J. C. S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

Admiral Leahy, on behalf of the United States Chiefs of Staff, expressed his pleasure at having the British Chiefs of Staff present for this series of meetings. He appreciated that they have come so far and left their duties for this purpose. He felt that it was important that by personal conferences the problems which had arisen since their last meeting should be resolved.

Admiral Leahy said he would like to outline brief proposals with regard to the conduct of the Conference. He suggested the meetings [Page 35] should take place daily, including Sundays, from 10:30 to 12:45, followed by a luncheon in the Map Room of the Public Health Building. If acceptable to the British Chiefs of Staff, the United States Chiefs of Staff would like to have with them at these meetings their three senior planning officers, together with one member of the Joint Strategic Survey Committee, and two officers responsible for supply problems. These officers would not take part in the discussion nor sit at the table. He felt that many of the problems could be more quickly resolved if those involved were present and could hear at first hand the views of the Chiefs of Staff.

Sir Alan Brooke said that he felt that the number should be kept down as much as possible but agreed with Admiral Leahy’s suggestions. He would like the British Directors of Plans also to be present.

Sir John Dill suggested that to assist the representatives of the British Chiefs of Staff in their duties after the Conference itself had ceased, it would be helpful if they also could attend.

Admiral Leahy agreed that this was an excellent suggestion.

Admiral Leahy further suggested that with regard to the recording of decisions, nothing in the minutes should be regarded as an agreed decision unless it were recorded as such in the conclusions. Agreed decisions should be taken as the first item at the subsequent meeting. With regard to the final report to the President and the Prime Minister, he suggested that any preliminary reports presented should be regarded as tentative only and that in the final report an effort should be made to arrange approved existing and projected strategic undertakings in their order of priority. He suggested the first two sessions should be given up to a general discussion and exchange of ideas on global strategy, both in Europe and the Pacific; after that, post- Husky operations in 1943 and beyond, both in the Mediterranean and Western Europe; and finally a review of the China situation, operation Anakim and the Pacific. At the conclusion of these first two general discussions, the Combined Planners should be asked to prepare a detailed agenda. The war against Japan should perhaps be discussed first since the Commanders in Chief in the Far East might wish to return to their posts.

Admiral Leahy then read out a memorandum giving the views of the United States Chiefs of Staff on the global strategy of the war (Annex “A” to these minutes).2

Sir Alan Brooke thanked Admiral Leahy for the warm welcome which he had given to the British Chiefs of Staff. He felt it was appropriate that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should meet at the [Page 36] conclusion of the successful operations in North Africa. It was also appropriate that he should choose this moment to express the admiration of the British Chiefs of Staff for General Eisenhower’s conduct of these operations, and above all, for his success in obtaining and maintaining the utmost cooperation and harmony throughout his command and complete absence of friction.

Sir Alan Brooke said he was in entire agreement with the proposals for the Conference suggested by Admiral Leahy. With regard to the memorandum on global strategy which Admiral Leahy had read, the British Chiefs of Staff would like time to consider this paper, since it embodied the foundations of our future strategy.

Sir Alan Brooke then read out a memorandum by the British Chiefs of Staff containing their views on the conduct of the war in 1943–1944 (attached as Annex “B” to these minutes).3 In reading this memorandum, he amplified in certain respects that part of paragraph 2 dealing with the directive to General Morgan. This directive included instructions to prepare for a feint designed to bring about an air battle on the western front, an operation (a reverse Dunkirk) in which all available forces should be put forth onto the Continent by any possible method to take advantage of a crack in German morale, and finally, instructions to prepare for a full-scale assault against opposition. Shipping remained the stranglehold on all our operations. It would be necessary to keep this factor in mind in all considerations. It was suggested, however, that the desirability of possible operations from a military viewpoint should first be assessed, and when agreement had been reached on this, the possibilities of carrying them out should be related to the shipping position. As regards the order of discussion, he suggested that since there was no immediate urgency for the return of the Commanders in Chief to India, the global strategy should first be discussed, then European strategy (since Germany was agreed to be the main enemy) and finally the Pacific.

In reply to a question by General Marshall, Sir Alan Brooke said that if Husky was launched on the 10th of July, it was estimated that the operation should be completed within one month.4

General Marshall said that the United States Planners had estimated that the revised Husky might take until the middle of September.

Sir Alan Brooke said that he considered that the new plan with its stronger lodgments should not take much longer than the old one [Page 37] since our air superiority should be able to cut the enemy’s lines of reinforcement.5

Sir John Dill suggested that the rapid collapse of the Axis forces in Tunisia might be taken as indicative of what the future held for us.

Sir Charles Portal said that the weakness of the new plan lay in its failure to seal the island to reinforcements. He agreed, however, that with our large air superiority, if sufficient pressure could be maintained, it would not be easy for the Axis to reinforce since they would find difficulty in keeping their ports open. The impression from General Eisenhower’s signal on the revised plan6 was that it inferred that he anticipated but little delay due to the changes made.

General Marshall asked the views of the British Chiefs of Staff on the results to be expected on Germany by the progressive and cumulative effect of the combined bomber offensive this summer up to the fall.

Sir Charles Portal said that he built great hope on these attacks if the build-up could be maintained. It was hoped to have between eight and nine hundred United States heavy bombers and four hundred United States medium bombers in the United Kingdom by the 30th of June.

General McNarney confirmed that this number of heavy bombers would be available, though there might be a slight diminution in the number of mediums.

Sir Charles Portal said that the effect of some thousand day bombers and between 1,000 and 1,200 night bombers would be considerable. The results of day bombing had been most encouraging and must achieve the withdrawal of German fighters from other fronts since the Germans could not afford to ignore the material and morale effect of these attacks. The American day bombing plan aimed not only to shoot down enemy fighters but to destroy fighter factories.

General Marshall asked for the Chief of Air Staff’s views on the effect of concentrating all available air power in support of a land battle.

Sir Charles Portal said that this largely depended on the targets offered. Our air superiority would be overwhelming within a circle of 120 to 150 miles. The Germans could only provide some two to three hundred bombers and five to six hundred fighters, whereas the British had some 1,500 fighters and the United States would have [Page 38] about a thousand. If replacements were available, this superiority after a few days would defeat the German fighter defense and enable the bombers to attack their targets relatively unmolested. The essential problem was to insure that the German Air Force gave battle.

General Marshall then raised the question of the results of turning our air power in North Africa onto the Italian fleet once bases were available in Sicily.

Sir Charles Portal said that the present task of the Air in North Africa was to insure air superiority over Sicily. The northern Italian ports were out of range from the United Kingdom in the summer. The attack must be based either on Sicily or North Africa.

Sir Dudley Pound said that if they were bombed out of Spezia, the Italian fleet might make for Toulon. The modern Italian battleships of the Littorio class had left Spezia after the last bombing, but had then returned. The older battleships were at Taranto and were immobilized for the present since the necessary destroyers had been used for ferrying troops to Tunisia. There they had sustained considerable losses, but he believed that there were still enough destroyers available to escort the Italian fleet to sea.

Admiral King agreed with Sir Dudley Pound that it was desirable to drive the Italian fleet into the Adriatic but doubted if those in the northwestern Italian ports would run the gauntlet through the Straits.

In reply to a question by General Marshall, Sir Charles Portal ‘said that the Italian fleet in the north was only vulnerable to day attack by U.S. bombers since the short nights did not permit of British night bombers being used. He did not believe that the Italian fighter defense was good but ships were difficult to sink, particularly since the vessels of the Littorio class had heavy deck armor.

General McNarney said that all Italian ports, including Toulon and Trieste, were in easy range of B–17 and B–24 aircraft based on North Africa. American bombers were developing a new technique for low altitude attacks. Experience in the South Pacific went to show that good results could be achieved in spite of heavy anti-aircraft fire, though the question of defense against fighters was another matter and must be taken into account since the Italian ships would be in ports out of range of our escorting fighters.

General Marshall then asked for an estimate on a time basis of the vulnerability of the Ploeşti oil fields to attack by aircraft based either on Aleppo or Libya.

Sir Charles Portal said he did not believe that an adequate scale of attack could be brought to bear except from Turkey or the mainland of Italy or Greece. Only B–24’s based on North Africa could reach the oil fields, and these were neither numerous enough nor [Page 39] were they as well able as the B–17’s to beat off an attack. If Turkish, Italian or Greek bases could be used, an attack should produce a very serious effect on the refineries, and hence on Germany’s petroleum situation.

General McNarney said that a plan which had great possibilities had been worked out for attacking Ploeşti oil fields by low level bombing attacks from bases in Bengasi, using 500-pound delay action bombs, the force to consist of 153 Heavy Bombers.7 He believed that such an attack would render any further operations against the refineries unnecessary for a period of some six months. This attack could be carried out without waiting for the Turkish or Italian air fields to be available, and the numbers required could easily be built up of B–24’s with some additional B–17’s temporarily diverted from the United Kingdom.

General Marshall said it was important in considering our future strategy to carefully assess the possibilities and destructive capacity of air attacks. We should take advantage of this strength in planning our future operations, particularly in the Mediterranean where it should be possible to use air power rather than additional ground forces. The enemy must not be allowed to relax, however. Damage to the Italian fleet might prove sufficient to release British surface vessels for employment in the Far East. The plan for Ploeşti outlined by General McNarney seemed well worth the gamble. The destructive power against fighters shown by the B–17’s had been encouraging, as had also their accuracy in bombing which had forced enemy fighter reaction to their attacks. Attacks on the Italian fleet, and on the oil fields of Ploeşti could be undertaken. These would not be too heavy a logistical burden. All these possibilities had a bearing on what could be achieved to hasten the collapse of Italy by air action alone. An Italian collapse might have a political reaction on the Turks which would enable us to get the use of their air bases. The results of our air superiority in Tunisia had proved crippling to the enemy.

Operation Husky should provoke further air fights which would weaken the enemy and might leave us in a position to bomb Italy almost unmolested. Since correct application of air power was all important, the Chiefs of Staff would deeply regret any failure to exploit a favorable opportunity which might be presented to use its cumulative effect in the Mediterranean at this time. Effective use of air power might enable us to economize in the use of ground forces in [Page 40] the Mediterranean Area. They would also deeply regret not being ready to make the final blow against Germany, if the opportunity presented itself, by reason of having dissipated ground forces in the Mediterranean Area.

Admiral Leahy asked for an estimate as to how long it would require to establish ourselves in a position in Turkey or in the heel of Italy to undertake air attacks on Ploeşti.

Sir Charles Portal said he estimated that from seven to nine weeks would be required before we could operate from Turkish air fields or from three to four weeks if a Turkish acceptance could be taken for granted and the necessary concentrations in Syria made beforehand. Air fields in Turkey sufficient to operate 25 squadrons were now available and air fields for another 20 squadrons should be ready by October. It was difficult to estimate the time factor if the heel of Italy was used. A considerable amount of shipping would be required, and the timing would depend on the amount of land forces engaged and requirements for tactical air forces which would take up the air fields otherwise available for the strategic bombing force. Broadly, he felt that it was unlikely that an air attack on Ploeşti could take place from Italian bases sooner than from seven to nine weeks after the launching of the land operations against the heel. He feared that an initial ineffective attack on Ploeşti might lead to great strengthening of the defenses. It was unwise to underestimate the meteorological and geographical difficulties in attacking this target. A very high degree of training and good luck with regard to the weather were essential.

Admiral Leahy emphasized the importance of the time element in bombing of the Ploeşti fields.

Admiral King said that the Russians might undertake an attack on Ploeşti since they had large air forces and bases near the target.

Sir Charles Portal said this had been suggested to the Russians, but he believed their air forces were too closely committed to the ground battle.

General Marshall said that permission had been sought from the Russians, prior to the first Ploeşti raid, for the U.S. aircraft to land in Russia.8 This permission, however, had been received a week too late to be of any use, and the Russians had never agreed to permit U.S. aircraft to take off for the raid from Russian fields.

Sir Charles Portal said that the British Chiefs of Staff had brought with them their study on the possibility of bombing Ploeşti and the results which would be achieved. He suggested that the [Page 41] Combined Chiefs of Staff should instruct the Combined Staff Planners to prepare a report on this matter.

Admiral King suggested that the Russians should again be approached on the desirability of bombing Ploeşti or the use of their air fields by U.S. or British bombers for this purpose.

Sir Charles Portal concurred.

Sir Alan Brooke agreed that full use must be made of air power in the Mediterranean but considered that this must be examined in relation to the whole picture of the value of knocking Italy out of the war.

General Marshall felt that in looking at the whole picture we should direct our attention to knocking Germany out of the war.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the enemy were certain to resist to the best of their ability our plans for putting shipping through the Mediterranean, and this should produce heavy air attacks. The enemy’s one hope of victory lay in the success of his operations by submarine and air against our surface ships. The capture of Sicily would help us to open the Mediterranean route, but even then Axis air based on Sardinia would endeavor to cut the line of communication.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff doubted if bombing by air alone would cause the collapse of Italy. If Italy collapsed, Germany would be faced with the necessity of taking over the garrisoning of the Balkans from the Italians. Some 43 Italian divisions were now employed on this task. The Germans might use fewer. If they used only 20, it would mean 20 less on the Russian Front. Further, unless Germany allowed us to occupy the whole of Italy, including her northern airports, Germany would have to send troops to resist our attacks. The Balkans were economically valuable to Germany. Troops could not be withdrawn from them altogether since Mihailovitch in Yugoslavia would rise and Greece and Albania would be inflamed. If we could knock out Italy and thus divert at least 20 divisions from the Russian Front, and if the Russians could keep up the pressure during 1943, the Germans might crack. It was essential, therefore, that we must use every means to insure a collapse of Italy.

Sir Alan Brooke said that if Italy should crumble as a result of Husky , we must consider what action should be taken. Troops for the occupation of Italy would be necessary. He did not believe that Germany would try to control an Italy which was not fighting. Continental communications were designed for an east and west flow of traffic. Communications north and south were bad, as were lateral communications along the southern outposts of German power in the Mediterranean. German resistance in Tunisia had crumbled’ more quickly than we had been led to expect from our previous knowledge [Page 42] of German troops. They had suffered a terrific defeat with loss of some 150,000 men. None of their North African troops were available to increase the defenses of Sicily. Operation Husky might be easier than we thought, and on the completion of a successful Husky , the Germans might be forced to divert troops to the various islands and threatened points in southern Europe.

Sir Alan Brooke said that he believed that German strategy on the Eastern Front would be mainly an offensive-defensive. They now only had 185 divisions on this front. No Italian divisions were left there and far fewer Hungarians and Roumanians. Action of ours in the Mediterranean, which would force the collapse of Italy, would necessitate the Germans withdrawing additional troops from Russia to meet Italian commitments, including the 7 Italian Divisions in southern France which would then be threatened by the Allies. An Anti-Fascist Government might request our support against the Germans or a state of anarchy might exist. The first alternative would be more difficult to deal with. In any event, German commitments resulting from the collapse of Italy would help our final re-entry into northern France, since only from there or from the Russian Front could the necessary additional troops be found.

The capture of Corsica and Sardinia would assist an attack on southern France, and since German forces would have to be diverted for the protection of this coast, the re-entry into north France would be assisted. He was entirely in agreement that air forces should be used to the maximum but linked with appropriate ground forces.

In reply to a question by General Marshall, Sir Dudley Pound said that the Germans now had a strong force including the Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, one pocket battleship, and one 8-inch cruiser concentrated in the north of Norway. An additional battle cruiser would not be fit for service for many months, and the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin, although completed, would probably not be operationally fit for several months. Admiral Doenitz, on assuming command, had stated that the whole German Navy would be used for an attack on shipping. This might mean that the crews of the surface ships might be used to reinforce the submarines or that the surface fleet itself would be used against our convoys. In this latter event the fleet could be more easily used to attack Russian convoys than to break out into the Atlantic. They were at present concentrated in the north in expectation of another convoy being run. The short nights of summer made it difficult for them to elude our very long range aircraft if they tried to break out in the Atlantic. No German tankers were known to have gone to sea, and this was usually the prelude to a breakout. [Page 43] He did not believe that a breakout was likely until the autumn. The degree of cooperation between the German and Japanese fleets was not known, but it was possible that the Japanese had convinced the Germans that the most useful purpose which their fleet could serve was to remain in harbor thus containing a superior British force.

Reverting to the revised Husky plan, Admiral King said that he appreciated the arguments in its favor. He was anxious, however, as to the lack of ports available in the early stages through which our forces could be maintained. The revised plan, however, had the merit of simplicity and concentration. He did not believe that the Italian fleet would try to pass through the Sicilian narrows though it was possible that it might attempt a passage through the Straits of Messina. He felt it unwise to overlook enemy naval potentialities in the Mediterranean. He asked for information with regard to the rehabilitation of the French fleet.

Sir Dudley Pound agreed with Admiral King as to the advantages of the new plan in that only one end of the island required cover. He believed that two French 6–inch cruisers and a few contre-torpilleurs were being repaired.

Admiral King, referring to Roundup , stated that the results of Sickle might prove to be overwhelming. We must be ready to exploit this by cross-Channel operations. It appeared to him that our large air forces could be used for destruction of critical bridges such as those across the Seine, ammunition and supply dumps and lines of communication. We must therefore be very firm in our determination to mount Roundup in April, 1944. He believed that the vast concentration of air forces available in the United Kingdom might prove the determining factor in the success of Continental operations.

Admiral Leahy said that it was generally agreed that the elimination of Italy would have extremely valuable results, but he agreed with Admiral King’s thought that it might be unwise to divert to or maintain in the Mediterranean forces which could be used in a cross-Channel assault or as a prelude to such an attack. If we weakened our potentialities for a cross-Channel assault by continuing to confine forces to the Mediterranean, it might preclude a major effort against Germany on the Western Front.

Sir Alan Brooke said that he believed that if we did not continue operations in the Mediterranean, then no possibility of an attack into France would arise. Even after a bridgehead had been established, we could get no further. The troops employed would for the most part be inexperienced. The force available, some 15 to 20 divisions, [Page 44] was small and could not be regarded in the same category as the vast Continental armies which were counted in 50’s and 100’s of divisions. Before undertaking operations across the Channel, it was essential that we should create the right situation to insure its success.

General Marshall stated that the discussion was now getting to the heart of the problem. Experience in Husky had shown that initial estimates of requirements were always exceeded. The only limit to Torch had been the availability of shipping. The Tunisian campaign had sucked in more and more troops. Operations invariably created a vacuum in which it was essential to pour in more and more means. Once undertaken the operation must be backed to the limit. He felt deeply concerned that the landing of ground forces in Italy would establish a vacuum in the Mediterranean which would preclude the assembly of sufficient forces in the United Kingdom to execute a successful cross-Channel operation and Germany would not collapse unless this occurred from air bombardment alone. If further Mediterranean operations were undertaken, then in 1943 and virtually all of 1944 we should be committed, except for air attacks on Germany, to a Mediterranean policy. This would entail a very serious state of affairs in the Pacific. It would mean a prolongation of the war in Europe, and thus a delay in the ultimate defeat of Japan, which the people of the U. S. would not tolerate. We were now at the crossroads—if we were committed to the Mediterranean, except for air alone, it meant a prolonged struggle and one which was not acceptable to the United States.

Admiral Leahy said that the Pacific could not be neglected; it was too vital to the United States. Immediate action was necessary to maintain China in the war. The war in Europe must be brought to a rapid decisive close at the earliest possible date.

Sir Alan Brooke said that he agreed that the European war must be ended as fast as possible. He believed, however, that to cease Mediterranean operations on the conclusion of Husky would lengthen the war. The seizure of the Brest Peninsula, which was all we could now achieve, would merely lock up 20 divisions. Russia was the only Ally in possession of large ground forces, and our strategy must aim to help her to the maximum possible extent. Only by continuing in the Mediterranean could we achieve the maximum diversion of German forces from Russia. The transshipment of Allied Divisions from the Mediterranean to England was a difficult shipping commitment. A lodgment in the Brest Peninsula would not be a decisive blow. There were only some ten to twelve British Divisions available in England.

General Marshall said that if a maximum effort was made, some [Page 45] eleven U. S. Divisions could be made available in the United Kingdom by April, 1944.

Sir Alan Brooke pointed out that these combined forces would only be sufficient to hold a bridgehead and would not be large enough to debouch into the Continent. Now was the time when action was required to relieve the pressure on Russia. No major operations would be possible until 1945 or 1946, since it must be remembered that in previous wars there had always been some 80 French Divisions available on our side. Any advance towards the Ruhr would necessitate clearing up behind the advancing Army and would leave us with long lines of communications. Our air force in U.K. was at present largely on a static basis though it was being converted now for use with the expeditionary force. The British manpower position was weak, and to provide the necessary rearward services for continental warfare, two of our twelve divisions now in U. K. would probably have to be cannibalized.

General Marshall said that it appeared that Roundup was still regarded as a vague conception. Did this mean that the British Chiefs of Staff regarded Mediterranean operations as the key to a successful termination of the European war?

Sir Charles Postal explained, that the British. Chiefs of Staff did not believe that a force of some 20 to 25 divisions could achieve important results across the Channel on the Continent of Europe unless almost the entire bulk of the German Army was in Russia or the Balkans. Our ability to operate across the Channel later was dependent on the extent to which we could help Russia now. This in turn was dependent on the possibilities of knocking out Italy this year. If this could be achieved, then in 1944 a succesful re-entry into northwest Europe might well be possible, but a re-entry now with some 12 to 15 divisions against the German forces available could achieve nothing.

Sir Alan Brooke said that he did not visualize an increase in the existing ground forces in the Mediterranean. The only cost would be in shipping to mount subsequent operations.

General Marshall, referring again to the build-up for Roundup , stated that if we were ever to get the forces in the United Kingdom, we must begin now. Further operations in the Mediterranean would, in his opinion, create a vacuum which would constitute a drain on our available resources.

Admiral Leahy asked if it was believed that the Russians would be satisfied with an attack on Italy if this meant postponement of Roundup .

[Page 46]

Sir Alan Brooke said that he was convinced that a Russian failure would prolong the war for many years. He believed it far better, from the Russian point of view, that Ave should attack Italy now rather than start preparing for cross-Channel operations which could not be of any real importance until 1944. What the Russians wished us to achieve was a withdrawal of German forces from their front. The problem was how this could best be done. He believed that only by attacking in the Mediterranean could we achieve immediate results and that this was more valuable than building up for a 1944 Roundup which, might not even then be possible.

General Marshall said that he thought that Sir Alan Brooke forgot the fact that there would be continual air operations in the Mediterranean. Germany would not know when Ave were about to strike a blow, and her troops would be contained in the area. We had built great hopes of crippling Germany by air attack, and he felt, therefore, that this would be more successful against Italy where the resistance would be less. He believed that land operations in the Mediterranean Area would prolong the European war and hence the time when a decision could be achieved in the Pacific. The build-up of forces in Great Britain for Bolero would constitute a threat which would demand a German reaction.

Sir Charles Portal said that he would be satisfied with this plan if he believed that Italy could be knocked out by air alone and that we could thus gain the Italian air fields on the plains of Lombardy and the occupation of Sardinia and Corsica. He was doubtful, however, if air alone would achieve the desired result. It had never been claimed that Germany could be knocked out by air alone, but rather that it would reduce her power to such an extent that her forces available against Russia and ourselves would be so weakened as to permit of her defeat. Our object was to assist Russia, and we must achieve this object as early as possible.

Sir Alan Brooke said that operations in the Mediterranean were important from the Turkish point of view. The Turkish attitude depended both on Russian successes and our operations against Italy. The additional shipping for operations in the Mediterranean could only be found at the expense of Bolero . The reduction in Bolero build-up resulting from the undertaking of operations in the Mediterranean would only be some three to four divisions in 1943 and none in 1944. Operations in the Mediterranean were not an unlimited commitment. We must take immediate advantage of the deterioration in Italian morale. Even if we occupied all Italy, a serious shipping commitment would not arise since the Italian ships would themselves [Page 47] be sufficient to bring nearly all the necessary food to Italy, and only some 10 ships a month would be required for coal.

Admiral King reminded the Chiefs of Staff of the danger of [to] the lines of communication to the Mediterranean passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. The Germans had not yet taken action in this area, but we might be faced with a difficult position if they concentrated submarines in the approaches.

Sir Dudley Pound said that on a previous occasion when the Germans had operated in the actual approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar, they had suffered serious losses.

In reply to a question by Admiral Leahy, Sir Alan Brooke said that the advantages of obtaining the Azores were obvious. An examination had been made of possible German reactions. A German advance into Spain and Portugal would require some 15 to 20 divisions and would be met with resistance, if only guerrilla. The Germans would then be faced with a difficult economic situation and the logistic problem of bad communications and different rail gauge. The British Chiefs of Staff did not believe that Germany would undertake this operation. A difficult situation, however, existed with regard to Portugal. If we ask the Portuguese to allow us the use of the Azores, she might well require a guarantee from us that she would be defended. This would be difficult to give since it would entail keeping forces and ships ready to meet this commitment. It would therefore be desirable, if possible, to give Portugal no guarantee and to assure her that the risk of a German reaction was very remote.

Admiral Leahy said that this seemed largely a political question. It was unwise to offer guarantees and better to take the islands without previous notice, at the same time giving assurance that they would be returned to Portugal at the end of the war.

Sir Hastings Ismay said that the British were in a difficult position since they had entered into negotiations with the Portuguese and had staff conversations with a view to assisting Portugal in defending the islands against attack. It might therefore be better for the United States to occupy these islands.

General Marshall suggested that a possible timing for the occupation of the Azores might be just after Husky had been launched in order to utilize the shipping returning from this operation. There were sufficient troops in Northwest Africa for use in Portugal.

Sir Hastings Ismay said that a telegram had just been received from the British Cabinet stating that the Foreign Secretary believed that the Portuguese might agree to an occupation of the islands. He [Page 48] offered to circulate to the Combined Chiefs of Staff a British study on the whole problem.9

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

That nothing be considered as an agreed decision during the Trident Conferences which does not appear in the conclusions of the minutes.
That during the Trident Conferences the conclusions of each meeting be read and approved as the first item of the succeeding meeting.
That when any Summaries of Conclusions are given to the President and the Prime Minister during the period of the Conference, it should be explained to them that these would only be tentative and that, at the end of the Conference, a final Agreed Summary of Conclusions would be submitted.
That in the preparation of the Final Summary of Conclusions, effort should be made to set out an order of priority of existing and projected strategic undertakings.
That at the end of the 84th Meeting the Combined Staff Planners should be directed to prepare a detailed agenda for the remaining Conferences.
Agreed that the possibilities of launching a decisive air attack on the Ploeşti Oil Fields from Russia should be explored by the Combined Staff Planners.
Took note that a paper that had been prepared by the British Chiefs of Staff on the subject of the use of Portuguese Islands in the Atlantic would be circulated to the Combined Chiefs of Staff as a basis of future discussion.

  1. Post, p. 222.
  2. Post, p. 223.
  3. On April 13, 1943, the Combined Chiefs of Staff had accepted July 10 as the date for Operation Husky . For a discussion of the selection of this invasion date, see Garland and Smyth, pp. 88–89.
  4. The revised plan for Husky was accepted by Eisenhower in early May 1943. For an account of the formulation of this revised plan, see Garland and Smyth, chapter iii.
  5. The reference here is presumably to telegram Naf 215, May 4, 1943, from Eisenhower in Algiers for the Combined Chiefs of Staff, which outlined the revised plan for Husky . For text, see Eisenhower Papers, p. 1112.
  6. The early planning for the air attack of August 1, 1943, against the Ploeşti oil facilities is described in James Dugan and Carroll Stewart, Ploesti: The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943 (New York: Random House, 1962), pp. 36–39.
  7. For an account of the circumstances of the American air raid against Ploeşti on June 11, 1942, see Dugan and Stewart, Ploeşti, chapter i; see also Craven and Gate, vol. ii, p. 10.
  8. Report by the British Chiefs of Staff Committee entitled “Use of Portuguese Atlantic Islands” was circulated for consideration by the Combined Chiefs of Staff as C.C.S. 226, May 15, 1943, post, p. 304.