J.C.S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

1. Conclusions of the Previous Meeting

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Accepted the conclusions of the 111th Meeting. The detailed record of the meeting was also accepted, subject to minor amendments.4

2. Progress Report to the President and Prime Minister

The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them a draft progress report to the President and Prime Minister.5

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Approved the Progress Report to the President and Prime Minister.

3. “ Habbakuks”
(C.C.S. 3156–315/l7)

Lord Louis Mountbatten said that Habbakuks might be regarded as floating seadromes or giant aircraft carriers. They could be used as floating advance landing grounds and could form a staging base for air attacks. They might ultimately be used for four-engined heavy bombers. He outlined the principal characteristics of the three types. He then referred to pykrete, the material from which it was proposed to construct Habbakuk II. This might prove a strategic material of which there was an abundant supply. It was formed of a frozen mixture of diluted pulp and water, the latest type of which contained 94 per cent water. He gave details of the characteristics and strength of this material. A thousand ton model had been built and had spent the summer in Lake Jasper, refrigeration being maintained by means of an engine of only 15 horsepower. He wished to emphasize that a Habbakuk II, constructed of pykrete, had no limit to its size. Four-engined bombers could use them if they were built of sufficient dimensions or if adequate arrester gear and assisted take-off could be arranged.

Sir Charles Portal said that the British Chiefs of Staff regarded Habbakuk II as essentially a Pacific project. General Arnold had mentioned the difficulty of providing adequate bases in the Islands for the deployment of air forces for the bombardment of Japan. It would be a long time before the supply route to China allowed the maintenance [Page 891] of large air forces in that country and therefore the Habbakuks might be regarded as strategic bases or staging points for air attacks against Japan and would thus fill a gap in our facilities. They could be provided without impinging on other programs.

Admiral King said that he would agree to accept the recommendations contained in paragraph 8 b of C.C.S. 315.

In reply to a question by General Arnold, Lord Louis Mount-batten said that it was proposed that experiments and construction of pykrete sections for Habbakuk II should proceed during the coming winter. If these experiments proved successful, construction could start in the spring of 1944 and the completed Habbakuk be ready by the spring of 1945. In the meanwhile no delay must occur in the preparation of plans and construction of sites for the building of the Habbakuks. He asked that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should also approve the setting up of a U.S.-British-Canadian Board to press on with the whole matter, not only with regard to the winter experiments and the preparation of sites, but also with the preparation of drawings for the completed Habbakuk . This Board should, in order to insure results, be asked to report monthly to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

Professor Bernal demonstrated with the aid of samples of pykrete the various qualities of this material.8

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note of paragraphs a, b, and c, of C.C.S. 315/1.
Agreed to the construction of a section of Habbakuk II, the continuation of design, and the study of the construction and of the facilities necessary for a full-size ship. This agreement to be incorporated as paragraph d in C.C.S. 315/1.
Agreed that the appropriate United States, British and Canadian authorities should be invited to set up a Board forthwith to press on with the action agreed in b above, and to report progress monthly to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

4. Landing Craft

a. Manning of Landing Graft

(C.C.S. 286/39)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Agreed to the modified proposal put forward by the British Chiefs of Staff in paragraph 2 of C.C.S. 286/3.

[Page 892]

b. Allocation of Landing Craft—Operation Overlord —Vehicle Lift

(C.C.S. 31410)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Agreed with the proposal of the British Chiefs of Staff in paragraph 4 of C.C.S. 314 that the possibility of arranging an increase in the number of LCT(6) available for Overlord from American sources should be explored.

c. Allocation of Landing Ships and Craft—American Production

(C.C.S. 314/111–314/212)

Lord Louis Mountbatten explained that under the present ruling the Combined Munitions Assignments Board would feel themselves bound to allocate landing craft only to specifically projected operations. In order that the British should be able to play their part in operations in the Pacific, it was necessary for them to enter and train adequate personnel to man landing craft. If the present ruling were followed landing craft could be only allocated for specifically agreed operations which at present did not exist in the Pacific Theater. The British assault force which was in fact available and used for Operations Torch and Husky had of necessity been built up before these actual operations were decided on. He felt that the allocation of landing craft should be based on agreed strategy rather than on agreed operations.

General Marshall said that the present position was such that there was everywhere a deficit of landing craft. Our operations were limited in many cases solely by the lack of these vessels. In view of this overall deficiency, he felt it essential to retain the ruling that landing craft should be allocated only to specifically agreed operations.

Admiral King said he would like to know the future construction program for landing craft in the United Kingdom. He appreciated the necessity for the provision of landing craft for training purposes.

Admiral King then suggested a modification to proposal 3b, in C.C.S. 314/1, designed to meet Lord Louis Mountbatten’s point.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Approved paragraph 3b of the enclosure to C.C.S. 314/1 modified to read as follows:

“That the British should now work out their training requirements and submit requests for a corresponding share of U.S. production in 1944–45.”

[Page 893]

5. Use of “Plough” Force
(C.C.S. 31613)

General Marshall said that the U.S. Chiefs of Staff agreed with the proposal that the capabilities of the Plough force should be communicated to General Eisenhower and General Morgan who should be asked to report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff whether these forces could be usefully employed in their theaters. This force had already been ordered to withdraw from Kiska.

Lord Louis Mountbatten suggested that it would assist the two commanders if a United States officer from Plough force could proceed to the two theaters to give details of the capabilities of the force. He himself could also send an officer.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note that Admiral Nimitz and General De Witt had been directed to return the Plough force to the United States on the first available transportation.
Concurred in the proposal presented in paragraph 4 of the enclosure to C.C.S. 316.

6. Equipping Allies, Liberated Forces and Friendly Neutrals
(C.C.S. 31714)

Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff had not yet had time to consider this paper.

General Marshall put forward certain amendments15 to the paper, which were suggested by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note of certain amendments presented by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff.
Agreed to defer action on the paper until the next meeting.

7. Special Operations in Sardinia

General Marshall said that though he had no reports from the theater commander on the matter, General Donovan had informed him of the excellent work accomplished by O.S.S. personnel in Sicily. He had felt that even better results could have been obtained if they had been allowed to land prior to the operation, or at least in the first wave. He (General Marshall) believed that since no immediate military operations were planned against Sardinia, it would be well worthwhile to allow O.S.S. and S.O.E. to operate freely in this island. They might succeed in enabling an unopposed landing to be achieved or to seize airfields or other strategic points and hold them as centers of resistance. [Page 894] He had not, of course, as yet discussed this matter with General Donovan.

General Marshall then presented a draft telegram to General Eisenhower suggesting that O.S.S. and S.O.E. should be given a free hand to operate in the island of Sardinia.16

Sir Alan Brooke asked for time to consider this proposal.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note of a proposal submitted by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff that General Eisenhower be requested to comment on a suggestion to gain an unopposed occupation of Sardinia by fifth column activities.

  1. The amendments referred to have been incorporated in the minutes of the 111th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff as printed ante, p. 881.
  2. Enclosure to C.C.S. 319, August 19, 1943, post, pp. 992, 1037.
  3. Post, p. 989.
  4. Post, p. 991.
  5. Somewhat varied and amusing accounts of this demonstration, which included firing shots at a block of ice and at a sample of pykrete, are given in Alanbrooke, p. 584, Arnold, p. 444, King, pp. 486–487, Leahy, pp. 178–179, Leasor, pp. 136–137, and Churchill, Closing the Ring, pp. 90–91.
  6. Post, p. 1026.
  7. Post, p. 1027.
  8. Post, p. 989.
  9. Post, p. 991.
  10. Post, p. 1028.
  11. Post, p. 1029.
  12. The amendments referred to have not been identified, although they may have been those later circulated in C.C.S. 317/1, August 21, 1943. See post, pp. 10311032, fns. 9, 11–13.
  13. See C.C.S. 318, “Sardinia, Fifth Column Activities”, August 19, 1943, post, p. 1068.