Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

Prime Minister Churchill to President Roosevelt 1


No. 214, November 26, 1942

Former Naval person to President personal and secret (signed Prime). Your 222.2

Thank you so much about my 211.3 As I cabled you last night,4 we are in full agreement.

I entirely agree in principle that there should be a conference with the Russians, but I doubt very much whether a conference on general war policy, apart from some special point, between officers would be of much value. Certainly if a Russian delegation went to Cairo, which I deem unlikely, they would be so tied up that they would have to refer every point of substance back to Stalin at Moscow. If the conference were held in Moscow there would be less delay, but I trust that before British and United States missions went to Moscow they would have a joint and agreed view, to serve at least as a basis for discussion. I hope also that if General Marshall were sent by you he would not by-pass this country.

I think I can tell you in advance what the Soviet view will be. They will say to us both “How many German divisions will you be engaging in the summer of 1943? How many have you engaged in 1942?” They will certainly demand a strong second front in 1943 by the heavy invasion of the continent either from the west or from the south, or from both. This sort of argument, of which I had plenty in Moscow, requires to be met either by principals or by Naval and shipping authorities who would certainly have to be present. It would be very difficult to spare all our Chiefs for so long at this time.

Stalin talked to me in Moscow in the sense of being willing to come to meet you and me somewhere this winter, and he mentioned Iceland. I pointed out that England was no farther and more convenient. He neither accepted nor rejected the idea. At the same time, apart from [Page 491] the climate, there is a lot to be said for a new triple Atlantic conference in Iceland. Our ships might lie together in Halfjord5 and we would place a suitable ship at Stalin’s disposal wearing the Soviet flag pro tern. He talked with some zest of his desire to fly and of his confidence in the Russian machines. Only at a meeting between principals will real results be achieved. What about proposing it for January? By that time Africa should be cleared and the great battle in south Russia decided.

I may add that if ever I can persuade you to come to Iceland I shall never be satisfied unless you look in on this small place before returning.

  1. Channel of transmission not indicated.
  2. Supra.
  3. Not printed, but see footnote 2 to document printed supra.
  4. In his telegram No. 213, November 25, 1942, to Roosevelt, not printed, Churchill reported that he had conferred with Major General Smith and had been reassured that there was no change in the general plan of Bolero and Roundup (Roosevelt Papers).
  5. Naval anchorage in Iceland.