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 115th Meeting. The detailed record of the meeting was also accepted, subject to minor amendments.4

2. Final Report to the President and Prime Minister
(C.C.S. 319/45)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them a draft cover note for the final report and certain amendments arising out of the [Page 955] the Second Quadrant Meeting between the President and Prime Minister.6

Later in the meeting Sir Alan Brooke informed the Combined Chiefs of Staff that the Prime Minister considered that the names of the naval and air commanders for Overlord should not be mentioned in the final report.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Approved the cover note and certain amendments to the final report (subsequently circulated as 319/57).

3. Mediterranean Operations

a. Directive to General Eisenhower
(C.C.S. 3288)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them a memorandum by the Combined Staff Planners covering a draft directive to General Eisenhower based on the decisions of the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Quadrant . In the course of discussion, it was agreed that General Eisenhower should be sent only those parts of the final report to the Prime Minister and President (C.C.S. 319/5), and of the paper relating available resources to plans (C.C.S. 3299), that dealt with the European Theater.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Agreed that those extracts from the Final Report of the Quadrant Conference (C.C.S. 319/5) and from the Implementation of Assumed Basic Undertakings (C.C.S. 329) dealing with the European Theater should be sent to General Eisenhower with the cover note contained as an enclosure to C.C.S. 328.

b. Discussion with Generals Whiteley and Rooks

General Whiteley outlined the position with regard to forthcoming operations in the Mediterranean. His statement follows:

Forthcoming operations in Italy comprise two amphibious assaults—
Across the Straits of Messina ( Baytown );
Into Salerno Bay ( Avalanche ). These assaults will be under the command of General Alexander, and have as their object the securing of the Rome airfields and the clearing of the enemy from Southern Italy.
The Baytown assault is being carried out by the 13th Corps, with two divisions in the assault and one in reserve. The assaulting divisions are the 5th and the Canadian. The object of the Baytown assault is to contain German divisions and to open the Straits of Messina for ships carrying cargoes to Naples.
The Avalanche assault is under the command of the 5th U.S. Army. The assault will be carried out by the 10th British Corps, comprising 46th, 56th and 7th Armored Divisions. The 6th U.S. Corps is the immediate follow-up, and later follow-ups may include a French Corps and the 5th British Corps. The immediate object of Avalanche is to secure the port of Naples.
We expect to find 16 German divisions in Italy. The German intention seems to be to deny us the Po Valley by holding a position Pisa-Rimini. It looks as if they intend to withdraw their divisions from Southern Italy to the North. The four divisions in the extreme south are, we think, withdrawing, covered by two German divisions in the Naples–Salerno area. Two more German divisions are in the Rome area disciplining the Italian Government.
The Baytown assault will take place between September 2–4. General Eisenhower was anxious to have a ten day gap between Baytown and Avalanche so that some of the Baytown landing craft could be used for Avalanche . The limiting factors for the Avalanche assault are that it cannot be launched before September 7; that, for reasons of moon, it cannot be launched between September 11 and 21. The Avalanche assault will probably, therefore, take place September 9–11.
It looks, therefore, as if the Baytown assault may not meet very strong opposition. On the other hand, the Germans had large numbers of antiaircraft dual-purpose guns on the Straits, and some of these may still be in position. Even if we do not meet with much opposition, our progress is likely to be slowed down by the physical difficulties of the country and enemy demolitions. We hope, however, to pass six divisions through Calabria by 1st December.
There is, of necessity, some anxiety about the Avalanche operation. The assault may be opposed within a few hours by comparable German forces. If and when the Germans realize that our assault is not in very great strength they may move divisions to the sound of the guns and attack us with up to six divisions some time during September. On the other hand, communications in Italy are poor and it may not be easy for the Germans to alter their withdrawal plans and concentrate divisions against our Avalanche assault. However, General Eisenhower must naturally be anxious to protect the Avalanche assault with the maximum aircraft, and to build it up just as quickly [Page 957] as is humanly possible. Algiers estimates that, apart from air-borne divisions, six divisions and tactical air force will be ashore in the Naples area by 1st December.
The strategical air force cannot be moved in until we have secured the Rome airfields. It is not possible to estimate at this stage how many divisions will be required to do this—probably of the order of 16. The maintenance commitment of the strategical air force is the equivalent of approximately four divisions so considerable development will be necessary before it can be operating at full strength. This will probably include the provision of pipelines.
For any advance north of the Pisa line, we will require ports north of Naples. Civitavecchia is a good port and can be used even if the German is in occupation of Corsica and Sardinia. We must, however, deal with those two islands before we can use Leghorn and Genoa. General Eisenhower’s intention prior to the receipt of any instructions resulting from this conference, was to continue to hit the Germans whenever and wherever possible.
As regards operations against Southern France, the main limiting factor is likely to be landing craft. If we can only assault with approximately two divisions, we want to create diversions as much as possible from other directions. Naturally, therefore, we would like to be in possession of the Italian coast right up to the French frontier. Whether or not it will be possible to do an amphibious operation in Southern France if we are not appreciably further north than the Pisa line has not yet been examined.
We are faced with a very difficult movement and maintenance problem in the Mediterranean. For several months we will have to be manning ports in North Africa and in Italy. Moreover, the North African ports will be working at extreme pressure. They will not only have to accept U.S. and U.K. convoys, discharge these cargoes and reload them for Italian destinations, but also they will be loading divisions for Italy at top pressure. Moreover, owing to poor communications in North Africa, we cannot always move divisions to the most desirable ports of embarkation; we have to load them where they are situated.
On paper, General Eisenhower has a large number of divisions available. On the other hand, it is questionable whether we will be able to provide the personnel and equipment necessary to maintain these divisions on an operational scale. There is not only the problem of shipping equipment, but of dealing with it through our bases during this period of high pressure. Moreover, many of these divisions are of foreign nationalities and this leads to less elasticity and increased maintenance commitments.
Plans for Operation Backbone have been prepared. Until the end of the year there are likely to be some British divisions in North Africa which could be made available. After the New Year we will probably have to rely on the French to provide the insurance for Backbone . Our first step would have to be to move air forces from Italy to the Spanish Moroccan area to operate from fields already prepared or earmarked. We would also have to forestall the Germans in the Balearics with a view to interfering with their coastal traffic from Marseilles. If we could deny them this coastal traffic, we could interfere appreciably with their rate of build-up.
To sum up, I think that General Eisenhower’s main concerns are:
The anxious period during and immediately after the Avalanche assault;
Port congestion and the difficulties of movement in the Mediterranean;
Whether we will be able to maintain sufficient divisions on an operational scale.

General Rooks explained that the Avalanche attack would be under command of the 5th U.S. Army and would consist of two corps, one British and one American. The possibility of a German effort to sever the lines of communication through the Straits of Gibraltar was continually kept under review. Plans had been prepared by the Fifth Army, which had now been turned over to AFHQ, who would use such forces as were available to them. At present some two to four United States and British divisions were available for this purpose, though later it might be necessary to depend to some extent on French troops.

Air Commodore Foster said that already all the tactical fighter and most of the tactical bomber force was situated in Sicily. Air cover for the assault in the Salerno area would be provided by fighters based initially in Sicily. The single-engined fighters would operate from six to eight strips laid to the eastward of Messina and with their extra tanks could operate for between 15 and 20 minutes over the assault. The twin-engined fighters based on Catania and in Western Sicily, having a greater range, could remain longer over the area. In addition, A–26 units were also based on Catania, and the Fleet air arm would provide air cover with Seafires from four escort and one Fleet carrier. It was estimated that it would be possible to maintain 30 fighters continuously over the assault during the hours of daylight. The tactical bomber force would be used on an arc designed to stop enemy reinforcements while the strategical bomber force would concentrate on communications and airdromes. Since the enemy had good [Page 959] airdromes on the eastern coast of Italy opposite the assault area, it would not be possible to harry the enemy aircraft to the same extent as had been achieved in Husky . It was for this reason that the Commander in Chief had asked to retain the B–24’s which had been used for the Ploeşti raid.10

Captain Brownrigg explained the naval command arrangements. The Avalanche assault would all be under the command of Admiral Hewitt. Under him would be Admiral Hall, commanding the combat loaders carrying the 6th Corps; Admiral Conolly commanding the United States landing craft; and Commodore Oliver, the British landing craft. Admiral Hewitt would have a force of cruisers and destroyers operating under his orders and Admiral Vian would command the carrier force. Cover to the northward would be provided by a battleship force. There would be a further covering force operating to the south of the Toe in the unlikely event of the Italian ships in Taranto endeavoring to break out. The Naval Commander in Chief was not worried on the assault phase of the operation but realized the difficulties of safeguarding the long lines of sea communication and the various routes on which convoys would have to run. It would be impossible to divert convoys to avoid submarines and air attack and they would therefore have to fight their way through. For this reason there was, of course, a large demand for escort vessels.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note with interest of the above statements.

4. Future Convoy Arrangements in the Atlantic
(C.C.S. 222/311)

Sir Dudley Pound explained that a Combined ad hoc committee had put forward the proposals contained in the enclosure to C.C.S. 222/3 since the present ‘arrangement of three UGS convoys per month, with a limit of 80 ships per convoy, did not provide for all the ships presenting themselves. The suggestion that four convoys per mouth should be established would require further investigation since the running of additional UGS convoys would necessitate consequential adjustments to other Atlantic convoys. With regard to paragraph 5 of the memorandum, he suggested the words “unless otherwise agreed” should be added after the words “following priority” in order to give a greater degree of flexibility.

Admiral King said that he fully appreciated that the cycle could not be changed to four convoys a month except after consultation and in relation to other convoys. He suggested that it should be agreed that the United States Navy should fix the earliest practicable date for a [Page 960] program of four UGS convoys a month, “with due regard to the general setup of convoys in the Atlantic.”

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—


That the U.S. Navy should fix the earliest practicable date when a program of four UGS convoys per month could be established, with due regard to the general setup of convoys in the Atlantic.
To delegate executive authority to the Combined Military Transportation Committee to act on similar problems in the future with regard to UGS convoys in accordance with the following priority unless otherwise agreed:
U.S. and British ships destined for forces commanded by the Allied Commander in Chief in Mediterranean.
U.S. and British ships destined for India.
U.S. and British ships destined for Allied forces in Middle East.
U.S. and British ships carrying civil supplies for occupied territories in Mediterranean.
Ships destined for Persian Gulf.
Lend-Lease to Turkey.

5. Meeting With Dr. T. V. Soong

Sir Alan Brooke said he understood that Dr. T. V. Soong had been informed of the progress of discussions at Quebec by the President and Prime Minister. He felt it would be very useful to have Dr. Soong’s reactions to the points made by the President and Prime Minister.

Dr. Soong said that the President and Prime Minister had given him only a general outline and had suggested that he should obtain full information about actual plans from the Combined Chiefs of Staff. He was most happy to know that so much consideration had been given at Quadrant to the war with Japan. To achieve greater security he proposed to send General Chu to the Generalissimo to inform him of the decisions taken by the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

In reply to a question by Dr. Soong, General Somervell explained the layout of the proposed pipeline to China which would carry 18,000 tons of gasoline per month. It was hoped by 1945–46 to achieve a lift of 65,000 tons of supplies by road. Some small amounts could, he hoped, be got over the road about three months after the opening.

Dr. Soong then asked for details with regard to the Chinese share of proposed operations. Was he right in assuming that the original plan was being adhered to and that Chinese forces at Ramgarh would operate from Ledo in conjunction with an advance by the forces from Yunnan?

[Page 961]

General Marshall confirmed that in general this was the case.

In reply to a question by Dr. Soong, Sir Alan Brooke said that the size of the British forces to be employed had not yet been settled, since the full effect of the floods on the lines of communication through Assam was not yet known. These lines of communication had to carry not only supplies to be flown by air into China and those required for the forces to operate from Ledo and Imphal, but also the supplies required for the expansion of the air route and the building up of the lines of communications themselves.

Dr. Soong asked to be informed of the date on which it was proposed these operations should commence.

Sir Alan Brooke explained that it was now proposed that they should start later than originally envisaged, since it was believed better that they should carry on into the early part of the monsoon, thus assisting us to consolidate our position. The actual date was, however, not settled, nor was it possible to disclose it.

Referring to amphibian operations, Dr. Soong said that the Generalissimo had always understood that they would be carried out in Burma.

Sir Alan Brooke said that he was not in a position to disclose the selected area for the amphibious assault, but it was to take place from India and would have a direct bearing on operations in Burma and Western China.

Dr. Soong pointed out that the Generalissimo feared the Japanese capacity to attack since they had the advantage of superior lines of communication which would be hard to combat.

Sir Alan Brooke explained that the position was improving since the Japanese no longer had the same power as hitherto, and attrition against air and shipping was being forced upon them by the ever increasing efforts of the United Nations. In Burma it was hoped that the employment of long-range penetration groups on the principle of Brigadier Wingate’s columns, would seriously interfere with Japanese lines of communications.

Dr. Soong said that he felt that it would be of no value for him, as a civilian, to express his own views on the situation.

Admiral Leahy pointed out that the success of operations in Burma was largely dependent on the confident cooperation of the Chinese forces. With this, success could be expected, but unless this collaboration was forthcoming they could not be undertaken.

General Marshall pointed out the colossal effort required to build up and maintain communications with China. The pipeline was only a small part, though that in itself necessitated the shipping of much equipment and many technicians over a vast distance. The air line [Page 962] was also an immense undertaking. Last week it had achieved a rate of 7,000 tons per month. It would soon achieve 10,000 tons a month and would increase from even that figure. To make this prodigious effort worthwhile, security of the lines of communication was essential.

In the Mediterranean, by a magnificent unity of effort, a great victory had been achieved. In the Far East the position was infinitely more difficult. Unity of effort and unity of action in Burma, in India and in China must be achieved. A Supreme Commander12 had been proposed by the British and accepted delightedly by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff. This Commander in Chief was faced with an extremely difficult problem and his operations could never succeed unless he was assured of complete unity of action and of cooperation by China.

(At this point General Marshall left the meeting with Dr. Soong in order to inform him of a certain decision taken by the Combined Chiefs of Staff.13)

On his return General Marshall informed the Combined Chiefs of Staff of the lines of his discussion with Dr. Soong. He had once more emphasized to him that he, Dr. Soong, must ensure unity of action from China on behalf of the united effort and that this unity of action must be accompanied by no holding back or reluctance. Only thus could success be achieved and without it all our efforts would be futile.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note with warm approval of the statement made by General Marshall.

6. Relation of Resources to Plans
(C.C.S. 329;14 329/115)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them a memorandum by the Combined Staff Planners on the implementation of assumed basic undertakings and specific operations for the conduct of the war, 1943–44, together with certain amendments, subsequently put forward by the Combined Staff Planners. These amendments, together with certain others put forward at the meeting, were discussed in detail.

[Page 963]

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Agreed to certain amendments to the paper including that in 329/1 (amended paper subsequently published as C.C.S. 329/216).
Approved the report by the Combined Staff Planners in the enclosure to the paper.
Instructed the Secretaries to prepare a suitable paragraph on the subject for insertion in the Final Report.17

7. Southeast Asia Command

The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them the terms of an announcement to be made with regard to the appointment of Vice Admiral the Lord Louis Mountbatten as Supreme Commander of the Southeast Asia Command.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note with approval of the proposed announcement.

8. Propaganda Committee
(C.C.S. 31018)

Sir Alan Brooke explained that the British Chiefs of Staff were not in a position to take action at present on this paper. He understood that it was being discussed by the British Minister of Information19 on a political level. He fully appreciated the importance of resolving the problem presented and would make every effort to insure that a solution was found as rapidly as possible.

General Marshall said that he realized that the suggestion that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should be charged with the implementation of the policy was questionable. He felt, however, that an early solution was important, particularly from the United States Chiefs of Staff point of view, since they had a particular responsibility in the matter.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Agreed as to the necessity from the military point of view of adequate machinery for the coordination of propaganda.
Took note that the British Chiefs of Staff would ascertain the result of the recent negotiations by the British authorities concerned.
Agreed that further action in this matter should be taken up by the Joint Staff Mission as early as possible.

[Page 964]

9. Message to Stalin

General Marshall read out a draft message to Mr. Stalin, which he suggested might be put forward to the President and Prime Minister as the basis of the communication to the Soviet Government. Certain minor amendments to this draft were suggested.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Approved the draft message to be put forward to the President and Prime Minister.20

10. Concluding Remarks

General Marshall said that he felt that the Combined Chiefs of Staff would like to place on record their appreciation of the work done by the Planning Staffs, by General Riddell-Webster, General Somervell and Admiral Badger, who, by their industry and long hours of toil, had contributed much to the success of the conference.

Admiral King felt that special mention of the labors of the Secretariat should also be expressed.

Admiral Leahy expressed, on behalf of the United States Chiefs of Staff, his appreciation for the consideration which had been shown by the British Chiefs of Staff for the United States point of view. This had contributed largely to the success of the conference and the easy reconciliation of ideas. He believed that the conference had been of great value and that further conferences should be held at short intervals.

Sir Alan Brooke, on behalf of the British Chiefs of Staff, expressed his gratitude for the patience and consideration shown by the United States Chiefs of Staff to the British points of view. He believed that each meeting was a step forward to a full appreciation by each of the other’s point of view, and agreements were therefore more quickly reached. Now that we held the initiative, the tempo of the war was faster and meetings should, he believed, be held more frequently than hitherto.

  1. The amendments referred to have been incorporated in the minutes of the 115th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff as printed ante, p. 937.
  2. “Final Report to the President and Prime Minister”, August 23, 1943. This paper is not printed as such, but its substance can be reconstructed from C.C.S. 319/5 and the footnotes thereto, post, p. 1121.
  3. See ante, p. 942.
  4. Post, p. 1121.
  5. “Directive to General Eisenhower”, August 24, 1943; not printed. This memorandum reported that the Combined Staff Planners had “come to the conclusion that General Eisenhower should be given the full report which has been submitted [to] and approved by the President and the Prime Minister.”
  6. “Implementation of Assumed Basic Undertakings and Specific Operations for the Conduct of the War, 1943–1944”, August 24, 1943. This paper is not printed as such, but its substance can be reconstructed from C.C.S. 329/2 and the footnotes thereto, post, p. 1132.
  7. See ante, p. 584.
  8. Post, p. 1047.
  9. Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten.
  10. Probably the selection of Mountbatten as Supreme Commander, South East Asia Command. Stimson’s Diary for September 6, 1943, contains the following entry, which may pertain to Marshall’s discussion with Soong at Quebec: “Marshall told me of how he had spoken with great frankness and plainness to T. V. Soong on the necessity of China being willing to take the steps necessary to put fighting ground Chinese forces into the struggle instead of confining themselves to lip service and letting someone else do that fighting.” (Stimson Papers)
  11. See ante, p. 955, fn. 9.
  12. Post, p. 1153.
  13. Post, p 1132
  14. See C.C.S. 319/5, paragraph 69, post, p. 1132.
  15. Post, p. 1097.
  16. Brendan Bracken.
  17. For the text of the Roosevelt–Churchill message to Stalin, see post, p. 1159.