J. C. S. Files
Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes
General Antonov requested Admiral Leahy to serve as Chairman of the 2d Tripartite Meeting.
Admiral Leahy thanked General Antonov but suggested that in the interest of continuity, Field Marshal Brooke continue to preside.
1. Bombline and Liaison Arrangements
Sir Alan Brooke suggested that the first item to be discussed should be General Antonov’s proposal for a bombline running from Stettin through Berlin, Vienna and Zagreb. He asked the United States Chiefs of Staff to express their views on this proposal since they were most intimately concerned with it.
General Kuter said he would like to read a statement on behalf of the United States Chiefs of Staff, setting out their views on this matter. This statement read as follows:1
- “1. Our wishes are:—
- To continue to do the greatest possible damage to the German military and economic system.
- To avoid interference with or danger to the Soviet forces advancing from the East.
- To do what is possible to assist the advance of the Soviet Army.
- “2. To achieve the first wish, that is, maximum damage to the Germans, it is essential to avoid as far as possible any restriction of strategic bomber action. It is not our wish to draw a line on the map which would exclude our bombers from attacking any targets which are important to the war-making power of the enemy, whether against the Soviet or the British and American forces.
- “3. To achieve the second wish, that is, avoidance of interference with Soviet land operations, we must rely upon the Soviet High Command to inform the British and United States Missions in Moscow of the positions of the Red Army from day to day. We also invite the Soviet High Command to inform the British and United States Missions if there are any particular objectives, for example, railway centers or centers of road communication close in front of their armies which they wish us not to attack. We should require at least 24, and preferably 48 hours’ notice for action upon such requests.
- “4. A regular daily meeting between the British and United States Missions in Moscow and a responsible officer of the Soviet General Staff seems to us to be essential.
- “5. To achieve the third wish, that is, assistance to the Russian advance, we should be glad to receive through the British and American Missions in Moscow any suggestions from the Soviet High Command. This suggestion would have to be considered in the light of other commitments and such factors as the distance and the weather.
- “6. To summarize, we suggest:—
- That there should be no rigid division of eastern Germany into spheres of action of the Soviet and British and American strategic bombers respectively;
- That day-to-day liaison should be established between a responsible officer of the Russian High Command and representatives of the British and American Missions in Moscow, in order to exchange information upon which we can regulate the action of the Anglo-U. S. strategic bombers in accordance with the development of Soviet operations on land.
- “7. When the Soviet Air Force is ready to undertake strategic bombing deep into Germany from the East, the coordination of policy should be discussed by Soviet, American and British Staff representatives in London or in Moscow. Some further machinery for the closer coordination of operations would appear to be necessary at that time.”
General Kuter said that he would like to add that in addition to his objection to the principle of a fixed line on the map, there was the further objection that there were valuable strategic targets to the east of the proposed line. From among some 20 such strategic targets which would be denied to Allied air power he would mention a few. These included the oil targets at Politz, the main production center of high octane gasoline and main source of fuel supply for the [Page 642]German Air Force; Ruhrland, second only in importance to Politz, and one of the four major synthetic oil plants in Germany. In addition there were several other oil targets. Further the proposed line would appear to prohibit attacks on some industrial and communication targets in the neighborhood of Berlin and Dresden. The line would also prohibit attack on three tank and self-propelled gun factories; and, lastly, and of great importance, it would prevent attacks on three jet-propelled fighter engine factories where components of the Juno jet engines were made and the engines themselves were assembled. He would point out that the oil targets referred to required repeated attacks in view of the German’s ability to repair them rapidly.
There was one further point he would like to make. Apart from the strategic implication of the line, it was unacceptable in view of topographical considerations. A bombline must be clearly visible to a pilot in the air, both from high and low altitudes.
General Marshall said he would like to add an additional illustration of the point made by General Kuter. He had that morning received a message from the Commanding General of the United States heavy bombers operating from the United Kingdom, reporting an attack on Berlin carried out three or four days previously by a thousand heavy bombers supported by some 600 fighters. These fighters were practically over the Russian lines and, in fact, destroyed a number of German aircraft taking off from an airfield east of Berlin. The Commanding General pointed out that, with good liaison parties and proper radio communication, not only could valuable information be given to the Russians before such an attack but also that the most recent information with regard to enemy and Russian movements could be communicated to him.
With the speed of modern fighters the aircraft taking part in this raid were involved in operations only five minutes flying time from the Russian ground forces. Yet it must be remembered that these aircraft were bombing a definite point which the Russian staff had requested should be attacked. Unless better methods of handling liaison were evolved, it would mean that the most powerful weapon of the war would be denied its proper use in assisting the Russians. He asked that an immediate and really practical solution should be found to this problem.
Sir Charles Portal then explained the point of view of the British Chiefs of Staff. Owing to the fact that United States bombers operated by day while the Royal Air Force bombers operated mainly by night, this problem affected the United States forces more than it did the British. Nevertheless, the problem for both air forces was almost identical. Already complete integration of control of the [Page 643]United States and British bomber effort from the West and from the South had been achieved.
Speaking for the British Air Staff, he fully supported the proposals which had been put forth by General Kuter which would entirely cover British requirements.
General Antonov explained that in putting forward at the previous meeting his proposal with regard to the bombline, he had in mind the wishes expressed by the United States and British Chiefs of Staff which had been put forward by General Deane and Admiral Archer. These wishes expressed a desire that the bombline should be as near as possible to the Soviet front. The line that he now suggested was only some 60 to 75 kilometers in front of the Soviet lines. There was no possibility of moving the bombline further to the eastward as this would hinder the action, not only of the Soviet ground forces but also the Soviet air forces. He appreciated that there were a number of important targets to the east of the proposed line which should be bombed. In connection with the bombing of such individual targets, each one could be considered separately. He would ask also that consideration should be given to the fact that the Soviets had a large number of aircraft themselves. He had mentioned on the previous day the 8,000 aircraft now being employed on the central fronts If all the targets to the east of the line were made available to the Allied air forces, then there would be nothing left for the Soviet forces to attack. The line now proposed was only a very general line drawn in the light of considerations put forward by General Deane and Admiral Archer and would have to be worked out in detail and, in particular, altered to enable Allied flyers easily to identify it. With regard to changes in the line necessitated by changes in the position of Soviet forces, full information with regard to this would be provided daily through the missions in Moscow. Through the same channel, the efforts of the Soviet air forces could also be coordinated.
Sir Charles Portal said that as he understood it, General Autonov’s view was that if the line which he had proposed was to be moved further to the east, there would be nothing left for the Soviet Air Force to attack. He felt there had been some misunderstanding on this point since the United States and British air staffs were entirely agreeable that any strategic target should be attacked by all three air forces. This was one of the reasons why he was opposed to drawing of any line which would divide Germany into two parts from the point of view of strategic bombing.
General Kuter said he would like to comment on two points. He was glad to learn that the Soviet wishes were similar to his own, as indicated by General Antonov’s reference to constant liaison to enable [Page 644]coordination to be achieved. Secondly, he would like to refer to the results achieved during the advance across the western desert. In this operation, as the result of excellent air-ground liaison, it was possible to place the bombline not at some specific distance ahead of the front line but at a point which it was expected that our own ground forces might be able to reach in eight hours.
General Marshall asked confirmation that General Antonov’s view was that the bombline he proposed should be altered so that it could be better defined topographically and that at the same time arrangements could be made for Allied forces to bomb critical points on the Soviet side of this line.
General Antonov said the line which he had indicated was a rough guide only. He felt that the Heads of the Air Staffs could work out the details of this line so as to insure its recognition from the air. This redefinition of the line could, he believed, be undertaken at the present conference. He also supported the statement made by Sir Charles Portal that there could be no line established which would entirely divide the targets of the three strategic air forces. It was for this reason that he considered that the action of the Soviet strategic air force should be coordinated with the Allied air effort through the missions in Moscow. If it was desirable for the Allied air forces to bomb targets to the east of the line, such action could be discussed in Moscow and the necessary decision taken.
Sir Alan Brooke said he regarded the bombline as a line of demarcation between the action of air forces and land forces and not as a line of demarcation between the action of strategic air forces. In Allied operations on the Western Front there was no line of demarcation between the action of the United States and British strategical air forces but there were bomblines on the various fronts closely connected with the action of the land forces and designed to insure close cooperation between land and air forces. He asked if it were to be assumed from General Antonov’s statement that the proposed bomb-line now being discussed was to be considered as the bombline which would ensure coordination of action between land and air forces but not designed to restrict the action of the strategic air forces, which action would be regulated through the missions in Moscow on a day-to-day basis.
Sir Charles Portal said he would like to put the question in a different way. Was it the intention of the Soviet Staff that the improved liaison which it had been suggested should take place through the missions in Moscow, would be in lieu of the line proposed and should be such as to safeguard the Soviet ground forces from the action of strategic bombers?[Page 645]
General Antonov said that the line he had proposed was designed to secure Soviet land forces from the possibility of accidental bombardment by the Allied air forces. Such a line could not be permanent and would be changed frequently to conform to changes in the land front. The actions of the strategic air forces, both Soviet and Allied, would not be bound by this line, however. It was drawn so close to the Soviet front that he presumed that the Allied strategic air forces would not find many targets to the east of this line though such targets might exist and in this case action against any of them could be decided upon individually. As to the Soviet strategic air force it would appear that in most cases their attacks would take place to the west of the line.
Admiral Leahy suggested that, since there appeared to be a large measure of agreement, time would be saved if the three air staffs met together and worked out the details of the proposed bombline.
Sir Charles Portal said he would like to suggest an amendment to Admiral Leahy’s proposal. He felt that instead of the air staffs trying to work out the details of the line they should work out the requirements for safeguarding the interests and security of the Soviet forces, having regard to the need for the destruction of as many important German installations as was possible. There seemed to be little difference between the various views expressed and what differences there were could, he felt sure, be settled quite easily.
Admiral Leahy said that he accepted Sir Charles Portal’s amendment to his suggestion.
General Antonov said that he agreed with Admiral Leahy’s view that the matter should be referred to the air staffs to work out a detailed line in accordance with the principles which had been discussed.
It was agreed that Marshal Khudyakov, General Kuter and Sir Charles Portal should meet together immediately to consider this matter.
Sir Alan Brooke said that there was one further related question which remained unsettled. This was the question of liaison on a lower level. General Antonov had undertaken, at the previous meeting, to seek the views of Marshal Stalin on this point.
General Antonov said he had reported on this matter to Marshal Stalin. Marshal Stalin had pointed out that there had so far been no close contact between Soviet and Allied land forces and therefore wished that liaison should take place through the Staff of the Red Army and the Military Missions in Moscow.
2. Coordination of Offensive Operations
Sir Alan Brooke said that the forthcoming offensives had been fully discussed at the previous meeting and coordination had been broadly settled. There remained, however, the question of the offensives [Page 646]during March and April. General Antonov had mentioned also a summer offensive. Could he give any further information as to the probable date of the commencement of this summer offensive and whether it would be in great strength? Further did he foresee any long periods between the end of the present offensive and the commencement of the summer offensive?
General Antonov said that Soviet offensive action had started and would continue. The Soviet forces would press forward until hampered by weather. With regard to the summer offensive, it would be difficult to give exact data with regard to the interval between the end of the winter and beginning of the summer attack. The most difficult season from the point of view of weather was the second part of March and the month of April. This was the period when roads became impassable.
General Marshall asked, with regard to General Antonov’s comment on the bad weather period between the winter and summer offensives, whether it was anticipated that it would be possible to carry out any important action until the summer offensive could be started.
General Antonov said that, if during this period operations in the West were carried out actively, the Soviets would take every possible action on the Eastern Front wherever this could be done.
General Marshall emphasized that the interval between the winter and summer offensives would probably be the period at which the Allies would be trying to cross the Rhine. He was therefore most anxious that the enemy should not be able to concentrate forces against the Allies on the Western Front at that particular time.
General Antonov said that he could assure General Marshall that the Soviets would do everything possible to prevent the transference of German forces from east to west during this period.
3. Exchange of Information With Regard to River-Crossing Technique and Equipment
Admiral Leahy said that at the first meeting between the Heads of State, the British Prime Minister had raised the question of exchanging information with regard to technique and equipment employed by the Soviet forces in river crossings. At the present time in view of the Allied proximity to the River Rhine this was a most immediate problem for the Allied forces. There were now two officers present from General Eisenhower’s headquarters and it appeared highly desirable that they should meet with the appropriate Soviet experts on the subject of the technique and equipment employed by the Red Army in major river crossings which they had undertaken. [Page 647]Thus the Allies on the Western Front could obtain the benefit of the experience of the Red Army in this matter. He would therefore very much appreciate if General Antonov would indicate whether this could be done and if so would make such arrangements as were practicable for the officers from General Eisenhower’s headquarters to meet with the appropriate Soviet officers.
General Antonov said that the Soviet Army was always ready to share its battle experience with its allies. However, at the moment there were no specialists in this technique available and he would like therefore time to look into this matter. He would furnish the required information later.
Admiral Leahy thanked General Antonov for this very satisfactory reply.
4. Bases for U. S. Strategic Bomber Forces in the Vienna-Budapest Area
General Marshall said that as the Soviet advance proceeded it would be found logistically possible to move U. S. strategic bomber forces now in Italy, with their protecting fighters, to bases in the Vienna-Budapest area. It was very desirable for such aircraft to operate from that vicinity. It was therefore the hope of the United States Chiefs of Staff that this could be arranged by having a staging area or zone of passage in that area so that it could be arranged for some 670 individual heavy bomber sorties to be undertaken each month. This would require the support of about 1,800 fighter missions in the same period. To effect this it would be necessary to carry out certain construction work for which some 2,000 United States personnel could be provided from Italy and 200 from elsewhere. The greatest difficulty would be the transfer of the necessary supplies and equipment. 22,000 tons would be required initially and a further 8,300 tons a month thereafter. The President of the United States was likely to present this project to Marshal Stalin with a request for his approval. It would involve the use of two airfields in the Budapest area and also agreements that the Soviet authorities should undertake the movement of the necessary stores to the Budapest area by road, rail or barge.
General Antonov said that the matter would probably be decided between Marshal Stalin and the President. He personally felt that it could conveniently be undertaken and suggested that the Heads of the Air Forces should consider the problem.
General Marshall said he would be very happy for this to be arranged.[Page 648]
5. Provision of Soviet Airfields for Damaged British Night Bombers
Sir Charles Portal said he had one request to make. It would be extremely helpful if the Soviet General Staff could allocate air bases with night landing equipment at various points distributed along their front at which British night bombers, damaged in night combat over Germany, could land instead of having to fight their way back over the heavy defenses of Germany. If these aircraft were so badly damaged that they could not get back, and no such airfields were available, the crews had no alternative but to bail out and lose their aircraft. If the Soviet authorities could agree to this request he suggested that details could be arranged through the missions in Moscow.
Marshal Khudyakov said that he regarded this as a technical question. Up to the present the Soviet forces had never denied assistance to Allied fliers, who had always been met and taken care of. He suggested the details of Sir Charles Portal’s proposal should be worked out after the conference.
6. Enemy Intelligence
General Antonov said that at the previous Conference he had referred to the fact that the Germans would endeavor to stop the Russian offensive on the line of the Oder. Quite possibly they would not only adopt a passive defense on this line but would try to gather together counterattack forces for a break-through. He would be glad to know if the Allied commander in the West had any intelligence with regard to the collection of such forces, their movements or the likely point for such an attack. He was particularly interested in the transference of the Sixth S. S. Panzer Army.
General Bull said that when he left General Eisenhower’s headquarters a short time ago evidence existed that the Sixth Panzer Army was leaving the Western Front and possibly an additional two divisions from north of the Vosges. General Eisenhower had taken immediate action to put the maximum possible air effort on these German movements. He was not up to date with regard to the direction of these moves but he was certain that such information as was available at the Supreme Commander’s headquarters could be sent to the Soviet General Staff. He would be glad to take this matter up with General Eisenhower immediately on his return.
General Marshall said that he had received a message on the previous day which gave definite information of the moves of certain divisions of the Sixth Panzer Army from the Western Front. This message had also given the new total of enemy divisions on the Western Front as 69. This morning’s operational report raised this total to [Page 649]70 since a newly formed parachute division had appeared on the Western Front on the right of Field Marshal Montgomery’s forces, in a position somewhere east of Venlo. He would get an exact statement on this matter and give it to General Antonov.
Sir Alan Brooke said that his information was very similar to that given by General Marshall. It was known that the Fifth Panzer Army had also been pulled out of the line but there were no indications yet of its moving to the eastward. The British experts believed that this move was unlikely to take place. If General Antonov wished, a telegram could be sent asking for the latest information.
General Antonov said he was very grateful for the information given him and was particularly interested in the transfer of the Sixth Panzer Army to the eastward.
Sir Alan Brooke said, with regard to the Italian Front, that as far as was known only one division was being withdrawn although there were indications of considerable movement.
General Marshall said it might be helpful, if the Soviet Staff was not already aware of them, to give details of the attack in the Ardennes. This attack had been made by the Fifth and Sixth Panzer Armies. Prior to the attack the Sixth Panzer Army had been out of the line for several months and had been located northeast of the Ruhr with five divisions. The Fifth Panzer Army had been in the front line or close to it. The Sixth Panzer Army had crossed to the west of the Rhine a month or six weeks before the offensive had taken place but had not been located until the attack was launched. The Sixth Panzer Army had been the first to be withdrawn from the attack and the Fifth Panzer Army was finally also withdrawn though it was not known if it had left the front.
Marshal Khudyakov asked if the losses in the Fifth Panzer Army were known.
General Marshall said it was difficult to differentiate between losses incurred by the Fifth and Sixth Panzer Armies. At the meeting on the previous day he had given information with regard to the destruction inflicted on one or the other of these armies in the course of two days operations. It was believed that very heavy casualties had been inflicted on the motor vehicles and tanks of almost all the divisions of both the Fifth and Sixth Panzer Armies.
General Bull said the Fifth Panzer Army had attacked in the center and, of the two, made the most progress. The Sixth Panzer Army had attacked in the north in the direction of Malmedy-Liege. Both the Fifth and the Sixth Armies had suffered considerable losses in armor and two divisions of the Fifth Army in particular were known to have suffered heavily.[Page 650]
7. Pacific Operations
Admiral King said that the general principles for the conduct of the war against Germany and Japan were: firstly, the defeat of both Germany and Japan at the earliest possible date; secondly, that Germany was the principal enemy; thirdly, that continuous and unremitting pressure would be maintained against the Japanese forces. Efforts would be made to attain positions from which the final attack on Japan could be staged when the necessary forces became available from Europe. There had been no fixed schedule but endeavor had been made to go as fast and as far as the available means permitted. At the present time our operations were hampered chiefly by lack of shipping and the shortage of service and auxiliary troops. It was worthy of note that all operations in the Pacific had, of necessity, been amphibious operations and some were carried out over great distances.
In general, the forward line now held included Attu, the Marianas, and Luzon. In addition, we had control of the sea and air not only up to this line, but beyond it to China, Formosa, the Ryukyus, and even to the coast of Japan itself. The present fighting was taking place on the island of Luzon, about 1,500 sea miles from Japan itself. The Japanese appeared to prefer to keep the fighting at that distance from their homeland. What was important was that it was still possible to inflict casualties on the Japanese navy, air forces, and shipping. The British Pacific Fleet was now available, and had been reported to him as being available for operations about the 15th of March.
Regarding future operations, it was proposed to continue the liberation of the Philippines and to establish air bases in Luzon from which to interdict enemy air and shipping in the north part of the China Sea, including the China coast and the area of Formosa. On the 19th of February the United States forces would seize the Bonin Islands, which would be used chiefly as a base for fighters accompanying the heavy bombers on raids on Japan. About the first of April it was proposed to go into Okinawa in the Ryukyus for the purpose of establishing air bases and an advance naval base, and to intensify the sea and air blockade of Japan.
Though no decision had been taken, planning was proceeding on an operation to go into the Chusan Archipelago to broaden the base for intensifying the air and sea blockade of Japan. This would also assist interdiction of communications in the Shanghai-Hankow area, including the great water highway of the Yangtze.
In the North Pacific, air operations were being conducted from the Aleutians and occasional ship bombardments of the Kuriles, chiefly against the islands of Paramushiru and Shushima in the extreme north of the chain. The weather for air operations in this area was particularly [Page 651]bad, and consequently there had been a number of forced landings by United States aircraft in Kamchatka. He would like to express his deep appreciation for the care and assistance which had been rendered to these airmen by the Soviet authorities.
For a period of about a year examination and study had been continuing of the possibility of securing a safe sea passage through the Kuriles by seizing an island, preferably in the central part of the chain, whose topography was such as to permit the establishment of airfields. Lack of means made it unlikely that such operations would take place during 1945 unless they became so vitally important that ways and means would have to be found to do them, even though the over-all means available for the war against Japan were limited.
Admiral Kuznetsov asked if the capture of an island in the Kuriles was planned for 1945.
Admiral King said that means were not available to undertake it as well as the other operations which had been planned; however, as always, it was a question of the relative importance of the various operations under consideration.
General Marshall said he would like to add that from the point of view of the Army, plans were kept up to date in great detail, particularly with regard to shipping, in order to effect the most rapid possible movement of forces from Europe to the Pacific. These plans were so arranged that the movement would start one week after the termination of the war in Europe. The total transfer would, however, take a long time. Air would move first, accompanied by the service units needed to support the air forces and to prepare bases for the other troops. The necessity for these plans was one of the reasons why an estimated date for the end of the war against Germany had been required.
General Antonov said that, as he had mentioned on the previous day, it would be more convenient to discuss questions concerning the Far East after this matter had been considered by the Heads of State.
8. VLR Bomber Operations Against Japan
General Kuter said that the B–29’s, the heavy long-range United States bombers, were organized into the Twentieth Air Force commanded by General Arnold. The operations of the Twentieth Air Force had been following a plan somewhat similar to that used by the strategic air forces in Europe. The Japanese aircraft industry had been selected as the first priority target. At the present time this air force had approximately 350 operational B–29’s. About a third of that number had been operating from China bases since May 1944 and the remainder had begun operating from the Marianas in July 1944. It was expected to build up a force of approximately [Page 652]1,800 operational B–29’s. The latest operation carried out was on the previous Sunday, when 120 B–29’s had attacked Kobe. Broadly speaking, the relatively small force of B–29’s which had so far been employed had exceeded the anticipated results for the number of attacks that had been carried out.
9. Operations in Burma and China
Sir Alan Brooke said that during 1944 the Japanese had delivered a serious attack in north Burma. This attack was stopped and the Japanese were driven back by the British forces in north Burma, assisted by Chinese forces under United States direction which had been trained by United States officers in India. Land communications to China had now been opened through north Burma. The road was not good but motor vehicles and guns could now be delivered by that road to China. Operations in Burma were continuing southward with the object of ultimately clearing the Japanese out of Burma, which would then provide a suitable base for further operations against the Japanese in those parts. In addition, as Admiral King had mentioned, British naval forces had been dispatched to take part in operations in the Pacific. Carrier attacks had also been carried out against the oil targets in Palembang on the island of Sumatra.
Sir Charles Portal said that it was of interest to add that the British advanced forces operating in the Mandalay area and to the west of it, were almost entirely dependent on air supply provided by United States and British transport aircraft.
General Marshall said that the United States maintained a considerable air force in China, consisting, at the present time, of some 600 planes with more to come. The sole source of supply for these forces was over the 17,000-foot mountains between northeast Burma and Kunming. These operations presented an extremely difficult proposition from every point of view. As Sir Alan Brooke had said, the Japanese had in the previous spring attacked towards the line of communication to China. This was the line of communication not only for the British forces in Burma but also for the Chinese forces in Burma, and the United States air transport force flying supplies into China. In spite of all the difficulties, 44,000 tons of supplies had been flown over the Himalayas last month. A transport plane left airfields in Burma every two minutes of the day and night. It was necessary to provide not only gasoline for the air forces operating out of China but to provide also for the ground forces in China who had little food or equipment. United States transport aircraft had moved Chinese forces to India from where, after training, they had again been transferred by air to the seat of operations where they had joined up with their equipment. More recently the Chinese forces had been flown back [Page 653]over the mountains, thus providing the only really dependable well-equipped fighting force in China. They were, however, without armored fighting vehicles or medium artillery. Now that the road was open, armored fighting vehicles, trucks and artillery could be sent to them. There had been almost a complete lack of motor transport in China and what there had been was now worn out. It was under these circumstances that the United States Chiefs of Staff had asked assistance from the Soviets in order to get 500 trucks to the Chinese. He very much appreciated the efforts the Soviets had made and fully understood their difficulties. Fortunately, these vehicles could now be sent to China direct by road.
A United States general (General Wedemeyer) was now acting as chief of staff to the Generalissimo in an effort to coordinate the various activities of the Chinese forces. This was of particular importance in relation to United States action in the Pacific. Operations in China were of increasing importance now that naval forces were so close to the coast of China. General Wedemeyer was endeavoring to restore a very serious situation and, with armored cars and trucks now available, his task should prove easier. As he (General Marshall) had previously mentioned, in the face of unparalleled difficulties 44,000 tons had been flown over the Himalayas last month. He mentioned this because to him it meant the accomplishment of the greatest feat in all history. In the face of such achievements cooperation by the staffs now seated around the table should be relatively easy.
General Antonov asked if the operations in Burma were regarded as decisive operations or secondary operations.
Sir Alan Brooke said that they were decisive operations aimed at the clearing of Burma of all Japanese forces.
General Antonov asked if it was considered that there were enough troops for decisive action on the two fronts—the Far East and Europe. Would not concentration on the main front hasten the end of the war in Europe and thus hasten the end of the war against Japan by making additional forces available?
Sir Alan Brooke explained that mainly local forces were being used in Burma, the majority of them being from the Indian Army. Indian divisions had been taken from India and had been engaging Germans since the beginning of the war. However, it had been essential to protect India’s eastern frontier and at the same time to open up a land route to China. Far greater forces were required in this theater to carry out all the desired operations. As General Marshall had mentioned, plans were ready to transfer forces as fast as possible upon the completion of the war with Germany in order to finish the war against Japan. Up to the present time Germany was regarded as the main enemy and Japan as the secondary enemy, to be taken on with full forces immediately Germany was defeated.[Page 654]
General Marshall explained that the policy of the United States Government played a great part in the decisions with regard to operations in Burma. The United States Government placed great importance on the maintenance of the present regime in China. From the military point of view it would be a very serious matter if all China passed into Japanese control. Only relatively small American forces had been used except for transport aircraft.
It was imperative, however, that operations should not stand still in the Pacific. This would enable the Japanese to build up a solid line in the occupied areas. In the first year of the war only small land and air forces had been available to assist the strong naval force in the Pacific. These forces had, however, pushed forward by by-passing Japanese positions. At present some 200,000 to 300,000 Japanese troops had been cut off in these by-passed positions and a comparable number could now be considered as cut off in Malaya, the Netherlands East Indies, and even Burma.
Admiral Kuznetsov asked for information with regard to the area of the United States submarine operations in the Pacific.
Admiral King said that the United States submarine force had always operated where the most Japanese shipping was to be found. The main submarine force used Hawaii as its main base and worked generally north of the latitude of 20° N. A further submarine force was based on Australia and was now supplemented by a considerable number of British submarines. This force worked in the area of the East Indies. Allied submarines in the Pacific had taken a heavy toll of Japanese shipping, which was now reduced from a maximum of some seven million tons to two million tons. These Japanese losses had been inflicted by submarines, by air forces and by naval surface vessels. United States submarine losses had remained relatively constant at about two per month. The number of United States submarines operating was still increasing. It was clear that the closer operations come to Japan the tougher would be the opposition not only for submarines but also for air and naval forces and for ground troops.
Admiral Kuznetsov asked if it was intended that United States submarines should operate in the Sea of Japan.
Admiral King said that so far they had not operated in the Sea of Japan though they operated in the Yellow Sea.
Admiral Kuznetsov suggested that the Japanese were likely to shift their sea lines of communication to the Sea of Japan.
Admiral King explained that such a line of communications already existed as did a Japanese sea line of communications to Manchuria and to the North China coast.[Page 655]
10. Future Business
After a brief discussion it was agreed that all the necessary subjects had already been covered and that no further meetings were called for until such time as the Heads of State might submit additional problems to the military staffs.
In reply to a question from Sir Alan Brooke, General Antonov said that he felt that for the present no written report to the Heads of State was necessary, but rather that each staff should report individually to its own Head of State. Should a written report be required, this could easily be prepared later.
In conclusion, Sir Alan Brooke said he would like to thank General Antonov for his hospitality in receiving the United States and British Chiefs of Staff in Yalta and for his cooperative attitude during the meetings.
- This statement is the text of C. C. S. 778/1, dated February 21, 1945, and entitled “Liaison with the Soviet High Command over Anglo-American Strategic Bombing in Eastern Germany”.↩