J. C. S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

Interim Report on the Work of the Conference

The Meeting had before them a draft of agreed decisions prepared by the Combined Chiefs of Staff and submitted to the President and the Prime Minister (C.C.S. 242).1 The draft was considered paragraph by paragraph.

1. azores islands

The Prime Minister reiterated the view which he had expressed at the previous meeting that nothing would be gained by a diplomatic approach to the Portuguese Government which was not backed up immediately by force.2 In his opinion, the Portuguese should be presented with the fact of an imminent occupation with only sufficient time in which to send a message to order that there should be no resistance. He therefore suggested that if the Combined Chiefs of Staff were in agreement, it would be better to omit from this paragraph of the agreed decisions the following words: “(b) That an effort should first be made to secure the use of these Islands by diplomatic means without making military commitments to the Portuguese” and also in the last sentence of the paragraph the words “in case diplomatic efforts should fail.”3

Admiral Leahy said that the Combined Chiefs of Staff would certainly agree to the omission of these words which had only been [Page 153] inserted because it was understood that it was the wish of the Governments to proceed in this manner.

The Prime Minister thought that the question of the diplomatic approach should be left to the President and himself and he hoped shortly to have the views of the British Government on the subject. At the same time it would be necessary to have on record a statement by the Combined Chiefs of Staff showing the reasons why it was of such importance to occupy the Islands without delay. This could be achieved by expanding paragraph 1 (a).

It was agreed that in their final report the Combined Chiefs of Staff should expand their recommendation in the manner suggested by the Prime Minister and should omit the words quoted above.4

2. the combined bomber offensive from the united kingdom

General McNarney gave the meeting a short account of the process which had been gone through in building up the plan for the combined bomber offensive.5 In view of the expansion of the German fighter forces, it had been found necessary to include in the plan attacks on the manufacturing plants. According to a conservative estimate based on experience, it was hoped to reduce the German fighter strength down to 500 as against the 3,000 to which it would otherwise rise in the middle of 1944. 25% of the bomber effort would go on submarine targets. About 425,000 ground personnel would be required to implement the plan.

Sir Charles Portal pointed out that this figure included the ground personnel for Roundhammer .

The Prime Minister asked whether the figure could not be reduced. He recalled that when he had asked Monsieur Maisky why the Russians had refused the 20 squadrons for the Caucasus, the latter had pointed to the large number of ground personnel who would have to accompany the aircraft and the complication this would cause to the Russian communications.6 Every man brought to the U. K. on the ground staff of the Air Force would exclude a soldier. He earnestly hoped there could be a reduction.

General Marshall said that he had appointed a special group under an experienced and capable officer whose duty it was to survey the establishments of the Army and of the Air Corps. General [Page 154] Arnold had already made an arbitrary cut in the numbers of ground personnel for the United Kingdom and it was hoped that a further reduction might be secured, though the figure was already lower than that set by General Arnold.

The Prime Minister said that he attached the greatest importance to this combined plan. There had not yet been an opportunity for the American scheme of daylight bombing to be applied in full, and he had been from time to time critical of the account of the few occasions when the bombers could go out and the comparatively small loads thus delivered on Germany; but he could see in the future, when several raids could be made in one day, most deadly results would be produced. He therefore welcomed the plan and hoped that it could be developed to the full.

General Marshall observed that in the latest raid which the U. S. B–17’s had carried out from England three separate forces had been employed on three different objectives. One had had 6% casualties, and the other[s] had had nil. The over-all loss had been 3½%. This was as [an] indication of what might be achieved in the future. He assured the Prime Minister that he was just as anxious as he was to reduce the number of ground personnel to be transported to the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister thanked General Marshall for this assurance.

The President drew attention to the value of occasional raids, say 5% of the effort, on the smaller towns where factories were known to exist. It would greatly depress the Germans if they felt that even the smaller towns could not escape.

General agreement was expressed with this view.

3. defeat of axis powers in europe

The President inquired whether the forces listed in paragraph 3 (a) would be sufficient to hold the Brest Peninsula.

Sir Alan Brooke said that they should be sufficient to enable this area to be held and extended. The latter would be most necessary in order to secure more ports for the build-up.

The Prime Minister inquired what would be the build-up after that shown in this paragraph. Could not something be added to indicate the subsequent rate?

General Marshall said that he would very much like to include something to show the subsequent build-up. It would be purely a matter of shipping and this was being examined. The probable rate would be three to four divisions per month.

In response to an inquiry by the Prime Minister, it was pointed out that the “Air Forces provided on a temporary basis for Husky ” consisted of certain British and American air reinforcements which had [Page 155] been specially lent to the Mediterranean Theater from the United Kingdom for a short period immediately around the Husky date.

The Prime Minister suggested that it would be desirable to include a statement to show what Army forces would be available in the Mediterranean Theater for use after Husky . He did not think it would be right to leave North Africa entirely in the hands of the French, some of whom should certainly move forward in the general advance.

The President said that no French Division was shown as taking part in the first attack on the Continent: he thought that politically it might be very desirable that one should be included. He agreed that a statement of forces which would be available in the Mediterranean Area should be drawn up. For example, it would be well to know what would be available to send into, say Salonika, if the Germans withdrew from the Balkans. One would also want to know what could be done supposing Italy collapsed immediately after Husky .

Sir Alan Brooke pointed out that this matter had been considered, and a survey of the troops in the Mediterranean Area, and of the various garrisons required, had been drawn up.

After further discussion it was agreed that the final report should include a statement of the troops which would be available in the Mediterranean Area after Husky , excluding the American and British Divisions earmarked for the United Kingdom.

It was also agreed that the words “Italy and” should be inserted before the word “Russia” at the end of paragraph 3 (c).7

The Prime Minister drew attention to the need for a new code word to cover post- Husky operations in general.

Admiral Leahy said that the security staffs had already been instructed to propose code words for a number of different operations and final suggestions would be put forward by the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

4. burma–china theater

The President read the Combined Chiefs of Staff’s decision concerning the Burma–China Theater.8 At the conclusion, he questioned the statement given in paragraph 4 d with regard to interruption of Japanese sea communications into Burma. He wished to know if it implied an operation against Rangoon.

[Page 156]

Admiral King replied that it did not, that actually it envisaged submarine operations against Japanese communications in the Bay of Bengal and the approaches to all the ports of Burma.

The Prime Minister then stated that he was in agreement with paragraph 4 of the Chiefs of Staff’s report on the proposed Burma operations, but was unhappy that it did not include any mention of offensive action against Kra, Sumatra, or Penang.

Sir Alan Brooke informed the Prime Minister that the whole conception for the defeat of Japan was now the subject of study by the Combined Staff Planners and all of the operations which the Prime Minister had referred to would be considered in this study; the present report included only the operations proposed for Burma.

The President was concerned about the failure to mention Rangoon in the decision. He thought the Chinese would be much happier if some mention of Rangoon was included and thought it would be wise to do so if only for political reasons.

The Prime Minister suggested that paragraph 4 c might be amended to read: “The capture of Akyab and of Ramree Island by amphibious operations with possible exploitation toward Rangoon.” After some discussion it was agreed that the words “toward Rangoon” should be deleted from the amendment suggested by the Prime Minister in order that it would not be interpreted as a promise by the Chinese.9

The Prime Minister informed Admiral King that as soon as the Italian Fleet had been neutralized the First Sea Lord intended to send six or seven battleships, with necessary auxiliaries, from the Indian Ocean to operate in coordination with the United States Fleet in the Pacific.

Admiral King felt that mounting operations against Sumatra, Kra, or Penang, would depend upon the availability of shipping. He doubted if they could be mounted in conjunction with the operations planned in the report under consideration. He pointed out that the shortage of shipping also limited the use of troops from India in the Burma Theater. He said, however, that he felt some such operation as an attack on Sumatra or the Kra Peninsula was eventually indispensable to induce the Japanese to split their naval forces. If this could be accomplished, an augmented Indian Ocean Fleet, operating in coordination with the U. S. Pacific Fleet, might inflict severe damage on the enemy.

The Prime Minister said that the Chiefs of Staff had shown in their report that they had considered all of the operations that are [Page 157] essential. He felt that subsidiary plans should also be worked out in order to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that might present themselves.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound said that the program under discussion would probably take all of the resources available. As a matter of fact the Planners were now investigating to see whether or not the operations envisaged could actually be carried out with the resources available.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the relating of resources to the operations would occur on Saturday and Sunday and the results would be included in the final report to be submitted to the President and the Prime Minister on Monday.10

5. operations in the pacific 1943–44

The President, after reading paragraph 5, concerning operations in the Pacific, commented that it included no sub-paragraph concerning air coverage for U. S. convoys, or regarding patrolling for enemy submarines.

Admiral King said that aircraft were being sent to the Pacific for this purpose as rapidly as possible but there are not sufficient numbers available to give the complete cover everywhere. He pointed out that other operations, particularly Husky , absorb many aircraft of the types necessary for this work.

The President said that while everything possible was being done in this regard nothing was said concerning it in the report.

Admiral King pointed out that the submarine situation in the Pacific was difficult to explain. He could not understand why the Japanese had not attacked our West Coast. He felt that they had great potentialities which they were not using, and indicated that he was concerned constantly over the possibility of a Japanese submarine effort carried out in accordance with a well conceived plan.

Admiral Leahy said he thought the President had made a good point and suggested adding paragraph 5 b (7) which would make provision for the protection of the U. S. lines of communications.

Sir Alan Brooke pointed out that the question of security to lines of communications would be covered in a paper that was being prepared on global strategy.

The Prime Minister thought perhaps it would be better to leave the question of protection of the lines of communications out of the report under consideration as most of the decisions recorded were conceptions of the offensive. Defensive measures, therefore, might more properly be included in the global strategy paper. He asked [Page 158] Sir Dudley Pound how many submarines had been sunk in the last four days, to which the Admiral of the Fleet replied that the United Nations had been maintaining an average of about one per day.

6. re-arming of the french in north africa

After the President had read a paragraph on this subject, the Prime Minister asked for further information. He pointed out that large quantities of captured material had been taken from the Germans and suggested that investigation be made to determine whether it would be worthwhile to start manufacturing a limited amount of ammunition of German calibers.

General Marshall informed the Prime Minister that General Smith, the Chief of Staff at Allied Force Headquarters, had informed him that a rapid survey was being made to determine what captured material could be used for equipping the French forces.

The Prime Minister then asked Admiral King if ammunition was being manufactured for use on the Richelieu. When Admiral King replied in the affirmative, the Prime Minister suggested that something of similar nature might be accomplished with regard to manufacturing ammunition for captured German weapons.

General Marshall said he would have General Somervell make an immediate investigation of the possibilities in this connection.

The Prime Minister then asked how many French Divisions were to be armed.

General Marshall replied that it was proposed to rearm a maximum of eleven. At the present time three and a half divisions have been reequipped, including two and a half infantry divisions and one armored division.

The President asked if use was being made of French pilots.

General Marshall replied that the British have provided airplanes for one French squadron, and the United States has equipped another.

Sir Charles Portal pointed out that the British were also supplying the French with airplanes for patrolling purposes off the coast of West Africa. However, apart from the one squadron which they had already given the French toward the build-up of a French Air Force, the entire project was in the hands of the United States.

7. bombing of ploeşti

After reading a paragraph on this subject, the President asked how far the Ploeşti oil fields were from North Africa.

General McNarney replied that Ploeşti was 895 miles from Tobruk and 875 miles from Aleppo.

[Page 159]

The Prime Minister asked when it was envisaged conducting the proposed operation.

General McNarney said that it should be accomplished either in June or early July because of the excellent weather conditions which obtain in those months, and also because a blow struck then would coincide with the summer campaign in Russia. He said it would require two B–24 groups to be taken from the United Kingdom for a period of about four weeks, that is, two weeks prior to mounting the operation and two weeks after it had been completed. Additionally, one B–24 group on its way to the United Kingdom would be diverted to this operation and thus be about two weeks late in its arrival in Great Britain. He said that officers with special sights for low level bombing which would be required for the attack on Ploeşti were now on their way to England and North Africa to give instructions in the use of these sights. Those going to North Africa were to present the plan to the Commander in Chief, Allied Force Headquarters, who was then to submit his comments to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

Sir Charles Portal said that there were two considerations which were of paramount importance in deciding whether the proposed bombing of Ploeşti should be undertaken. The first was whether or not aircraft should be diverted from pre- Husky preparation. The British Chiefs of Staff were doubtful if this should be done. The second consideration was that unless the operation was fully successful, it would make subsequent operations from more suitable bases, which might later become available, more difficult. This could be attributed to the additional defenses that the enemy would install. He added, however, that since the prize was so great and because of weather conditions, the subject should be thoroughly explored before a decision was made.

General Marshall said that if there was a fair degree of success, an attack against Ploeşti would be a staggering blow to the enemy, probably the greatest single blow that could be struck.

The President pointed out that even if the operation were not successful, it would result in diverting considerable German anti-aircraft equipment from the Hussian Front.

The Prime Minister then asked the Chiefs of Staff to consider the subject report in the light of the discussion that had taken place, with a view to making appropriate amendments.

Sir Alan Brooke informed the Prime Minister that the report submitted included only those decisions which had been agreed upon thus far. They were still to be related with the resources that are available. When this was done, the items which had been considered would be incorporated in a final report, which would be submitted on Monday.

[Page 160]

The President called attention to a news report concerning the German evacuation of Norway and suggested that the staffs might consider what action should be taken in the event such report proved true.

The President and The Prime Minister both expressed their gratification regarding the work accomplished by the Combined Chiefs of Staff and regarding the decisions which had been reached.

The Prime Minister said that what appealed to him most was the spirit of the offensive that permeated the paper, and the provisions which it made for the full utilization of our troops and resources.

  1. Post, p. 346.
  2. See ante, p. 121.
  3. The language quoted here is from section 1, subparagraph b and from the last sentence of section 1, C.C.S. 242, May 21, 1943, post, p. 347.
  4. In the subsequent revision of the draft report of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the decisions regarding the Azores were included under part iv, section 1, paragraph a; see C.C.S. 242/2, May 23, 1943, post, p. 353.
  5. Regarding the plan for the combined offensive from the United Kingdom, see C.C.S. 217, May 14, 1943, post, p. 239.
  6. For the exchange of messages between Roosevelt and Stalin in October and December 1942 regarding the proposed assignment of Anglo-American air squadrons in the Caucasus under Soviet command, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iii, pp. 677, 731, and 733.
  7. In the subsequent revision of the draft report of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, C.C.S. 242/2, May 23, 1943, the paragraph under reference, as revised, became part vii, paragraph b, post, p. 358.
  8. The decision under reference is section 4 of C.C.S. 242, May 21, 1943, post, p. 349.
  9. In the subsequent revision of the draft report of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, C.C.S. 242/2, May 23, 1943, the paragraph under reference, as revised, became part iv, section 3, paragraph a, subsection (3), post, p. 356.
  10. May 24; see C.C.S. 242/3, “Report to the President and Prime Minister,” post, p. 359.