Department of Defense Files
Memorandum by Prime Minister Churchill 2
[ London ,] June 15, 1942.
- For such an Operation, the qualities of magnitude, simultaneity and violence are required. The enemy cannot be ready everywhere. At least six heavy disembarkations must be attempted in the first wave. The enemy should be further mystified by at least half-a-dozen feints, which, if luck favours them, may be exploited. The limited and numerically inferior Air force of the enemy will thus be dispersed or fully occupied. While intense fighting is in progress at one or two points, a virtual walk-over may be obtained at others.
- The second wave nourishes the landings effected, and presses where the going is good. The fluidity of attack from the sea enables wide options to be exercised in the second wave.
- It is hoped that “ Jupiter ” will be already in progress. Landings or feints should be planned in Denmark, in Holland, in Belgium, at the Pas de Calais, where the major Air battle will be fought, on the Cotentin Peninsula, at Brest, at St. Nazaire, at the mouth of the Grironde.
- The first objective is to get ashore in large numbers. At least ten Armoured Brigades should go in the first wave. These Brigades [Page 456] must accept very high risks in their task of pressing on deeply inland, rousing the populations, deranging the enemy’s communications, and spreading the fighting over the widest possible areas.
- Behind the confusion and disorder which these incursions will create, the second wave will be launched. This should aim at making definite concentrations of armour and motorized troops at strategic points carefully selected. If four or five of these desirable points have been chosen beforehand, concentrations at perhaps three of them might be achieved, relations between them established, and the plan of battle could then take shape.
- If forces are used on the above scale, the enemy should be so disturbed as to require at least a week to organize other than local counter-strokes. During that week a superior fighter Air force must be installed upon captured airfields, and the command of the Air, hitherto fought for over the Pas de Calais, must become general. The R.A.F. must study, as an essential element for its success, the rapid occupation and exploitation of the captured airfields. In the first instance these can only be used as refuelling grounds, as the supreme object is to get into the Air at the earliest moment. Altogether abnormal wastage must be expected in this first phase. The landing and installation of the flak at the utmost speed is a matter of high consequence, each airfield being a study of its own.
- While these operations are taking place in the interior of the country assaulted, the seizure of at least four important ports must be accomplished. For this purpose at least ten Brigades of infantry, partly pedal-cyclists, but all specially trained in house-to-house fighting, must be used. Here again the cost in men and material must be rated very high.
- To ensure success the whole of the above operations, simultaneous or successive, should be accomplished within a week of Zero, by which time not less than 400,000 men should be ashore and busy.
- The moment any port is gained and open, the Third wave of attack should start. This will be carried from our Western ports in large ships. It should comprise not less than 300,000 infantry with their own artillery plus part of that belonging to the earlier-landed formations. The first and second waves are essentially assaulting forces, and it is not till the third wave that the formations should be handled in terms of Divisions and Corps. If by Zero 14,700,000 men are ashore, if Air supremacy has been gained, if the enemy is in considerable confusion, and if we hold at least four workable ports, Ave shall have got our claws well into the job.
- The phase of sudden violence irrespective of losses being over, the further course of the campaign may follow the normal and conventional lines of organization and supply. It then becomes a matter of reinforcement and concerted movement. Fronts will have developed, [Page 457] and orderly progress will be possible. Unless we are prepared to commit the immense forces comprised in the first three waves to a hostile shore with the certainty that many of our attacks will miscarry, and that if we fail the whole stake will be lost, we ought not to attempt such an extraordinary operation of war under modern conditions.
- The object of the above notes is to give an idea of the scale and spirit in which alone they can be undertaken with good prospects of success.
- According to Churchill, Hinge of Fate, p. 353, this memorandum was referred to the British Chiefs of Staff on June 15, 1942, for their consideration and comment. Churchill gave a copy of the memorandum to Eisenhower and Clark during a conversation with the two generals on June 22, 1942; see the editorial note, ante, p. 439. The source text is a copy of the memorandum which Churchill sent to Marshall on July 22, 1942.↩