Notes by Lieutenant General Arnold
The first item that was taken up was the Staff papers from the Chiefs of Staff’s Committee.
Directive to Supreme Commander in Far East. This item was approved by the President and the Prime Minister, except in certain paragraphs where he made changes which are recorded in the amended copy.2
There was certain discussion as to the proper place in the war theatres of Burma. The 3 propositions discussed were: 1st. Burma as part of the Indian Command. 2nd. Burma as part of Chiang Kai-Shek’s [Page 153] theatre. 3rd. Burma as part of the ABDA theatre. 4th. Burma as an independent command.
It was pointed out that Burma as part of the Indian theatre would be an impossible situation; that Burma could not be a part of Chiang Kai-Shek’s command; that Burma as an independent command would gum the works for everybody. Accordingly, there was only one other solution—to make Burma a part of Wavell’s ABDA theatre, which was done.
The President then o.k.’d the directive to the Supreme Command. He directed that necessary instructions be sent out by cable with the “Scrambler”, and that the Chiefs of Staff’s Committee notify the Dutch. Churchill then brought up the question of the application of the ABDA agreement to the entire war. He stated that the powers of primary interest are the British and the United States because we control the sea. We supply most of the weapons of war such as airplanes and munitions for ground forces while Russia is doing a master job. Their activities are in one theatre only and that makes them a secondary power rather than a primary power.
The Prime Minister then asked what was the dividing line between our operations from the United States West Coast and the Eastern operations from Australia, and where was the dividing line between the Australian and New Zealand operations in the Fiji Islands. There must be some provision made to take care of the length between the ABDA, Australia and the New Zealand areas. Admiral King stated that he thought that probably the Australian and the New Zealand Navies might take care of the triangle. However, this matter would be taken under consideration.
The President then brought up the question of the French Fleet at Alexandria. He stated that he thought they would probably prefer to be transferred to the United States rather than the British Flag. Churchill stated that these ships were not in very good repair, and accordingly that he would much prefer to have them in cold storage in Alexandria. The only ammunition they had was in the holds of the ships and there were no repair parts for the ships. The President stated that he thought that if they would desire to come into the war we ought to take them over. Admiral Pound stated that the French Admiral was loyal to Vichy and that he had made all plans for scuttling his fleet and rebelling against orders. Churchill stated that if they wanted to move to the United States of their own free will, he would interpose no objection.
The President then read the telegram he had received from Bullitt and Lyttelton covering the invasion of Tokyo [Tunisia].3 He stated that the resistance of the French was certain and that it would be [Page 154] impossible to get supplies in North Africa if the French in Morocco were hostile. It was certain that the Germans would send air units against any invasion troops, that the operation could not be a success unless the U.S. movement into North Africa was simultaneous with the British invasion of Tokyo [Tunisia], that they believed there would be resistance against the U.S. invasion unless French leaders were brought into this plan. They recommended that the British in the Near East be reinforced, that the United States start action at once towards creating a force for Casablanca operations, that the necessary propaganda machinery be started so as to secure as much aid as possible in all countries prior to the invasion, and that we provide for taking over the Canaries and the Azores. Churchill stated that it was not necessary to take over the Canaries and the Azores first, but it was very remarkable that these two men, (Bullitt and Lyttelton) quite independent from the rest of them, had agreed with the British in general principle in these operations. The President then stated that we must consider this case at once while the Prime Minister is here with us. It was then agreed, after General Marshall had introduced the subject, that we would make plans and start movement of troops to North Africa and towards replacing the Marines in Iceland at once.
- ABC–4/5, WW–3 (Final), dated December 31, 1941, post, p. 297; for the text as eventually approved, see ABC–4/5 (Approved), WW–6, January 10, 1942, post. p. 313. For the discussion leading to these changes, see Gerow’s notes of the same meeting, infra. ↩
- The reference is to the telegram from Bullitt and Lyttelton, dated December 31, post, p. 249.↩