nicely cross stitched onto the blouse.
Amongst some of the photo albums I own, one belongs to a former 19th NZASC company serviceman. Below are some of the photos from the album.
On the front of the truck you can see two BD’s badged up like the example above. Hanging on the bumper are two General Service caps, again badged up like the example above.