J. C. S. Files

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes
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The Meeting had under consideration an interim report to the President and the Prime Minister by the Combined Chiefs of Staff (C. C. S. 776/12).

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The President expressed his appreciation of the amount of progress which had been made in so short a time in the military discussions.

The report was then considered paragraph by paragraph.

a. Paragraph 6 h.

The President and The Prime Minister were informed that discussion was proceeding upon the wording of the basic undertaking to be included in this paragraph.

General Marshall said that the wording proposed by the British Chiefs of Staff3 raised a new question which involved placing supplies for liberated areas, over and above those required for the prevention of disease and unrest, in the same category as operational requirements. This would entail a change in the general priority at the expense of essential military requirements, which the United States Chiefs of Staff were disinclined to accept.

The Prime Minister inquired whether the British import program would be affected. He pointed out that Great Britain had had less than half her pre-war imports for over five years, and he was afraid lest the requirements of liberated areas, and even certain of the military requirements, would necessitate a reduction in the tonnage which it was hoped to import into Great Britain in 1945.

Sir Alan Brooke explained that the wording of the proposed basic undertaking was still under discussion, and the matter was not submitted for consideration at the present meeting.

The Prime Minister, referring to paragraph 6 f., thought that great efforts should now be made to pass supplies to Russia via the Dardanelles.

Admiral King said that this was all in hand and the first convoy was expected to go through on 15 February. The delay had been caused by the fact that the port of Odessa had not previously been ready to receive the supplies.

b. The U-Boat War (paragraphs 7 and 8)

The Prime Minister expressed his agreement with this paragraph. He thought the time had not yet come to take drastic measures at the expense of other operations, though it might be necessary to do so if the U-boat campaign developed in the way expected.

c. Operations in Northwest Europe (paragraphs 9 and 10)

The President and The Prime Minister were informed that complete agreement had been reached on this question.

The Prime Minister referred to the importance of having plenty of divisions available for the support of the main operation in the North, so that tired divisions could be replaced.

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Sir Alan Brooke said that this had been allowed for. Ten divisions would be in reserve and available to replace tired divisions in the battle. Other divisions could also be taken from the less active parts of the front.

The Prime Minister inquired what action had been taken on SCAF 180.4

Sir Alan Brooke explained that the Combined Chiefs of Staff had taken note of this telegram. General Bedell Smith had given further explanations of General Eisenhower’s proposed operations,5 and two further telegrams had been received from the latter.6 SCAF 180 should be read in the light of these additional explanations and telegrams.

The Prime Minister questioned the meaning of the words “to close the Rhine” which occurred in paragraph 10 of the report.

It was explained that these words were a quotation from General Eisenhower’s signal, and were understood to mean making contact with, or closing up to, the Rhine.

d. Strategy in the Mediterranean (paragraphs 11, 12, and 13)

The President inquired whether the Combined Chiefs of Staff were satisfied that if the forces proposed were withdrawn from the Italian Front, enough troops would be left behind for the task in hand.

Sir Alan Brooke said that Field Marshal Alexander had been consulted and had agreed to the withdrawal of three divisions forthwith, and two further divisions as soon as they could be released from Greece.

The Prime Minister said that there should be no obligation to take forces away from Greece until the situation there admitted of their withdrawal. It was necessary to build up a Greek National Army under a broad-based government.

Sir Alan Brooke drew attention to paragraph 4 of the proposed directive to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean (Appendix “A”7 to the report), in which it was stated that further complete formations after the first three divisions would be sent as they could be released from Greece.

The Prime Minister said that he expected that by the time the first three divisions had moved it would be possible to start withdrawing troops from Greece. He was in full agreement with the course proposed, and was particularly glad that General Marshall had taken the view that Canadian and British troops should be withdrawn. [Page 543] There were special reasons for desiring the transfer to France of the Canadian Corps. He was also anxious that the British contribution to the heavy fighting which would be taking place in Northwest Europe should be as great as possible.

In reply to an inquiry by the President, Sir Henry Maitland Wilson said that he was in complete agreement with the course proposed.

With regard to the proposed withdrawal of air forces, Sir Charles Portal explained, in reply to an inquiry by the President, that the move of five groups was in question. Two were to go now, and proposals for further moves were to be made by the Supreme Commanders in consultation.

The Prime Minister agreed that it would be unwise to make any significant withdrawal of amphibious assault forces from Italy, as to do so would be to relieve the Germans of an ever-present anxiety.

Referring to paragraph 7 of the proposed directive to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean, The Prime Minister said that he attached great importance to a rapid follow-up of any withdrawal or of any surrender of the German forces in Italy. He felt it was essential that we should occupy as much of Austria as possible as it was undesirable that more of Western Europe than necessary should be occupied by the Russians.

Referring to paragraph 8 of the proposed directive, dealing with support to the Yugoslav Army of National Liberation, The Prime Minister said that he presumed that the phrase “the territory of Yugoslavia” should be interpreted to mean the existing or lawful territory of Yugoslavia. There were certain territories which were claimed by both Yugoslavia and Italy and he was unwilling to give any suggestion of support to the claims of either side. For example, Trieste ought to be a valuable outlet to Southern Europe and the question of sovereignty in that area should be entirely reserved.

The President agreed and said that he was unwilling to see either the Yugoslavs or the Italians in complete control.

Sir Alan Brooke pointed out that the phrase as used in the report applied to the present territory of Yugoslavia.

The War Against Japan

e. Operations in Southeast Asia Command (paragraphs 18 and 19)

The Prime Minister said that the main object of the operations to clear the enemy from Burma was to liberate the important army engaged there for further operations against Japan. He inquired whether the Staffs had come to any conclusion on what these further operations should be.

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Sir Alan Brooke referred to Appendix “C”8 of the report, which contained the proposed directive to the Supreme Allied Commander, Southeast Asia Command. The directive gave as the next task the liberation of Malaya and the opening of the Straits of Malacca.

The Prime Minister hoped there would be time to review this matter in accordance with developments. For example, if the Japanese forces in Java or Sumatra were greatly weakened, small detachments might be able to go in and liberate these countries. His object, however, was to go where a good opportunity would be presented of heavy fighting with the Japanese, particularly in the air, as this was the only way which the British had been able to discover of helping the main American operations in the Pacific.

Sir Alan Brooke pointed out that the Supreme Allied Commander was directed to submit his plans, and it would then be possible to review the matter.

The Prime Minister inquired whether paragraph 18 meant that there would be no help from United States air forces in operations in the Kra Peninsula, Malaya, et cetera.

Sir Charles Portal pointed out that any such help would be the subject of a separate agreement when the plan had been received.

The Prime Minister inquired whether the President had not been somewhat disappointed at the results achieved by the Chinese, having regard to the tremendous American efforts which had been made to give them support.

The President said that three generations of education and training would be required before China could become a serious factor.

General Marshall pointed out that the picture in China was now considerably changed. In the first place certain well-trained Chinese troops were now in China, having been transferred there from Burma. Secondly, the opening of the Burma Road had meant that the first artillery for the Chinese Army had been able to go through. Thirdly, if operations in Burma continued to go well, additional trained Chinese troops could move back to China, and it was hoped that an effective reinforced Chinese corps would soon be in existence.

The Prime Minister said that it now appeared that the American and British operations in this part of the world were diverging. The American effort was going on into China and the British effort was turning to the south. He inquired whether any consideration had been given to the move of British or Indian divisions from Burma into China to take part in the operations there.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the facilities for sending equipment and supplies into China allowed of the support of Chinese forces, who [Page 545] required a considerably lower scale than British troops. These facilities certainly could not support British troops as well.

General Marshall agreed that the maintenance of British forces in China was not a practical proposition. There was only one reinforced United States brigade in China, which would act as a spearhead for critical operations. There was the reinforced Chinese corps, which had a stiffening of United States personnel in their tanks, armored cars, tank destroyers, et cetera, and there was an effective air force. These forces should now be able to insure that the Japanese could no longer go wherever they pleased in China. The aid which could be given by these forces to the American arrival on the Chinese Pacific Coast would be important. A pincer movement against the Japanese could in this way be initiated—one arm of the pincer being represented by the forces assaulting the selected spot on the Chinese Pacific Coast. This arm would be strong. The other arm of the pincer would be the Chinese and American forces in China. This arm would be weak, but nevertheless of value. The progress of the American main operations in the Pacific and the campaign in the Philippines had changed the picture in Southeast Asia, and would make further operations by Admiral Mountbatten’s forces much easier. He felt that it was important that Admiral Mountbatten should know what forces would be available to him in these operations, and that he should not plan on a false assumption. The American military authorities in Southeast Asia would know what United States forces could at any time not be supported logistically in China. These could be made available to Admiral Mountbatten in Burma. It might even be possible to bring air forces back from China for specific operations. Admiral Mountbatten should, however, be under no illusion as to what forces he could count on for his operations.

The Prime Minister repeated that if the Americans made any request for British troops to go into China he would certainly be prepared to consider it.

Admiral Leahy said that all the transportation available was fully required for the forces now in China, or earmarked for China.

General Marshall agreed, and said that he did not think it would be practicable to increase the forces in China until a port had been secured. Up to the present it had been possible to do only a very little in the way of equipping the Chinese ground army. Nearly all the transportation had had to be used for the needs of the American air forces. It would now be possible to handle the requirements of the Chinese ground forces.

Referring to paragraph 17, and Appendix “B,”9 which contained an outline of the plans and operations proposed by the United States [Page 546] Chiefs of Staff for the Pacific, The Prime Minister inquired whether it had been decided to delay the assault on Japan until after the close of the German war.

General Marshall said that this delay had been necessitated by the fact that until the German war ended, shipping, air forces, and service troops, could not be made available in sufficient quantities to enable the main operations against Japan to be carried out. If the German war had ended in December of 1944, it would have been possible to operate against Kyushu in the autumn of 1945. There were also certain seasonal limitations on operations in this area.

Summing up, The Prime Minister said that he was glad to see that such a great measure of agreement had been reached. He understood that the present report was merely designed to keep the President and himself abreast of the progress of the discussions, and that a final report would be rendered later.

The President agreed, and again expressed his appreciation of the work which had been accomplished.

Discussion then turned upon the conduct of future discussions, and Sir Alan Brooke explained that arrangements were being made to keep all the accommodations available at Malta so that the conference could be resumed there if necessary after the discussions with the Russians.

The President and The Prime Minister expressed their agreement with this action, and said that although final plans need not be made until later, it appeared highly probable that a short meeting at Malta on the return journey would be desirable.

The Meeting then adjourned.

  1. Not printed as such; but see the final report, C. C. S. 776/3, dated February 9, 1945, post, pp. 827833.
  2. C. C. S. 775, ante, p. 539.
  3. See ante, p. 464. footnote 8.
  4. Ante, pp. 471474.
  5. Not printed. One of these “two further telegrams” agreed to Smith’s rewording of Eisenhower’s plan of operations (see ante, p. 464, footnote 8); the other telegram has not been identified.
  6. See appendix A to the final report, post, pp. 832833.
  7. See appendix C to the final report, post, p. 833.
  8. Appendix B is C. C. S. 417/11, printed ante, pp. 395396.