J.C.S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

1. Strategic Concept for the Defeat of the Axis in Europe
(C.C.S. 3034 and 303/25)

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

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Accepted the extract from C.C.S. 303 which is set forth in C.C.S. 303/2 as a brief and concise statement of their agreed strategic concept for operations in the European Theater in 1943–44.
Directed the Secretariat to put C.C.S. 303/2 in proper form with a view to its being submitted to the President and Prime Minister. (Subsequently circulated as C.C.S. 303/3.6)

[Page 876]

2. Italian Peace Feelers

The Combined Chiefs of Staff considered a draft memorandum7 for the President and Prime Minister prepared by the British Chiefs of Staff.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Approved with certain ‘amendments, for submission to the President and Prime Minister, a paper setting out the action suggested on the Italian peace feelers. (Subsequently published as C.C.S. 311.8)
Directed that a signal should be sent at once to General Eisenhower warning him to hold two staff officers in readiness to proceed to Lisbon. (Message sent as Fan 195.9)

3. Conclusions of the Previous Meeting

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Accepted the conclusions of the 109th Meeting. The detailed record of the meeting was also accepted, subject to minor amendments.10

4. Specific Operations in the Pacific and Far East 1943–1944
(C.C.S. 30111)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them a memorandum by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff outlining their views on operations to be undertaken in 1943–1944 in the Pacific and Far East.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff had read this memorandum with great interest. There were certain points he would like to raise. Was not the assumption that Russia would remain at peace unnecessarily pessimistic? Was an actual invasion of Japan necessarily essential; might we not obtain the collapse of Japan without invasion?

In a discussion on these two subjects it was pointed out that while Russia had everything to gain by attacking Japan, it might well be that she would wait to do so until the defeat of Japan had been almost completely accomplished.

It was also generally agreed that while blockade and air bombardment might produce the collapse of Japan without invasion, it was [Page 877] necessary to plan on the assumption that the country itself would have to be attacked by land forces.

In reply to a question by Sir Alan Brooke as to the forces required to obtain the objectives outlined in C.C.S. 301, Admiral Cooke explained that an estimate of the forces required for the various operations had been prepared12 and was being handed over to the British Planning Staff.

Sir Alan Brooke suggested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should return to a further consideration of C.C.S. 301 and to the plan for operations from India after a review of the report by the Combined Planning Staff on the strategic concept for the defeat of Japan. Each set of operations could then be considered in relation to the whole war against Japan and to the forces required.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff were informed that it was hoped that the report by the Combined Staff Planners would be ready on the following day.

Admiral Leahy pointed out that it was essential for the Combined Chiefs of Staff to take decisions with regard to the specific operations in 1943–1944 during the Conference.

In a further discussion of C.C.S. 301, Sir Alan Brooke asked whether it was considered essential, in order to retain the initiative, that both the advance into the Mandated Islands and New Guinea should be pressed forward with vigor. Might this not prove too costly, and a better course be to restrict operations in New Guinea, thus possibly releasing resources for Operation Overlord?

Admiral King said that he considered that if forces were so released, they should be concentrated on the Island thrust in the Pacific. However, he believed that both advances were complementary and equally essential. The western advance through Truk, could, after the capture of that base, be swung either north or continue to the westward. Thus the two thrusts would either converge on the Philippines, or one would be directed to the Marianas.

General Marshall pointed out that the troops to be employed in New Guinea were either already there or in transit. Thus, no saving could be made, and the only decision with regard to the troops was whether or not we could afford to take the heavy casualties which might be incurred. Supplies in the New Guinea area, owing to Japanese air action, were maintained almost entirely by 150-foot vessels, and thus no saving in cargo ships or combat loaders would be effected by [Page 878] limiting these operations. Landing craft might be saved, but not tank landing craft. With regard to air, though a small saving might be achieved, all the heavy bombers required for the operations had already been deployed in the area.

Sir Charles Portal said that it was not considered that operations in New Guinea should be discontinued, but rather that they should be limited to a holding role. The Island advance would cut across the Japanese lines of approach to the south.

Admiral Kino explained that the landing craft used in the Kiska operation were required for operations in the Central Pacific. For this reason it had been essential not to delay the operations in the Aleutians.

General Marshall explained that certain landing craft were still being sent to the Southwest Pacific to meet attrition. He believed that the New Guinea operations were causing very important losses to the Japanese, particularly in aircraft.

Sir Alan Brooke suggested that C.C.S. 301 should include a reference to the air route through Burma into China.

It was generally agreed that a reference to the air route should be inserted, since it was the only existing line of supply into China and must also be considered in relation to the limited capacity of the lines of communication through Assam.

With regard to the value of Chinese troops, General Marshall said that there were some 60 or 70 thousand at Ramgarh and about 200,000 in Yunnan. He believed that they might have great value in the land operations in China provided that they were properly trained and led. He did not visualize a vast Chinese Army being built up.

These troops would have to be led by U.S. officers even though the nominal control of the army, for “face saving” purposes, would be in Chinese hands. They must also be provided with adequate air and artillery support. He believed that if these conditions were met, and if their first operations were crowned with success, they would be of considerable value.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Directed the Secretariat to draft a subparagraph for inclusion in paragraph 8 of C.C.S. 301 on the subject of the development of the air route into China.13
Agreed to defer action on this paper until after consideration of the long-term plan for the defeat of Japan.

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5. Operations Against Japan From India, 1943–1944

Sir Alan Brooke said that though the recent floods might force us to change our strategy in this area, he would suggest that the discussion should start on the basis of our present plans. The British Chiefs of Staff had been examining the possibilities of the use of long-range penetration groups which, operating well ahead of the main advances, would by long outflanking movements cut the enemy’s supply lines. They themselves would be largely maintained by air. It was proposed to expand the number of these units now available to some six brigade groups. He suggested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff might ask Brigadier Wingate to explain his recent operation with a long-range penetration group and to set out his views on their future employment. After this the Combined Chiefs of Staff would wish to hear the report of General Somervell and General Riddell-Webster on the repercussions on planned operations of the recent floods.

Brigadier Wingate explained the tactical employment of long-range penetration groups and the reason for their introduction. He then outlined the course of the operations of the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade and put forward his views with regard to the future employment of long-range penetration groups in conjunction with main advances aimed at the recapture of Northern Burma.

In summing up, Brigadier Wingate pointed out that there were two main features in the employment of these groups; firstly, their whole object must be to prepare the way for the follow-up of the main advance and their employment, based on the object of dislocating enemy communications, must fit into the main plan; secondly, plans for the use of these groups must be elastic and open to alteration in the light of enemy reactions.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff had decided to form six long-range brigade groups and to this end a comb-out of suitable personnel from the Indian Army would be undertaken. One of the difficulties was the lack of trained officers who had served with native troops and could speak their language. The operations outlined by Brigadier Wingate would enable us to seize sufficient of North Burma to open a road to China. These operations must continue until the break of the monsoon in order to avoid a Japanese reaction before the rains started. It was possible that in the second phase, long-range penetration groups might be used, operating from the coast through to the Mandalay-Rangoon line of communication. He suggested that on the following day General Somervell and General Riddell-Webster’s report on the effect of the flood should be studied, together with operations against Akyab or Sumatra, which latter might prove necessary were it found that the floods would seriously hamper operations in Burma,

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The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Agreed to defer action until after consideration of the long-term plan for the defeat of Japan.

  1. Ante, p. 472.
  2. “Strategic Concept for the Defeat of the Axis in Europe”, August 16, 1943; not printed. See fn. 2 to C.C.S. 303/3, post, p. 1024.
  3. Post, p. 1024.
  4. Not printed.
  5. “Italian Peace Feelers”, August 17, 1943; not printed. For the final text of the directive based on this paper, as dispatched to Eisenhower by the Combined Chiefs of Staff with the approval of Roosevelt and Churchill, see post, p. 1160.
  6. Post, p. 1055.
  7. The amendments referred to have been incorporated in the minutes of the 109th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff as printed ante, p. 870.
  8. Ante, p. 426.
  9. Not printed.
  10. See C.C.S. 301/1, post, p. 971.