Department of the Army Piles

Memorandum by Prime Minister Churchill’s Chief Staff Officer (Ismay)1


The following are the conclusions of a meeting held at the White House on the 21st June, between the President and the Prime Minister. [Page 435] Mr. Harry Hopkins, General G. C. Marshall, General Sir Alan Brooke and Major General Sir Hastings Ismay attended.

Plans and preparations for operations on the continent of Europe in 1943 on as large a scale as possible are to be pushed forward with all speed and energy. It is, however, essential that the United States and Great Britain should be prepared to act offensively in 1942.
Operations in Western Europe in 1942, would, if successful, yield greater political and strategic gains than operations in any other theatre. Plans and preparations for the operations in this theatre are to be pressed forward with all possible speed, energy and ingenuity. The most resolute efforts must be made to overcome the obvious dangers and difficulties of the enterprise. If a sound and sensible plan can be contrived, we should not hesitate to give effect to it. If on the other hand detailed examination shows that despite all efforts, success is improbable, we must be ready with an alternative.
Provided that political conditions are favourable, the best alternative in 1942 is Operation Gymnast . Accordingly the plans for this operation should be completed in all details as soon as possible. The forces to be employed in Gymnast would in the main be found from Bolero units which had not yet left the United States.
Planning for Bolero will continue to be centred in London. Planning for Gymnast will be centred in Washington.
As a further alternative the possibility of operating in Spain and Portugal in the autumn and winter of 1942 should also be considered by the Combined Chiefs.

  1. For the redraft of Ismay’s notes prepared by Smith and Handy for Marshall, see post, p. 468. For the revised version of Ismay’s notes approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, see C.C.S. 83/1, June 25, 1942, post, p. 478.