Director: Raymond Quint
Writers: Julian Leatherdale, Raymond Quint
TV Series: “True Stories” (1994)
Original Air Date: 31 July 1994
1994, 55 Minutes
Between 1946 and 1952, the British Commonwealth Occupation Force had the job of policing the starving population of Hiroshima and destroying the vast Japanese war-machine. Rare footage, photos and eyewitness accounts vividly recreate the atmosphere of post-war Japan and the situation where two former enemies must meet face to face. The program also reveals how many veterans fear they too may be victims of atomic radiation and how successive governments have overlooked the contribution of the 36,000 Australians who served in the force.
A Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced with the assistance of The Japan Foundation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
After the atomic obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, over 36’000 Australian men and wome, part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), marched onto Japanese soil. They were assigned the toughest and most dangerous area of Japan: Hiroshima Prefecture, which included the atom-bombed city.
The Forgotten Force tells for the first time the story ofAustralia’s role in Japan. Rare archival and private footage, photographs and eyewitness accounts from both sides vividly recreate the atmosphere of post-war Japan – the horror of Hiroshima and its aftermath; the struggle to build a new “democratic” society while under the heel of military rule; the growth from suspicion and fear to friendship and trust between foes.
The Forgotten Force also reveals that today many veterans of the occupation force live with a more sinister legacy of their time in Japan. Many are dying of cancers they believe to be caused by exposure to radiation while on duty in Japan.
Fifty years on, the serivece of these men and women in the occupation of Japan is forgotten – missing from the pages of history and unacknowledged by successive Australian governments. This film finally argues that now the time has come for the work of the BCOF to be remembered and awarded.