J. C. S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

1. Conclusions of the Minutes of the 92nd Meeting

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Approved the conclusions as shown in the Minutes of the 92nd Meeting held on Friday, 21 May.2

[Page 161]

2. Anti-U–Boat Warfare
(C.C.S. 241 and 241/1)3

Admiral Leahy said that the views of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff, after examining the British paper (C.C.S. 241), were contained in C.C.S. 241/1.

Admiral Pound, in discussing the British proposals, emphasized the importance of the support groups and of their flexibility. He believed that the Allied Anti-Submarine Survey Board, since they were continually examining the situation, were in the best position to advise on the transfer of the support groups north or south of 40° North. They could, of course, only make recommendations and the final decisions for such transfers would rest with Admiral King and himself.

Admiral King said that he accepted the importance of the principle of flexibility, but he did not believe the Allied Anti-Submarine Survey Board should be charged with the responsibility for recommending transfer of support groups, nor that the Admiralty and Navy Department should await such recommendations before taking action.

Admiral Leahy said that he believed that the Admiralty and Navy Department, rather than the Survey Board, were in the best position to review the situation and decide on the necessary allocation of means. He considered the duties of the Survey Board were to study and make recommendations with regard to facilities and methods of attack.

Admiral Pound said that it had been suggested that unified control over the whole of the North Atlantic should be instituted by the appointment of a supreme commander. This was, however, in his view, impracticable since no one commander could have sufficiently detailed knowledge of all the areas concerned. The Allied Anti-Submarine Survey Board, on the other hand, since it could continually travel and thus cover the whole area, should have an intimate knowledge of conditions throughout, and would be in a better position to assess the requirements of all areas and recommend the transfer of forces. He believed this to be an important part of their functions, but, of course their recommendations would not tie either Admiral King or himself, with whom the final decision would rest. While the Admiralty and Admiral King’s headquarters each had an intimate knowledge of the requirements and conditions on their own side of the Atlantic, neither was in a position to assess completely [Page 162] the situation on the other’s side. The whole picture, however, was available to the Allied Anti-Submarine Survey Board.

Admiral King said that he could not agree with Admiral Pound’s views. The Allied Anti-Submarine Survey Board had done, and would continue to do, most useful work but they were in no better position than the First Sea Lord and himself to assess the transfer of forces. He was apprehensive that, if the responsibility for recommending transfers was placed on the Allied Anti-Submarine Survey Board, the Admiralty and Navy Department would feel tied down by their recommendations, and no action to transfer would be taken without such recommendations. The function of the Board was to survey conditions and not to exercise the function of command as regards the allocation of forces. The Survey Board was not an executive agency. As he saw it, the British proposal tended to delegate executive responsibility to the Board.

Admiral Pound said that this was not the intention. It would not be necessary for the executive authorities to await recommendations from the Board before taking action to transfer forces.

Admiral King pointed out with regard to V.L.R. aircraft that the arguments put forward in the British paper were misleading since the 26,000 hours flown in the Gulf and Eastern Sea Frontiers in February were largely done by short-range aircraft and those of the civilian air patrols. Only 4,500 hours had been flown by L.R. and V.L.R. aircraft. Further, he was in general opposed to a mixed command which was envisaged in the British paper.

Sir Charles Portal said that he appreciated that only 4,500 of the 26,000 hours flown in the Gulf and Eastern Sea Frontiers in February had been flown by V.L.R. or L.R. aircraft. Even on the figure of 4,500 there was, however, still a case for the transfer of aircraft from this area to the Bay.4 He would be interested to know in which areas it was proposed to relieve British aircraft in order that these could then operate in the Bay. He appreciated the advantages derived from the maintenance of homogeneous forces, but a firm decision to insist on this would be disappointing since it would cut across the principle of flexibility. A committee was now drawing up a simple standard procedure for the operation of A/S aircraft which should increase the efficiency of mixed forces and thus improve flexibility. There were disadvantages in mixed commands but he did not feel that too much importance should be attached to these.

Admiral King said that he agreed that homogeneous forces were not essential, but mixed forces, in his opinion, should be avoided as much as possible.

[Page 163]

Admiral Pound explained that after a review of the advantages of an increased air effort over the Bay of Biscay, all possible British aircraft had been transferred to this duty. Squadrons had been removed from the East Coast and the North of Scotland. No further aircraft could be provided except at the expense of Bomber Command, a diversion from which, he believed, was not justifiable.

Admiral King said that it was essential to maintain a certain irreducible minimum of A/S air forces on the East Coast of America, even though their proportion of sightings was lower than that in other areas. The locality of submarine activity could be more rapidly transferred than could aircraft. Certain U.S. PBM’s were not yet operational but drastic measures were being taken to render them effective. When this had been done, they could be used to release aircraft for the Bay. He was fully in agreement with the principle that the Bay provided an excellent hunting ground for anti-submarine operations.

Admiral Leahy then suggested certain amendments to paragraph 4 of the U. S. Chiefs of Staff paper (C.C.S. 241/1).

Admiral Pound explained that the British proposals with regard to the Bay offensive should not be taken to mean that action would only be effective if the full number of 72 aircraft were provided. Every aircraft would be of great value.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Deferred action on these papers until the next meeting.

3. Policy for Coming Operations Regarding Propaganda and Subversive Activities
(C.C.S. 185/3)5

Sir Alan Brooke explained that this was largely a political matter. The views of the Prime Minister had not yet been received.

Admiral Leahy said that the President had expressed the following views. We certainly could not tell the Italians that if they ceased hostilities they would have peace with honor: we could not get away from unconditional surrender: all we could tell them was that they would be treated by the United States and the British with humanity and with the intention that the Italian people should be reconstituted into a nation in accordance with the principles of self-determination: this latter would, of course, not include any form of Fascism or dictatorship.

General Marshall explained that on receipt of this message from the President, he had prepared a draft telegram to General Eisenhower based on the President’s views and instructing General Eisenhower [Page 164] to adhere to his original directive with regard to propaganda. He would like to send this message to the President for his approval.6

General Ismay explained that this matter had also been put in very-similar terms to the Prime Minister whose decision was awaited.

Sir Charles Portal explained that the Foreign Office considered that, if too soft a line were taken now, its effects would wear off before operation Husky and even further promises would then be required.

General Marshall suggested that he should send the President the draft reply to General Eisenhower with a notation that it had not as yet received the concurrence of the British Chiefs of Staff nor of the Prime Minister.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Agreed to defer action on this paper pending reference to the Prime Minister and the President by General Ismay and General Marshall respectively.

4. Sonic Warfare
(C.C.S. 240)7

Sir Alan Brooke suggested that it was important that this form of warfare should be designated by a code name.

Admiral King said he believed that it might be found necessary that sonic warfare should be used for the first time in operation Husky .

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Approved the recommendations contained in this paper.
Directed the secretaries to request the security authorities to recommend a code name to cover this type of warfare.

5. Movement of the “Queens”

Admiral Pound said that from his experience on the trip over, he was convinced that the Queens 8 should not be allowed to pass through the submarine area except in dark periods. This would entail the cycle for the Queens being opened out to 28 days. The loss in troop lift which this would entail had been estimated at 15,000 for the third quarter of the year and 31,000 for the fourth quarter, making a total of 46,000 for the remainder of the year. If one of these ships were torpedoed, the resulting loss to our troop lift would far exceed 46,000.

In reply to a question by General Marshall as to the extra degree of safety which could be expected from his proposal, Admiral Pound said that, when considering the possibilities of the Prime Minister travelling in one of these ships, he had taken the view that, while [Page 165] it was a fair risk during a dark period of the moon, he would have strongly advised against it being undertaken during a light period. Similar considerations applied to the movement of 15,000 troops. In an emergency, he believed that one of these ships could be used in a light period, but only as a very special case. Boats were available for only 3,000 of the 15,000 passengers carried. Owing to the congestion on board and the fact that there might be no vessels capable of rescuing the personnel within several hundred miles, the loss of life, if a Queen were sunk, would be appalling.

The United States Chiefs of Staff stated that they would like to examine the implications of the British proposal.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note that the British Chiefs of Staff would present a paper recommending a change in the cycle of military transport vessels of the Queen type with a view to lessening the risk of passage.

  1. Ante, p. 143.
  2. Neither printed. C.C.S. 241 was a paper from the British Chiefs of Staff suggesting lines of discussion on the question of anti-U–boat warfare. C.C.S. 241/1 set forth the views of the United States Chiefs of Staff after examining the British paper.
  3. i.e., Bay of Biscay.
  4. See post, p. 326, footnote 1.
  5. For the draft telegram to Eisenhower, see the enclosure to C.C.S. 185/4, May 22, 1943, post, p. 330.
  6. C.C.S. 240, “Sonic Warfare”, May 21, 1943, not printed.
  7. i.e., the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary, being used as trans-Atlantic troop transports.