By Ernie Pyle
Northern Tunisia – (by wireless)
Before the first day of the great surrender on the Bizerte-Tunis front was over, I believe half the Americans in the area had German souvenirs of some sort.
There was very little of what one would call looting of German supply dumps. The Germans gave away helmets, goggles and map cases, which they will not be needing anymore. The spoils of war which the average doughboy has on him are legitimate, and little enough recompense for his fighting.
Practically every American truck has a German or Italian helmet fastened to its radiator. Our motorcycles are decorated like a carnival, with French flags and the colorful little black-and-yellow death’s-head pennants the Germans use for marking their own minefields.
Ernie gets big souvenir
Many soldiers have new Lugers in their holsters. Lots of our men clowningly wear German field caps. German goggles are frequently seen on American heads. I got in on the souvenirs too. I got one memento that is a little gem. It’s an automobile – yep, a real automobile that runs.
I drove back to camp that first evening in my German “Volkswagen,” the bantam car the Nazis use as we use our jeep. It is a topless two-seater with a rear motor, camouflaged a dirty brown.
Mine was given me by our 1st Armored Division for – as they said – “sweating it out with us at Faid Pass all winter.” As I drove back from the lines, Americans in the rear would stare, startled-like and belligerent; then, seeing an American at the wheel they would laugh and wave. I have owned half a dozen autos in my life, but I’ve never been so proud of one as of my clattering little Volkswagen.
Germans well-fed, well-equipped
On that first day of surrender, the Germans sat in groups of hundreds in the fields, just waiting. They lay on their overcoats, resting. They took off their shirts to sun themselves. They took off their shoes to rest their feet.
They were a tired army but not a nondescript one. All were extremely well-equipped. Their uniforms were good. They had plenty in the way of little personal things, money, cigarettes, and food. Their equipment was of the best materials. One English-appearing soldier had a Gem nail-clipper. He said he paid 25¢ for it in New York in 1939.
Some were clean-shaven, some had three- or four-day beards, just like our soldiers. Lots of them had red-rimmed eyes from lack of sleep. As a whole, they seemed younger than our men, and I was surprised that on the average they didn’t seem as big. But they did appear well-fed and in excellent health.
Germans admire Americans
They think Americans are fine fighters. They express only good-natured contempt for their allies, the Italians. As one of them said:
It isn’t just that Italians don’t fight well. It’s simply that Germans don’t like Italians very much in the first place.
Wherever any American correspondents stopped, prisoners immediately gathered around. They all seemed in good spirits. Even those who couldn’t speak a word of English would try hard to tell you something.
The main impression I got, seeing German prisoners, was that they were human like anybody else, fundamentally friendly, a little vain. Certainly they are not supermen. Whenever a group of them would form, some American soldier would pop up with a camera to get a souvenir picture. And every time all the prisoners in the vicinity would crowd into the picture like kids.
Big boost to American morale
One German boy had found a broken armchair leaning against a barn, and was sitting in it. When I passed, he grinned, pointed to his feet and then to the chair arms, and put back his head in the international sign language for “boy, does this chair feel good!”
This colossal German surrender has done more for American morale here than anything that could possibly have happened. Winning in battle is like winning at poker or catching lots of fish – it’s damned pleasant and it sets a man up. As a result, the hundreds of thousands of Americans in North Africa are now happy men, laughing and working with new spirits that bubble.
High school diploma is a requirement for new task
U.S. Navy Department (May 13, 1943)
On May 11, a force of Army Mitchell (North American B‑25) medium bombers attacked Japanese installations at Kiska, dropping bombs on the runway and main camp area.
On May 12:
During the morning, Flying Fortress (Boeing B‑17) heavy bombers bombed Japanese positions on Ballale Island in the Shortland Island area, and started a large fire.
About the same time, Flying Fortresses attacked Kahili in the Shortland Island area and started a number of fires which appeared to be burning enemy aircraft.
Later in the morning, Dauntless (Douglas SBD) dive bombers and Avenger (Grumman TBF) torpedo bombers, escorted by Warhawk (Curtiss P‑40) and Corsair (Vought F4U) fighters, attacked Japanese installations at Munda on New Georgia Island in the Central Solomons.
On the night of May 12‑13, U.S. light surface units bombarded Japanese positions at Vila on Kolombangara Island and at Munda.
The Allied naval vessels which previously were announced as sunk by Japanese air attack on Allied shipping in the vicinity of Guadalcanal on April 7, 1943, now can be named as the destroyer USS AARON WARD (DD-483), the tanker USS KANAWHA (AO-1), and the corvette HMNZS MOA (T233). The next of kin of all casualties aboard these vessels have been notified. The action previously was reported in Navy Department Communiqués No. 337, 338, 339 and 340.
U.S. State Department (May 13, 1943)
|United States||United Kingdom||Czechoslovakia|
|President Roosevelt||Prime Minister Churchill||President Beneš|
President Beneš had been invited to attend so that he could explain to Roosevelt and Churchill his views on the partition of Germany. Beneš also set forth his views regarding the necessity to try German war criminals, reeducate the German people, decentralize the German administration, and substantially change the German social structure. Numerous questions of European politics as well as problems of future international organization and the guaranteeing of peace and security were discussed by Roosevelt, Churchill, and Beneš at this meeting.
Washington, 13 May 1943. Secret Enclosure to C.C.S. 215
A detailed examination of the merits and possibilities of the defeat of the European Axis by a bomber offensive and air-ground invasion of the Continent from the United Kingdom has been made by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff.
It is estimated that Germany has 32 divisions in France and the Low Countries. Seven of these divisions are highly mobile and could on short notice be moved to oppose an invasion effort. These forces could be increased in time to a grand total of 60 divisions. She also has about 1,254 planes in the area (747 fighters) which could be increased to 1,766 (1,158 fighters) by stripping all areas except the Mediterranean and Eastern Front. In addition to a coastal defense zone varying from 5 to 15 miles in depth, she has four defensive belts which must be reduced or neutralized before the West Wall is reached.
The projected bomber offensive against Germany may be expected to so reduce her ability to wage war as to create favorable conditions for a reentry to the Continent unless Germany is able to develop timely and effective countermeasures.
By maximum utilization of shipping and United Kingdom port facilities for the movement of United States forces, and by placing increased emphasis on the conversion of British defensive divisions into offensive units, it is estimated that 36 United Nations divisions can be made available for cross-Channel operations by 1 April 1944.
Whether the available shipping is used to move forces from the United States or the Mediterranean, the total number of divisions available in the United Kingdom will be the same. However, the addition of battle-seasoned troops from the Mediterranean will provide an added insurance for the success of the initial assault.
The two most promising areas for assault operations, the Caen and Cotentin Peninsula sectors, will afford port facilities for a buildup in 12 months of about 1,000,000 men. By extending this bridgehead to include the Seine River and the ports of Le Havre and Rouen, the buildup in 12 months would be about 4,000,000 men, or about 100 divisions.
It should be noted that consideration of cross-Channel operations in this study has been confined to the initial movement. Landing craft for this purpose as compared with the requirements of C.C.S. 105/2 may be met, but at the expense of some operations in other theaters. The buildup immediately thereafter and the requirements in APAs, AKAs, APs, AKs, etc., have not been examined.
It is recommended that:
a) The combined bomber offensive be given first priority in buildup and its execution be facilitated.
b) As the combined bomber offensive progresses, its effects should be continuously examined and integrated with other factors, the results of these examinations to be used in determining the date for cross-Channel operations.
c) A balanced invasion force be built up in the United Kingdom as rapidly as possible for the purpose of an early invasion in the event of a collapse of Germany (SLEDGEHAMMER).
d) No operations be undertaken in the Mediterranean which will interfere with the buildup of maximum forces in the United Kingdom for SLEDGEHAMMER as well as for ROUNDUP.
e) Production of landing craft be increased to the maximum without undue interference with the construction of other essential war materials.
f) The target date of 1 April 1944 be accepted for operations from the United Kingdom. The target date coincides with the completion of the fourth phase of the bomber offensive and is subject to revision in the light of the results obtained.
|United States||United Kingdom|
|Admiral Leahy||General Brooke|
|General Marshall||Admiral of the Fleet Pound|
|Admiral King||Air Chief Marshal Portal|
|Lieutenant General McNarney||Field Marshal Dill|
|Commander Freseman||Lieutenant General Ismay|
|Brigadier General Deane|
|Lieutenant Colonel Vittrup|
May 13, 1943, 10:30 a.m. Secret
Admiral Leahy, on behalf of the United States Chiefs of Staff, expressed his pleasure at having the British Chiefs of Staff present for this series of meetings. He appreciated that they have come so far and left their duties for this purpose. He felt that it was important that by personal conferences the problems which had arisen since their last meeting should be resolved.
Admiral Leahy said he would like to outline brief proposals with regard to the conduct of the Conference. He suggested the meetings should take place daily, including Sundays, from 10:30 to 12:45, followed by a luncheon in the Map Room of the Public Health Building. If acceptable to the British Chiefs of Staff, the United States Chiefs of Staff would like to have with them at these meetings their three senior planning officers, together with one member of the Joint Strategic Survey Committee, and two officers responsible for supply problems. These officers would not take part in the discussion nor sit at the table. He felt that many of the problems could be more quickly resolved if those involved were present and could hear at first hand the views of the Chiefs of Staff.
Sir Alan Brooke said that he felt that the number should be kept down as much as possible but agreed with Admiral Leahy’s suggestions. He would like the British Directors of Plans also to be present.
Sir John Dill suggested that to assist the representatives of the British Chiefs of Staff in their duties after the Conference itself had ceased, it would be helpful if they also could attend.
Admiral Leahy agreed that this was an excellent suggestion.
Admiral Leahy further suggested that with regard to the recording of decisions, nothing in the minutes should be regarded as an agreed decision unless it were recorded as such in the conclusions. Agreed decisions should be taken as the first item at the subsequent meeting. With regard to the final report to the President and the Prime Minister, he suggested that any preliminary reports presented should be regarded as tentative only and that in the final report an effort should be made to arrange approved existing and projected strategic undertakings in their order of priority. He suggested the first two sessions should be given up to a general discussion and exchange of ideas on global strategy, both in Europe and the Pacific; after that, post-HUSKY operations in 1943 and beyond, both in the Mediterranean and Western Europe; and finally a review of the China situation, Operation ANAKIM and the Pacific. At the conclusion of these first two general discussions, the Combined Planners should be asked to prepare a detailed agenda. The war against Japan should perhaps be discussed first since the Commanders in Chief in the Far East might wish to return to their posts.
Admiral Leahy then read out a memorandum giving the views of the United States Chiefs of Staff on the global strategy of the war.
Sir Alan Brooke thanked Admiral Leahy for the warm welcome which he had given to the British Chiefs of Staff. He felt it was appropriate that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should meet at the conclusion of the successful operations in North Africa. It was also appropriate that he should choose this moment to express the admiration of the British Chiefs of Staff for General Eisenhower’s conduct of these operations, and above all, for his success in obtaining and maintaining the utmost cooperation and harmony throughout his command and complete absence of friction.
Sir Alan Brooke said he was in entire agreement with the proposals for the Conference suggested by Admiral Leahy. With regard to the memorandum on global strategy which Admiral Leahy had read, the British Chiefs of Staff would like time to consider this paper, since it embodied the foundations of our future strategy.
Sir Alan Brooke then read out a memorandum by the British Chiefs of Staff containing their views on the conduct of the war in 1943-1944 (attached as Annex “B” to these minutes). In reading this memorandum, he amplified in certain respects that part of paragraph 2 dealing with the directive to General Morgan. This directive included instructions to prepare for a feint designed to bring about an air battle on the western front, an operation (a reverse Dunkirk) in which all available forces should be put forth onto the Continent by any possible method to take advantage of a crack in German morale, and finally, instructions to prepare for a full-scale assault against opposition. Shipping remained the stranglehold on all our operations. It would be necessary to keep this factor in mind in all considerations. It was suggested, however, that the desirability of possible operations from a military viewpoint should first be assessed, and when agreement had been reached on this, the possibilities of carrying them out should be related to the shipping position. As regards the order of discussion, he suggested that since there was no immediate urgency for the return of the Commanders in Chief to India, the global strategy should first be discussed, then European strategy (since Germany was agreed to be the main enemy) and finally the Pacific.
In reply to a question by General Marshall, Sir Alan Brooke said that if HUSKY was launched on the 10th of July, it was estimated that the operation should be completed within one month.
General Marshall said that the United States Planners had estimated that the revised HUSKY might take until the middle of September.
Sir Alan Brooke said that he considered that the new plan with its stronger lodgments should not take much longer than the old one since our air superiority should be able to cut the enemy’s lines of reinforcement.
Sir John Dill suggested that the rapid collapse of the Axis forces in Tunisia might be taken as indicative of what the future held for us.
Sir Charles Portal said that the weakness of the new plan lay in its failure to seal the island to reinforcements. He agreed, however, that with our large air superiority, if sufficient pressure could be maintained, it would not be easy for the Axis to reinforce since they would find difficulty in keeping their ports open. The impression from General Eisenhower’s signal on the revised plan was that it inferred that he anticipated but little delay due to the changes made.
General Marshall asked the views of the British Chiefs of Staff on the results to be expected on Germany by the progressive and cumulative effect of the combined bomber offensive this summer up to the fall.
Sir Charles Portal said that he built great hope on these attacks if the buildup could be maintained. It was hoped to have between eight and nine hundred United States heavy bombers and four hundred United States medium bombers in the United Kingdom by the 30th of June.
General McNarney confirmed that this number of heavy bombers would be available, though there might be a slight diminution in the number of mediums.
Sir Charles Portal said that the effect of some thousand-day bombers and between 1,000 and 1,200 night bombers would be considerable. The results of day bombing had been most encouraging and must achieve the withdrawal of German fighters from other fronts since the Germans could not afford to ignore the material and morale effect of these attacks. The American day bombing plan aimed not only to shoot down enemy fighters but to destroy fighter factories.
General Marshall asked for the Chief of Air Staff’s views on the effect of concentrating all available air power in support of a land battle.
Sir Charles Portal said that this largely depended on the targets offered. Our air superiority would be overwhelming within a circle of 120 to 150 miles. The Germans could only provide some two to three hundred bombers and five to six hundred fighters, whereas the British had some 1,500 fighters and the United States would have about a thousand. If replacements were available, this superiority after a few days would defeat the German fighter defense and enable the bombers to attack their targets relatively unmolested. The essential problem was to insure that the German Air Force gave battle.
General Marshall then raised the question of the results of turning our air power in North Africa onto the Italian fleet once bases were available in Sicily.
Sir Charles Portal said that the present task of the Air in North Africa was to insure air superiority over Sicily. The northern Italian ports were out of range from the United Kingdom in the summer. The attack must be based either on Sicily or North Africa.
Sir Dudley Pound said that if they were bombed out of Spezia, the Italian fleet might make for Toulon. The modern Italian battleships of the Littorio class had left Spezia after the last bombing, but had then returned. The older battleships were at Taranto and were immobilized for the present since the necessary destroyers had been used for ferrying troops to Tunisia. There they had sustained considerable losses, but he believed that there were still enough destroyers available to escort the Italian fleet to sea.
Admiral King agreed with Sir Dudley Pound that it was desirable to drive the Italian fleet into the Adriatic but doubted if those in the northwestern Italian ports would run the gauntlet through the Straits.
In reply to a question by General Marshall, Sir Charles Portal said that the Italian fleet in the north was only vulnerable to day attack by U.S. bombers since the short nights did not permit of British night bombers being used. He did not believe that the Italian fighter defense was good but ships were difficult to sink, particularly since the vessels of the Littorio class had heavy deck armor.
General McNarney said that all Italian ports, including Toulon and Trieste, were in easy range of B-17 and B-24 aircraft based on North Africa. American bombers were developing a new technique for low-altitude attacks. Experience in the South Pacific went to show that good results could be achieved in spite of heavy anti-aircraft fire, though the question of defense against fighters was another matter and must be taken into account since the Italian ships would be in ports out of range of our escorting fighters.
General Marshall then asked for an estimate on a time basis of the vulnerability of the Ploești oil fields to attack by aircraft based either on Aleppo or Libya.
Sir Charles Portal said he did not believe that an adequate scale of attack could be brought to bear except from Turkey or the mainland of Italy or Greece. Only B-24s based on North Africa could reach the oil fields, and these were neither numerous enough nor were they as well able as the B-17s to beat off an attack. If Turkish, Italian or Greek bases could be used, an attack should produce a very serious effect on the refineries, and hence on Germany’s petroleum situation.
General McNarney said that a plan which had great possibilities had been worked out for attacking Ploești oil fields by low-level bombing attacks from bases in Bengasi, using 500-pound delay action bombs, the force to consist of 153 Heavy Bombers. He believed that such an attack would render any further operations against the refineries unnecessary for a period of some six months. This attack could be carried out without waiting for the Turkish or Italian airfields to be available, and the numbers required could easily be built up of B-24s with some additional B-17s temporarily diverted from the United Kingdom.
General Marshall said it was important in considering our future strategy to carefully assess the possibilities and destructive capacity of air attacks. We should take advantage of this strength in planning our future operations, particularly in the Mediterranean where it should be possible to use air power rather than additional ground forces. The enemy must not be allowed to relax, however. Damage to the Italian fleet might prove sufficient to release British surface vessels for employment in the Far East. The plan for Ploești outlined by General McNarney seemed well worth the gamble. The destructive power against fighters shown by the B-17s had been encouraging, as had also their accuracy in bombing which had forced enemy fighter reaction to their attacks. Attacks on the Italian fleet, and on the oil fields of Ploești could be undertaken. These would not be too heavy a logistical burden. All these possibilities had a bearing on what could be achieved to hasten the collapse of Italy by air action alone. An Italian collapse might have a political reaction on the Turks which would enable us to get the use of their air bases. The results of our air superiority in Tunisia had proved crippling to the enemy.
Operation HUSKY should provoke further air fights which would weaken the enemy and might leave us in a position to bomb Italy almost unmolested. Since correct application of air power was all important, the Chiefs of Staff would deeply regret any failure to exploit a favorable opportunity which might be presented to use its cumulative effect in the Mediterranean at this time. Effective use of air power might enable us to economize in the use of ground forces in the Mediterranean Area. They would also deeply regret not being ready to make the final blow against Germany, if the opportunity presented itself, by reason of having dissipated ground forces in the Mediterranean Area.
Admiral Leahy asked for an estimate as to how long it would require to establish ourselves in a position in Turkey or in the heel of Italy to undertake air attacks on Ploești.
Sir Charles Portal said he estimated that from seven to nine weeks would be required before we could operate from Turkish airfields or from three to four weeks if a Turkish acceptance could be taken for granted and the necessary concentrations in Syria made beforehand. Airfields in Turkey sufficient to operate 25 squadrons were now available and airfields for another 20 squadrons should be ready by October. It was difficult to estimate the time factor if the heel of Italy was used. A considerable amount of shipping would be required, and the timing would depend on the amount of land forces engaged and requirements for tactical air forces which would take up the airfields otherwise available for the strategic bombing force. Broadly, he felt that it was unlikely that an air attack on Ploești could take place from Italian bases sooner than from seven to nine weeks after the launching of the land operations against the heel. He feared that an initial ineffective attack on Ploești might lead to great strengthening of the defenses. It was unwise to underestimate the meteorological and geographical difficulties in attacking this target. A very high degree of training and good luck with regard to the weather were essential.
Admiral Leahy emphasized the importance of the time element in bombing of the Ploești fields.
Admiral King said that the Russians might undertake an attack on Ploești since they had large air forces and bases near the target.
Sir Charles Portal said this had been suggested to the Russians, but he believed their air forces were too closely committed to the ground battle.
General Marshall said that permission had been sought from the Russians, prior to the first Ploești raid, for the U.S. aircraft to land in Russia. This permission, however, had been received a week too late to be of any use, and the Russians had never agreed to permit U.S. aircraft to take off for the raid from Russian fields.
Sir Charles Portal said that the British Chiefs of Staff had brought with them their study on the possibility of bombing Ploești and the results which would be achieved. He suggested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should instruct the Combined Staff Planners to prepare a report on this matter.
Admiral King suggested that the Russians should again be approached on the desirability of bombing Ploești or the use of their airfields by U.S. or British bombers for this purpose.
Sir Charles Portal concurred.
Sir Alan Brooke agreed that full use must be made of air power in the Mediterranean but considered that this must be examined in relation to the whole picture of the value of knocking Italy out of the war.
General Marshall felt that in looking at the whole picture we should direct our attention to knocking Germany out of the war.
Sir Alan Brooke said that the enemy were certain to resist to the best of their ability our plans for putting shipping through the Mediterranean, and this should produce heavy air attacks. The enemy’s one hope of victory lay in the success of his operations by submarine and air against our surface ships. The capture of Sicily would help us to open the Mediterranean route, but even then, Axis air based on Sardinia would endeavor to cut the line of communication.
Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff doubted if bombing by air alone would cause the collapse of Italy. If Italy collapsed, Germany would be faced with the necessity of taking over the garrisoning of the Balkans from the Italians. Some 43 Italian divisions were now employed on this task. The Germans might use fewer. If they used only 20, it would mean 20 less on the Russian Front. Further, unless Germany allowed us to occupy the whole of Italy, including her northern airports, Germany would have to send troops to resist our attacks. The Balkans were economically valuable to Germany. Troops could not be withdrawn from them altogether since Mihailovitch in Yugoslavia would rise and Greece and Albania would be inflamed. If we could knock out Italy and thus divert at least 20 divisions from the Russian Front, and if the Russians could keep up the pressure during 1943, the Germans might crack. It was essential, therefore, that we must use every means to insure a collapse of Italy.
Sir Alan Brooke said that if Italy should crumble as a result of HUSKY, we must consider what action should be taken. Troops for the occupation of Italy would be necessary. He did not believe that Germany would try to control an Italy which was not fighting. Continental communications were designed for an east and west flow of traffic. Communications north and south were bad, as were lateral communications along the southern outposts of German power in the Mediterranean. German resistance in Tunisia had crumbled more quickly than we had been led to expect from our previous knowledge of German troops. They had suffered a terrific defeat with loss of some 150,000 men. None of their North African troops were available to increase the defenses of Sicily. Operation HUSKY might be easier than we thought, and on the completion of a successful HUSKY, the Germans might be forced to divert troops to the various islands and threatened points in Southern Europe.
Sir Alan Brooke said that he believed that German strategy on the Eastern Front would be mainly an offensive-defensive. They now only had 185 divisions on this front. No Italian divisions were left there and far fewer Hungarians and Roumanians. Action of ours in the Mediterranean, which would force the collapse of Italy, would necessitate the Germans withdrawing additional troops from Russia to meet Italian commitments, including the 7 Italian divisions in southern France which would then be threatened by the Allies. An Anti-Fascist Government might request our support against the Germans or a state of anarchy might exist. The first alternative would be more difficult to deal with. In any event, German commitments resulting from the collapse of Italy would help our final re-entry into northern France, since only from there or from the Russian Front could the necessary additional troops be found.
The capture of Corsica and Sardinia would assist an attack on southern France, and since German forces would have to be diverted for the protection of this coast, the re-entry into north France would be assisted. He was entirely in agreement that air forces should be used to the maximum but linked with appropriate ground forces.
In reply to a question by General Marshall, Sir Dudley Pound said that the Germans now had a strong force including the Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, one pocket battleship, and one 8-inch cruiser concentrated in the north of Norway. An additional battlecruiser would not be fit for service for many months, and the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin, although completed, would probably not be operationally fit for several months. Admiral Doenitz, on assuming command, had stated that the whole German Navy would be used for an attack on shipping. This might mean that the crews of the surface ships might be used to reinforce the submarines or that the surface fleet itself would be used against our convoys. In this latter event the fleet could be more easily used to attack Russian convoys than to break out into the Atlantic. They were at present concentrated in the north in expectation of another convoy being run. The short nights of summer made it difficult for them to elude our very long-range aircraft if they tried to break out in the Atlantic. No German tankers were known to have gone to sea, and this was usually the prelude to a breakout. He did not believe that a breakout was likely until the autumn. The degree of cooperation between the German and Japanese fleets was not known, but it was possible that the Japanese had convinced the Germans that the most useful purpose which their fleet could serve was to remain in harbor thus containing a superior British force.
Reverting to the revised HUSKY plan, Admiral King said that he appreciated the arguments in its favor. He was anxious, however, as to the lack of ports available in the early stages through which our forces could be maintained. The revised plan, however, had the merit of simplicity and concentration. He did not believe that the Italian fleet would try to pass through the Sicilian narrows though it was possible that it might attempt a passage through the Straits of Messina. He felt it unwise to overlook enemy naval potentialities in the Mediterranean. He asked for information with regard to the rehabilitation of the French fleet.
Sir Dudley Pound agreed with Admiral King as to the advantages of the new plan in that only one end of the island required cover. He believed that two French 6-inch cruisers and a few contre-torpilleurs were being repaired.
Admiral King, referring to ROUNDUP, stated that the results of SICKLE might prove to be overwhelming. We must be ready to exploit this by cross-Channel operations. It appeared to him that our large air forces could be used for destruction of critical bridges such as those across the Seine, ammunition and supply dumps and lines of communication. We must therefore be very firm in our determination to mount ROUNDUP in April, 1944. He believed that the vast concentration of air forces available in the United Kingdom might prove the determining factor in the success of Continental operations.
Admiral Leahy said that it was generally agreed that the elimination of Italy would have extremely valuable results, but he agreed with Admiral King’s thought that it might be unwise to divert to or maintain in the Mediterranean forces which could be used in a cross-Channel assault or as a prelude to such an attack. If we weakened our potentialities for a cross-Channel assault by continuing to confine forces to the Mediterranean, it might preclude a major effort against Germany on the Western Front.
Sir Alan Brooke said that he believed that if we did not continue operations in the Mediterranean, then no possibility of an attack into France would arise. Even after a bridgehead had been established, we could get no further. The troops employed would for the most part be inexperienced. The force available, some 15 to 20 divisions, was small and could not be regarded in the same category as the vast Continental armies which were counted in 50’s and 100’s of divisions. Before undertaking operations across the Channel, it was essential that we should create the right situation to insure its success.
General Marshall stated that the discussion was now getting to the heart of the problem. Experience in HUSKY had shown that initial estimates of requirements were always exceeded. The only limit to TORCH had been the availability of shipping. The Tunisian campaign had sucked in more and more troops. Operations invariably created a vacuum in which it was essential to pour in more and more means. Once undertaken the operation must be backed to the limit. He felt deeply concerned that the landing of ground forces in Italy would establish a vacuum in the Mediterranean which would preclude the assembly of sufficient forces in the United Kingdom to execute a successful cross-Channel operation and Germany would not collapse unless this occurred from air bombardment alone. If further Mediterranean operations were undertaken, then in 1943 and virtually all of 1944 we should be committed, except for air attacks on Germany, to a Mediterranean policy. This would entail a very serious state of affairs in the Pacific. It would mean a prolongation of the war in Europe, and thus a delay in the ultimate defeat of Japan, which the people of the U.S. would not tolerate. We were now at the crossroads – if we were committed to the Mediterranean, except for air alone, it meant a prolonged struggle and one which was not acceptable to the United States.
Admiral Leahy said that the Pacific could not be neglected; it was too vital to the United States. Immediate action was necessary to maintain China in the war. The war in Europe must be brought to a rapid decisive close at the earliest possible date.
Sir Alan Brooke said that he agreed that the European war must be ended as fast as possible. He believed, however, that to cease Mediterranean operations on the conclusion of HUSKY would lengthen the war. The seizure of the Brest Peninsula, which was all we could now achieve, would merely lock up 20 divisions. Russia was the only Ally in possession of large ground forces, and our strategy must aim to help her to the maximum possible extent. Only by continuing in the Mediterranean could we achieve the maximum diversion of German forces from Russia. The transshipment of Allied divisions from the Mediterranean to England was a difficult shipping commitment. A lodgment in the Brest Peninsula would not be a decisive blow. There were only some ten to twelve British Divisions available in England.
General Marshall said that if a maximum effort was made, some eleven U.S. divisions could be made available in the United Kingdom by April, 1944.
Sir Alan Brooke pointed out that these combined forces would only be sufficient to hold a bridgehead and would not be large enough to debouch into the Continent. Now was the time when action was required to relieve the pressure on Russia. No major operations would be possible until 1945 or 1946, since it must be remembered that in previous wars there had always been some 80 French Divisions available on our side. Any advance towards the Ruhr would necessitate clearing up behind the advancing Army and would leave us with long lines of communications. Our air force in U.K. was at present largely on a static basis though it was being converted now for use with the expeditionary force. The British manpower position was weak, and to provide the necessary rearward services for continental warfare, two of our twelve divisions now in U.K. would probably have to be cannibalized.
General Marshall said that it appeared that ROUNDUP was still regarded as a vague conception. Did this mean that the British Chiefs of Staff regarded Mediterranean operations as the key to a successful termination of the European war?
Sir Charles Postal explained, that the British. Chiefs of Staff did not believe that a force of some 20 to 25 divisions could achieve important results across the Channel on the Continent of Europe unless almost the entire bulk of the German Army was in Russia or the Balkans. Our ability to operate across the Channel later was dependent on the extent to which we could help Russia now. This in turn was dependent on the possibilities of knocking out Italy this year. If this could be achieved, then in 1944 a successful re-entry into northwest Europe might well be possible, but a re-entry now with some 12 to 15 divisions against the German forces available could achieve nothing.
Sir Alan Brooke said that he did not visualize an increase in the existing ground forces in the Mediterranean. The only cost would be in shipping to mount subsequent operations.
General Marshall, referring again to the buildup for ROUNDUP, stated that if we were ever to get the forces in the United Kingdom, we must begin now. Further operations in the Mediterranean would, in his opinion, create a vacuum which would constitute a drain on our available resources.
Admiral Leahy asked if it was believed that the Russians would be satisfied with an attack on Italy if this meant postponement of ROUNDUP.
Sir Alan Brooke said that he was convinced that a Russian failure would prolong the war for many years. He believed it far better, from the Russian point of view, that Ave should attack Italy now rather than start preparing for cross-Channel operations which could not be of any real importance until 1944. What the Russians wished us to achieve was a withdrawal of German forces from their front. The problem was how this could best be done. He believed that only by attacking in the Mediterranean could we achieve immediate results and that this was more valuable than building up for a 1944 ROUNDUP which, might not even then be possible.
General Marshall said that he thought that Sir Alan Brooke forgot the fact that there would be continual air operations in the Mediterranean. Germany would not know when Ave were about to strike a blow, and her troops would be contained in the area. We had built great hopes of crippling Germany by air attack, and he felt, therefore, that this would be more successful against Italy where the resistance would be less. He believed that land operations in the Mediterranean Area would prolong the European war and hence the time when a decision could be achieved in the Pacific. The build-up of forces in Great Britain for BOLERO would constitute a threat which would demand a German reaction.
Sir Charles Portal said that he would be satisfied with this plan if he believed that Italy could be knocked out by air alone and that we could thus gain the Italian airfields on the plains of Lombardy and the occupation of Sardinia and Corsica. He was doubtful, however, if air alone would achieve the desired result. It had never been claimed that Germany could be knocked out by air alone, but rather that it would reduce her power to such an extent that her forces available against Russia and ourselves would be so weakened as to permit of her defeat. Our object was to assist Russia, and we must achieve this object as early as possible.
Sir Alan Brooke said that operations in the Mediterranean were important from the Turkish point of view. The Turkish attitude depended both on Russian successes and our operations against Italy. The additional shipping for operations in the Mediterranean could only be found at the expense of BOLERO. The reduction in BOLERO buildup resulting from the undertaking of operations in the Mediterranean would only be some three to four divisions in 1943 and none in 1944. Operations in the Mediterranean were not an unlimited commitment. We must take immediate advantage of the deterioration in Italian morale. Even if we occupied all Italy, a serious shipping commitment would not arise since the Italian ships would themselves be sufficient to bring nearly all the necessary food to Italy, and only some 10 ships a month would be required for coal.
Admiral King reminded the Chiefs of Staff of the danger of [to] the lines of communication to the Mediterranean passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. The Germans had not yet taken action in this area, but we might be faced with a difficult position if they concentrated submarines in the approaches.
Sir Dudley Pound said that on a previous occasion when the Germans had operated in the actual approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar, they had suffered serious losses.
In reply to a question by Admiral Leahy, Sir Alan Brooke said that the advantages of obtaining the Azores were obvious. An examination had been made of possible German reactions. A German advance into Spain and Portugal would require some 15 to 20 divisions and would be met with resistance, if only guerrilla. The Germans would then be faced with a difficult economic situation and the logistic problem of bad communications and different rail gauge. The British Chiefs of Staff did not believe that Germany would undertake this operation. A difficult situation, however, existed with regard to Portugal. If we ask the Portuguese to allow us the use of the Azores, she might well require a guarantee from us that she would be defended. This would be difficult to give since it would entail keeping forces and ships ready to meet this commitment. It would therefore be desirable, if possible, to give Portugal no guarantee and to assure her that the risk of a German reaction was very remote.
Admiral Leahy said that this seemed largely a political question. It was unwise to offer guarantees and better to take the islands without previous notice, at the same time giving assurance that they would be returned to Portugal at the end of the war.
Sir Hastings Ismay said that the British were in a difficult position since they had entered into negotiations with the Portuguese and had staff conversations with a view to assisting Portugal in defending the islands against attack. It might therefore be better for the United States to occupy these islands.
General Marshall suggested that a possible timing for the occupation of the Azores might be just after HUSKY had been launched in order to utilize the shipping returning from this operation. There were sufficient troops in Northwest Africa for use in Portugal.
Sir Hastings Ismay said that a telegram had just been received from the British Cabinet stating that the Foreign Secretary believed that the Portuguese might agree to an occupation of the islands. He offered to circulate to the Combined Chiefs of Staff a British study on the whole problem.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
That nothing be considered as an agreed decision during the TRIDENT Conferences which does not appear in the conclusions of the minutes.
That during the TRIDENT Conferences the conclusions of each meeting be read and approved as the first item of the succeeding meeting.
That when any Summaries of Conclusions are given to the President and the Prime Minister during the period of the Conference, it should be explained to them that these would only be tentative and that, at the end of the Conference, a final Agreed Summary of Conclusions would be submitted.
That in the preparation of the Final Summary of Conclusions, effort should be made to set out an order of priority of existing and projected strategic undertakings.
That at the end of the 84th Meeting the Combined Staff Planners should be directed to prepare a detailed agenda for the remaining Conferences.
b. Agreed that the possibilities of launching a decisive air attack on the Ploești Oil Fields from Russia should be explored by the Combined Staff Planners.
c. Took note that a paper that had been prepared by the British Chiefs of Staff on the subject of the use of Portuguese Islands in the Atlantic would be circulated to the Combined Chiefs of Staff as a basis of future discussion.
|United States||United Kingdom|
|President Roosevelt||Prime Minister Churchill|
|Mr. Hopkins||Air Chief Marshal Portal|
|United States||United Kingdom|
|Secretary Hull||Prime Minister Churchill|
Washington, May 13, 1943. Strictly confidential
I called on Prime Minister Churchill at the White House at his request. He proceeded first to express his extreme gratification at the final and complete military victory in Africa. I interjected to say that “your” and our Vichy policy has been justified and vindicated 100 percent. He promptly replied with enthusiasm that it had been vindicated 140 percent, and then went on to say that it was one of the greatest classical operations, perfect in every essential respect in that the air, land and naval forces and the diplomatic activities of our Governments were all synchronized together with marvelous precision and thrown against the enemy with the most powerful effect. He said that the United States had not received credit for the two years’ work of preparation and of paving the way for the African expedition under our Vichy policy. I said I must agree with him on that, but that one of these days the full facts would come out.
I brought up the need for a more full and complete understanding with Russia on the part of Great Britain and the United States and went on to repeat in substance what I had said to Foreign Minister Eden on his recent visit here in regard to the extreme importance of our two countries proceeding systematically through carefully selected persons to talk Mr. Stalin out of his shell, so to speak, away from his aloofness, secretiveness and suspiciousness until he broadened his views and visualized a more practical international cooperation in the future; at the same time indicating Russia’s intentions both in the East and the West. Mr. Churchill thought that Russia would help fight Japan when the war in the West was over, to which I replied that so far as I knew, there was no evidence or intimation of any kind as to what Russia would do in this respect; that it was my opinion that if she eventually should come into the war in the Pacific, it would probably be two or three weeks before victory, during which time she could spread out over Manchuria and other large areas and then be assured of sitting in at the peace conference. I said she may come into the war in the East, but the point I was emphasizing was that I could not get any intimation as to her future plans except in regard to certain territorial matters on her borders in Europe.
I then referred to our commercial policy and trade agreements program and elaborated on that in ways that are familiar to all. I expressed the opinion that we would receive the support of the public in carrying forward this combined program of liberal commercial, monetary and other related policies. He said very little on this question but appeared definitely interested.
He then said that the President had suggested that he might talk to me about de Gaulle. He proceeded to say that he was not pushing forward de Gaulle, although he had heard it reported that we felt that de Gaulle was receiving British financial support with which to do the things that are most objectionable to us. The Prime Minister said that he and Eden found de Gaulle terrible to get on with and that he wanted it understood that they were not undertaking to build him up. He added that we on the other hand must not get behind Giraud and pit him against de Gaulle, one reason being that de Gaulle was considered a symbol of French resistance and the British just could not throw him overboard, notwithstanding his many very objectionable and difficult ways. I said that the one big point in the situation that should appeal to both Governments alike was that if this de Gaulle matter is allowed to go forward as it has been, it will undoubtedly bring about serious friction between our two Governments; that large cross sections of people in this country will finally become aroused through false propaganda and constant agitations and machinations on the part of the de Gaulle organization, and in turn the Governments will be subject to repercussions that will seriously affect the relations between the two. I said that there was nothing personal implied in my remarks but I wished to point out with emphasis the poisonous propaganda activities of the de Gaulle organization both in this country and in North Africa where the purpose seemed to be to undermine and break down support for Giraud and then for de Gaulle to take charge politically from the top to the bottom and transplant this organization to Metropolitan France. I repeated with emphasis that inevitably friction will arise between our two Governments if this sort of propaganda work, which is so false and misleading in so many ways, is kept up by the de Gaulle organization. I elaborated in other ways in regard to the offer of higher wages to take sailors off their ships and for similar purposes thereby keeping everything in an uproar wherever a de Gaulle representative goes. I also made it very emphatic more than once the universal belief that the British are definitely behind these operations with money, the aid of the radio and with other methods. The Prime Minister maintained, first, that he personally was utterly disgusted with de Gaulle and, second, that the British were not aiding him as much as I seemed to think. I then suggested that there were numerous ways for the British to get away from their build-up of de Gaulle both rapid and gradual, if the latter course should prove necessary. I do not think that I made any special impression on the Prime Minister in this regard as he continued to urge that this Government should not support Giraud to the point of engaging in a quarrel with de Gaulle and the British. I, of course, maintained that this would be the inevitable outcome of the British policy in regard to de Gaulle.
The Pittsburgh Press (May 13, 1943)
Axis stragglers mopped up; Yanks praised by Eisenhower
By Virgil Pinkley, United Press staff writer
Allied HQ, North Africa –
Triumphant Allied armies completed conquest of the Tunisian base for invasion of Southern Europe today with the total seizure of 13 Axis generals, about 160,000 prisoners and vast booty that included more than 1,000 guns and 250 tanks.
A few stragglers were still to be rounded up or crushed, but both German Col. Gen. Jurgen von Arnim, commander-in-chief of Axis ground forces, and Italian Gen. Giovanni Messe, the Fascist commander, were in the net along with their staffs.
Secretary of War Stimson today said he had been informed that 163,000 prisoners were captured in Tunisia – 38,000 by the Americans, 25,000 by the French and 100,000 by the British. He said the War Department had not completed plans for disposing of Axis prisoners.
Attention shifted to the island stepping stone to Italy, where the Sicilian harbor of Marsala was heavily pounded again before dawn yesterday in a growing aerial offensive.
Generals explain victory
The end was a strange one, with deep contrasts of stubborn Prussian resistance and wholesale surrender by demoralized Axis troops. But at Allied headquarters, there was a spirit of enthusiasm and confidence as Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gen. Sir Harold Alexander, wearing slacks and suede shoes and with sleeves rolled up for business, explained what had happened.
After disclosing that a sudden, mass shifting of 8th Army troops from the south had enabled Gen. Alexander to fool the Nazi High Command and sweep in behind the enemy, Gen. Eisenhower said:
The American divisions through experience became a very fine corps.
Will profit in future
Gen. Eisenhower also said:
We will profit everywhere in the future by the lessons learned. In short, all things considered, the governments of both of our countries – to say nothing of the French here – can have real reason for encouragement and hope as a result of this campaign.
Gen. Alexander, addressing 500 members of his staff, said that the victory was complete and decisive and one of the most impressive in military history. He said:
We have wiped out an entire army and stand masters of the whole Afrika Korps. I want to thank you and tell you how grateful I am. This victory is of your making and its fame and glory belongs to each of you.
Bedraggled lines of foe
But there were different scenes at the Tunisian front, where the last power and prestige of the Axis African armies was vanishing with the bedraggled lines of enemy soldiers still streaming into barbed-wire prison pens.
Gen. von Arnim, still a haughty Prussian militarist who had done his job with methodical precision, surrendered with his staff without a final fight after radioing Hitler that he had carried out orders to “defend Tunisia to the last cartridge.” Some of the “last cartridges” were fired into the air by the German veterans as they came out of strong mountain positions with their hands in the air and others were abandoned in wrecked camps, but others fought to the end.
Italy’s commander, Gen. Messe, was also trapped in the hills north of Enfidaville, where Allied planes had heavily bombed all Axis forces, but he sent word that he would surrender only to the British 8th Army. Later, he surrendered to Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, 8th Army commander.
Unconfirmed reports said a son-in-law of King Victor Emmanuel of Italy was with Gen. Messe, but his fate and name were unknown.
The first communiqué issued from Allied headquarters since the end of organized German and Italian resistance was announced yesterday said that mopping up was in progress, that Allied naval forces were keeping a close watch on both sides of the Cap Bon Peninsula to prevent escape of the enemy stragglers by sea, and reviewed the events that led to the enemy’s capitulation.
A strong bombing attack was made in midafternoon on enemy troops surrounded in the coastal sector north of Enfidaville and this prompted the Axis 1st Army to ask for terms. The 6th Armored Division of the British 1st Army pressed down from the north and made a junction with the 8th Army and:
This was the end of all organized resistance.
Nazi boats captured
The communiqué said that small parties of the enemy trying to reach Pantelleria Island, off the Cap Bon coast, in small boats had been captured by naval units in the last two days. Yesterday, 126 Germans and Italians were taken from Zembra Island, 13 miles west of the cape.
Enemy bombers attacked the Algiers area last night and were driven off by anti-aircraft fire and night fighters after dropping a few bombs and causing a few casualties and light damage. Three of the enemy planes were downed.
Four enemy planes were shot down Tuesday night and Allied bombers attacked the harbor of Marsala, Sicily, the same night.
End announced yesterday
The end of organized Axis resistance was announced at Allied headquarters at 8:23 p.m. yesterday (3:23 p.m. ET).
The end of the battle came six months and five days after the Allied landings in French North Africa last Nov. 7. The Tunisian campaign actually took slightly less than six months, however, because the first contact was not established with Axis troops until last Nov. 15.
The last big Allied drive against an estimated 180,000 Axis fighting men in the northwest corner of Tunisia lasted little more than a week and it moved so rapidly that the enemy became a disorganized and disconnected collection of troops that could not escape and had no choice but to give up. The big push began on May 3 when the U.S. II Corps of Gen. Omar N. Bradley took Mateur. The British 1st Army broke through west of Tunis on May 6 and the next day, both Bizerte and Tunis fell.
Enemy cut to ribbons
After that, the Axis forces were cut to ribbons and began surrendering by the thousands.
A special communiqué prepared in the field by the 18th Army Group announced the end of the fighting. It said:
Organized resistance except by isolated pockets of the enemy has ceased. Gen. von Arnim, commander of the Axis forces in Tunisia, has been captured.
It is estimated that the total of prisoners captured since May 5 is about 150,000. Vast quantities of guns and war material of all kinds have been captured, including guns and aircraft in a serviceable condition.
Of the prisoners taken since May 5, about 110,000 are Germans and the rest Italians.
Almost 400,000 Axis prisoners have been taken in the entire African war which began two years and 11 months ago.
The British Press Association estimated the number of prisoners at 600,000.
London, England (UP) –
Deputy Prime Minister Clement R. Attlee formally announced the end of the North African campaign to the House of Commons today.
Maj. Attlee said:
The end has come more swiftly and more completely than could have been anticipated.
Over 150,000 prisoners have been taken with masses of equipment more than 1,000 guns, 250 tanks and many thousands of motor vehicles are in our hands.
Maj. Attlee said that:
The enemy not only was beaten but was completely destroyed.
He asserted that fighting men of the British Empire, the United States and France had shared “the honors of this great triumph.”
Maj. Attlee declared that North Africa was no longer an area for defenses but:
…a forward base from which will be launched at the right moment further attacks against the Axis.
We may well give thanks. An announcement of how we can give an expression of this will be made in due course.
By Richard Mowrer
Allied HQ, North Africa –
U.S. divisions which took part in the Tunisian campaign have been formed into a very fine corps. They have learned much which will profit then immeasurably in future operation, Gen. Eisenhower told war correspondents today.
The occasion was a “kiss this campaign goodbye” press conference at which Gen. Eisenhower handed out compliments to everybody but himself for a successful conclusion. He emphasized Gen. Alexander’s handling of the campaign. Gen. Alexander’s conception and his accurate evaluation of what the enemy’s reaction would be under certain circumstances cannot be excelled, Gen. Eisenhower said.
In a summary of the last phase of the Tunisian campaign, Gen. Eisenhower described the Allies’ “hammer and anvil” strategy. The 8th Army which had become the hammer and chief worry of the German High Command while the 1st Army, stayed put and remained mostly in the defensive suddenly became the anvil and the 1st Army a formidable hammer that finished off the Axis army.
The Germans said Gen. Eisenhower probably constrained to keep many of their best troops in front of the 8th Army, expecting to get the hardest blow from them. Gen. Alexander, Eisenhower pointed out, correctly evaluating the enemy’s strategy, secretly transferred three of the 8th Army divisions to the 1st Army’s front and welded them into the 1st Army hammer.
Gen. Eisenhower pointed out that although the campaign lasted six months, the prolongation of the fighting in Africa had enabled the Allied troops to get much valuable fighting experience. These last six months have also shown that the Allies are capable of working together and coordinating their efforts as are the land, air, and naval forces, he said.
Washington (UP) –
Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, rejoicing today over the North African victory, declared that the results in the six-month campaign:
…will have infinitely more effect on the ultimate outcome of the war than if we had won the November race for Tunis.
If we had won that race, the Axis armies would have attributed our victory to the element of surprise. The enemy would have felt that, if given a chance, they could have won.
As the campaign turned out, however, we have beaten the Axis African Armies to their knees despite serious initial disadvantages for us.
The result of this victory will now spread far and wide in the German Reich and the occupied countries.
Mr. Stimson voiced high praise for Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Allied commander-in-chief in North Africa, and U.S. and British generals under him. He declared:
The quick victory attained by the leadership of these men was not too costly in casualties for the results gained.
Drive would open road to China; Prime Minister to address House, Senate next Wednesday
By Merriman Smith, United Press staff writer
President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill today continued their White House conferences, believed to center on plans for a major fall offensive to drive the Japs out of Burma and open the way to China, and then to Japan.
Plans were disclosed for two speeches by Mr. Churchill while he is in Washington. Next Wednesday, the White House revealed, he will address a joint session of Congress. Tomorrow afternoon – on the occasion of the anniversary of the British Home Guards – he will broadcast to his homeland a speech designed almost entirely for British consumption.
Mr. Roosevelt devoted virtually his entire attention to his distinguished guest, scheduling only one other caller for the entire day.
The White House announced that the Pacific War Council had been called to meet at noon, but a half-hour later, it said the meeting had been postponed until next week. No explanation was advanced, but it was believed likely that some members of the council had found themselves unable to attend at this time. Another possibility was that Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill did not believe their plans were sufficiently well-defined for presentation to the Council.
Talk with Beneš
House Speaker Sam Rayburn saw Mr. Churchill this morning at the white House. The Prime Minister accepted his invitation to address Congress next Wednesday at about 12:30 p.m. ET. The speech will probably be broadcast throughout the world.
Both Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill talked this morning with President Edvard Beneš of Czechoslovakia, who was an overnight White House guest.
Plans for a fall offensive in Burma would not preclude strong blows against Jap forces before that time. There was increasing belief here that these blows would be struck in the very near future, especially in the Aleutians.
The signs pointed to Burma as the scene of the first major land operation against Japan because it is the logical way to open the route to China and then get at the Jap homeland. Such a campaign could not be started before fall because the monsoons with their torrential rains have begun and mechanized transport will be virtually impossible through the mushy jungles during the summer.
As the President and Mr. Churchill conferred almost certainly at the White House, U.S. and British sources here generally agreed that Japan is the point of emphasis in the present talks. And now is the time to plan for a Burma offensive, because it takes about six months to effectuate plans for big military operations.
The fact that London dispatches continue to emphasize the coming European offensives as the major point in discussion was explained here as reflecting the preoccupation of people in the British Isles with battles in their own arena.
The belief that Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill were looking six months ahead to a strong push through Burma made sense to a number of military experts here. The master strategists of the Allied cause plotted the November invasion of North Africa last June.
In plotting the defeat of Japan, Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill and their military advisers were up against a collection of very knotty problems of logistics.
Without control of Burma, the problem of getting new equipment to China in volume is almost impossible. Mr. Roosevelt has been in frequent conference recently with Chinese Foreign Minister T. V. Soong, who will probably talk with the President and the Prime Minister during some of the current planning conferences.
Wavell in party
Indication that the present Roosevelt-Churchill talks would include the Far East came yesterday with disclosure that accompanying Mr. Churchill were his top men from India, including Field Marshal Sir Archibald P. Wavell, commanding British forces in India.
There was no idea, however, that the conferences in any sense would be confined to the Pacific. In fact, Messrs. Roosevelt and Churchill are probably taking a last look at plans for invasions of Europe, plans which were formulated at Casablanca last January.
The presence of Marshal Wavell, Adm. Sir James Somerville, commander of British naval forces in the Bay of Bengal, and Air Mshl. Sir Richard Peirse, commander-in-chief of British forces in India, aroused some curiosity as to why Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific, was not here.
Thus far in the conferences no announcement has been made on U.S. armed services chiefs who are in consultation with the British staff chiefs. It was generally accepted, however, that the American conferees include Gen. George C. Marshall (Army Chief of Staff), Adm. Ernest J. King (Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet), Adm. William D. Leahy (Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief), Gen. H. H. Arnold (commander of the Army Air Forces) and a host of other high-ranking generals and admirals.
It was believed the two ranking U.S. commanders in the Burma-China-India Theater of war would participate too. Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, commander of all U.S. forces in that theater, and Maj. Gen. Claire L. Chennault, commanding the 14th Air Force in China, are here and have been principal figures in a recent series of important war conferences.
Ottawa, Canada (UP) –
Announcement by Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King that he will take part in the conferences between Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt in Washington next week, gave rise to speculation today that the discussions may result in greater participation in the war effort by Canada and her armed forces.
Mr. King disclosed in the House of Commons yesterday that he will go to Washington early next week for the discussions. He told Parliament that Mr. Churchill would be unable to visit the Dominion before returning to Britain.
Mr. King’s participation in the conference may also be the result of suggestions in the House of commons that Canada be given greater representation in United Nations war panels.
Several members pointed out that the Dominion is constantly increasing production of war munitions and supplies and that its representation at the conferences should be enhanced accordingly.
It’s now up to government, Secretary maintains; ‘truce’ to end
House Speaker send hand-lettered ‘congrats’ to Texas youth – U.S. to bill him for job
Connally calls for House approval of his unrevised measure, denounces Lewis defiance
But United Nations force in Middle East can strike Europe
By William Philip Simms, Scripps-Howard foreign editor