J. C. S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

The President and the Prime Minister asked the Chiefs of Staff for a report of progress regarding the current conferences.

[Page 628]

Sir Alan Brooke stated that after seven days of argument he felt that definite progress had been made.1 A document is now being prepared setting forth the general strategic policy for 1943.2 This will be gone over in detail at the C.C.S. meeting on the morning of January 19th.

Sir Alan Brooke summarized the document as follows:

1. A statement that the measures to be taken to combat the submarine menace are a first charge on the resources of the United Nations and provide security for all of our operations.

2. A statement that we shall concentrate on the defeat of Germany first which will be followed by the defeat of Japan.

3. Our efforts in defeating Germany will be concerned first with efforts to force them to withdraw ground and air forces from the Russian front. This will be accomplished by operations from North Africa by which Southern Europe, the Dodecanese Islands, Greece, Crete, Sardinia, and Sicily will all be threatened, thus forcing Germany to deploy her forces to meet each threat. The actual operation decided upon is the capture of Sicily.

At the same time, we shall go on with preparing forces and assembling landing craft in England for a thrust across the Channel in the event that the German strength in France decreases, either through withdrawal of her troops or because of an internal collapse.

4. Operations in the Pacific are to be continued to include the capture of Rabaul and Eastern New Guinea while plans are to be prepared to extend the operations to the Marshall Islands and the capture of Truk if the situation permits.

5. Plans and preparations to undertake Operation Anakim late in 1943 are to be instituted at once with the understanding that the United States will assist to make up deficiencies in landing craft and naval vessels needed for this operation. The operation is to be planned for December of 1943 with the view to capturing Burma and opening the Burma road prior to the monsoon season of 1944.

6. The maximum combined air offensive will be conducted against Germany from the United Kingdom. By this and every other available means, attempts will be made to undermine Germany’s morale.

7. Every effort will be made, political and otherwise, to induce Turkey to enter the war in order that we may establish air bases there for operations against Rumania.

8. Operation Ravenous will be undertaken for the purpose of establishing bridgeheads over the Chindwin River, and also to prepare roads and airfields in northern Burma which will facilitate the mounting of Operation Anakim toward the end of the year. In this connection, Operation Cannibal is now being undertaken with a view to securing air bases in the Akyab area.

Sir Alan Brooke explained that Chiang Kai-shek wishes to postpone his part of Operation Ravenous until there is more naval support in the Bay of Bengal. He added that this was strategically [Page 629] sound as the Chinese operation would be more effective if coordinated as a part of Anakim. He said Ravenous requires no Naval support.

General Marshal then explained that while that part of the Chinese operation which was to consist of an advance from Yunnan could be advantageously postponed, the advance from Ramgarh could well be initiated as part of operation Ravenous in order to provide security for the construction of a road southward from Ledo. However, this will have to have the approval of the Generalissimo.

The Prime Minister then stated that he wished it made clear that if and when Hitler breaks down, all of the British resources and effort will be turned toward the defeat of Japan. He stated that not only are British interests involved, but her honor is engaged. If it were thought well for the effect on the people of the United States of America, the British Government would enter into a treaty or convention with the U. S. Government to this effect.

The President stated that a formal agreement regarding British efforts against Japan was entirely unnecessary. He said, however, that efforts should be made to obtain an engagement from Russia to concentrate on the defeat of Japan after Germany had been eliminated from the war. He thought that Russia would probably want to come in with the United Nations in that event, but he would like to have an expression from them as to whether they will come in and how.

Mr. Churchill then discussed operation Sledgehammer. He thought it should be given a “sharper point” and that plans should be made to undertake it, including the appointment of a Commander and the fixing of a target date. He had not been in favor of such an operation in 1942 but he felt that it was our duty to engage the enemy on as wide a front and as continuously as possible, and as the only way of stopping an operation with the full force of the British Metropolitan air forces and the U. S. air forces in Great Britain is to do a Sledgehammer, he thought we should do everything we could to make the operation possible this summer.

The President agreed with the Prime Minister and further suggested that we join together to build up forces in the United Kingdom. He said that it would be desirable to prepare a schedule of the build-up of forces by month in order that we would know what the potential effort might be at any time, and plans should be made for utilizing this potential at any time that there are signs of Germany’s deterioration.

The Prime Minister then discussed possible operations from the Mediterranean against the Dodecanese. He considered that these might be developed either as feints in order to conceal the location of the main effort against Sicily, or perhaps as a real attack. He had received a message from the three Commanders-in-Chief in the Middle East informing him that plans to this effect were under way. He [Page 630] desired that the final document prepared by the Chiefs of Staff covering the strategy for 1943 should include some mention of the Dodecanese.

The Prime Minister said that he felt that General Chennault’s air force in China should be reinforced. He stated that General Wavell concurred in this view.

The President stated that the effects of help to China would be largely political. A small effort to send aid would have a tremendously favorable effect on Chinese morale. The Generalissimo has been disappointed with regard to the Burma operations. He has considerable difficulty in maintaining the loyalty of some of the Chinese provinces. Anything that we can do to help China and to hurt Japan will have a heartening effect on him.

The President stated that reinforcing our air power in China would also be a severe blow to Japan. He said that the Japanese people panic easily. This was especially true at the time of their earthquake. Mr. Grew, the United States Ambassador, in reporting this incident, stated that it was necessary for the Japanese broadcast to adopt every means possible to quiet the people.

The President considered that we should send from 200 to 250 planes to China. This should include heavy bombers which, because of the difficulties of supply, could be based in India. They could be used to operate in raids over Japan proper by refueling in China on their way to and from such missions.

He thought that the United Nations should commit themselves to this line of action and that whoever of the Chiefs of Staff was next to see the Generalissimo, should inform him to this effect.

The President then discussed operations in the Mediterranean. He said we had been extremely fortunate in Operation Torch. He was worried, however, about news concerning the operations against Sicily reaching Germany. To prevent this, he thought that we should give the operations in the Mediterranean some such name as “Underbelly” and continually think of them as being aimed at any one of a number of objectives, knowing secretly all the while, that they were to be toward Sicily.

Admiral King stated that the deception could be well achieved by the use of cover plans. He said that the document that is now in preparation and will be discussed on January 19th goes a long way toward establishing a policy of how we are to win the war. It has taken some days for the Chiefs of Staff to express themselves but in principle they are all agreed. He expressed the opinion that the document being prepared would be approved after a short discussion and with minor amendments. He said that he personally would like to have had it expanded to present a complete concept for concluding the war but that he was well pleased with it as it is.

[Page 631]

General Marshall said that when the United States Chiefs of Staff came to the conference, they preferred to undertake Operation Roundup in 1943. The decision, however, has been made to undertake Operation Husky because we will have in North Africa a large number of troops available and because it will effect an economy of tonnage which is the major consideration. It is estimated that possession of the north coast of Africa and Sicily will release approximately 225 vessels which will facilitate operations in Burma, the Middle East, and the Pacific. He felt that the capture of Sicily would do much to improve the air coverage for our shipping in the Mediterranean. This will add considerably to the safety of the passage. He said that Admiral Cunningham and other naval officers had indicated that the capture of Sicily would not be of great benefit in the protection of our convoys, Admiral Cunningham having stated that the possession of Sicily would only make us 5 percent more effective in the protection of convoys.

Sir Charles Portal thought there had been a misunderstanding of Admiral Cunningham’s views. He feels that without Sicily we will lose 15 ships out of 100, or be 85 percent effective. We will lose only 10 ships out of 100, 90 percent effective, with Sicily in our possession. The number of the ships lost is therefore 50 percent greater with Sicily in possession of the Axis.

General Marshall said the second consideration which brought about the decision to operate against Sicily was the possibility of eliminating Italy from the war and thus necessitating Germany’s taking over the present commitments of the Italians.

General Marshall emphasized that Roundup would be a difficult if not impossible operation to undertake once we have committed ourselves to Operation Husky. He said that the United Kingdom maintains a small spearhead of amphibious forces consisting of about 20,000 troops which are available at all times for an operation across the Channel. This force could be augmented by follow-up troops carried in small craft which might be available in England. Unless there is a complete crack in German morale, operations across the Channel will have to be extremely limited. It will be fully as difficult to assemble landing craft following Operation Husky and send them to England as it will be to assemble them after the capture of Rabaul and send them to Burma. Probably three months will be required to accomplish this in either case.

General Marshall said that sudden signs of deterioration of the Axis forces might take two forms; first, a collapse in the interior with the troops initially holding fast; and, second, by the withdrawal of troops from France. In the latter case, we should make every effort to cross the Channel and in doing so, utilize any means that are available. He said the greatest difficulty in setting up strength for [Page 632] Roundup in addition to Operation Husky is the lack of escort vessels and landing craft.

General Marshall then discussed increasing the air force in China. The United States now has an agreement to increase the Chinese air force to the extent to which it can be supplied.3 The increase will be much more than the force is now. It is contemplated sending a group of heavy bombers which may be used to shuttle back and forth from China to India. There will be 25 to 30 additional medium bombers with the appropriate aircraft to furnish them fighter protection. He emphasized that while we are committed to the build-up of the Chinese air forces, it is a tremendously expensive operation. The air transport planes which must be utilized in their supply could be utilized with great effect elsewhere.

General Marshall said that in the agreements reached by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, effective measures had been adopted to improve the situation in the Pacific. He said he hoped these were sufficient to insure that we would not again be threatened by a series of crises, since sufficient forces would be made available to insure our maintaining pressure on Japan.

General Marshall said that as summer approaches, the Combined Chiefs of Staff should meet again to make the necessary readjustments in the decisions made now.

He then discussed the use of United States bombers in England. He thought that they should be under the operational direction of the British, who should prescribe the targets and the timing of attacks. Control of operational procedure and technique should remain under the United States Commanders. The Combined Chiefs of Staff will attempt to prescribe general priorities of bombing objectives.

General Marshall said we should coordinate and improve our methods in combating the submarine menace and that this also would be a subject of discussion during the conferences.

Another vital question before the Combined Chiefs of Staff is how to maintain the Russian forces at their maximum effort both by forcing a withdrawal of German pressure on their front and also by insuring the flow of munitions to them. It is questionable to what extent the United Nations can take the losses of tonnage incidental to escorting the northern convoys. It may be possible to decrease the intervals between convoys or add to the strength of their escorts. However, it is entirely within the power of Germany to administer such losses as to make it necessary to discontinue this route to Russia.

General Marshall said that he does not believe it necessary to take excessive punishment in running these convoys simply to keep Mr. Stalin [Page 633] placated. In any event, lie feels that it would be necessary to inform Mr. Stalin that the convoys would have to be discontinued during Operation Husky.

General Arnold said that the agreements tentatively arrived at would be very helpful from the air point of view. They will facilitate the allocation of aircraft and the development of procedure and technique.

The Prime Minister said that since we have surveyed the whole field of strategy, it will now be necessary for the Chiefs of Staff to go into ways and means by which the adopted strategy can be accomplished. They must determine where risks should be incurred and where the reduction of forces is necessary. This may take several days. It will involve the broad distribution of our resources. He agreed with General Marshall that another meeting should be held before summer and expressed his pleasure to the President of the United States, and to the U.S. Chiefs of Staff, for arranging to attend this conference.

The President said that he particularly appreciated having Sir John Dill at the conferences since he would be the individual who would carry on the liaison between the Chiefs of Staff in London and the Chiefs of Staff in Washington between whom he constituted an indispensable link.

Sir Dudley Pound then said that we must go into ways and means of implementing our agreed decisions. Two problems involved are the security of the Atlantic convoys and the extent to which it will be necessary to decrease such security when Operation Husky is undertaken. He said that increased pressure against the submarine menace must be maintained by adequate coverage of our convoys and by striking at places where submarines are manufactured and assembled. If this is done, the situation may be considerably improved by the time operation Husky is undertaken. He agreed with General Marshall that it will be necessary during Operation Husky to discontinue the northern convoys.

The Prime Minister said that this would be an added reason for increasing the tonnage sent to Russia prior to Operation Husky.

Sir Dudley Pound replied that this could be done provided the United States would help in the escort problem.

The President then discussed the possibility of assembling a large number of river and lake craft available in the United States and sending them quietly to Europe in order to transport troops across the Channel in case Germany cracks.

Lord Mountbatten stated that five Great Lakes steamers had already been sent.

The President told Admiral King to survey the situation and see what could be done in this respect.

[Page 634]

Sir John Dill expressed his satisfaction over the progress of the present conferences.

The Prime Minister then discussed the situation in Turkey. He said that the British had some right to expect Turkey to enter the war when the Balkans were invaded, but in view of our own weakness to help Turkey they did not press it. Turkey will be in a weak position at the peace table following the war if she has not participated in it. It was possible to give them a guarantee for existing territory, and for their rights over passage through the Dardanelles. The United Nations should be prepared to provide Turkey with antiaircraft, flak, tanks and other mechanized vehicles and also be prepared to send some of this equipment manned with units, since Turkish troops do not handle machinery particularly well. He feels that Turkey might be influenced to enter the war by the successes of Russian troops on the north and those of the United States-United Kingdom troops on the south. At present they are angry with the Bulgarians and it would not be surprising if they did enter the war.

The Prime Minister said that since most of the troops which would be involved in reinforcing Turkey would be British, he asked that the British be allowed to play the Turkish hand, just as the United States is now handling the situation with reference to China. The British would keep the United States advised at all times as to the progress being made.

The President concurred in this view4 and also said that if Roundup should be undertaken, he felt that it should be under British command.

The Prime Minister said that he thought the question of command in Roundup operation might be determined later, but he agreed that it would be advisable to designate a British commander at this time who could undertake the planning of the operation. In his view, the command of operation should as a general rule be held by an officer of the nation which furnishes the majority of the forces.

He said that in perhaps five weeks six divisions of the 8th Army would enter Tunisia, and it was understood that they would, of course, come under command of General Eisenhower. He thought, however, it would be advisable for General Alexander to be designated as the Deputy Commander of the Allied Forces.

The President and General Marshall both expressed agreement, and the latter said he thought it would be particularly desirable since there would be two British armies involved in the Tunisian front.

Admiral King suggested the possibility of unifying command prior to the 8th Army’s entry into Tunisia, feeling that there were many matters common to both the Allied Expeditionary Forces and the [Page 635] 8th Army which should be coordinated. After discussion, it was agreed that date of appointment should be left for future decision.

General Marshall informed the Prime Minister and the Chiefs of Staff of the great contribution that Admiral Cunningham had made to the success of Operation Torch. He wished to express the appreciation of the United States Chiefs of Staff not only for the skill that Admiral Cunningham had displayed, but also for his spirit of helpfulness and for his cooperation.

The Prime Minister thanked General Marshall and directed that General Marshall’s comments be included in the minutes in order that he could present them to the Cabinet.

After being informed that the agreements arrived at at the conference would be included in a paper, the Prime Minister suggested that one should be drawn up for presentation to Premier Stalin. He felt that the Soviet is entitled to know what we intend to do, but that it should be made clear that the paper expressed our intentions and did not constitute promises.5

The President brought up the subject of press releases concerning the current conferences. He said that a photograph should be made of the participants in the conference and be given out with a release date which might be set as the day that he and the Prime Minister departed.

The Prime Minister suggested that at the same time we release a statement to the effect that the United Nations are resolved to pursue the war to the bitter end, neither party relaxing in its efforts until the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan has been achieved. He said that before issuing such a statement, he would like to consult with his colleagues in London.6

[Page 636]

Field Marshal Dill then asked the President if there were any information concerning General de Gaulle.

The President replied that he had arranged to have General Giraud come here for a conference, but that so far the Prime Minister had been unable to effect such arrangements with General de Gaulle.

The Prime Minister said that General de Gaulle had refused, saying that if the President wished to see him, he would no doubt invite him to come to Washington.7 De Gaulle had said that he would not meet Giraud in an atmosphere dominated by the High Command of the United Nations. The Prime Minister said that he had sent an invitation to de Gaulle to come, and the invitation had been sent in the name of the President and himself. He indicated to General de Gaulle that if he refused the invitation, it would be necessary for him and the President to consider whether or not he was a leader who merited their support.8

The President stated that General Giraud had informed him that there were sufficient French officers and noncommissioned officers in North Africa to enable the French to raise an army of 250,000 men. He thought General Giraud should be instructed to raise such an army, and that we should make every effort to provide him with equipment. He said that General Giraud was desirous of being relieved of some of his civilian responsibilities.

The Prime Minister said that he thought the political representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom should be at all times represented in whatever controlling machinery is set up, and that even General Eisenhower should present his demands to the French Government through civilian representatives, except in those cases where he wished to exercise his prerogatives as a military commander of an occupied country.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the French have a considerable number of French 75 mm. guns on hand together with ammunition. They were to receive the tanks from the British 6th Armored Division when this unit received its Sherman tanks from the United States. He said that there were also some antiaircraft weapons available which can be given to the French. General Marshall stated that he thought it necessary to give the French the best equipment obtainable, and that he proposed to do so from United States resources subject to shipping limitations. His idea was that if we are to equip the French, we must make good units of them.

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The President thought it would be desirable to utilize some French units in Operation Husky even if only as a reserve.

The Prime Minister then expressed the hope that the United States would bring to North Africa the remaining three divisions which are scheduled to come here.

General Marshall replied that there had been no change in schedule yet, but that after the complete details for Operation Husky had been worked out, a determination could be made as to what divisions should be brought or what other changes might be made.

  1. According to Alanbrooke, pp. 449–450, Marshall, who had been acting as chairman of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, had asked General Brooke to report on the results of the Conference meetings.
  2. C.C.S. 155, January 18, 1943, post, p. 760.
  3. Presumably, the reference is to the renewed commitment by the United States to provide aircraft for the China theater; see Romanus and Sunderland, p. 224.
  4. For subsequent documentation regarding the clarification of this decision relative to the respective roles of the United States and United Kingdom Governments in relations with Turkey, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iv, pp. 1064 ff.
  5. For the draft telegram from Roosevelt and Churchill to Stalin as prepared by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, see C.C.S. 165/2, January 22, 1943, post, p. 782. For the joint message to Stalin as ultimately sent, see post, p. 805.
  6. In a telegram to the War Cabinet on January 20, 1943 (Hinge of Fate, pp. 683–685), Churchill reported on this meeting with Roosevelt and the Combined Chiefs of Staff. In paragraph 6 of his telegram, Churchill asked the War Cabinet’s views regarding the inclusion in a proposed statement on the work of the Conference of a declaration of American and British intention to continue the war until the “unconditional surrender” of Germany and Japan. Churchill, who reported that Roosevelt was in favor of such a statement, suggested that reference to Italy ought to be omitted in order to hasten internal collapse in Italy. Replying to Churchill in a telegram dated January 21, 1943, Attlee and Eden stated that it was the unanimous view of the War Cabinet that Italy ought not to be excluded from the terms of such a declaration. For text of the last mentioned telegram, see Churchill, Hinge of Fate, p. 686, Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 469, col. 2218, and Sherwood, p. 973. In Hinge of Fate, p. 686, Churchill stated that he did not remember that anything further was said to Roosevelt on this matter following receipt of the War Cabinet message. It was Churchill’s feeling that the absence of further action in this regard may have resulted from his opposition to applying unconditional surrender to Italy. The proposed statement referred to by Churchill in his January 20 telegram to the War Cabinet has not been identified, but an untitled and undated paper which is closely related to it is printed post, p. 833.

    For a recollection of an informal discussion of “unconditional surrender” by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, see General Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports (New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1958), pp. 186–187.

  7. See Eden’s telegram of January 17 to Churchill regarding de Gaulle’s refusal to come to Casablanca, post, p. 814.
  8. Regarding the consideration and despatch of this second invitation from Churchill to de Gaulle, see the editorial note, ante, p. 626.