§ Mr. R. A. Butler
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he has any statement to make about the possibility of amalgamating in a single force the forces of the Commonwealth countries at present engaged in operations in Korea.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Gordon-Walker)
Yes, Sir. I am glad to announce that it has been agreed with the Commonwealth Governments concerned that the 1007 land contingents from Commonwealth countries which are now, or will shortly be, serving as part of the United Nations Forces in Korea, should be linked together as soon as possible to form a Commonwealth Division.
The contingents which will be linked in this way are: The 28th and 29th United Kingdom Infantry Brigades; the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade; the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment; the 16th New Zealand Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery; the 60th Indian Field Ambulance Unit. In addition, New Zealand hope to contribute Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps and Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineer elements to the extra divisional troops required.
The commander of the Commonwealth Division will be a United Kingdom officer, Major-General A. J. H. Cassels, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., late Seaforth Highlanders, at present Head of the United Kingdom Service Liaison Staff in Australia. He will have an integrated staff drawn from different Commonwealth countries.
The Division will come under the operational command and control of the United Nations Unified Command, who have signified their cordial agreement in this new grouping of Commonwealth forces in Korea. For purposes of non-operational control the Division will come under General Sir Horace Robertson, Commander-in-Chief, British Commonwealth Occupation Forces, Japan.
The formal title of the Division will be the "First (Commonwealth) Division, United Nations Forces."
I am sure the House will welcome, as we do, the opportunity which the formation of a Commonwealth Division will provide for our men to serve again with the units contributed by our partners in the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Churchill
Would there be any very great harm if it were called the "Empire and Commonwealth Division"?
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I do not think that any harm would necessarily be done, but all the Commonwealth Governments have, after discussion, agreed on this title.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Although I take it that for the purposes of operations the commander 1008 will be under United Nations control, is there any channel of communication between the Commonwealth Division or its supreme commander and the Commonwealth Governments?
§ Major Legge-Bourke
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as a result of this welcome decision, there is to be a complete standardisation of equipment and uniforms, etc.?
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I think that questions concerning the direct military operations ought to be put to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence.