Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

Prime Minister Churchill to President Roosevelt 1


Number 216, December 2, 1942. Former Naval Person to President personal and most secret.

I give below the text of telegrams exchanged between me and Premier Stalin.
Please note particularly the last sentence of Para 5 of Stalin’s message. The chances of Round-Up may be greatly improved by the present battles on the Russian Front.
It seems to me that the whole question ought to be re-examined in the light of the Russian victories. It would be unwise in my view for us to send separate delegations to Moscow without having decided what we are going to do about Round-Up, which is almost the sole thing they will want to know.
I hope therefore that you will allow General Marshall and Admiral King to come over here, if possible with Harry,2 at the earliest moment.
I still cherish the hope of an Iceland meeting after the ground has been fully explored.
Telegram to Premier Stalin dated 24 Nov. 1942 begins:
  • “1. It gave me the very greatest pleasure to receive your warm and heartfelt congratulations. I regard our trustful personal relations as most important to the discharge of our duties to the great masses whose lives are at stake.
  • 2. Although the President is unable with great regret to lend me twelve American destroyers for which I asked, I have now succeeded in making arrangements to sail a convoy of over thirty ships from Iceland on December twenty-second. The Admiralty will concert [Page 492] the operation with your officers as before. The Germans have moved the bulk of their aircraft from the north of Norway to the south of Europe as a result of ‘ Torch ’. On the other hand the German surface forces in Norway are still on guard. The Admiralty are pleased so far with the progress of the Q.P. Convoy which has been helped by bad weather and is now under the protection of our cruisers which have been sent out to meet it.
  • 3. I have communicated to President Roosevelt some preliminary ideas about Turkey, and have found that he independently had formed very similar views.3 It seems to me that we ought all of us to make a new intense effort to have Turkey enter the war on our side in the spring. For this purpose I should like United States to join in an Anglo-Soviet guarantee of the territorial integrity and status of Turkey. This would bring our three countries all into line, and the Americans count for a lot with the Turks. Secondly, we are already sending Turkey a considerable consignment of munitions including two hundred tanks from the Middle East. During the winter by land route, or coasting up the Levant, I shall keep on sending supplies of munitions to Turkey together if permitted with experts in plain clothes for training and maintenance purposes. Thirdly, I hope by the early spring to assemble a considerable army in Syria drawn from our Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Armies, so as to go to the help of Turkey if either she were threatened or were willing to join us. It is evident that your operations in the Caucasus or north of it may also exercise a great influence. If we could get Turkey into the war we could not only proceed with operations to open the shipping route to your left flank on the Black Sea but we could also bomb heavily from Turkish bases the Roumanian oil fields which are of such vital importance to the Axis in view of your successful defence of the main oil supplies of the Caucasus. The advantage of a move into Turkey is that it proceeds mainly by land and can be additional to offensive action in the Central Mediterranean which will absorb our sea power and much of our air power.
  • 4. I have agreed to President Roosevelts suggestion that we each send in the near future, if agreeable to you, two high British officers and two Americans to Moscow to plan this part of the war in 1943. Pray let me know if you agree.
  • 5. I hope you realise, Premier Stalin, that shipping is our limiting factor. In order to do “ Torch ” we have had to cut our Trans-Atlantic escorts so fine that the first half of November has been our worst month so far. We and the Americans have budgeted to lose at the rate of seven hundred thousand tons a month and still improve our margin. Over the year the average loss has not been quite so bad as that, but this first fortnight in November is worse. You who have so much land may find it hard to realise that we can only live and fight in proportion to our sea communications.
  • 6. Do not be disturbed about the rogue Darlan.4 We have thrown a large Anglo-American Army into French North Africa and are getting a very firm grip. Owing to the non-resistance of the French Army and now to its increasing support, we are perhaps fifteen days ahead of schedule. It is of the utmost consequence to get the Tunisian tip and the Naval Base of Bizerta at the earliest moment. The leading elements of our First Army Will probably begin their attack immediately. Once established there with overpowering air, we can bring the war home to Mussolini and Fascist gang with an intensity not yet possible.
  • 7. At the same time, by building up a strong Anglo-American Army and Air Force in Great Britain and making continuous preparations along our southeastern and southern coasts, we keep the Germans pinned in the Pas de Calais, etc., and are ready to take advantage of any favourable opportunity. And all the time our bombers will be blasting Germany with ever increasing violence. Thus the halter will tighten upon the guilty doomed.
  • 8. The glorious news of your offensive5 is streaming in. We are watching it with breathless attention. Every good wish.

Telegram from Premier Stalin dated 28 Nov 1942. Begins:

Many thanks for your message which I received on the 25 November. I fully share your view on the importance of developing our personal relations.
I am grateful to you for the measures you are taking to send a new big convoy to Archangel. I realise that in view of the considerable Naval Operations in the Mediterranean Sea this constitutes great difficulty for you.
I am in full agreement with you and President Roosevelt on the question of Turkey. It would be desirable to do everything possible to have Turkey enter the war on our side in the spring. This would be of great importance in order to accelerate the defeat of Hitler and his accomplices.
It seems to me that the Americans used Darlan not badly in order to facilitate the occupation of the Northern and Western Africa. The military diplomacy must be able to use for military purposes not only Darlan but ‘Even the Devil himself and his grandma’. Maisky’s footnote: This is a strong Russian proverb.
I paid close attention to your communication that you and Americans do not relax preparation along your south-eastern and southern coasts in order to keep the Germans pinned in the Pas de Calais etc. and that you are ready to take advantage of any favourable opportunity. I hope this does not mean that you changed your mind with regard to your promise given in Moscow to establish a second front in Western Europe in the spring of 1943.6
I am in full agreement with President Roosevelt’s suggestion7 and your wish to arrange in Moscow conversations of the representatives of the three general staffs to prepare the respective military plans for 1943. We are readjr to meet the British and American representatives whenever you wish.
In the Stalingrad operations we were so far successful partly because of snowfall and fog which hinder the activities of the German aviation.
We have intention to start in the next few days active operations on the central front in order to pin here the enemy forces and to prevent the transfer of any portion of them to the south.

  1. Transmitted via War Department channels.
  2. Harry L. Hopkins.
  3. Roosevelt’s telegram 210, November 11, 1942, to Churchill, contained the following paragraph: “This brings up the additional steps that should be taken when and if the south shore of the Mediterranean is cleared and under our control. It is hoped that you with your Chiefs of Staff in London and I with the Combined Staff here may make a survey of the possibilities including forward movements directed against Sardinia, Sicily, Italy, Greece and other Balkan areas and including the possibility of obtaining Turkish support for an attack through the Black Sea against Germany’s flank.” (Roosevelt Papers) In his reply (telegram 189, November 13, 1942) Churchill stated: “I shall spend all this week end with our Chiefs of Staff reviewing the whole scene, which may be more clear then than now. … Meanwhile let me say that nothing pleases me more than to read what you say about trying to bring Turkey in. Our minds have indeed moved together on this, as in so much else.” (Roosevelt Papers) Churchill’s views on the steps to be taken with regard to Turkey as well as his overall views on future strategy were set forth in a note he prepared for the British Chiefs of Staff, dated November 18, 1942. Churchill sent the text of his note in telegram 195, November 18, 1942, to Roosevelt. Substantial portions of the note of November 18 are printed in Churchill, Hinge of Fate, pp. 654–655 and 697–698.
  4. For documentation regarding the interest of the United States in political and economic conditions in French North Africa, November–December 1942, including Anglo-American negotiations with the French High Commissioner, Admiral Darlan, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. ii, pp. 429 ff.
  5. On November 19, 1942, the Red Army opened the winter offensive on the Don River front which eventuated in the encirclement and capture of the Axis forces attacking Stalingrad.
  6. Churchill visited Moscow, August 12–16, 1942, and held several conversations with Stalin. During his first talk with Stalin on August 12, Churchill discussed the Anglo-American plans for a possible landing in France in 1943. For an account of this meeting, see Churchill, Hinge of Fate, Book Two, chapter 4. During Churchill’s visit to Moscow, W. Averell Harriman was present as the personal representative of the President. For additional documentation regarding Churchill’s talks with Stalin, including Harriman’s reports thereon, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iii, pp. 616625.
  7. Reference presumably to Roosevelt’s message of November 19, 1942, to Stalin, ibid., p. 662.