Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes
At the request of the Prime Minister, Brigadier Jacob read C.C.S. 819/3[319/42], a draft of the Final Report from the Combined Chiefs of Staff to the President and Prime Minister containing the conclusions of the Quadrant Conferences.
There was no comment on Sections I, II, and III.
1. Facilities in the Azores Islands
With reference to Section IV, paragraph 1 b, The Prime Minister asked if any measures had been taken as yet to prepare a combined British-U.S. convoy including escorts ‘and air support to move to the Azores about two weeks after the original British occupation on 8 October.
Admiral King said that arrangements would be made for such a convoy to leave the United States on or about 20 October.
2. Emergency Operation To Enter the Continent
The President asked if a study was being made regarding an emergency entrance of the Continent and indicated that he desired United Nations troops to be ready to get to Berlin as soon as did the Russians.
General Brooke replied that General Morgan’s staff had prepared plans for such an entry3 and that they were based on several contingencies. These include ‘a weakening of German resistance, a withdrawal of the German forces from France, or a complete German collapse.
3. Operation “Overlord”
The Prime Minister stated that he wished it definitely understood that British acceptance of the planning for Operation Overlord included the proviso that the operation could only be carried out in the event that certain conditions regarding German strength were met. These included the number of German divisions to be in France and a definite superiority over the German fighter force at the time of the initial assault. Further, that if it developed that the German ground or air fighter strength proved to be greater than that upon which success of the plan was premised, the question as to whether or not the operations should be launched would be subject to review by the Combined [Page 943] Chiefs of Staff. In this connection he suggested that the United Nations have a “second string to their bow” in the form of a prepared plan to undertake Operation Jupiter . He did not in any way wish to imply that he was not wholeheartedly in favor of Overlord , but, at the same time, he wished to emphasize that its launching was dependent upon certain conditions which would give it a reasonable chance for success.
It was decided that the Final Report to the President and Prime Minister should include a paragraph which would provide for continued planning for the launching of Operation Jupiter in the event that Overlord should have to be abandoned.4
The Prime Minister also discussed the question of moving seven trained divisions from the Mediterranean to England. He agreed that at this time the decision to return the seven divisions to England was firm but that it was subject to review by the Combined Chiefs of Staff if the strategic situation seemed to make such review advisable. He asked General Brooke if that was definitely understood.
General Brooke said that at the present time it was planned that the seven trained divisions would return from the Mediterranean to England to participate in Overlord unless the situation forced the Combined Chiefs of Staff to reconsider this decision. This decision of course would be dependent upon the enemy situation at the time. It might be necessary to keep one or two of these trained divisions in the Mediterranean in order to create a more favorable situation for the success of Overlord or to avoid a setback in Italy.
The Prime Minister said that if it becomes necessary to make an interchange of divisions between England and the Mediterranean, it might be clone without prejudice to the move of the seven divisions by exchanging others. For example, it might be necessary to send out a second Canadian division to complete a Canadian Corps and bring home a British division in its place. Meanwhile, he stated he had heard Brigadier MacLean give a presentation of the Overlord plan and that it seemed sound, but should be strengthened.
General Marshall agreed to this and pointed out that actually there would be four and one-half divisions in the initial assault rather than a force of three divisions which had been suggested at the last conference with the President and the Prime Minister.5
The Prime Minister asked if this would include an attack on the inside of the Cotentin Peninsula.
General Marshall said the present plans would not provide for such an operation but that if more landing craft could be made [Page 944] available there was a possibility that this landing would be included in the initial assault.
The Prime Minister expressed some surprise that the Commander in Chief, Portsmouth,6 had been designated as Naval Commander and he indicated that he had always thought of this officer as having administrative rather than outstanding tactical ability. He agreed with the choice of Air Commander in Chief.7
Sir Dudley Pound said that he felt that the Commander in Chief, Portsmouth was the logical person to be given this command, particularly at this time. During the preliminary phases much of the naval planning and operations had to be accomplished between adjoining naval commands in Great Britain and he was the logical person to coordinate it. He said that if later events indicated the desirability, there would be no difficulty in designating a new commander.
The Prime Minister said that he had thought of giving this position to Admiral Ramsay who had been in command of the British naval operations in the attack on Sicily under the Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean. He would accept the present arrangement only if it were subject to review on the appointment of the Supreme Commander.
In discussing the transport of troops across the channel, the President recalled that in 1917 two light American passenger vessels, the Harvard and the Yale, had been sent to England and had been utilized very successfully in transporting troops across the channel. He suggested that the world should be combed to see if vessels of this type could not be made available and thus increase the troop lift from England to France.
Admiral King said that the United States had been pretty well explored in this connection but he would see what else could be done.8
The Prime Minister indicated the possibility of asking Canada to help out in this respect.
4. Operations in Italy and Southern France
The Prime Minister said that there had recently been rumors that the Germans were planning to defend the Ravenna–Genoa Line in Italy, which is about 50 or 60 miles north of the Ancona–Pisa Line. He thought that our forces should proceed as far beyond their objective as possible with the troops allocated for the purpose.[Page 945]
Sir Alan Brooke said that he felt the Germans must defend on the forward or southern slope of the Apennines, in which case they would be somewhat south of the Ravenna–Genoa Line.
Admiral King agreed with this and thought that the terrain dictated a German defense on the Leghorn–Ancona position.
The Prime Minister felt that the further north in Italy the United Nations were able to progress, the easier would become the supply of guerrillas who might be assembled in the Maritime Alps. In this connection he said he was glad to see that steps had already been taken to investigate the possibility of intensifying fifth column activities in Sardinia.9 He thought that organizations such as the O.S.S. and the British S.O.E. should certainly enter Sardinia at this time. However, he suggested that if Italy capitulates, Sardinia would probably come into our hands without a struggle.
Sir Alan Brooke said that there were conflicting reports in this regard. One was that the Germans would attempt to hold Sardinia and another was that they were assembling landing craft between Sardinia and Corsica for the purpose of effecting an evacuation.
The Prime Minister said that if an advance into Southern France appeared to be likely he thought that General Giraud and General de Gaulle should be brought into consultation by General Eisenhower and that French forces should be fully utilized.
The President indicated that he felt guerrilla operations could be initiated in south central France as well as in the Maritime Alps.
5. The War Against Japan
The Prime Minister said that he was glad to see that the Chiefs of Staff included provision that plans should be made for the defeat of Japan within 12 months after the collapse of Germany; this at least would be a target towards which we should work and it discouraged planning on the basis of a prolonged war of attrition.
The paragraphs concerning operations in the Central Pacific were read and The Prime Minister suggested that these should result in bringing on a naval battle with the Japanese Fleet.
Admiral King said that was one of their main purposes but he did not feel that a large battle would develop until our forces had reached the Marianas.
6. Operations in the India–Burma–China Theater
The Prime Minister then asked for an explanation of what was meant by the directive to the Commanding General of the Southeast Asia Command that he should give priority to operations in Northern [Page 946] Burma but at the same time keep in mind the long-term necessities for improving the lines of communication.
Sir Alan Brooke said that priority must be set between operations and the maintenance of the lines of communications. This directive to the Commanding General, Southeast Asia Command, had been put forward to emphasize the importance of the Burma operations and, at the same time, to caution him to take a long-range view of the necessity for building up his lines of communication, without which no communications would be possible.
General Arnold pointed out to the President that in giving priority to the operations in Northern Burma, the delivery of supplies into China might be reduced. He said he did not disagree with the decision but he had been charged with the responsibility for the delivery of supplies to China and he wished to point out that giving first priority to the reconquest of Northern Burma might make it impossible for him completely to fulfill his responsibility.
The Prime Minister said that this would be largely a matter of judgment for the commander on the ground. He cited the necessity of sending some 2,000 men to Yunnan as part of General Wingate’s force to cover the Chinese advance from Yunnan. This would be an instance in which the delivery of supplies to China would be temporarily but justifiably interfered with.
The President said that he wished to establish some proviso which would prevent commanders on the supply lines in China confiscating supplies intended for China for use in their own theaters.
General Marshall replied that he thought that situation had been pretty well taken care of However, he said that it was necessary for someone on the ground to have authority to make decisions regarding priorities. He said that if, for example, it was arbitrarily decided to use the entire capacity of the air transport route to supply General Chennault with gasoline, this very decision might jeopardize the success of the Burma operations which in themselves were essential to keeping China in the war.
The Prime Minister then referred to studies that were directed in the report submitted by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. He said that as far as he was concerned he had no objection to a study being made regarding the capture of Singapore but he was very much opposed to such an operation being adopted for 1945 if action in 1944 was thereby curtailed.
He would personally be quite unable to agree to an operation for the capture of Akyab and Ramree as the main amphibious operation for the Indian Ocean in 1944. At the Trident Conference, the capture of Akyab had been spoken of as a preliminary to operations in Southern [Page 947] Burma for the capture of Rangoon.10 Rangoon had then been dropped out for 1943–44, but Akyab had been retained, mainly to please Chiang Kai-shek. Later developments showed that the capture of Akyab would be a dangerous, sterile and costly operation directed against a point where the Japanese would be expecting attack. If we undertook it, we would hamstring operations in the Indian Ocean area to little purpose. He was quite prepared for a study of the operation to be made, and it might well prove right to carry it out as a sequel to some more profitable operation elsewhere; but he would not himself be able to subscribe to it as our main amphibious operation in the coming year.
The President said General Wingate had informed him that the capture of Rangoon would not cut the Japanese line of communications since they were now largely supplied overland from French Indo China and Thailand.
7. Southeast Asia Command
The President asked if Thailand was included in the Chinese Theater.
Admiral Leahy replied that both French Indo China and Thailand had been included in the Chinese Theater. At the beginning of the discussion on the Southeast Asia Command, it had been intended that French Indo China should be included in it. However, any operations in this area were so far in the future that it was not necessary to include French Indo China in the new command at this time. The situation with regard to Thailand, however, was quite different. Operations to be undertaken by the Southeast Asia Command might well envisage a conquest of Thailand. Forces of the Southeast Asia Command were in a position to carry out such an operation if it appeared to be desirable, whereas, Chinese forces could do nothing as far as this area is concerned. He therefore felt that regardless of what the commitments to the Generalissimo might have been, Thailand should definitely be included in the area of the Southeast Asia Command.
Admiral King indicated that a check was to be made to see if French Indo China and Thailand had not been removed from the Chinese Theater in a more recent definition of bounds.
The Prime Minister said that he was anxious to make a public announcement regarding the formation of the Southeast Asia Command and also to indicate who the commander was to be. He thought that such a public announcement would indicate that much of the discussions at the Quadrant Conferences had been concerned with the war against Japan which would set forth a sufficient reason as to why [Page 948] Russia had not been included in the deliberations. He asked General Ismay to make up a short statement for release to the press.
The President said that the statement should make it clear that the Generalissimo still retains command of the Chinese Theater.
General Marshall said that the announcement should be written in such a way as not to mention the use of Chinese troops in the Southeast Asia Command or give any indication of General Stilwell’s place in the command setup. He said that General Stilwell is still the Generalissimo’s Chief of Staff and that it would be offensive to the Generalissimo if he were not to be consulted before Stilwell was assigned his additional position. Moreover, he might expect that a Chinese deputy would be appointed. Actually, General Stilwell is being made Deputy Supreme Commander for the purpose of protecting Chinese interests and also to try and insure that Chinese forces would carry out their share of the plans devised by the Supreme Commander of the Southeast Asia Command.
Admiral King pointed out that the mere announcement of the formation of the Southeast Asia Command would indicate General Stilwell’s status at once. He thought that any announcement should be delayed until after the Generalissimo had been informed of the decisions.
Mr. Hopkins said that Dr. Soong had said that he had just had a telegram from the Generalissimo saying that the Supreme Allied Commander should be appointed forthwith.
The Prime Minister thought that any difficulty could be overcome by making the announcement to the press extremely brief. He suggested, for example, that it might be as follows:
“It has been decided to establish a combined separate Southeast Asia Command. The Supreme Commander will be (here give the officer designated by name).”
He felt that the shorter the announcement the better it would be. General agreement was expressed with this proposal.
The Prime Minister then asked General Marshall if it would not be wise to place a paragraph in the Final Report to the President and Prime Minister providing for the designation of a British liaison officer as a member of General MacArthur’s staff.
General Marshall replied that he did not feel it would be necessary to include such a statement in the paper, but that he would see that the suggestion was carried out immediately.
The Prime Minister asked if the Chiefs of Staff’s recommendations regarding Spain had been submitted to the Foreign Office.[Page 949]
General Ismay informed him that the suggestions had been sent to the Foreign Office but no comments had as yet been received.
The Prime Minister indicated then that before committing himself on these recommendations he would like to have the advice of his government. He said that personally he did not favor putting “economic screws” on Spain at this time. The situation was still too critical. For instance, there were the negotiations with Portugal which should be settled before a new attitude regarding Spain is adopted. He said, however, that in any event even though the recommendations of the Combined Chiefs of Staff were approved, the timing as to their execution would have to be determined by the governments.
The Prime Minister expressed disagreement with the proposal to have the Commander in Chief of the Middle East empowered to determine what amount of supplies Turkey could absorb. He felt that this decision should be retained by the British Government. He said that the time has now come to ask Turkey for something in return for the aid which the United Nations have been giving her. He thought the Turks would be considerably relieved if they were only asked to carry out the recommendations submitted by the Combined Chiefs of Staff rather than being asked to give up their neutrality and enter the war.
It was decided to delete any reference to the Commander in Chief, Middle East’s being allowed to determine the amount of supplies to be given Turkey.
10. Meeting of Dr. Soong With the Combined Chiefs of Staff
After a brief discussion, it was decided that the Combined Chiefs of Staff would ask Dr. Soong to meet with them on Tuesday, 24 August.
- The paper actually before Roosevelt and Churchill at this meeting was C.C.S. 319/4, “Final Report to the President and Prime Minister”, August 23, 1943. This paper is not printed as such, but it can be reconstructed from C.C.S. 319/5 and the footnotes thereto, post, p. 1121.↩
- See C.C.S. 320, post, p. 1010.↩
- See C.C.S. 319/5, paragraph 13, post, p. 1124.↩
- See ante, p. 896.↩
- Admiral Sir Charles Little.↩
- Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory.↩
- In C.C.S. 330, August 26, 1943, “Light Passenger Vessels for Cross-Channel Operations” (not printed), the United States Chiefs of Staff recommended that this matter be referred to the Combined Military Transportation Committee for investigation.↩
- See post, p. 1069.↩
- See ante, p. 369.↩