J. C. S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

1. The North African Situation

Sir Alan Brooke gave an account of a conference between General Alexander and General Eisenhower regarding the coming operations in Tunisia and Libya.3 General Eisenhower had planned an offensive against Sfax to be launched on January 24th. The Plan presented [Page 581] some difficulties. The 1st Army cannot attack prior to March 15th. The British 8th Army expects to take Tripoli by January 24th. At that time they will be out of fuel for their vehicles and a certain amount of reorganizing will be necessary. It is probable that the 8th Army will not be able to attack Rommel’s forces on the Mareth line prior to February 15th. Thus they will be too late to take advantage of the favorable situation created by General Eisenhower’s attack on Sfax and consequently Rommel will be free for a period of time to operate against General Eisenhower’s southern forces and perhaps force him to withdraw from Sfax. This might be coupled with a German attack from the north which would place General Eisenhower’s southern forces in an extremely precarious position.

Sir Alan Brooke stated that it had been decided that the Sfax attack would be canceled. Instead, raids would be conducted against the German line of communications from Sfax but the bulk of General Eisenhower’s forces consisting of the 1st Armored Division, reinforced, would be held in the vicinity of Tebessa prepared to assist General Alexander in his attack on Rommel’s forces or to assist the 1st Army to the north. The Sfax attack might be accomplished later and, if so, it would be timed by agreement between General Alexander and General Eisenhower who will confer frequently.

2. The Strategic Concept for 1943 in the European Theater

General Marshall stated that the United States Chiefs of Staff were anxious to learn the British concept as to how Germany is to be defeated. It has been the conception of the United States Chiefs of Staff that Germany must be defeated by a powerful effort on the continent, carrying out the BoleroRoundup plans. Aid to Russia is regarded as being of paramount importance in order to assist the Russian Army to absorb the strength of the German ground and air forces.

He said we must devise means to enable Russia to continue aggressively through 1943 by providing them with supplies. The amount of such supplies and the methods of delivering them must be determined upon. The German air and ground forces brought to bear against Russia must be reduced. Any method of accomplishing this other than on the Continent is a deviation from the basic plan. The question is then to what extent must the United Nations adhere to the general concept and to what extent do they undertake diversions for the purpose of assisting Russia, improving the tonnage situation, and maintaining momentum.

In commenting on the British presentation of their plans for the Mediterranean, General Marshall stated that the United States Chiefs of Staff would like to have further information on the following points: [Page 582]

Were not the East–West communications in northern Europe, which the British consider capable of moving seven divisions every twelve days, subject to severe interference by heavy air attacks from England?
If the Mediterranean operations were undertaken and there were a break in the German strength, might it occur so rapidly that full advantage could not be taken of it? It was, therefore, desired that the British Chiefs of Staff expand on what the tonnage savings from the Mediterranean operations might be in order to determine if they were worth the costs involved?
What would be the effects of Mediterranean operations on the timing of the United Nations concentrations in England? In General Eisenhower’s opinion, it was unwise to count on further use of landing craft used in the initial landings for any other operation. A fifty or seventy-five percent loss should be anticipated. General Eisenhower also thought that operations on the Continent to establish a bridgehead would require more divisions than had originally been thought necessary.
What were the relative merits of undertaking an operation against Sicily or Sardinia, particularly in regard to the effects on tonnage, and the development of forces in the United Kingdom?
Was an operation against Sicily merely a means towards an end or an end in itself? Is it to be a part of an integrated plan to win the war or simply taking advantage of an opportunity?

General Marshall said the United States Chiefs of Staff agreed that every effort must be made to build up forces to support Turkey in order to be able to reinforce her for resistance against the Axis powers and to secure the use of her airfields for bombing operations by the United Nations.

He thought that if operations are to be undertaken in the Mediterranean, they should be financed by the troops now in North Africa. One of the strongest arguments for undertaking such an operation is that there will be an excess of troops in North Africa once Tunisia has been cleared of the Axis forces.

Admiral King stated that he thought it most important to determine how the war is to be conducted. The percentage of the war effort to be applied to Germany and to Japan must be determined as well as over-all plans for the defeat of each. He asked if Russia is to carry the burden as far as the ground forces are concerned; also, if the United Nations were to invade the Continent, and when. He said that since Europe is in the British area of strategic responsibility, he would like to hear their views on these questions. He thought it should be decided whether a planned step-by-step policy was to be pursued or whether we should rely on seizing opportunities.

General Arnold stated that he was interested to know whether an attack on Sicily was to be a means to an end or an end in itself and what relation such an attack would have to the whole strategic conception.

[Page 583]

General Marshall said that, when planning for Gymnast, we were attempting to undertake an operation “on a shoe string.” He said we then changed to the BoleroRoundup concept and had to prepare for Sledgehammer because of the strong possibility of a Russian collapse last autumn. Troop concentrations had been started and production programs rearranged for Bolero. This created difficult complications. The naval program was upset because of the necessity to undertake the construction of landing craft. It was then decided to undertake Operation Torch in which great risks were involved but in which we have been abnormally fortunate.

General Marshall described the difficulties with which the United States Chiefs of Staff were faced over questions of priorities in production. It was essential to fix our strategic policy as carefully as possible in order to avoid production difficulties.

General Marshall thought it important that we now reorient ourselves and decide what the “main plot” is to be. Every diversion or side issue from the main plot acts as a “suction pump.” He stated that the operations against Sicily appeared to be advantageous because of the excess number of troops in North Africa brought about by the splendid efforts of the British 8th Army. However, before deciding to undertake such an operation, he thought it necessary to determine just what part it would play in the over-all strategic plan.

Sir Alan Brooke said that on the Continent Russia is the only ally having large land forces in action. Any effort of the other allies must necessarily be so small as to be unimportant in the over-all picture. He felt that ground operations by the United States and the United Kingdom would not exert any great influence until there were definite signs that Germany was weakening.

General Marshall stated that it was desirable to force the enemy to meet us in air combat. He asked Sir Alan Brooke to discuss the effects of air superiority of the United Nations on the operations of ground troops of the Continent. He felt that if a bridgehead were established and Germany did not attempt to meet our air superiority, the bridgehead could be expanded. On the other hand, if they did meet our air superiority, it would necessitate withdrawing large air forces from the Russian front.

He referred to a suggestion by Mr. Molotov that we send a ground force to the Continent sufficient to divert forty German divisions from the Russian front.4 He said that this was out of the question and [Page 584] that our aim should be to weaken the German air power in the Russian theater rather than the ground forces.

Sir Alan Brooke stated that with limited ground forces, he did not believe that we could constitute sufficient threat in Northern France to the Germans to force them to withdraw much of their air power from the Russian front. The Germans have forty-four divisions in France, some of which have been moved south as a result of Operation Torch. However, the Germans still have sufficient strength to overwhelm us on the ground and perhaps hem us in with wire or concrete to such an extent that any expansion of the bridgehead would be extremely difficult. Moreover, we cannot undertake any operation in Northern France until very late in the summer of 1943. Since, therefore, we cannot go into the Continent in force until Germany weakens, we should try to make the Germans disperse their forces as much as possible. This can be accomplished by attacking the German allies, Italy in particular. This would result in a considerable shortage of German troops on the Russian front. An effort should be made to put Italy out of the war, largely by bombing attacks on the north from the United Kingdom and in the south from North Africa and Sicily.

Our policy should be to force Italy out of the war and bring Turkey in. If Italy were out of the war, Germany would be forced to occupy that country with a considerable number of divisions and also would be forced to replace Italian divisions in other Axis occupied countries such as Yugoslavia and Greece.

Preparations for an attack against Sicily would be known to the Germans and would necessitate the dispersing of their forces to meet any of the capabilities of our amphibious forces. They would have to be prepared to meet us in Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, Greece and the Dodecanese, and this would give great opportunity for deception plans. He felt that this would cause a much greater withdrawal of strength from the Russian front than any operations which we might undertake across the channel. The protection of the sea route alone would bring on a considerable air battle in the Mediterranean which will give relief to the Russian front. Airplanes which normally leave Russia during the winter months and participate in operations in the Mediterranean would be unable to return to the Russian front in the spring.

Sir Alan Brooke said that at the same time as operations against Sicily were being undertaken, there must be a continued build-up of the United Nations forces in the United Kingdom. These must be prepared to undertake the final action of the war as soon as Germany gives definite signs of weakness.

Sir Alan Brooke did not believe we could undertake any further operations in Italy from Sicily in 1943, unless Italy collapsed completely. [Page 585] We should be very careful of accepting any invitation to support an anti-Fascist insurrection. To do so might only immobilize a considerable force to no useful purpose.

Sir Alan Brooke did not feel that air operations against the German and French railway systems in the north would be particularly effective or do anything more than impose delay. There were so many alternative routes. On the other hand, operations against the north-south railway lines, particularly those in Italy, could be made effective because of the close proximity of the lines to the shore which makes them vulnerable to commando raids as well as to air action.

Sir Dudley Pound discussed the effects that taking Sardinia and Sicily would have on the passage of convoys. He said that securing either of these islands will not have as much effect as securing Tunisia. He anticipated that when Tunisia is gained, we shall be able to convoy thirty cargo ships through the Mediterranean every ten days which will result in the release of two hundred and twenty five ships for other purposes. The route would not be safe for personnel ships or tankers. The capture of Sardinia would have little effect on the movements of shipping. On the other hand, the capture of Sicily would enable us to move troop convoys as well as cargo convoys through the Mediterranean with relative safety. The troop convoys, however, will, in the future, be limited almost entirely to replacement troops for the Middle East.

He stated that there will also be a saving in tankers because of the possibility of supplying the necessities for oil in the Mediterranean from Haifa rather than bringing oil from the United States.

Sir Alan Brooke recapitulated the comparative merits of an attack on Sardinia and Sicily as follows: The loss of Sicily would be a much heavier blow to Italy than Sardinia and would effectively secure the sea route through the Mediterranean. On the other hand, it was a much more ambitious operation and would have to be mounted later. Sardinia was a smaller undertaking, and could be mounted earlier. It would provide an excellent air base for attack on Industrial Italy, particularly if Corsica were taken as well.

Sir Charles Portal pointed out that if Sicily had to be taken later in the year and if the Germans in consequence were able to reinforce it more strongly, it would be a much tougher nut to crack. On the other hand, once in possession of the Sicilian airfields we could make it very difficult indeed for the Axis to reinforce the island. The railways along the Italian coasts in the two [toe?] were vulnerable to air attack and raiding; and there were narrow defiles leading from the port of Messina in the island itself.

Sir Charles Portal referred to the suggestion that we might be able to offset inferiority in land forces in Northern France by the greatly superior air forces which could be operated from the United [Page 586] Kingdom. So far as the Brest Peninsula was concerned, no fighter support could be given from the United Kingdom, since it was out of range. The Cherbourg Peninsula was better from this point of view and offered some possibilities as a preliminary operation. Nevertheless, with the limited air facilities in the Peninsula we should probably find ourselves pinned down at the neck of the Peninsula by ground forces whose superiority we should be unable to offset by the use of air. We should certainly be opposed by strong German air forces there. Once we were committed in Northern France the Germans would quickly bring up their air forces from the Mediterranean, realizing that we could not undertake amphibious operations on a considerable scale both across the channel and in the Mediterranean. On the other hand, by threatening in the Mediterranean we should cause a far greater dispersion of German air forces.

Sir Charles Portal said that in his view it was impossible to map out a detailed plan for winning the war, but Germany’s position, if we knocked out Italy, would undoubtedly be most serious. Her ability to continue the fight depended on (a) the possession of the necessary resources and (b) the will to fight on. As regards resources, her main shortages at present were oil and air power. We had no exact knowledge of her oil position, but if she had not succeeded in gaining the Caucasus oil, and if her synthetic oil plants were attacked by precision bombing in daylight, there could be little doubt that her forces would rapidly become immobilized from lack of oil.

As regards her air forces, calculations had been made by the British Air Intelligence Staffs of German deficiencies under the following hypotheses:

  • Case A—Italy fighting and Germany continuing the offensive in Caucasia.
  • Case B—As for A, but Italy knocked out.
  • Case C—Italy fighting and Germany holding a shortened line in Russia by withdrawing to Rostov.
  • Case D—As for C, but Italy not fighting.

German deficiencies in June 1943 were calculated as follows:

Case Deficiencies in First Line Aircraft Deficiencies in Divisions
A 1700 34
B 2250 54
C 700 9
D 1250 30

Germany’s will to fight depended largely on her confidence in ultimate success. If we and the Russians began to score continual successes against Germany, which she could not defeat owing to her lack of means, she would begin to realize that the prospects were hopeless. She might be faced with the dilemma of withdrawing all her [Page 587] troops from France and concentrating in the East against Russia. The way to defeat Germany, therefore, seemed to be to take every chance of attacking her oil supplies; to increase the air bombardment of Germany itself with its inevitable results on German morale, and on industrial capacity and its effect in producing heavy casualties in her population and great misery by the destruction of their dwellings. If we could achieve as well a series of successes, even though these might be comparatively small in extent, it seemed fairly certain that a point would be reached at which Germany would suddenly crack. No one, however, could say precisely when or how the collapse would come.

Admiral King said he understood the general concept of the British Chiefs of Staff was to make use of Russia’s geographical position and her reserves of manpower to make the main effort on land against Germany and to support Russia by diverting as many German forces as possible from the Eastern front. This raised the question as to whether we should not give Russia larger supplies of equipment.

Once the North African coast had been cleared it seemed that we should have a surplus of troops in North Africa and the Mediterranean whom we could not readily move elsewhere. It seemed therefore economical to use them in that area if possible. Sicily seemed undoubtedly to offer a greater dividend though its cost would be higher than Sardinia. The question was whether we could afford to delay so long before taking further offensive action against Germany and whether the Russians would be satisfied unless a “second front” was opened in France. The chief bottleneck seemed to be the provision of landing craft. Operations in Norway seemed to be worth examining though they would almost inevitably lead to a demand from Sweden for assistance and equipment.

As regards the Brest Peninsula, it was worth noting that once we were established there, U. S. troops could be moved in direct from America without the need for trans-shipment in the United Kingdom. The effect of capturing Brest on the U–boat war needed careful consideration.

Sir Charles Portal said that Brest was one of the four Biscay ports used by the Germans as U–boat bases, but he doubted whether the possession of the peninsula would greatly assist the proposed heavy bomber attacks on Lorient, La Pallice and Bordeaux. All these were within easy range of the United Kingdom and to operate against them from the Brest Peninsula would involve putting in additional facilities there. The airfields in the peninsula were likely to be fully employed in the air defense of the area and direct support of the army, leaving nothing to spare for fighter escorts for daylight bombing attacks on the Biscay ports.

[Page 588]

The next point discussed was the effect of Mediterranean operations on Bolero. Sir Alan Brooke said that the number of divisions which the British Chiefs of Staff calculated could be made available by September 15th for operations from the United Kingdom into Northern France were:

  • 21–24 if the Mediterranean were closed down
  • 16–18 if Mediterranean operations were undertaken

If the capture of Sicily were undertaken, the number of landing craft left available for operations in Northern France would be less Sir Dudley Pound observed that all Calculations of the number of divisions available for operations in Northern France were based or the date of September 15th. In his view this was too late since the weather was liable to break in the third week in September and it was essential to have a port by then. The first assault should not be later than August 15th.

General Marshall inquired whether considerable numbers of landing craft would not be required for the maintenance of Sicily after it was taken.

Sir Charles Portal said that once Sicily had been occupied the air defense of the ports should present no particular difficulty. We were able to put large ships into Malta which was very exposed to ah attack. The number of enemy airfields in the toe of Italy was small and fighters on the Sicilian airdromes should be able to deal with dive bombers.

Lord Louis Mountbatten then reviewed the British landing craft situation. Available landing craft were being allocated broadly as follows:

A group in the United Kingdom of the smaller types of cross-channel craft sufficient to lift 4 brigade groups with their vehicles, of 7 brigade groups loaded for raids when very few motor vehicles would be taken.
A group in the Western Mediterranean sufficient to lift 1 brigade group complete.
A similar group in the Eastern Mediterranean.
A group in India sufficient to train 1 brigade group, but not enough to lift the brigade group if it had to undertake actual operations.
An oversea assault force, as a strategic reserve, sufficient to lift 6 brigade groups. The personnel would be carried in combat loaders but they could not all be put ashore in the first flight as the ships could not carry sufficient landing craft for the purpose.

Every attempt was being made to organize landing craft bases in the U. K. so as to give the maximum flexibility and thus allow for a change of plan. The switch over from Roundup to Torch had caused great difficulties owing to the fact that bases prepared for Roundup [Page 589] were in the South of England whereas Scottish bases had to be used for Torch.

Lord Louis Mountbatten observed that he was working on the assumption that any U. S. troops would be carried in landing craft manned by the U. S. In the Torch landings the majority of U. S. forces at Oran and Algiers had been landed in British manned craft. He emphasized the need for working out allocations of landing craft well ahead owing to the long time involved in training the necessary crews.

General Somervell said that the introduction of the L.S.T. and the L.C.I. necessitated considerable change in our ideas about landing craft; the former carried some 150 infantry as well as tanks, and the latter 250 infantry. He calculated that if all the available landing craft were concentrated in North Africa we should be able to lift a total of some 80,000 men by April. Allowing for the use of 105-foot and 50-foot craft as well, this lift would probably increase to about 90,000 in June. If this force of landing craft were used for a second and third ferrying flight, on a short sea crossing, their lift would probably be about 60,000 in the second flight and 45,000 in the third flight, allowing for inevitable casualties in craft. He considered the use of these landing craft, working to beaches, a sounder proposition than the risking of large ships under air attack. The latter should be reserved for the long ocean hauls.

To transfer landing craft from the Mediterranean to the United Kingdom for a subsequent operation later in the year presented considerable problems. It was certainly essential to have considerable numbers of landing craft in the United Kingdom well in advance for training purposes.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Joint Planners had calculated August as the earliest date for the attack on Sicily. If the whole operation were mounted from North Africa in order to save escorts, the date would be postponed until the end of August. His own view was that, even under the latter condition, the date might be advanced to July. Assuming that the attack be launched about July 20th, he expected that we might gain control of the Island within about six weeks.

General Marshall inquired when, on the above assumptions, there would be sufficient landing craft in the United Kingdom to take advantage of a crack in Germany.

Lord Louis Mountbatten said that three months would have to be allowed from the time when the landing craft could be dispensed with to the time when they would be ready for action again in the United Kingdom. The large types of sea-going landing vessels presented no difficulty but small 50-foot craft were essential for the assault landing. Both the United States and British Planners were [Page 590] agreed that it was not possible to use the large craft for the first flights. These small craft had to be collected from the site of operations, transported to Scotland, distributed for repair, reassembled and then again transported by ship to the South of England for a Continental operation.

There would be in England, however, at all times the assault force to which he had previously referred which could lift 4 Brigade Groups with their transport for an assault against heavy opposition. In addition, for the follow-up troops, a great number of landing barges and small coasting vessels were being prepared. The spearhead would not be affected at all by operations in the Mediterranean and would always be kept intact. Any landing craft recovered from the Mediterranean would therefore be in the nature of a bonus.

Admiral King said that the intended use of combat loaders for an assault on Sicily greatly disturbed him. He had hoped that it would be possible to use the larger types of landing craft instead. He feared that a large number of these valuable combat loaders would be lost in the operation.

Lord Louis Mountbatten said that in the Husky plan all available L.S.T.’s and L.C.I.’s would be used, but in addition, 26 combat loaders were required for the assault troops. Of these, the British could provide half.

Admiral King pointed out that the two main factors in winning the war were manpower and munitions. In respect to military manpower, the British Commonwealth had presumably mobilized practically up to the limit. The United States at the present time had reached about 60% of their contemplated strength in military manpower though the position had not yet completely stabilized. His own guess at Russia’s position was that she had mobilized about 80% of available military manpower. China’s resources in manpower were still relatively untouched, and India likewise was scarcely tapped.

As regards munitions, the greatest potential lay in the United States. Next came Great Britain, but she could not supply the full needs of the British Commonwealth farces. Russia was more self-supporting than at first appeared likely but had to receive a considerable amount of assistance from the Allies. From the munitions point of view, China and India were liabilities since their available manpower enormously exceeded their industrial production.

In the European theater Russia was most advantageously placed for dealing with Germany in view of her geographical position and manpower; in the Pacific, China bore a similar relation to the Japanese. It should be our basic policy to provide the manpower resources of Russia and China with the necessary equipment to enable them to fight. With this in mind, the United States Chiefs of Staff set great store by Operation Ravenous. It seemed likely that one of [Page 591] the major British contributions to the defeat of Japan would be to complete the reconquest of Burma and the opening of the Burma Road.

General Marshall observed that, with regard to Operation Ravenous, Chiang Kai-shek had now withdrawn from his undertaking to move in from Yunnan on the grounds that Field Marshal Wavell could only provide very limited British forces and there would be no British naval strength in the Bay of Bengal to cut the Japanese reinforcements route to Rangoon.5 General Stilwell was certainly placed in a very difficult position at the present time.

Discussion then turned on the need for long-range planning in order that production policy could be coordinated with strategy.

General Arnold pointed out that if operations in the Mediterranean were undertaken, the seizure of Brest, in the British view, would not be possible this year. Further, that even if Cherbourg or Brest were taken, our forces would not be able to break out for a further invasion of the Continent. It looked very much as if no Continental operations on any scale were in prospect before the spring of 1944. We should have to decide not only what we were going to do in 1943 but also in 1944 since otherwise, owing to the time lag, our priorities in production might be wrongly decided.

Sir Alan Brooke expressed the view that we should definitely count on reentering the Continent in 1944 on a large scale.

Sir Charles Portal pointed out that production plans could never follow strategy precisely since the situation changed so frequently in war. The best that could be hoped for was to take broad decisions on major questions and these would always be in the nature of compromises. For example, when considering the possibility of reentering the Continent, it had been decided that we must treat it as a fortress and that heavy initial bombardment would be required to break into it. It had therefore been decided to give very high priority to the production of heavy bombers which would be used to soften up Germany before the invasion of the Continent.

Further discussion then followed on the possibility of a German crack in 1943.

Sir John Dill felt that there was quite a possibility of beating Germany this year. We should therefore strain every nerve to effect this since the sooner we beat Germany the sooner we could turn on Japan. We must not let Japan consolidate her position for too long. Japan certainly could not be beaten this year, but Germany might.

Admiral King doubted whether Germany could be defeated before 1944. He felt that her defeat could only be effected by direct military [Page 592] action rather than by a failure in her morale. Was it necessary, however, to accept that we could do nothing in Northern France before April 1944?

Sir Charles Portal said that this depended entirely on Germany’s power of resistance. If we concentrated everything we could on Germany this year, it was possible that we might cause her to crumble and thus be able to move into Germany with comparatively small forces. Until this condition had been produced, however, some 20 divisions would get us nowhere on the Continent. A factor which must not be forgotten was the terrific latent power of the oppressed people which could only come into play when the crumbling process started. At that moment, however, their efforts might contribute greatly to the final collapse. He did not see Germany fighting on and on, completely surrounded by the armed forces of the Allies. A point would come at which the whole structure of Germany and the Nazi Party would collapse, and this moment might well come during the current year. It was essential therefore to have ready a plan and some resources in the United Kingdom to take advantage of a crack. In order to produce the crack, however, we must keep up the maximum pressure on Germany by land operations; air bombardment alone was not sufficient.

In further discussion the importance of deciding the requirements and availability of escort vessels was emphasized. These appeared to be one of the principal limiting factors.

Admiral King said that there was no reserve of escort vessels but if Operation Husky were decided upon, the United States and British Navies would have to find the escort vessels somehow just as they had in the case of Torch.

After some further discussion,

The Committee:

Agreed to direct the Combined Staff Planners to reexamine the British plan for Husky in the light of the American and British resources of all kinds that can be made available for it, and to calculate the earliest date by which the Operation could be mounted.6

3. Supplies to Russia

Sir Dudley Pound recapitulated the factors governing PQ convoys to North Russia. With the present resources of the Home Fleet not more than one 30-ship convoy could be run every 40 to 42 days. Each convoy had to contain two oilers, leaving a net total of 28 cargo ships. [Page 593] With more destroyers it would be possible to “double-end” the convoys, reducing cycle to 27 days instead of 40–42. For this purpose about 12 destroyers would be required from the U. S. Navy. He wished to emphasize, however, that if the Germans employed their surface ships boldly and kept up the same amount of air and U–boats as last year, it was within their power to stop the PQ convoys altogether.

General Somervell reviewed the general problem of supplying Russia. The northern route was at present the best since the turn-round was shortest. The turn-round on the Persian Gulf route was about five months. Some fifteen ships a month are now being used on this route but the flow was restricted by port and inland transportation deficiencies. Once the Mediterranean was opened some relief might be given by the use of Haifa and the overland route from there to Bagdad. For this purpose additional heavy trucks for the road haul would be needed. U. S. Technical troops were being dispatched to Persia to improve the trans-Persian transportation facilities, and it was hoped to increase these to about 10,000 tons per day. If this could be achieved, 40 ships a month instead of 15 could be sent into the Persian Gulf.

The sea route from Seattle to Vladivostok was also being used for non-military supplies and raw materials. Twelve ships manned by the Russians were now working this route, and it was hoped to add 10 ships a month in the future. The use of this route naturally depended on non-interference by the Japanese.

All these potential increases in shipping to Russia naturally would have to be found by cutting down elsewhere. If the opening of the Mediterranean saved some million and a half tons of shipping, this would provide a surplus for the purpose; but there appears to be no other sources. It should be possible for Great Britain and the United States to keep the pipeline full even if these potential increases were made. The maximum tonnage might be as high as 10 million tons per annum; the target for the current year was 4 million but it was doubtful if it would be reached. One million deadweight tons of supplies for Russia were awaiting shipment now in U. S. ports.

Sir Alan Brooke observed that one unsatisfactory feature of the whole business of supplying Russia was their refusal to put their cards on the table. It might well be that we were straining ourselves unduly and taking great risks when there was no real necessity to do so.

4. Employment of French Forces in North Africa

General Marshall asked for the views of the British Chiefs of Staff on the employment of French divisions. The United States Chiefs of Staff felt that they can be effectively used and that their use will effect a considerable economy of force. The French divisions [Page 594] regarded as being the best must be reequipped as soon as practical. This, however, has political complications which must be resolved.

Sir Alan Brooke agreed that we should exploit the use of French troops in North Africa to the maximum, particularly for garrison work. We should have to provide them with a considerable quantity of antiaircraft weapons. Their usefulness would depend greatly on whether we could establish a satisfactory French government. Good leadership was required to rekindle in them the desire to fight. Too many of the French were only waiting for the end of the war.

General Marshall asked what the effect would be on Spain if French troops were stationed opposite the border of Spanish Morocco. There seemed no doubt that some very useful French divisions could be formed in North Africa.

Sir Alan Brooke thought that it would be wise to keep U. S. forces on the Spanish border as well as French troops. This would tend to allay Spanish suspicions of the French intentions and at the same time remove any temptation from the Spanish to cross the frontier if they thought the French troops of inferior quality.

  1. According to Alanbrooke, p. 448, the conference under reference had taken place during the preceding hour. The account of the conference in Sir John Kennedy, The Business of War: The War Narrative of Major General Sir John Kennedy (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1958), p. 282, records the participants as Brooke, Eisenhower, Marshall, Alexander, and Kennedy.
  2. Molotov had made the suggestion in the course of a conference in Washington with the President and Hopkins on May 29, 1942, for the record of which see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. ii, p. 570. General Marshall apparently first heard of Molotov’s suggestion about the size of the Anglo-American landing force desired by the Soviet Union during a White House Conference on May 30, 1942, for the record of which see ibid., p. 575.
  3. Chiang Kai-shek had made known his intention to withdraw from the projected military operation into Burma in a message of January 8, 1943, to the President, the text of which is printed in Romanus and Sunderland, pp. 259–260.
  4. The main features of the British plan for mounting operation Husky were set forth in the memorandum by the British Planning Staff, C.C.S. 161, January 20, 1943, not printed. The report by the British Joint Planning Staff, C.C.S. 161/1, January 21, 1943, not printed, concluded that the earliest safe date on which it would be possible to rely for the British assaults in Husky would be August 30, 1943, and it was considered not possible to advance the date unless operations in Tunisia were concluded considerably earlier than anticipated.