J.C.S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

1. Strategic Concept for the Defeat of the Axis in Europe
(C.C.S. 3033–303/l4)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff discussed in closed session the strategic concept for the defeat of the Axis in Europe.

[Page 871]

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Agreed to give further consideration to this subject at their next meeting.

2. Conclusions of 108th Meeting

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Accepted the conclusions of the 108th Meeting. The detailed record of the meeting was also accepted, subject to minor amendments.5

3. “ Pointblank
(C.C.S. 3096 and C.C.S. 252/27)

Sir Charles Portal gave certain figures with regard to the progress of the combined bomber offensive. Since the beginning of the war the Royal Air Force had dropped 136,000 tons of bombs on Germany, 73,000 tons of which had been dropped within the last seven months. In the first quarter of 1943 17,000 tons had been dropped by night and in the second quarter as much as 35,000 tons.

The damage caused by the air offensive was difficult to assess in precise terms, but he would like to draw attention to certain points in the report by the Joint Intelligence Committee8 which had been circulated to the U.S. Chiefs of Staff.

Only one-third of the German industry had been under heavy attack for three months. The effect of these attacks had fallen mainly on the basic industries in the Ruhr. Hence, the effect of the attack on the forces in the field was not immediate and results on these forces would increase as time went on. A further result of the attacks was the forcing on Germany of a defensive air strategy. In addition, they produced a serious drain on Germany’s manpower.

With regard to the submarine war, it was estimated that no less than 30 U–boats less than the planned program had been produced between June 1942 and June 1943. As a result of damage already inflicted an additional loss in U–boat construction would result, amounting to some 12 or 13 boats over the next six months.

Morale had also been seriously affected. Casualties were heavy and great destruction of industrial homes had occurred. It was estimated that some 422,000 workers had been rendered homeless and an additional 1,800,000 had suffered damage to their homes which was irreparable, since the necessary consumer goods to replace those destroyed were not available. The report stated that the bombing had affected the outlook of the population with regard to the regime, the war effort as a whole and willingness to hold out.

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Damage to Krupps Works had decreased output from 50 to 75 percent and this was in addition to damage to other similar industries. The U.S. Air Force attack on the synthetic rubber plant had reduced the total rubber supply by 15 percent. Transportation was also dislocated and Germany’s plan for an expansion of locomotive production had been nullified by the destruction of locomotives and their manufacturing and repair facilities.

He had felt it right that he should put forward a memorandum on the air offensive in view of the task of coordination given him by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Casablanca.9 Further, the day and night offensives were complementary and a heavy scale of daylight bombing rendered the task of the night bombers easier, since the Germans were being forced to use night fighters ‘against daylight attacks.

The present situation had both good and bad features. On the one hand, German fighter strength was stretched almost to breaking point, and in spite of their precarious situation on the Russian and Mediterranean fronts, they had found it necessary to reinforce their fighter forces on the Western Front from these sources. On the other hand, the expansion of German fighter strength was continuing and had increased 13 percent during this year. It had been hoped that this expansion would by now have been stopped. The 8th Air Force, who were achieving a great task with their existing resources, believed that they could achieve even greater successes if their strength was increased.

He asked the Combined Chiefs of Staff to take action to make a victory in the battle of the air as certain as possible before the autumn. If this was not done, the Germans, by a conservation of their strength and by the development of new methods of defense, might be in an unassailable position by the spring. To achieve our object diversions from the 8th Air Force should be stopped, loans of aircraft from the 8th Air Force to other theaters must be returned, and the bomber command of the 8th Air Force must be built up and reinforced to the maximum possible. Such steps would, he was convinced, be amply justified.

With regard to the employment of the aircraft used for Tidalwave , he considered that whether employed from the Mediterranean or from England, they should be under the command of the 8th Air Force and devoted to attacks on fighter factories. They should, in fact, revert to a part of the Pointblank forces and not be left under the control of General Eisenhower, whose air forces were already considerable.

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Admiral Leahy said that the United States Chiefs of: Staff had examined Sir Charles Portal’s paper, and that they were in full accord with the views expressed and wished to reaffirm that every resource within United States capabilities was being strained to provide the maximum reinforcement of Pointblank .

Admiral King referred to a directive to General Eisenhower ( Fan 17210), in which he was instructed that follow-up attacks on Ploeşti were to follow attacks on fighter factories. He was not clear as to how far the missions referred to in this telegram had been accomplished. It might now be necessary to modify the instructions with regard to follow-up attacks on Ploeşti.

Sir Charles Portal said he believed that at Trident only one attack on Ploeşti had been decided on.11 A second attack would have serious results on Pointblank .

Admiral King pointed out that General Eisenhower’s latest signal (C.C.S. 252/2) requested the use of the B–24’s against Italian targets after the completion of their attacks on the fighter factories. General Eisenhower visualized further attacks on Ploeşti being carried out after the aircraft were established in Italy.

General Arnold outlined the losses suffered in the Ploeşti raid; of the 178 aircraft dispatched, 54, including 51 crews, had been lost. The results had been excellent, with eight out of nine targets hit and five of them almost totally destroyed. The casualties had, at least in part, been caused by the loss of the leader of the formation at the outset. This had necessitated reorganization and an attack which was not completely coordinated. It might be impossible to ask crews to sustain a loss of 33 percent in more than one operation.

With regard to Pointblank, General Arnold said that in the month of July 25 attacks had been made, with a loss rate of 7.4 percent per mission, as compared with an average loss rate throughout the period of their operations of 6.7 percent. 3,400 tons of bombs had been dropped in July.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note of C.C.S. 309 and of the following comment submitted by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff:

“The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff are in full accord with the views of the British Chiefs of Staff that the maximum reinforcement of Pointblank , particularly over the period of intense combat with the German [Page 874] Fighter Air Force immediately ahead, is a subject of the most critical importance, and wish to reaffirm that every resource within U.S. capabilities is being strained to bring this about.”

Agreed to defer action on C.C.S. 252/2.12

  1. Ante, p. 472.
  2. Post, p. 1023.
  3. The amendments referred to have been incorporated in the minutes of the 108th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff as printed ante, p. 862.
  4. Post, p. 1018.
  5. See ante, p. 584.
  6. Of. C.C.S. 300/1, ante, p. 453.
  7. See Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Washington, 1941–1942, and Casablanca, 1943, p. 795.
  8. This message, dated July 23, 1943, read as follows: “The Combined Chiefs of Staff have agreed that the first attack on Tidalwave should precede attack on fighter factories and latter should take place as soon afterwards as coordinated plan with 8th Air Force can be arranged. Followup attacks on Tidalwave to follow attacks on fighter factories.” (J.C.S. Files)
  9. See ante, pp. 39, 106108.
  10. By subsequent informal action, the Combined Chiefs of Staff agreed that the three B–24 groups referred to in this paper (see ante, p. 584) should revert to the operational control of the Eighth Air Force (J.C.S. Files).