J. C. S. Files

No. 1191
Memorandum by the United States Chiefs of Staff1
top secret
C. C. S. 679/7

British Troopship Employment in U. S. Trans-Atlantic Programs, First Half of 1946

In C. C. S. 679/12 the following offer of trans-Atlantic lift was made:—

“For the six months following VE–Day the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and the Aquitania will be retained on service in the North Atlantic, and this westbound capacity will be placed at the disposal of the United States authorities. This offer is subject to a proviso that fifty (50) berths should be reserved in each sailing if required by the British authorities.”

This assistance has been estimated at equivalent to 50,000 spaces per month.
Subsequent to the publication of C. C. S. 679/1, the United States has taken the following steps in an attempt to expedite redeployment to meet accelerated target dates for the main operations against Japan and for repatriation:—
Increased the monthly target of the Air Transport Command for trans-Atlantic lift from 15,000 to 50,000.
Authorized the conversion of 100 Victory ships to carry 1,500 personnel each,
Authorized the modification of 206 cargo vessels, formerly fitted for 350 personnel each, to an increased capacity of 550 personnel each.
Authorized the overloading of Victory and Liberty ships by 30 percent of capacity in the Atlantic.
Although the measures listed in paragraph 2 above have greatly improved our ability to meet revised redeployment build-up of strategic reserve and repatriation schedules, a serious deficit in personnel shipping does exist. The United States Chiefs of Staff have recommended modification of 74 of the 100 Victory ships mentioned in paragraph 2 so that they will be suitable for trans-Pacific operation and for direct redeployment from Europe to the Pacific. It is contemplated that all captured enemy troopships, with the exception of the Europa, that can be placed in service, will be diverted to the Pacific. Even these expedients will not enable the United States to meet Pacific troop movement requirements and there will exist by the end of 1945 a backlog of between 250,000 and 300,000 for Pacific movements. The removal of the 74 Victorys from trans-Atlantic service will retard the withdrawal of U. S. forces from Europe and will reduce the availability of cargo shipping in the Atlantic by about 25 sailings per month.
At Argonaut it was considered desirable that the United States and British convert 200 cargo ships to troop carriers on a combined basis.3 Up to the present time there has been no indication of British action with respect to converting a share of the cargo vessels.
In C. C. S. 679/1 British requirements for the movement of troops from Europe to Canada were shown to be 195,600 during the first six months after VE–Day. Space was provided for 133,800, leaving a deficit of approximately 62,000 over a six-month period. The total British requirement for repatriation of Canadians is not known to the United States Chiefs of Staff; however, it is noted that five weeks’ lift of the three British vessels allocated for United States [Page 1194] trans-Atlantic troop movements would overcome the first six months’ deficit.
The three large British passenger liners are vastly more efficient from a trooplift point of view in the North Atlantic service than in any other service. Their continued employment in this service for the repatriation of Canadian and U. S. forces will cause the greatest benefit to accrue to combined troop moving needs.
In order to avoid the possibility of still further invasion of United States cargo shipping resources to the detriment of combined trans-Atlantic cargo programs, it is recommended that the British trooplift represented by the two Queens and the Aquitania should be retained in the trans-Atlantic service during an additional six months for the build-up of strategic reserves in the United States and the repatriation on a combined basis of Canadian and U. S. forces.
  1. Considered by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at their 199th Meeting, July 23. See ante, p. 293.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The reference is to a recommendation contained in C. C. S. 746/11, which was approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Yalta on February 8, 1945. See Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 750.