J. C. S. Files
Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes
1. Approval of the Minutes of the C. C. S. 193d Meeting
The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—
Approved the conclusions of the 193d Meeting and approved the detailed report of the meeting subject to any later minor amendments.
2. British Participation in the War Against Japan
(C. C. S. 889 and 889/12)
Sir Alan Brooke referred to a memorandum by the United States Chiefs of Staff containing their views on the proposals of the British Chiefs of Staff concerning British participation in the war against Japan. He said that the British Chiefs of Staff were very pleased to see that the United States Chiefs of Staff agreed in principle to the participation in the final phase of the war against Japan of a British Commonwealth land force, subject to the resolution of certain operational problems with the Commander in Chief, U. S. Army Forces, Pacific,3 and Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet,4 and to the clarification of certain factors with which he then proposed to deal.
Considering each of the subparagraphs of paragraph 2 of C. C. S. 889/1, Sir Alan Brooke made the following points:—
- The land forces which were being offered would not be involved in operations in Southeast Asia prior to Coronet . The force envisaged contained one Australian division which was now completing operation in Borneo; one New Zealand division which was re-forming in Italy; a British division which had been already withdrawn from the fighting in Southeast Asia, and an Indian division probably from [Page 49] Italy. This Indian division had operated in conjunction with Allied troops in Italy for some time and had, on one occasion, been under command of General Clark. It was considered a first-class division, and he thought that the difficulties incident to its employment and due to language complications would not prove insurmountable. The division had already been acclimatized.
- Sir Alan Brooke , continuing, said these forces might be used as three divisions in the initial assault with a follow-up of two divisions a good deal later on. This delay was necessitated by shipping limitations. The British Chiefs of Staff would very much like to participate in the assault as opposed to taking part only in the follow-up. The administrative factors could perhaps be discussed with General MacArthur.
- This question had been dealt with in a. above and Sir Alan Brooke hoped that it would be found possible to overcome any difficulties in this connection.
- When the question of British participation in the final assault had first been considered, the inclusion of Canadian forces had been envisaged. It had since been learned, however, that a Canadian division had been accepted by the United States Chiefs of Staff, to be equipped with American equipment, with a view to operating under American command. Although the British Chiefs of Staff would like to include a Canadian element in the Empire forces, it was not desired to upset these plans and he therefore suggested that the matter might be left open to discussion. The Canadian division might be used in a follow-up role. Detailed discussions on this matter could be carried out with General MacArthur.
- It was hoped that answers would be received from the Dominions concerned in the near future.
- It was entirely agreed that the inclusion of a British force in the final phase of the war against Japan would lead to complicated logistical problems. These problems could be considered in detail with commanders on the spot.
- The question of where the forces should be concentrated prior to the operation would have to be carefully considered. The Australian division was at present well placed and it should be found possible to concentrate one or two additional divisions in a suitable area. This also could be discussed in detail with the force commanders.
- It had always been the intention of the British Chiefs of Staff to provide, from British resources, sufficient assault lift for two divisions. The provision of certain close-support craft, was, however, likely to be most difficult owing to the distances involved.
- Sir Charles Portal said that while it was realized that there would be adequate United States tactical air forces available, he very much hoped that the United States Chiefs of Staff would consider the inclusion of a small tactical air force consisting of about 15 squadrons (about 250 aircraft in all). He made this request as he felt that the Commonwealth forces would like to have supporting them some of their own tactical reconnaissance and fighter-bomber units. The forces he had in mind should not cause complications as they would be Mustangs similar to those operated by United States forces.
- General Arnold undertook to investigate the possibility of the inclusion of a force as indicated by Sir Charles Portal, and asked to be supplied with the necessary details to carry out this investigation.
- Sir Alan Brooke said that the effect of these proposals upon continued operations in the Southeast Asia Command would be to limit the capacity to undertake amphibious operations, as the proposals would necessitate the use of landing craft. It was proposed to submit to the Combined Chiefs of Staff a directive to the Supreme Commander, Southeast Asia,5 for land operations across the Thailand–Burmese frontier and small amphibious operations to Sumatra and Java with the object of establishing small bridgeheads on those islands which could be developed later as the opportunity arose. The provision of shipping and assault craft was the limiting factor.
Sir Alan Brooke explained further that in approaching this problem it had been the aim of the British Chiefs of Staff to produce the maximum effort against Japan, continuing meanwhile such operations in Southeast Asia Command as could be conducted without detracting from the effort against Japan. The limiting factors affecting the British proposals were the provision of shipping and administrative troops. Hence three alternative suggestions had been included in C. C. S. 889.
As the United States Chiefs of Staff were prepared to accept the proposals in principle, it was suggested that a force commander and his staff (of the nature of a corps commander and staff) should be appointed and sent out to discuss details with General MacArthur and to draw up concrete proposals for submission to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
General Marshall said that the dispatch of a corps commander and staff to the Pacific was acceptable to the United States Chiefs of Staff and General MacArthur would be informed accordingly.
General Marshall then read extracts from a dispatch from General MacArthur on the subject of the participation of a Commonwealth force in the final phase of the war against Japan. He undertook to make available to the British Chiefs of Staff suitable extracts from the dispatch.6
General Hull said that tentative proposals had been made by the Australian Government to the United States Chiefs of Staff for the inclusion of an Australian force in the operation against Japan and for the inclusion of a small token force in Southeast Asia Command under Admiral Mountbatten. The proposal had merely expressed the desire of the Australian Government to participate in these operations and no details had as yet been discussed.[Page 51]
Admiral King said that there were two factors concerning the employment of Australian forces with which he presumed the British Chiefs of Staff were familiar. The first was that the Australian military establishment was being reduced to approximately three divisions. The second was the question of the possible return to New Zealand of the New Zealand division concerned.
Sir Alan Brooke said that while it had at one time been suggested that the New Zealand division should be returned to New Zealand, it had subsequently been agreed that the division consisting of two brigades would be available for operations in Southeast Asia Command. Arrangements had been made to send replacements to Italy and it would therefore not be necessary for the New Zealand division to return to New Zealand for rehabilitation. The views of the New Zealand Government on the present proposal had, however, not yet been received.
Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff fully recognized that the participation of British troops in the final phase of the war against Japan would lead to certain complications and he expressed sincere gratitude on behalf of the British Chiefs of Staff for the way in which the proposal had been received by the United States Chiefs of Staff.
General Marshall said that the United States Chiefs of Staff welcomed the proposals and would be pleased to make room for the employment of British forces, within the limitations of shipping and logistic support.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—
- Agreed in principle to the participation of a British Commonwealth land force in the final phase of the war against Japan, subject to the satisfactory resolution of operational problems and to the clarification of certain factors which the United States Chiefs of Staff believe will be controlling.
- Agreed that the British Chiefs of Staff should send out appropriate commanders and staff to visit General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz and draw up with them a plan for submission to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
- Took note that the British Chiefs of Staff would keep the United States Chiefs of Staff informed of the reactions of the Dominions to the proposals.
- Took note that the United States Chiefs of Staff would take up with the appropriate theater commanders the possibility of establishing a small British tactical air force in support of the proposed Commonwealth land force.