J.C.S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes3
top secret

1. Approval of Minutes of C. C. S. 182d Meeting4

Sir Alan Brooke referred to the record of General Bull’s statement contained in the fourth paragraph of item 4 of the minutes. He had not understood that there was any question about operation Grenade not being launched. He had, on the other hand, understood that operation Veritable was dependent on operation Grenade . Was it visualized that Veritable would have to await the launching of Grenade ?

General Smith explained that General Bradley was endeavoring to advance on the Prüm-Bonn axis. If this advance succeeded in reaching Euskirchen quickly, it would be equally effective in assisting operation Veritable as would operation Grenade . Veritable was not, however, dependent on either operation. General Eisenhower was at present at General Bradley’s headquarters and was now deciding whether or not to cancel General Bradley’s operations and shift forces north in order to undertake Grenade instead.

General Marshall said that in recent discussions General Eisenhower had explained that he would have to take a decision by 1 February as to whether to continue with General Bradley’s operations or to stop them and start the movement of troops preliminary to launching Grenade .

General Smith said that it was his personal opinion that it would probably be necessary to stop General Bradley’s operations and to launch operation Grenade .

General Marshall pointed out that if General Bradley’s operations could achieve their objective in time there were certain advantages since the troops were already in position.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Approved the conclusions of the 182d Meeting and approved the detailed record of the meeting subject to later minor amendments.

2. Operations in the Mediterranean
(C. C. S. 773)5

The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them a draft directive to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean,6 prepared by the British Chiefs of Staff (C. C. S. 773).

[Page 486]

Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff had come to the conclusion that the right course of action was to reinforce the decisive Western Front at the expense of the Mediterranean Theater which, of necessity, would then have to revert to the offensive-defensive in Italy. There was now no question of operations aimed at the Ljubljana Gap and in any event the advance of the left wing of the Russian Army made such an operation no longer necessary.

General Marshall stated that the United States Chiefs of Staff were not yet in a position to give their final views on the draft directive, particularly with reference to possible moves of part of the Twelfth Air Force. However, there were certain United States proposals which he would like to put to the British Chiefs of Staff at once. The United States Chiefs of Staff suggested the following amendments: In paragraph 2 the substitution of the word “British” for “our” wherever it occurred; in paragraph 4 the substitution of “five” for “six” divisions; in paragraph 5, first sentence, the deletion of the words “United States” and “in equal proportions.”

General Marshall explained that it was felt wiser to leave the Fifth Army intact as a well balanced organic force, and that it would be preferable to reinforce France with British and Canadian divisions in order to increase the strength of Field Marshal Montgomery’s army.

The United States Chiefs of Staff agreed to the removal of three divisions, British or Canadian, at once, and the remainder as soon as they could be released from Greece, since this was the only way of finding the additional forces required. The question of the equipment of Greek forces had also been considered, since on this depended the release of the British divisions now in that country, but this was a complicated problem which he would like to consider further. The United States proposal was therefore that five divisions, two of which should be Canadian and the remainder British, should eventually be moved to France. With regard to the transfer of these forces, a preliminary study went to show that use of air transport could expedite the transfer of at least the first two divisions. He felt that if motor transport could be provided for these divisions from the United Kingdom, the date by which they would be available for operations in France would be greatly expedited.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff originally estimated that six divisions could be spared from the theater. With regard to their nationality, there were obviously great advantages in moving the Canadian divisions to enable them to join up with the remainder of the Canadian forces in France. He was prepared to agree that the remaining divisions should be British. He felt it right [Page 487] to accept five divisions as a basis and this figure could be reconsidered later in the light of the situation.

Field Marshal Alexander said that the Canadian divisions were the easiest to move quickly; one was already out of the line and could be moved at once and the other approximately a fortnight later. He pointed out, however, that it would be difficult to find suitable British divisions since all were now in the line and they had been involved in hard fighting for a long period. He had no reserve divisions. He outlined the composition of the forces available to him in the Mediterranean Theater.

Sir Alan Brooke felt it unwise to go into the details of the formations to be moved at this stage. He accepted the United States proposals in principle. Two Canadian and one British divisions could be moved first and the remaining two British divisions as soon as they could be released from Greece.

General Marshall said that the United States Chiefs of Staff had in mind to propose the withdrawal from the Mediterranean of a part of the Twelfth Tactical Air Force to include five fighter groups, one light bomber group, one reconnaissance unit, and two squadrons of night fighters. These air forces would be used to assist the First French Army and the Seventh United States Army.

Field Marshal Alexander pointed out that if land formations were removed from him it was all the more desirable to keep as much air power as possible in the theater. If it was absolutely necessary to withdraw air forces from him he was most anxious that the United States medium and light bombers should not be taken, since British air forces in Italy were weak in those particular types.

General Smith said that he was not asking for light bombers to be withdrawn from the Mediterranean Theater to Northwest Europe.

General Anderson pointed out that the greatest need was for fighter-bombers. The Southern Group of Armies had been robbed of these in order to strengthen the northern forces. He felt that if the Mediterranean Theater was passing to the defensive and the troops were being transferred to Northwest Europe, then the appropriate air components should, if possible, accompany them. The main deficiencies in Northwest Europe were in P–47’s which could be used as either fighters or fighter-bombers.

General Kuter explained that the proposal to move the 47th Light Bomber Group from Italy had been made in view of the fact that it was trained for night intruder work which it was felt would be of more value in Northwest Europe than in Italy.

General Smith said that he would be delighted to accept this group but only if Field Marshal Alexander could spare it. He was [Page 488] as concerned as Field Marshal Alexander himself as to the security of the Italian Front.

Field Marshal Alexander said that if General Smith would give him his minimum requirements, he would do his utmost to meet them.

General Smith said that the five fighter-bomber groups were his minimum requirement for France and the light bombers, though desirable, were not essential.

Field Marshal Alexander undertook to examine this proposal at once and to release these forces if this proved at all possible. He fully realized that if his theater was to go on the defensive it was his duty to give up all possible resources, provided only that his front remained reasonably secure.

General Smith said that he was entirely prepared to leave the final decision to Field Marshal Alexander.

Sir Alan Brooke referred to NAF 8417 in which Field Marshal Alexander had requested approval to the equipment of certain additional Greek forces. He (Sir Alan Brooke) was most anxious that a decision on this proposal should be reached before the Combined Chiefs of Staff left Malta since such a decision would greatly accelerate the dates at which the British divisions could be released from Greece.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Deferred action on this subject.

3. Strategy in Northwest Europe
(C. C. S. 761/3 and 761/4)7

Sir Alan Brooke said the British Chiefs of Staff were prepared to accept the Supreme Commander’s operations as explained by General Smith and recorded in the minutes of the 182d Meeting. This explanation, however, was not in complete accord with the proposals put forward in SCAF 180. The British Chiefs of Staff therefore were not prepared to approve SCAF 180 as at present drafted.

General Smith then presented a redraft of the Supreme Commander’s plan as contained in paragraph 21 of SCAF 180. This redraft was designed to bring the Supreme Commander’s proposals into line with his previous explanation of SCAF 180.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Deferred action on this subject.

4. Planning Date for the End of the War With Germany
(C. C. S. 772)8

General Marshall said that he felt it wiser to defer consideration of this item until after discussion with the Russian General Staff.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Deferred action on this subject until the conclusion of Argonaut

[Page 489]

5. a. Operations in Southeast Asia Command
(C. C. S. 452/35 and 452/36)9

b. Allocation of Resources Between the India-Burma and China Theaters

Sir Alan Brooke explained that the British Chiefs of Staff in C. C. S. 452/35 had put forward a new draft directive to the Supreme Commander, Southeast Asia.10

General Marshall said that he felt that the question of a directive to the Supreme Commander should be linked with the problem of the allocation of resources between the India-Burma and China Theaters. He drew attention to a memorandum by the United States Chiefs of Staff (C. C. S. 452/36) which, while concurring in the directive proposed by the British Chiefs of Staff, linked this directive to an understanding as to the allocation of United States resources to the Southeast Asia Command. He felt that the situation was developing to a point where the resources of the China and Burma-India Theaters would be separated. U. S. resources required for China would not be available for operations in Malaysia. It was important that Admiral Mountbatten should be in no doubt as to the circumstances under which United States forces were available to him.

General Wedemeyer had recently estimated that some three squadrons of fighters would be required to protect the air route to China and had further implied that he was prepared to accept the responsibility of protecting with Chinese or United States troops the northern part of the Burma Road. This would, of course, relieve Admiral Mountbatten of these responsibilities. The situation was developing rapidly and the Japanese might well hold out in the Rangoon area in order to deny us that port but, in a matter of weeks, the Japanese sea communications to Burma, Malaysia and the Netherlands East Indies would be cut by air operations out of the Philippines. This would materially reduce Admiral Mountbatten’s problems. Further, it would soon be possible to transfer more power to China, not so much additional tonnage but the all-important transport vehicles and light and medium artillery. The striking power then available to us on the far side of the Hump would be very different from that which we now had.

Summing up, General Marshall said that the proposed directive to Admiral Mountbatten was acceptable to the United States Chiefs of Staff, provided it was communicated to Admiral Mountbatten together with the policy with regard to the employment of United States forces outlined in C. C. S. 452/36.

[Page 490]

Sir Alan Brooke explained that the phrase “with the forces at present at your disposal” contained in paragraph 3 of the draft directive was inserted in order to make it clear to Admiral Mountbatten that he should not undertake operations which could not be carried out without an increased allocation of resources.

Sir Charles Portal asked for clarification of the meaning of the United States Chiefs of Staff memorandum (C. C. S. 452/36). Did this memorandum imply that, although Admiral Mountbatten could use for approved operations in Burma United States forces not required in China, such forces would not be available to him for use in Malaya?

General Marshall said that the memorandum was meant to make it quite clear that the employment of United States forces outside Burma must be the subject of fresh agreement and that Admiral Mountbatten must not be led to assume that they would be available to him.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Deferred action on C. C. S. 452/36 pending further study by the British Chiefs of Staff.

6. Estimate of the Enemy SituationEurope
(C. C. S. 660/3)11

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Took note of C. C. S. 660/3.

7. Bombing of U-Boat Assembly Yards and Operating Bases
(C. C. S. 774)12

Sir Andrew Cunningham said that he would prefer to consider this memorandum at the same time as the paper he was putting forward with regard to the U-boat threat.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:—

Deferred action on C. C. S. 774 pending study by the British Chiefs of Staff

  1. C. C. S. 183d Meeting.
  2. Ante, pp. 467477.
  3. Not printed. The final version was circulated as C. C. S. 773/3, dated February 17, 1945; and its text, with variation of a few words, is appendix A (post, pp. 832833) to the report of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to the President and the Prime Minister at Yalta.
  4. Field Marshal Alexander.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Ante, pp. 478480.
  8. Not printed.
  9. Admiral Mountbatten.
  10. Not printed, but cf. C. C. S. 772, ante, pp. 478480.
  11. Not printed, but see coverage of this subject in the report of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to the President and the Prime Minister, post, p. 828.