J. C. S. Files

No. 615
Memorandum by the Representatives of the British Chiefs of Staff 1
top secret
C. C. S. 889

British Contribution to the Final Phase of the War Against Japan

References: CCS 452 Series
CCS 619 Series
CCS 691 Series
We have been instructed to present the attached memorandum on the British contribution to the final phase of the war against Japan, which the British Chiefs of Staff have prepared for discussion at the next conference.
The views of the Australian and New Zealand Governments on the proposals formulated have been requested but have not yet been received.2
British Contribution to the Final Phase of the War Against Japan
top secret

Memorandum by the British Chiefs of Staff

It has been agreed that the over-all objective for the war against Japan is to force the unconditional surrender of the Japanese by:—
Lowering Japanese ability and will to resist by establishing sea and air blockades, conducting intensive air bombardment, and destroying Japanese naval and air strength.
Invading and seizing objectives in the industrial heart of Japan.
It is agreed that the invasion of Japan is the supreme operation of the war. The prospect of the recapture of Singapore in November 1945, together with the opening of the Malacca Straits, enables us to offer, in addition to the British Pacific Fleet and the very long range (VLR,) bomber force, a British, Dominion, and Indian land force to take part in this invasion. Owing to limitations of shipping, however, such a project will only absorb a part of the forces at present deployed in Southeast Asia Command. We have therefore planned that British forces should continue operations in the Outer Zone as far as limitations of other resources allow.
We propose, therefore, that British participation in the final phase of the war against Japan should take the following form:—
The British Pacific Fleet as at present planned.
A VLR bomber force of 10 squadrons increasing to 20 squadrons at a later date when more airfields become available.
A British Commonwealth force to participate in Coronet under American command, of three to five divisions, all to be carried in British shipping and provided with the necessary assault lift. This force would be supported by the East Indies Fleet, augmented by the British Pacific Fleet as necessary, and by a tactical air component of some 15 squadrons. The exact size, composition, and role of this force can only be determined by consultation between British and United States staffs in the light of United States operational plans, the target date of Coronet , and its relation to the date of the capture of Singapore. Our preliminary investigations show that it might take one of the following forms:—
A force of one or possibly two divisions in the assault together with two or three divisions in the build-up, administratively largely self-supporting.
A force of three divisions in the assault and immediate follow-up and one or possibly two divisions in the build-up, relying, to a considerable degree, on American administrative assistance.
A force of up to five divisions in the build-up administratively largely self-supporting. We should naturally prefer a course which allowed us to take part in the assault.
Operations in the Outer Zone to maintain pressure against the Japanese across the Burma–Siam frontier. In addition, plans for operations against Siam, for the establishment of bridgeheads in Java or Sumatra, and for the recapture of Hong Kong will be studied. A decision will be made at a later date as to whether, and if so when, any of these operations will be undertaken.
We therefore propose that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should approve the British contribution to the final phase of the war against Japan, as set out in this memorandum.
  1. Considered by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at their 194th Meeting, July 17. See vol. ii, pp. 4851.
  2. For the substance of the Australian views, see Ehrman, Grand Strategy, vol. vi, p. 268. The New Zealand views were not received prior to the conclusion of the meetings of the Combined Chiefs of Staff held in connection with the Berlin Conference. See ibid., p. 269.