740.00119 EW/6–244: Telegram

The British Prime Minister ( Churchill ) to President Roosevelt

589. Para 1. Reference your telegram number 4575 on the question of countries and areas to be occupied by British and US forces in Rankin, or after Overlord, the position seems to me to be as follows.

Para 2. COSSAC’s6 original plan suggested three zones to be occupied by our forces, your forces and the Russians, respectively. Our sphere included NW Germany, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and Denmark; your sphere southern Germany, France and possibly Austria. The Russian sphere lay to the east of the British area.

Para 3. On the basis of this allocation which was approved in principle at Quadrant,7 planning proceeded both for Overlord and Rankin. At Sextant when plans were already far advanced, your [Page 181] Chiefs of Staff proposed that the allocation should be virtually reversed, but gave no reason.8

Para 4. I agree that your proposals might be military feasible for the true Rankin case “C” (i.e. the collapse of Germany before the launching of Overlord.[)] But even then there would, from our point of view, be the following serious objections:

The whole of the German coastline in the North Sea and a large part of their coastline in the Baltic, and therefore all the German naval establishments of any importance and the majority of the naval and shipbuilding yards, would be included in the United States area. The naval disarmament of Germany is a matter of peculiar interest to us and we are better equipped and situated than any other power to ensure that this process is carried out with the maximum thoroughness.
There is close liaison between the Royal Air Force and the Norwegian and Netherlands Air Force which we have trained and organized, and it is desirable that this should be continued after the war. It will be extremely difficult to maintain this association if these countries are outside our zone of responsibility. On the other hand, you have had the major responsibility for re-equipping the French land and air forces.

Para. 5. If, however, the collapse of Germany occurs after Allied Forces have been committed to the continent in Overlord, which seems almost certain, most serious practical objections must be added to those in 4 sub para 1 and sub para 2 above. Our forces would be operating on the left flank of Overlord with their overseas bases in the Havre–Cherbourg area, whilst the United States forces, on the right flank, would have their overseas bases in the Brittany ports.

Para 6. Your proposals therefore would involve either the crossing of the land lines of communication of the two parts of the Allied force advancing on Germany, or the withdrawal and re-embarkation of the US forces. Both these would cause severe administrative difficulties and delays. It is obviously too late to replan Overlord with British forces on the right and US forces on the left.

Para 7. In view of the serious objections which I have described and the fact that at this late stage all our thoughts and energies must be given to making a success of Overlord, I consider that only reasons of overriding importance could justify such a fundamental change of plan as that proposed.

Para 8. As I understand it your proposal arises from an version [aversion?] to undertaking police work in France and a fear that this might involve the stationing of US forces in France over a long period. I rather think, however, that I can put a different complexion on this matter.

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Para 9. I agree that our connection with France will be closer than yours and that it will be primarily our concern to see that she is if possible restored as a strong power, without whose cooperation the controlling of Germany is going to be much more difficult. But surely the question of policing does not arise? Under the new directive (which I hope is now agreed) we are, I think, going to recognize some provisional government as soon as we can, and we must hope that such a government will be able to establish its authority over the whole country.

Para 10. I recognize that you must protect your communications, but I hardly think that the mere fact that your communications pass through France would involve you generally in the policing of France against your will.

Para 11. I believe indeed that if you have the southern zone, the French, so far from holding more of your men in Europe for longer than you wish, may prove the means for releasing some of your men more quickly than you had hoped. If a satisfactory regime were set up in France and you were anxious to withdraw some of your troops from Germany there would probably be little difficulty in French troops being moved into the southern German zone to take over from your men; the French would in those circumstances be only too anxious to assume this responsibility.

Para 12. All these reasons make it most undesirable to make a change which would alter the whole basis of our work and planning over the last 6 to 9 months and which must lead to serious complications in the future.

  1. Dated February 7, p. 166.
  2. Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander.
  3. First Quebec Conference, August 17–24, 1943. The records of this Conference are scheduled for publication in a subsequent volume of Foreign Relations.
  4. See the record of the discussion of this subject at the meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, Cairo, December 4, 1943, Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, p. 688.