Lindbergh, war worker, reclassified into 3-A-H
Strip artist tells court her mink-coated parent was given limousine and chauffeur
One detachment smashes out of encirclement below Salamaua
By Don Caswell, United Press staff writer
By Ernie Pyle
Northern Tunisia – (by wireless)
Much of our Northern Tunisian mountain fighting was done at night, and in the dark of the moon too. It had always been a mystery to me how troops could move on foot in total darkness over rough, pathless country that was completely strange to them. Having moved with them on several night marches, I know how it is done.
The going is just as difficult as I had thought it would be. The pace is slow – one mile an hour in moving up into the lines would be a good speed. The soldiers usually go single file. They don’t march, they just walk. Each man has to pick and feel for his own footholds.
Sure, you fall down. You step into a hole or trip on a telephone wire, or stub your toe on a rock, and down you go. But you get right up again and go on. You try to keep close enough to the man in front so that you can see his form dimly and follow him. Keeping your course at night is as difficult as navigating at sea, for it is total darkness and you have no landmarks to go by.
Gremlins move mountains
Captain E. D. Driscoll, of New York, says:
We have gremlins in the infantry too. And the meanest gremlin is the one who moves mountains. You start for a certain hill in the dark, you check everything carefully as you go along, and then when you get there some gremlin has moved the damn mountain and you can’t find it anywhere.
Here’s how they do these night marches.
At the head of the column are guides who have reconnoitered the route in daytime patrols and memorized the main paths, hills and gullies. In addition, an officer with a compass is at the head of the column, and in case of doubt they get down and throw a blanket over himself for blackout, and look at the compass by flashlight.
Other guides are posted along the line to keep the rear elements from straying off on side paths. Furthermore, the leaders mark the trail as they go. They usually do this by leaving strips of white mine-marking tape lying on the ground every hundred yards or so. On our march they had run out of white tape so they used surgeon’s gauze instead. Sometimes they mark the trail by wrapping toilet paper around rocks and leaving them lying on the path.
But still they get lost
In spite of all this, two or three dim-witted guys out of every company get lost and spend the next couple of days wandering around the hills asking everybody they come onto where their company is.
A column advancing into new country strings its own telephone wire. You probably know that Army telephone wire is simply strung along the ground. We are now using very light wire, and even a small person like myself can carry a half-mile reel of it under his arm.
On our first night march, we carried two miles of phone wire with us. At the end of a half-mile reel, we’d contact with a field telephone and call back to battalion headquarters to tell them how far we’d got, what we had seen and heard, and whether there was any opposition. As soon as another half-mile was strung, the phone would be advanced.
The Germans were adept at one tiring up here. That is in digging and camouflaging their gun positions. I know one case where we captured a dug-in 88mm gun while driving the Germans off a hill, and after the battle was over and we came back to get the big gun we couldn’t find the damn thing, though it was obviously still right there.
Snipers well concealed, too
Also, they dug in machine-gun snipers on the hillsides and left them there. When the rest of the Germans withdrew these guys would be hidden in the rocky hillsides right among our own troops. After we had occupied the hill, they would fire on our troops to the rear, and generally make pests of themselves. We had an awful time finding them.
I know of two machine gunners who stayed in their little dugouts and kept firing for three days after we had occupied their hill, despite the fact that our troops were bivouacked all over the hillside, living within a few feet of them, walking past or over their gun positions scores of times a day.
They dig a good-sized hole and cover it with the rocks that abound on these hillsides, leaving a little hole just big enough to fire through. They keep a few days’ rations, and just stay there until captured. The place looks like any other of thousands of places on the hillside. You can walk past it or stand on it and not know what’s beneath us. Once you do know, you find that you can’t get the gunners out without practically tearing the rocks out by hand.
One of these smart guys had a circus for three says shooting at me till they finally dug him out. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow, as I’m shaking too badly right at the moment.
U.S. State Department (May 13, 1943)
|United States||United Kingdom|
|President Roosevelt||Prime Minister Churchill|
Völkischer Beobachter (May 14, 1943)
Der Führer an Generaloberst von Arnim: „Besonderes Ruhmesblatt der deutschen Kriegsgeschichte“
dnb. Aus dem Führer-Hauptquartier, 13. Mai –
Das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht gibt bekannt: Der Heldenkampf der deutschen und italienischen Afrikaverbände hat heute sein ehrenvolles Ende gefunden. Die letzten in der Umgebung von Tunis fechtenden Widerstandsgruppen, seit Tagen ohne Wasser und Verpflegung, mußten nach Verschuß ihrer gesamten Munition den Kampf einstellen.
Sie sind schließlich dem Mangel an Nachschub erlegen, nicht dem Ansturm des Feindes, der die Überlegenheit unserer Waffen auch auf diesem Kriegsschauplatz oft genug hat anerkennen müssen.
Die Afrikakämpfer Deutschlands und Italiens haben trotzdem die ihnen gestellte Aufgabe in vollem Umfang erfüllt. Durch ihren Widerstand, der dem Feind in monatelangem, erbittertem Ringen jeden Fußbreit Boden streitig machte, fesselten sie in Nordafrika stärkste Kräfte des Gegners und brachten ihm schwerste Menschen- und Materialverluste bei. Die damit erreichte Entlastung an anderen Fronten und die gewonnene Zeit kamen der Führung der Achsenmächte in höchstem Maße zugute.
Der Führer hat dem Generalobersten von Arnim, der die deutsch-italienischen Truppen in Nordafrika seit einiger Zeit befehligte, am 10. Mai folgenden Funkspruch gesandt:
Ihnen und Ihren heldenmütig kämpfenden Truppen, die in treuer Waffenbrüderschaft mit den italienischen Kameraden jeden Fußbreit des afrikanischen Bodens verteidigen, spreche ich Dank und höchste Anerkennung aus.
Mit Bewunderung verfolgt mit mir das ganze deutsche Volk den Heldenkampf seiner Soldaten in Tunesien. Für den Gesamterfolg des Krieges ist er von höchstem Wert gewesen.
Der letzte Einsatz und die Haltung Ihrer Truppen werden ein Vorbild für die gesamte Wehrmacht des Großdeutschen Reiches sein und als ein besonderes Ruhmesblatt der deutschen Kriegsgeschichte gelten.
Gez.: Adolf Hitler
Der Funkspruch des Duce
Ferner sandte der Duce am 11. Mai Generaloberst von Arnim folgendes Funktelegramm:
Ich verfolge mit Bewunderung und Stolz, was die Truppen der Heeresgruppe Afrika mit fester Entschlossenheit und ungebeugter Tapferkeit gegen die zahlenmäßige Übermacht des Feindes vollbringen. Die Geschichte wird diesen heroischen Taten ihre Anerkennung zollen. Ich begrüße in den Führern und Soldaten der Heeresgruppe Afrika den schönsten Tapferkeitsausdruck der Achsenvölker.
Das fast zweieinhalb Jahre andauernde heldische Ringen unserer Afrikastreitkräfte, deren Gesamtleistung einer besonderen Würdigung Vorbehalten bleibt, wird stets eines der stolzesten und ruhmreichsten Kapitel in der soldatischen Geschichte des deutschen Volkes sein.
Das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht gibt bekannt:
Im tunesischen Brückenkopf kämpften die deutsch-italienischen Truppen auch gestern mit äußerster Erbitterung gegen den mit überlegener Stärke von Front und Rücken angreifenden Gegner. Nach Erschöpfung der letzten Munition und Vernichtung des gesamten Kriegsgerätes wurde auch an größeren Abschnitten der Südfront der Widerstand eingestellt. Dagegen setzten im tunesischen Küstengebirge einzelne Kampfgruppen, soweit sie noch über Munition verfügen, in vorbildlicher soldatischer Pflichterfüllung ihren Widerstand fort.
An der Ostfront wurden feindliche Angriffe am Kubanbrückenkopf und nördlich Lissitschansk abgewiesen.
Die Luftwaffe griff vor der Front und im rückwärtigen Gebiet des Feindes zahlreiche Truppenziele und wichtige Eisenbahnverbindungen an. Im Nordmeer versenkten deutsche Jäger ein Frachtschiff von 3000 BRT. und schossen ein feindliches Schnellboot in Brand.
Britische Bomber führten in der Nacht zum 13. Mai einen schweren Angriff auf westdeutsches Gebiet. Die Bevölkerung hatte Verluste. An einigen Orten, besonders im Stadtgebiet von Duisburg, entstanden erhebliche Schäden durch Spreng- und Brandbomben. Nach bisher vorliegenden Meldungen wurden 33 der angreifenden Flugzeuge, vorwiegend viermotorige Bomber, durch Nachtjäger und Flakartillerie der Luftwaffe abgeschossen.
Starke Verbände schneller deutscher Kampfflugzeuge stießen am gestrigen Tage zweimal zur Ostküste Englands vor und bombardierten Anlagen der Stadt Lowestoft und Vorpostenboote vor der Küste. Alle Flugzeuge kehrten zu ihren Stützpunkten zurück.
dnb. Berlin, 13. Mai –
In den Gebirgszügen an der tunesischen Küste schlossen sich einzelne deutsche und italienische Kampfgruppen am Mittwoch noch einmal zum Widerstand gegen den von allen Seiten angreifenden Feind zusammen. Sie verteidigten sich in den schwer zugänglichen Bergen, in denen der Gegner sein Übergewicht an Menschen und Waffen nicht voll zur Wirkung bringen konnte. Trotz ihrer geringen Kräfte zwangen sie den Feind immer wieder zum Kampf. In dem erbitterten Ringen im Südabschnitt taten unsere Soldaten mehr als ihre Pflicht. Entschlossen und unerschüttert traten sie der von allen Seiten angreifenden feindlichen Übermacht entgegen.
Ein Beispiel dafür bot in diesen Tagen Hauptmann Lienau, Kommandeur einer Panzeraufklärungsabteilung. Er beobachtete, daß seitlich von seinem Abschnitt feindliche Panzer in die Nachbarstellungen einbrachen und sie aufzurollen begannen. Alles kam auf schnelles Eingreifen an. Unverzüglich warf sich Hauptmann Lienau, ohne Befehle abzuwarten, auf den Feind. Durch den Vorstoß wurde der Angriff der feindlichen Panzer zum Stehen gebracht. Ohne eigene Panzer, die zu der Zeit an anderer Stelle kämpften, ohne schwere Waffen hielt die Aufklärungsabteilung mit ihren leichten Pakgeschützen eineinhalb Stunden lang trotz schwersten Feuers der feindlichen Artillerie und Panzerkanonen 40 britische Panzerkampfwagen in Schach.
Der Gegner konzentrierte sein Feuer auf die offen im Gelände aufgefahrene Abteilung. Aber es gelang ihm nicht, den Widerstand zu brechen. Hinhaltend kämpfend, hielt die Aufklärungsabteilung einen ganzen Tag lang den Feind mit ihren leichten Waffen auf, so daß sich die italienische Infanterie herauslösen und während der Nacht eine neue Verteidigungsstellung beziehen konnte.
Terrorangriff kostete 34 Flugzeuge
Die britische Luftwaffe erlitt bei ihrem Angriff auf westdeutsches Gebiet in der Nacht zum 13. Mai wieder äußerst schwere Verluste. Während unsere Nachtjäger den feindlichen Bomberverband schon an der Küste stellten und ihn dann laufend weiter angriffen, erfaßten die Flakbatterien den Feind beim Durchflug durch ihre Schutzräume.
Nach bisher vorliegenden Meldungen wurden mit Sicherheit 34 britische Flugzeuge, meist viermotorige Bomber, abgeschossen. Damit haben die Briten neben dem Verlust kostbaren Flugzeugmaterials über 200 Mann fliegender Besatzungen verloren. Nur ein geringer Teil der britischen Flieger konnte sich mit dem Fallschirm retten.
Von unserer Stockholmer Schriftleitung
dr. th. b. Stockholm, 13. Mai –
Dem flüchtigen Rausch besinnungsloser Begeisterung über den Erfolg in Tunesien ist – jedenfalls in London und man darf annehmen in Washington nicht minder – sehr bald die Ernüchterung gefolgt. Die englische Presse, vor allem ihre Kriegsberichterstatter, wenn man diesen Namen überhaupt auf sie anwenden kann, hatten die englische Öffentlichkeit geradezu betrunken gemacht. Gegen diese Trunkenheit haben jetzt die amtlichen Stellen die bittere Medizin mit der Aufschrift „Keine Verwechslung zwischen Afrika und Europa“ verabreicht.
So unterstreicht man plötzlich mit Nachdruck:
Die Aufgabe einer Landung in Europa und der Besiegung der Deutschen auf dem eigenen Boden der Achse ist eine ganz andere und wegen ihrer großen Schwierigkeiten überhaupt nicht mit dem Feldzug in Afrika zu vergleichen.
Die Achse könne ihre zentrale Lage ausnützen und verfüge über die besten Verkehrsverbindungen. Zu den Warnern gehört, was in bezug auf die intimen Verbindungen zu Moskau bemerkenswert ist, der kommunistische Daily Worker, der den Engländern Vorhalten zu müssen glaubt, daß nur 2 Prozent sämtlicher deutscher Divisionen betroffen worden seien. Der alte Vorwurf der Sowjets den Briten und Amerikanern gegenüber, sie bänden nicht genügend gegnerische Kräfte, wird also vom Organ Moskaus in London wiederholt. Dieser Vorwurf wirft überhaupt ein Schlaglicht auf die noch immer nicht völlig geklärten Beziehungen zwischen den Plutokratien und den Bolschewisten, die Trübung dieser Beziehungen, bei der der noch immer nicht beigelegte Streit zwischen den polnischen Emigranten und Moskau eine nur untergeordnete Rolle spielt, hat, wie Dagens Nyheter aus London meldet, in politischen Kreisen der britischen Hauptstadt zu der Vermutung geführt, daß Lord Beaverbrook, der ja einer der Hauptsprecher für die Auslieferung Europas an die Bolschewisten ist, nach Moskau geschickt werden soll, um eine Zusammenkunft Churchills mit Stalin vorzubereiten.
Eher liegt die Vermutung nahe, daß man auf englischer Seite den Wunsch hat, Roosevelts Sonderbotschafter Davies, der mit einer Geheimbotschaft auf dem Weg nach Moskau ist, nicht unbeaufsichtigt zu lassen. Eine Zusammenkunft zwischen Roosevelt und Stalin hält man vorderhand für undurchführbar, da Stalin Moskau oder jedenfalls sowjetrussisches Gebiet nicht verläßt und Roosevelt sich eine Reise nach Moskau wegen der innerpolitischen Schwierigkeiten in den USA. nicht leisten kann. Von Churchill dagegen wird erklärt, daß er auch „bis an das Ende der Welt“ reisen werde, nur um eine Zusammenkunft mit Stalin zu ermöglichen. Man sieht, zu welcher Rolle der Premierminister des einstigen Weltreiches herabgesunken ist.
Aber noch aus anderen Gründen bereiten die Beziehungen zu den Sowjets Kummer. Dieser Kummer steht wiederum in engstem Zusammenhang mit den Sorgen, die der Schiffsraummangel bereitet. In London drückt man sich hierüber nur vorsichtig aus, weist aber darauf hin, daß der Leiter des amerikanischen Pacht- und Leihausschusses, Harriman, und der britische Transportminister Lord Leathers erneut Zusammentreffen mußten,
…um die große Rolle zu prüfen, die das Schiffsraumproblem bei Offensiven und bei der Lieferung von Kriegsmaterial an die verschiedenen Kriegsschauplätze spielt.
Von sowjetischer Seite seien erhöhte Lieferungen gefordert worden. Auch habe Moskau ausdrücklich betont, daß möglichst alle Lieferungen dem europäischen Kriegsschauplatz Vorbehalten sein sollten. Moskau hat also gerade das gefordert, was den Amerikanern zur Zeit die größte Verlegenheit bereitet: die Vernachlässigung des pazifischen Kriegsschauplatzes zugunsten von Unternehmungen, deren Ausgang völlig in Frage gestellt ist.
Sonderdienst des „Völkischen Beobachters“
Lissabon, 13. Mai –
Nachdem der erste Begeisterungstaumel der nordamerikanischen Presse verrauscht ist, wird der Tunesienfeldzug nach und nach mehr im Lichte der Tatsachen betrachtet. Aus den Einzelheiten der militärischen Vorgänge stellt sich nun nachträglich, wie die regierungsnahe Presse zugeben muß, heraus, daß die anglo-amerikanische Überlegenheit an Mann und Material zwischen dem Drei- und Zehnfachen lag. Es scheint darum durchaus angebracht, wenn der bekannte Militärkritiker der Neuyork Post, Major Fletcher Bratt, auf die Fehler und Mängel hinweist, die der Tunesienfeldzug an den Tag gebracht hat.
Bratt stellt vor allem fest, daß besonders die Offiziere der unteren Grade eine bedauerlich geringe Ausbildung besäßen und wenig Führerqualitäten bewiesen haben. Er schreibt:
Wir müssen uns darauf vorbereiten, daß wir eines Tages genug Leute haben müssen, um gegen fünf bis sechs Millionen Deutsche und zwei bis drei Millionen Japaner antreten zu können. Das ist der allein auf die USA. entfallende Anteil der militärischen Stärke des Gegners. Um gegenüber den Deutschen zu bestehen, müßte das amerikanische Heer jedoch dieselbe Erfahrung und Ausbildung aufweisen, denn es wird den Deutschen alsdann nicht mehr wie in Tunesien ziffernmäßig überlegen sein.
Bratt unterstreicht, daß alle militärischen Operationen, in denen die Amerikaner bis zu irgend welchen Erfolgen gekommen seien, dadurch bestimmt wurden, daß der Feind mit ziffernmäßig weit geringeren Kräften angetreten sei. Das sei in Neuguinea, auf Guadalcanar und nun auch in Afrika der Fall gewesen.
Des weiteren beklagt sich der Militärkritiker darüber, daß gewisse Kongreßführer in Besorgnis um die Stimmen ihrer Wähler das erweiterte militärische Ausbildungsprogramm, das mit der Einziehung von Vätern ab 1. August verbunden ist, offenbar sabotieren. Das sei der beste Beweis dafür, daß die Gleichgültigkeit der amerikanischen Öffentlichkeit aus der Zeit vor Pearl Harbour noch nicht gewichen sei. Nach eineinhalb Jahren Krieg sei sich das nordamerikanische Volk noch immer nicht bewußt, daß es in einem schicksalsschweren Kampfe stehe.
dr. th. b. Stockholm, 13. Mai –
In diesen Tagen wird in Hot Springs im Staate Virginia jene Ernährungskonferenz eröffnet werden, an der auch die Sowjets teilnehmen. Von vornherein lag die Vermutung nahe, daß sich diese Konferenz weniger mit der Lebensmittelversorgung der Nachkriegszeit beschäftigen werde, als vielmehr mit dem sehr viel aktuelleren Thema der Versorgung Englands und der Sowjetunion in den schwierigen Monaten, die vor der neuen Ernte liegen.
Das schließt aber nicht aus, daß auf dieser Konferenz auch Pläne zur Sprache kommen werden, die von den jüdischen Börsenspekulanten in Neuyork und den Imperialisten in Washington schon lange gehegt werden und die auf nichts anderes hinausgehen, als auf die völlige Unterwerfung Europas unter die jüdische Ernährungsdiktatur.
Wie Aftonbladet aus Neuyork meldet, soll ein Plan zur „landwirtschaftlichen Abrüstung Europas" Gegenstand der Konferenz in Hot Springs sein. Der Plan sieht eine Begrenzung der europäischen Erzeugung von Lebensmitteln und ihrer Einlagerung vor, und zwar in erster Linie von Weizen, Zucker und Kartoffeln. Westeuropa und der Norden sollen nach diesem sauberen Plänchen ihren Getreideanbau zugunsten von Obst, Gemüse und Milchwirtschaft einschränken und damit für ihre Getreideversorgung völlig von den USA., der Sowjetunion, Kanada, Argentinien und Australien abhängig werden. Frankreich dürfte zum Beispiel nur noch 70 Prozent seines Weizenbedarfes anbauen. Wörtlich heißt es in der Neuyorker Meldung, eine solche planmäßige Gefährdung der Volksernährung sei ein Mittel der militärischen Sicherheit."
Man wünscht also eine Dauerblockade Europas. Das Mittel, mit dem England in Indien „Ordnung“ hält und die Sowjets 40 Millionen dem Hungertod preisgaben, soll nun auch auf die europäischen Völker angewendet werden, nämlich die Hungerpeitsche. Nach Belieben möchten die Juden den Völkern Europas den Brotkorb höher hängen können, um sie so politisch in eine hoffnungslose Sklaverei zu ersticken und obendrein noch einträgliche, Riesenspekulationen mit Getreide betreiben.
dnb. Stockholm, 13. Mai –
Das englische Unterhaus befaßte sich wieder einmal mit den Währungsplänen nach dem Kriege. Dabei trat der Gegensatz England-USA. von neuem in Erscheinung. Schatzkanzler Sir Kingsley Wood streifte den Plan des USA.-Finanzjuden Morgenthau und meinte, einige Teile des amerikanischen Planes könnten unter Umständen sehr gut in den britischen Plan hineinpassen. Im übrigen wehrte sich Kingsley Wood entschieden gegen den USA.-Plan, das Gold wieder als alleinigen Wertmesser aufzustellen.
Interessanter als die Rede des Schatzkanzlers war die Debatte. Der Labourabgeordnete Patrik Laurence gestand, daß England nach dem Kriege die erste Schuldnernation der Welt sein werde. Die amerikanischen Nachkriegspläne lehnte er ab, weil sie eine Rückkehr zum Goldstandard bedeuten, und nannte damit den einzigen Grund für die Ablehnung, den Kingsley Wood verschwieg. Der konservative Abgeordnete Oberst Sir Lambert Ward gab seinem Ärger darüber Ausdruck, daß die USA.-Juden neun Zehntel des Goldbestandes der Welt erworben haben. Amerika würde, meinte er zynisch, wahrscheinlich nicht damit einverstanden sein, das Gold nur zur Anfertigung von Trauringen und Zahnfüllungen zu verwenden.
Die Finanzjuden an der Themse und die Yankeejuden streiten sich also um die Weltherrschaft. Beide haben sie Pläne, aber keiner gönnt dem anderen den Vorrang. Morgenthau hat das Gold und England nichts weiter als Wünsche und Ansprüche. Die Unterhausdebatte aber deckt die Weltherrschaftspläne der internationalen jüdischen Hochfinanz wieder einmal auf und zeigt der Welt, wer die Nachkriegspläne im jüdisch-plutokratischen Lager bestimmt.
U.S. State Department (May 14, 1943)
|United States||United Kingdom|
|Admiral Leahy||General Brooke|
|General Marshall||Admiral of the Fleet Pound|
|Admiral King||Air Chief Marshal Portal|
|Lieutenant General McNarney||Lieutenant General Ismay|
|Lieutenant General Embick||Field Marshal Dill|
|Lieutenant General Stilwell||Field Marshal Wavell|
|Lieutenant General Somervell||Admiral Somerville|
|Vice Admiral Horne||Air Chief Marshal Peirse|
|Major General Streett||Admiral Noble|
|Major General Chennault||Air Marshal Welsh|
|Rear Admiral Cooke||Lieutenant General Macready|
|Brigadier General Wedemeyer||Captain Lambe|
|Colonel Smart||Brigadier Porter|
|Commander Freseman||Air Commodore Elliot|
|Commander Long||Brigadier Macleod|
|Brigadier General Deane|
|Lieutenant Colonel Vittrup|
May 14, 1943, 10:30 a.m. Secret
Without discussion, the Combined Chiefs of Staff accepted the record and conclusions of the 83rd Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff had examined the views of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff on the Global Strategy of the War. There were certain points in this paper with which they were not in entire agreement. They adhered to the views agreed to at Casablanca as set out in C.C.S. 155/1.
The British Chiefs of Staff had two main points of difference which he would like to mention. Firstly, paragraph 2b of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff paper referred to an extension of pressure against Japan. Such extension might well cause a vacuum into which forces would have to be poured and would thereby depart from the object set out in paragraph 2a of the same paper, i.e., to force an unconditional surrender of the Axis in Europe. Action in the Pacific must be coordinated with that in Europe and must not prejudice the defeat of Germany or the war would drag on indefinitely.
The second point of difference was in connection with paragraph 3 of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff paper, i.e., ROUNDUP and its possibilities. The British Chiefs of Staff believed that the possibilities of ROUNDUP were dependent on the success or failure of the Russians on the Eastern Front, Allied cross-Channel operations could only form a very small part of the whole continental land war, and our effort must be aimed therefore at supporting Russia and thereby creating a situation in which ROUNDUP was possible.
The views of the British Chiefs of Staff with regard to ROUNDUP might be summed up as follows:
It was their firm intention to carry out ROUNDUP at the first moment when the conditions were such that the operations would contribute decisively to the defeat of Germany. These conditions might arise this year, but in any case, it was the firm belief of the British Chiefs of Staff that they would arise next year. They could be created only by the Russian Army. Our action, therefore, must consist of:
a. Continuing our increasing bombardment of Germany; and
b. Drawing off from the Russian Front as many forces as possible.
On the basis of this definition of ROUNDUP the British Chiefs of Staff had put forward their views on operations in the Mediterranean.
Paragraph 5 of the U.S. paper pointed out how essential it was that Russia should be kept in the war. The British Chiefs of Staff looked on the matter differently and regarded it as essential not only that Russia should be kept in the war but that we should create a situation whereby Russian victories could be achieved.
Admiral Leahy said that he was unable to see that the U.S. conception of global strategy differed materially from that set out at Casablanca. The intention was now and was then to prepare for and launch cross-Channel operations. The African venture was undertaken in order to do something this year while preparing for cross-Channel operations. Little preparation for the latter had, in fact, been made, since all available U.S. resources had been sent to North Africa. The North African campaign was now completed. If we launched a new campaign in the Mediterranean, then we should continue to use our resources in that area. This would again postpone help to Russia since we should not be able to concentrate forces in the U.K. and thus cause a withdrawal of German troops to western Europe. If new operations in the Mediterranean were the best way to bring the European war to a conclusion, then they must be undertaken; but if these operations would have the effect of prolonging the war, he saw great difficulties in committing U.S. resources to them.
In reply to a question by Admiral Leahy, Sir Alan Brooke confirmed that, in the British view, Mediterranean operations would shorten the European war.
Admiral Leahy said that the U.S. Planners in reporting to the U.S. Chiefs of Staff had pointed out the necessity of shortening the war in the Pacific and thus preventing Japan from consolidating her gains.
Admiral Leahy then read out a paper giving the views of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff on global strategy.
Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff had prepared two papers – one on operations in the European Theater and one on operations from India for 1943-1944, which he would like to hand over to the U.S. Chiefs of Staff at the conclusion of the meeting.
Admiral Leahy drew attention to paragraph 11 of the British Chiefs of Staff paper contained in Annex “B” to C.C.S. 83rd Meeting with regard to a combined examination of the method by which the defeat of Japan was ultimately brought about. He thought it would be helpful if Field Marshal Wavell and General Stilwell were asked to give their views on this subject. An examination should be made of each plan and of what it would accomplish. He suggested that there should also be a combined examination as to how to bring about the ultimate defeat of Germany. He would like to have the views of the British Chiefs of Staff on the Pacific campaign as a whole.
Sir Alan Brooke said that after the Casablanca Conference, plans had been drawn up for operations from India. Field Marshal Wavell would outline the plan which had been decided on as being the best; but this plan did not, in his opinion, hold out great hopes. Even when Burma was cleared and the Burma Road opened, it would take from six to nine months to develop it to a capacity of 10,000 tons per month. Was ANAKIM the best plan? He believed that we should examine other lines of approach to the problem and whatever action was decided on from India this should be coordinated as part of a complete plan for the defeat of Japan. One possibility was to seize the Kra Isthmus and to punch through to Bangkok, thereby cutting the main Japanese line of communications to Burma and obtaining bases from which to threaten Japanese oil traffic. There was no communication by rail with Bangkok from the west coast of the Kra Peninsula, and the roads were poor; but the principal difficulty was the lack of adequate port facilities on the Kra Isthmus.
Another alternative was to capture northern Sumatra and Penang. This operation again would give us air bases to cover the Japanese oil routes.
The third alternative would be to take the whole of Sumatra and then Java, the latter either from the east or west.
Only preliminary examination had been given to these plans. It was essential to decide whether one of these or Operation ANAKIM held out the best hopes. The latter might prove to be the most valuable, but the very poor lines of communication through Assam must be remembered. The Brahmaputra River had to be crossed by train ferries since there was no bridge, and the only railways available were single track meter gauge. It was planned to use more shipping on the Brahmaputra when it could be returned from Iraq. Rather than undertake ANAKIM, it might be better to develop new airports and to increase the capacity of the air ferry service into China to the maximum.
Land operations would have to take place down the two roads from Imphal and Ledo at the end of which roads, when built, our forces would have to be maintained through the monsoon season, when no operations could take place. A thrust from the north would have to be accompanied by landings on the west coast designed to secure airfields. These landings would require carrier-based air support, and only relatively small forces could infiltrate over the mountains. To capture southern Burma an assault on Rangoon would be necessary. Owing to the delta and mangrove swamps, no landings on the coast were possible, so that a hazardous operation up the Irrawaddy was required. Even when Rangoon was captured, there would be a continuous threat on our eastern flank; and once committed in this area, we might be drawn on into further operations against Thailand and the consequent difficulties of maintaining ourselves.
If on examination Operation ANAKIM proved to be the best answer, it must be done; but any action we took must be coordinated with United States thrusts from the east. In any event, the air route to China should be developed. It must be remembered, too, that successful operations against Germany in Europe might well bring Russia to our assistance in the Far East.
Admiral Leahy pointed out that the object of the Burma Campaign was to assist China by opening the Burma Road. Alternative operations did not appear to afford immediate relief to China.
Sir Alan Brooke agreed that unless the Burma Road was opened, no immediate relief to China would be given except by air. He considered that the moral effect of recapturing Burma would be great both in China and in India; and it was, therefore, desirable to do this operation if possible; but from the material point of view we must consider whether operations to open the Burma Road would produce sufficient result to warrant the scale of effort which would be necessary and the commitments which would arise. The actual supplies which the Road could take through to China were relatively small.
Admiral Leahy said that it was essential to do something for China. We must maintain the air route whose capacity was now relatively small and which would fall further during the monsoon season.
Sir Alan Brooke said that it was important to appreciate the fact that operations to recapture Burma would interfere with developing facilities for increasing the capacity of the air route.
Admiral King said that he understood that airfields in Assam were now being developed though slowly. As in Europe, where Russia’s geographical and manpower position were regarded as vital to the defeat of Germany, so China’s geographical position and manpower were vital to the defeat of Japan and must be used. A collapse of China would vastly prolong the war and vitally affect the whole situation vis-à-vis Japan.
Sir Alan Brooke said he fully appreciated this point. The value of Russian bases for use against Japan was also great.
Admiral King said that he was attracted toward the Bangkok operation, but it must be remembered that this was of no direct assistance to China. The Japanese attitude toward the Puppet Government in Nanking had changed, and the people in the occupied area were being offered supplies and facilities which were not available to Free China. Morale was weakening, and if China went out of the war, the task of the United Nations in defeating Japan would be terrific.
At this point, Field Marshal Wavell, Admiral Somerville, and the Air Chief Marshal Peirse entered the meeting.
Admiral Leahy stated that the Chiefs of Staff had just been discussing the Burma situation. They would like very much to hear Field Marshal Wavell’s idea on the best methods of procedure.
Field Marshal Wavell said that, considering such operations, the first thing necessary to make clear was the administrative situation in India, which would of necessity be used as a base for operations in Burma. The communications in eastern India and Assam are very poor. One means of communication is the Brahmaputra River, but the value of the river ports is limited by the fact that the seasonal rise and fall is as much as 25 feet. On the other hand, the river constitutes a formidable barrier, as it is unbridged throughout its length and frequent changes of course make it difficult if not impossible to bridge. The result is that the bottleneck of transportation from India to Assam is the ferries which operate across this river. It has railroads on either side which are of meter gauge, single line, and in poor condition. A year ago this railroad carried only three or four trains a day, had no modern methods for operation, and few crossings. Improvements have made it possible to operate 14 pairs of trains a day up as far as Manipur Road. Beyond that point 12 pairs a day is the maximum capacity. Unless this rail route is double tracked, which would be a tremendous undertaking and would take from two to three years, the present volume of traffic cannot be increased. There is one stretch of the railroad north of the Brahmaputra which runs along the south of the Himalayas. This part of the road is frequently broken by floods. Last year it was out of action for five months during the monsoon season. The only other approach to Assam was through Bengal, which is a single-track route. There were no satisfactory road communications between India and Assam. Such as there were, were poor in the dry season and impossible during the wet season. This necessitated sending by rail all vehicles for use in Assam or Burma. Before the Japanese entered the war, one of the principal tasks for India was to establish a line of communications to Russia through Iraq. Therefore, most of the steamers from the Brahmaputra were sent into Iraq for this purpose. It is now difficult and a long haul to get them back, but an effort was being made. The ultimate result is that the amount of supplies which can be sent into northeast Assam is limited. The scope of the operations which can be conducted is in turn dependent upon this volume of supplies.
In referring to conditions in Assam and northern Burma, General Wavell stated that it was one of the rainiest spots in the world. Recently over 22 inches of rain fell in a period of three weeks, in the dry season. During the wet season it rains continuously. There are few roads, and those which do exist are in poor condition. There is very little stone or other suitable building material which could be used for the purpose of constructing roads or airdromes, and such as there is usually has to be carried great distances. The entire country is intensely malarial resulting in a high casualty rate. At present they are very short of engineering equipment such as bulldozers, rollers, etc., as well as qualified personnel to operate this machinery.
When the Japanese entered the war, there were approximately thirty airfields in India. Last year over 200 were constructed at a very great effort, which demanded practically all of the resources which could be made available in India. The original layout of these airfields had to be defensive and therefore further back than now required. There were only a limited number in the forward area including Assam. The conditions there are therefore unfavorable for offensive operations.
Work is going on on three or four projects, but each of these projects demands the same thing. There are two bases being constructed, also the road from Manipur to Imphal and on to Tamur. This was originally a one-way road as far as Imphal only. It has now been made two-way as far as Imphal; and work is in hand to extend it as a two-way, all-weather road as far as Tamu. Beyond Tamil and into Burma it is at present a fair-weather road only. This project is not completed. Malaria is intense in the area. The road to Imphal, over 200 miles, all requires fill. It would have to be doubled in some places in order to bear the traffic. When this road gets into Burma, it will still have another seventy miles to go to get into the Chindwin Valley, across a route which a year ago was nothing more than a mule track.
The other base is at Ledo from which it is intended to construct a road by the Hukaung Valley to Myitkyina. Here again a road needs to be constructed approximately 200 miles in length, for most of which there has formerly been not even a mule track, although a road alignment had been surveyed for part of the way.
General Wheeler had taken over the construction of this road and had at present gone about 50 miles. In the Hukaung Valley section the only way to get a road through was to stick to the hills; otherwise in the rainy season this section will be covered with water. Whether or not a road could be constructed to open the line of communication from India to China was open to doubt. However, General Stilwell, who has recently seen General Wheeler, could give a more accurate report. The moral effect on the Chinese would be good if such a project were undertaken, even though the carrying capacity might prove small.
They had tried to run two roads from Imphal into the Chindwin Valley. One is through, but the other is considered as being a much greater undertaking.
With regard to airfields, the original requirement had been three fields in the northeast corner of Assam. These were in use but not quite completed but had encountered various delays, particularly because of labor and equipment shortages. These airfields now are operating with runways complete. However, the standings are limited; and with the increase in the numbers of aircraft, the demands for standings are increasing proportionately. After the visit of Generals Arnold and Somervell, three more airfields had been requested. The sites had been selected. The target date for their completion was 1 October, but a great deal will depend on monsoons and the availability of labor. It was difficult to get native labor to work during the rainy season. It was proposed to use on these fields steel mats, which in turn mean an added burden on the railway – 6,000 tons per runway.
He had had another administrative survey made just before leaving India; the conclusion reached was that the facilities were not available both to establish communications for the maintenance of the large force necessary to invade Burma successfully and to provide sufficient airfields for the support of China. He had left instructions to put the construction of the airfields on top priority.
The land route to Akyab was extremely difficult. The sea landing could have been successfully made, but he did not have the shipping, landing craft, and other essential equipment available. Therefore, he tried the operation overland down the coast. The essence of this operation should have been speed in order to arrive at Akyab before the Japanese were able to reinforce. However, the conditions encountered proved extremely difficult and provided the time necessary for the Japanese to reinforce and eventually drive the British out. Operations on a small scale against Akyab could not have had any major effect. The original plan was to have been coordinated with a Chinese offensive beginning in March. He had not been told that the Chinese had abandoned their operation until well into February, when his arrangements were already underway. He had continued with the operation, but the Japanese had been able to move reinforcements from Upper Burma and use them against his force. While Akyab had not been captured, the Japanese had suffered heavily, and air operations against them had been effective.
Further north, it had been the intention that one brigade should advance from the Fourth Corps Area and penetrate deeply beyond the Chindwin Valley to cover work taking place on the road and to help Chinese operations. This brigade had been specially trained to live on the country and operate without communications. When he had learned that the Chinese did not intend to take any action, he had decided to send the brigade in to gain experience in this form of fighting. They crossed the Chindwin early in February and went through to the Irrawaddy, cut the railway in 75 places, and put it out of action for several months. The commander of the brigade then decided to try to operate against Japanese communications near Lashio. However, in crossing the Irrawaddy, he had lost many of his transport animals and some of the remainder had died of disease. After being in action with the Japanese, he decided to break up the brigade into small columns, as had been arranged, and up to date some 1,500 of the original 2,500 had gotten back. Of the remainder, some were still on their way back while some were making for China. Casualties amounted to some 18 percent. The brigade consisted of British, Burmese and Ghurka troops. The Burmese had been included to assist the command with their local knowledge, and some had been deliberately left behind for future use. As a result of the experience gained, it had been decided to train one or possibly more brigades for this type of fighting.
The operations on the Arakan coast had proved disappointing, and we had failed to capture Akyab. This failure, together with the possible loss of Maungdaw, had strategic disadvantages in that it gave the Japanese an advance base for air attack on India and denied us bases.
In view of the difficulties of warfare in Upper Burma, it would never be possible to complete the conquest by land alone and a seaborne invasion of Lower Burma was essential. Landings on the Arakan Coast down to Cape Negrais would be cut off from the mainland by the Arakan Hills, through which there was only one bad road to Prome. It was impossible to land in the delta of the Irrawaddy; and, though landing at Moulmein was possible, these forces would be separated from Rangoon by big rivers and a flank guard against Siam would be essential.
Operations down the Arakan coast were designed to obtain air bases to give air cover for successive landings and finally for assault on Rangoon, but the latter town could not thus be captured in one season.
When Generals Arnold and Somervell had arrived from Casablanca with the proposal that a plan to capture Burma in one campaigning season should be drawn up, it was decided that the object could only be achieved in one way.
An advance by land must be made in Upper Burma to contain Japanese forces. This must be followed by landings on the Arakan coast to provide bases for air cover for a direct assault on Rangoon by going up the river. Forces from Assam and the Chinese from Yunnan would join up. The final assault up the Rangoon River was extremely difficult and hazardous. Though the river was not at present heavily defended, this could quickly be done if the Japanese learned of our intentions.
Certain conditions were essential if this plan was to be successful. Sufficient forces must be available, fully trained and fully equipped with all the necessary supplies and specialized equipment, and be ready to start operations at the beginning of the dry season during the first fortnight of November. Planning and Operational staffs were gotten together to prepare for the operation; and it was estimated that 180,000 tons of supplies a month, loading during March, April, May and June, were essential in order to mount the operation. In fact, in March and April only 70,000 and 65,000 tons respectively had been loaded. This was approximately half the normal maintenance requirements, and the operation was thus put back from two to three months.
The operations on the Arakan coast had proved that the Japanese were as good in defense as in attack and that our troops would require careful and lengthy training. Training in India was a difficult process due to the climate, and took longer than elsewhere. It was unlikely that the necessary shipping or naval forces would be available and therefore ANAKIM as originally planned was not possible of execution in full during the coming cold weather season. He was prepared to undertake the operation only if fully trained and equipped troops were available with the necessary amphibious transport assault and landing ships and specialized equipment. However, much shipping was sent now it would not be in time for the forces to be ready in early November.
Admiral Leahy asked Field Marshal Wavell what he considered to be the best practicable action which could be taken to keep China in the war.
Field Marshal Wavell said that he fully realized the political importance of the recapture of Burma, both on China and on India. Even if Operation ANAKIM was undertaken in full and was successful the Burma Road was unlikely to attain a capacity of 20,000 tons per month until June 1945. He believed the U.S. Air Force was now ferrying some 6,000 tons per month into China and hoped to work up to 10,000 tons per month. This was a greater capacity than the road would have for a long time and it might be possible to raise even this figure. He believed that the best way to help China was to increase the strength of General Chennault’s forces and that this, together with an increase of air-borne supplies, would have more material results than Operation ANAKIM. An unsuccessful operation into Burma would be almost worse than no operation at all. General Chennault’s forces could bring pressure to bear both against Japanese air and their shipping and port facilities. These were their weak links. It was not easy to construct more airfields in Assam since the requirements of gasoline and of construction material, including steel tracks, were heavy. If large-scale operations into Burma were not undertaken, then it would be easier to construct the airfields required to increase the flow into China. Thus, it would be feasible to increase General Chennault’s forces which could then achieve bigger results.
Admiral Leahy thanked Field Marshal Wavell for his description of the position in Burma.
Admiral Leahy explained that it was essential that we should find some method of giving assistance to China so that we could take advantage of Chinese manpower and eventually have bases in China for direct attack against Japan proper. He asked General Stilwell for his views on this subject.
General Stilwell stated that in his opinion it was absolutely necessary that we give the Chinese assistance in the near future. Their economic situation is rapidly deteriorating and the morale of the people and the army is bad. At present there is a great need to build up ground forces to make the route safe to the bases in China we hope eventually to establish. He had been worried since last summer lest the Japanese should undertake operations for the purpose of seizing Kunming. If the Japanese could successfully accomplish this, even a recaptured Burma would be of no use to us, and China would be lost. He was firmly of the opinion that Yunnan Province must be held and at present saw no way to accomplish this except by the use of the Chinese Army. He felt that if a route for supplying China could be made safe, everything else would follow; and conversely, if the route were lost, all of China would be lost. Therefore, the fundamental necessity was to insure the retention of our present route and its terminals and to conduct offensive operations to improve the supply situation. He stated that other things which we might undertake against the Japanese from China, such as conducting air offensives against their shipping and ground installations, would hurt the Japanese to some extent, but could not be decisive. On the other hand, they might provoke violent and fatal reaction on the part of the Japanese. In referring to Field Marshal Waveil’s statement with reference to 6,000 tons per month being moved into China by air, he stated that 3,400 tons per month was the greatest air load yet shipped over the hump, and that was under the most favorable conditions. He was of the opinion that this volume could not be materially increased within the next six months. If all the tonnage of the air transport were devoted to air effort, that is, for use by the 14th Air Force, it would hearten the Chinese to some extent, but with the means available, nothing really effective could be done to help the Chinese. He believed that the 14th Air Force should continue on a defensive mission in order that the minimum essential equipment could be supplied the Chinese troops in Yunnan. There were now 32 divisions in Yunnan, and the goal set was to try to carry 10,000 tons of equipment for this force. That, together with what could be scraped together in China, would enable this force to be put in the field at least partly equipped by the fall. He was firmly of the opinion that the best way to help the Chinese situation was to reassure the Chinese that a main effort was being made to reopen the supply route from India. If this were not done, he believed the Chinese reaction would be very serious. There were certain pro-Japanese elements in China that were taking advantage of an increasing feeling in the minds of some Chinese that no material help could be made available. Unless this condition could be remedied promptly, the situation would become dangerous. Delay might make it impossible for us to seize the bases which we needed in south and east China.
Admiral Leahy asked General Stilwell what he meant by “something must be done.”
General Stilwell replied that we must open the road to China – undertake Operation ANAKIM.
In reply to a question asked by Sir Alan Brooke as to when he considered it essential to have the road opened, General Stilwell replied, by January ‘44, or as soon as possible. The limiting date is a year from now. China cannot be expected to hold out for another year and a half, if for that long.
Admiral King suggested that General Stilwell meant that although the road might not actually be completed or in a condition to carry an appreciable volume of traffic, the psychological reaction on China in allaying their fears would keep them from cracking.
General Stilwell agreed.
Sir Alan Brooke asked whether or not it was correct that if we were to undertake operations to open the Burma Road, the cost would have to be borne by the air effort in China and if he recommended undertaking such operations at the expense of the air effort.
General Stilwell replied that the air effort could be supported with 3,000 tons a month. That amounted to only one train a day at most. The bases at Imphal and Ledo were pretty well stocked by now, and he did not see why any material reduction in the air effort should be caused. If 10,000 tons per month could be made available to the Chinese Divisions in Yunnan, they would be in suitable state for use in the fall.
Field Marshal Wavell stated that he had never intended to convey that limited ground operations could not be carried out at the same time as full-scale air operations.
In answer to a question by Admiral Leahy as to whether or not limited operations would help the situation in China, General Stilwell stated that such operations would help materially. Any way in which the line of communications could be improved would provide appreciable assistance. It was his opinion that operations to clear Burma, north of a northeast and southwest line through Lashio, should be undertaken.
Field Marshal Wavell said that he gravely doubted the ability to maintain forces in that area during the rainy season unless they were able during the dry season, in addition to conducting the offensive, to build approximately 200 miles of road.
General Stilwell stated that he was fully aware of this condition and that the plans called for building the road.
Field Marshal Wavell pointed out the enormous effort involved and stated that it would utilize practically all of the engineering personnel and equipment. He stated that the basic objection to seizing northern Burma was that once occupied it could not be maintained, especially if we were to go as far as Mandalay. The Japanese have railroad, river, and road communications from Rangoon and can develop and support a much larger force. Also they would be operating out of a dry area, which extends to the north of Prome, where movement and operations are possible during the wet season. We, on the other hand, could reach only the northern edge of this dry area from which the Japanese would be operating and would be confronted with immense supply problems; in addition, we would have no air support unless airfields could be constructed in northern Burma. This would be a gigantic undertaking.
Air Marshal Peirse pointed out that the movement of supplies for the air force used in support of the ground operations in north Burma would be of such volume that it would cut down materially supplies by air to China.
Field Marshal Wavell said that part of the plan called for a pipeline to Imphal and Ledo to supply gasoline for the support of the operations. This would effect a great reduction in the load on rail, river and road and also on the amounting of trucking. However, at present there was only a limited amount of pipe available.
Sir Alan Brooke pointed out that a limited operation for the purpose of opening a road in northern Burma would require practically the whole of the force involved to protect the road and in turn demand a greater volume of supplies over the road for the support and maintenance of troops. He believed that the only effective way of opening a supply route to China was to recapture the whole of Burma.
Admiral King pointed out that if the present air route could be shifted further to the south, where the mountains were not so high, each of the planes could carry a greater load and therefore materially increase the volume of supplies.
Admiral Leahy stated that, of course, we could expect the Japanese to attack the road, but would they have enough troops available to attack it in greater strength than we could support in the same area?
Admiral King, referring to a possible operation against Bangkok previously mentioned by Sir Alan Brooke, stated that he felt that such an operation would get at the root of the Japanese communications, and if undertaken, would cut their supply.
Sir Alan Brooke said that he believed that an operation against Bangkok would develop a vacuum, and that we should not launch such an operation until we were ready to carry it through to completion. He agreed with Admiral King that it was a vital spot in the center of the Japanese communications system.
General Marshall said that the whole problem of maintaining China in the war was one of logistic difficulties which must be linked to our capabilities of overcoming them. He would like Field Marshal Wavell to prepare his views on this so that the U.S. Planners, General Stilwell and General Somervell could examine them. The object of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff was to maintain China in the war since they assigned immense strategic importance to this in relation to the ultimate outcome of the war with Japan.
Admiral Leahy stated that all of this discussion on Burma had been very interesting. It was clearly indicated that we had a very difficult problem before us and that we must do something to improve the conditions in China. This resolved itself into a study of the logistic problems incident to her supply. He agreed with General Marshall that the best line of approach would be to study these logistic problems which should indicate a line of action to be followed.
Sir Alan Brooke, in answer to a question by Admiral Leahy, suggested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff have one more meeting before directing the Planners to prepare an agenda.
Admiral Leahy agreed that after the discussion with the President and the Prime Minister that afternoon, the Combined Chiefs of Staff would be better able to give the Planners instructions for the preparation of the agenda. It may well prove desirable to discuss the Oriental problem first. He suggested that the question of the agenda be taken as the first item at tomorrow’s meeting.
Admiral Leahy expressed his appreciation to Field Marshal Wavell and General Stilwell for the information presented at the Conference.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Approved the conclusions of the 83rd Meeting as recorded in the minutes.
That, with reference to Conclusion a(5) of the 83rd Meeting, the Combined Planners would require general directions to enable them to prepare an agenda for the remaining Conferences.
That these directions should be considered at the beginning of their next meeting.
Algiers, 14 May 1943. Secret C.C.S. 223
The attached paper (Enclosure “A”) prepared by the Operations Division, Allied Force Headquarters, represents the views of General Eisenhower and Admiral Cunningham with respect to operations after HUSKY. It is not concurred in by Air Chief Marshal Tedder whose comments are attached (Enclosure “B”). It is requested that both papers be submitted for the information of the Combined Chiefs of Staff as representative of the opinion of the Commander in Chief, Allied Force, from the local viewpoint only.
Algiers, 7 May 1943. Secret
The Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, Allied Force HQ to the Chief of Staff, Allied Force HQ
Subject: Operations after HUSKY
After Operation HUSKY there are two immediate possibilities:
a. To continue operations against the Italian mainland by action against:
i) The Reggio-Sangiovanni area (Operation BUTTRESS)
ii) The Crotone area (Operation GOBLET)
iii) The Heel of Italy (Operation MUSKET)
These operations would be preparatory to an advance into Italy in the direction of Naples.
b. To occupy Sardinia and Corsica as a preparatory measure to such further operations as may be decided upon.
To discuss the relative merits of the two courses of action referred to above.
Operations BUTTRESS, GOBLET and MUSKET
a. The advantages of this course of action are:
i) Operations on the Italian mainland even though confined to one area might be sufficient to compel Italy to ask for terms.
ii) Operation BUTTRESS and possibly GOBLET might be undertaken so as to coincide with the final stages of Operation Husky thus taking direct advantage of the disorganization and confusion which may occur as a result of a rapid success in HUSKY.
iii) The fact that operations were carried into the mainland of Europe would have considerable political value.
iv) Bases would be obtained from which operations in the Balkans could be supported if this strategy is decided upon.
b. The disadvantages are:
i) The operations themselves will require considerable forces. Should Italy not ask for terms as a result, we may be committed to a major campaign on the Italian mainland possibly involving all the forces available in the Mediterranean.
ii) Should Germany be in a position strongly to reinforce Italy and should she so decide, we might be involved in a campaign against superior German forces in country in which superiority in numbers would have full weight.
iii) Both during and after the operations a considerable garrison commitment will be involved, since we shall be operating in enemy as opposed to occupied territory.
iv) We shall be responsible for the administration and supply of such areas of the mainland as we occupy. This will constitute a heavy shipping and economic commitment.
v) Even if it is decided to limit the area of operations to the Toe and Heel of Italy, considerable forces will be required to defend these areas unless Italy has gone out of the war.
c. It is estimated that some 4-5 divisions would be required for Operations BUTTRESS and GOBLET. For Operation MUSKET it is estimated that 4-5 divisions would be required initially. The force in this area would probably have to be built up to a total of approximately 10 divisions (including two Armored divisions) if further operations are to be undertaken on the mainland.
The above requirements would be to some extent counterbalanced by the reduction which it would be possible to make in the garrison of HUSKY. It is clear, however, that operations on the mainland are likely to involve all the resources which we can make available.
Operations BRIMSTONE and FIREBRAND
a. The advantages of this course of action are:
i) It will place the whole of Italy within easy bombing range. This fact alone might be sufficient to induce Italy to ask for terms.
ii) A threat of invasion will exist over the entire length of the west coast of Italy. This is likely to cause the Italians to withdraw troops from the Balkans and will cause the maximum dispersion of Axis troops on the mainland.
iii) It will constitute a threat to southern France and thereby tend to retain German troops in that area.
iv) It renders our sea communications in the western Mediterranean secure and reduces the air threat to North Africa thus freeing air and AA resources.
v) The operational commitment is limited and the subsequent garrison requirement will be small. Operation FIREBRAND can be undertaken by French forces.
b. The disadvantages are:
i) If the occupation of Sardinia and Corsica does not induce Italy to ask for terms, we should still be faced with the necessity for conducting operations on the mainland in order to achieve that end.
ii) We shall not be taking advantage of the disorganization which may be caused on the mainland by the success of HUSKY
iii) We shall not reap the political advantages which will accrue from the opening of a campaign on the mainland of Europe.
c. It is estimated that Operation BRIMSTONE will require about 5 Inf Divs and one Armd Div; the garrison commitment is unlikely to be greater than 2 Inf Divs. On the other hand, it must be remembered that if this course is adopted it may be necessary to retain the maximum garrison in HUSKY.
The position may therefore be summarized as follows:
a. Operations BUTTRESS, GOBLET and MUSKET require considerable forces and once we have embarked upon this course we are committed. Unless Italian morale is already weakening, we may be involved in a major campaign the duration and requirements of which it is not possible to foresee.
b. Operations BRIMSTONE and FIREBRAND can be carried out with comparatively limited forces and after these operations we shall still retain full liberty of action to strike in whatever direction may seem advisable. If Italian morale is weakening after HUSKY, the threat of heavy bombing which these operations will produce may be sufficient to induce Italy to ask for terms.
c. The decision between these two courses of action must depend to a great extent upon the state of Italian morale after HUSKY. It will not be easy to assess this accurately and it is therefore considered that the course of action which does not definitely commit us to the mainland is preferable.
It is concluded that the next operations after HUSKY should be BRIMSTONE and FIREBRAND in preference to BUTTRESS, GOBLET and MUSKET.
LOWELL W. ROOKS
Brigadier General, GSC
Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3
Algiers, 8 May 1943. Most secret Ref: ACMT/S. 515.
The Air Commander in Chief, Mediterranean Air Command to the Commander in Chief, Allied Force HQ
I have just seen a paper prepared by G.3. section for the Chief of Staff. This paper has not been considered by the J.P.S. Previous editions of the paper (P/68) have been considered by the J.P.S. and I have instructed my representative to emphasize certain factors. This final paper does not, in my opinion, give these factors due weight. I cannot, therefore, agree with it or with its conclusions. The main points on which I am in disagreement are the following:
Firstly, the difficulties of the capture of Sardinia are completely glossed over. In my opinion, owing to the distance from air bases the capture of Sardinia would be a more difficult problem than HUSKY.
The alleged advantage that “It placed the whole of the Italian mainland within easy bombing range” is true, but misleading. The whole Italian mainland is already within easy bombing range from Tunisia and Sicily. The value of additional bases in Sardinia is more than balanced by the additional maintenance and supply involved.
The value of Sardinia is, in my opinion, almost entirely a defensive one, in that it would reduce the commitment for the protection of shipping passing along the North African coast.
I do not agree that the capture of Sardinia would free considerable AA resources in North Africa, since North African bases are within reasonable operation range of enemy bases in Italy.
As regards Italy itself, the paper does point out that the establishment of air bases in central Italy would bring within range of our heavy bombers the main Axis industrial centers in southern Germany, etc., also the Roumanian oil fields. This is true, but the main advantage of using Italy as a base is omitted. The main value of such an air base is that heavy bomber attacks on the majority of the most vital centers in Germany, and other Axis countries pass through routes which completely evade the great belt of fighter and AA defenses which Germany has set up along the whole North and North Western approaches. These defenses are exacting an increasing toll on our bomber offensive. It would be quite impossible from every point of view for the enemy to create a similar organization covering the Southern approach, and bomber offensive directed, from the South, especially when coordinated with that of U.K. would have enormously increased material and moral effects.
I must emphasize, therefore, that in my opinion the conclusions to paper No. P/69 are unsound insofar as they fail to pay due weight to the air aspect which I am sure you will agree has already proved itself to be one of the vital factors.
A. W. TEDDER
Air Chief Marshal
Air Commander in Chief
|United States||United Kingdom|
|President Roosevelt||Prime Minister Churchill|
|Mr. Hopkins||Field Marshal Dill|
|Admiral Leahy||Field Marshal Wavell|
|General Marshall||General Brooke|
|Admiral King||Admiral of the Fleet Pound|
|Lieutenant General Stilwell||Admiral Somerville|
|Lieutenant General McNarney||Air Chief Marshal Portal|
|Major General Chennault||Air Chief Marshal Peirse|
|Lieutenant General Ismay|
|Brigadier General Deane|
May 14, 1943, 2 p.m. Secret
The President said that this Conference had been called to talk about the local situation in the India-Burma-China Theater because that area presented problems which were extremely difficult. The United Nations were now on dead-center with regard to operations in that area. The thought on the subject must be simplified. He said the problem should be divided into two main subdivisions: first, operations to be carried out forthwith and, second, operations to be carried out at the end of the present monsoon season. The two should not be confused. Preparations for operations in November and December of 1943 must certainly start now, but preparations for operations to be carried out forthwith must be rushed.
The President indicated that China is now in a dangerous political condition. The United Nations could not let China go to pieces. It should be remembered, when discussing demands of the Generalissimo, that he was the head of the Army and of the State. It was imperative that the United Nations not be put in the position of being responsible in any way for the collapse of China. It was no longer possible to simply tell China to take what she was given. There must be active cooperation on the part of the United Nations. An attitude of It can’t be done could not be tolerated because it was certain that something must be done. He said there would have to be a 1943 affirmative.
The Prime Minister said that there must be a 1943 and a 1944 affirmative.
The President then asked those present to express their convictions freely on the subject of China and asked the Prime Minister to present his views.
The Prime Minister said he felt that the President had put the case very clearly. He himself had once been keen on action of the ANAKIM type and two years ago had written a memorandum on the subject, a copy of which he had given to Admiral King at Casablanca, in which he had proposed an operation through Rangoon on Bangkok. A decision had been made at Casablanca that ANAKIM was to be mounted. Accordingly, Field Marshal Wavell had prepared a plan which was in his opinion the best method for accomplishing the recapture of Burma. The Prime Minister said he now gathered that Field Marshal Wavell considered the outlook for the accomplishment of this plan to be bleak, but he still held it feasible if and when the necessary material was provided.
The Prime Minister said that operations in Burma so far had not been effective. However, they had taught lessons. He said when he looked at Field Marshal Wavell’s plan, in the light of results to date, he did not like the looks of it. He questioned the value of trying to retake Burma now, and asked if it could not be bypassed. If so, would not the construction and defense of airfields be sufficient to insure a flow of supplies into China? The question was how to construct these airfields quickly and to insure their protection. He said that, for himself, he had little inclination to go to swampy jungles in which operations could be conducted for only five months of the year, country infested with malaria, where modern equipment could not be used. The idea of making four attacks from the sea, to say nothing of the advance up the Rangoon River to Rangoon, subject to attack from shore defenses of various kinds, did not present a favorable outlook. All of these factors, together with the long lines of communications, made the prospects for ANAKIM, as now planned, extremely gloomy, a view that was shared by his military advisers.
The Prime Minister indicated that he could not see how operations in the swamps of Burma would help the Chinese. The factor that had turned him against the plan, more than any other, was that only 20,000 tons could be transported over the Burma Road, and then only in early 1945, even though ANAKIM were completely successful. He questioned what would happen to the Chinese in the interval. He felt that the above considerations indicated that there should be a passionate development of air transport into China, and the buildup of air forces in China, as the objectives for 1943.
The Prime Minister then turned the discussion to 1944. He indicated an Asiatic TORCH should be sought. A blow should be struck where it could be accomplished with complete surprise. It would, of necessity, have to be an operation which would attract enemy reaction and thus take the pressure off China and the South Pacific. He suggested the possibility of seizing the northern tip of Sumatra. It would be much better to baffle the enemy by surprise than to continue with the development of the obvious.
The President said that in the TORCH operation the objective had been to drive the Axis forces out of Africa, or at least to form a junction between Generals Alexander and Montgomery in the East and General Eisenhower’s forces in the West. Our objectives in China should be: first, to save China and keep it going and, second, to continue to increase the rate of attrition on Japan in ships and airplanes. He said that until now the United Nations have met with considerable success in their battle of attrition against Japan, but the pace would have to be stepped up. He then asked Field Marshal Wavell to express his views on the Burma and ANAKIM operation.
Field Marshal Wavell said that he had had the Burma campaign and Burma constantly in mind for two years. He considered it to be the most important pivot in the war against Japan. After war had been declared, it became impossible to defend Burma once the United Nations had lost control of the seas. He had been thinking of the reconquest of that country ever since. He said he was convinced that a reconquest could not be accomplished by land operations alone but must be combined with amphibious operations and naval action. He had always realized the political effect that the loss of Burma had on China and also upon India. The moral effect on both countries was also of extreme importance.
Field Marshal Wavell said that the more he had planned for reconquest the more difficult it had become. Communications to northeast India, which must be a base for land operations, are extremely difficult. They are dependent upon a railroad which has small capacity and is often out of operation for long periods. Airfields must have metal or concrete surfaces. To illustrate the difficulties in communications, he said that his troops at Manipur had never been on full rations during the last monsoon period because of the effect of rain on the roads. Current operations have shown that the Japanese have good troops for defensive fighting, whereas the Indian forces, accustomed to the open plains, require intensive training for this type of warfare.
Field Marshal Wavell said that when he was asked to produce a plan to conquer Burma in the next dry season, he had had prepared what he thought was the best plan possible. Even so, it was a hazardous one and difficult of accomplishment. He felt it had a reasonable chance of success if his troops were fully trained and equipped. The plan required a considerable increase of supplies which had to be sent to the theater at once. It was necessary that 180,000 tons per month be sent to India. Actually, in March and April only 65,000 and 70,000 tons respectively had been shipped. He felt that therefore the operation could not start in November as originally planned. Unless the operation could start in November, it could not succeed in the coming dry season. It would be necessary to get land-based air cover on the Arakan coast first, then capture Rangoon, while, at the same time, conducting operations in the north with British and Chinese troops. The Chinese forces from the north and the British-Indian forces from the south would then attempt to form a junction. After that it would be necessary to repair the railroads and bring supplies in through Rangoon and ship them north in order to start repair of the Burma Road. His administrative experts had informed him that the road could not be fully opened to traffic until the middle of 1945.
The Field Marshal indicated that relief to China would therefore not be effective until 1945, but that the moral effect, on the other hand, would be considerable at once to both China and India. If success was assured, it would be worth hazarding the losses. He said, however, that an unsuccessful expedition would be much worse than none at all.
Field Marshal Wavell said that his Planners had been examining alternatives. He said that, in the long run, it was probable that more supplies could be sent into China by air alone in the next 18 months than would be the case if the air transport was required to use much of its capacity for operations leading to the construction of the Burma Road.
The possibility of using troops in the India Theater for some other operation was being examined. An effort was being made to determine the effect of creating a break or landing somewhere in the semicircle from Burma through the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Java. Possible objectives were Bangkok via the Kra Isthmus, northern Sumatra, and Malaya, or the Sunda Straits. Bangkok was considered to be impracticable because there was no adequate port or routes across the Kra Isthmus. Sunda Straits was an attractive objective because it threatens the Palembang oil fields. This, however, was not possible within the resources available. An operation which did appear to be promising was one which would seize three or four airfields in northern Sumatra and from there drive on into the Malayan Peninsula at Penang, where there were four or five additional airfields. The object of such an expedition would be to place large air forces in Sumatra and Malaya from where they could attack Bangkok, Singapore, the Palembang oil fields, and Japanese shipping. If it were possible to place strong air forces on northern Sumatra and protect them, a bad situation would be created for the Japanese and cause them considerable air losses. The expedition would probably require about the same forces as would be required by ANAKIM. It would have the advantage that the operation would not be dependent on the monsoon. It would be an expensive operation in aircraft because of the distance from air bases and it would also require considerable shipping. The proposed operation, if feasible, however, would cause considerable attrition to Japanese air power and shipping. The Japanese would have to react to the United Nations’ operations and this would bring on air battles. Considerable further study would be required before an opinion could be given as to the possibility of the operation.
In reply to a question by the Prime Minister, the Field Marshal said the operation proposed could not take place until 1944.
The President pointed out that there were many naval problems involved in the capture of Rangoon. He questioned whether sufficient carriers could be made available.
Admiral Somerville said that the Rangoon operation was not attractive. Even to seize the airfields on the Arakan coast would require carriers standing off from one to three weeks, which was too long against Japanese land-based air attack. Seizure of Rangoon was not feasible unless it could be covered to some extent by land-based aircraft from the Arakan coast.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound indicated that carriers could not be made available until they could be released from the Mediterranean.
Admiral Somerville said that the naval approach to Rangoon was narrow and could be easily defended. He doubted if the operation was feasible from the naval point of view.
Air Chief Marshal Peirse said that, from an airman’s point of view, air development appeared to meet the requirements, which were
a. to defeat the enemy air forces;
b. to assure military aid to China; and
c. to bring support in the form of supplies at the earliest date.
One thing was essential and that was that we should have adequate air forces operating from India to neutralize Japanese air forces which might interfere with the air route. He pointed out that it had become clear that the development of land operations through Assam into China and development of the facilities required both for the Royal Air Force and the American Ferry Command were mutually antagonistic. He continued that, in his opinion, if all the effort was put into building up the air forces operating under General Chennault and the air transport into China, much more could be done than is at present planned. He felt that the tonnage over the air transport route to China could be considerably increased. He further considered that, for the defense of this air route, it was not necessary to reconquer Burmese territory, provided that Allied Air Forces were adequate for the neutralization of the enemy air forces.
Referring to ANAKIM, Air Chief Marshal Peirse said that he had never considered the plan to be sound since the sea-borne expedition and the landings could not be supported by land-based aircraft. The plan was based on the assumption that the enemy might have 300 to 350 aircraft and that of these, 100 might attack any landing operation. Clearly the defense which one or two carriers could oppose would be quite inadequate to a scale of attack of this order.
The President asked how many airports there were in the area from Assam to Chittagong.
Air Chief Marshal Peirse said that at the present moment he was operating 14 squadrons from forward airdromes between northeast Assam and Chittagong, exclusive of those used by the American Air Force.
The President asked if the runways were long enough for bombers.
Air Chief Marshal Peirse replied that there were six airfields with hard runways from which medium and heavy bombers could operate. For the most part, heavy bombers operated from airfields further back. He said that the plan to capture Sumatra has considerable merit because it extends our air cover eastward and interferes with the Japanese shipping lanes. The radius of bomber aircraft operating from Malaya to northern Sumatra will extend far enough to meet that of bombers operating through southern China. He considered that air operations undertaken from Malaya in conjunction with offensive air operations undertaken from China would be bound to draw considerable enemy air forces into these areas to oppose them. Such air forces the enemy could ill spare.
General Stilwell said that the weight of opinion was apparently against him. To his mind China represented a base which the United Nations wanted. They wanted it both for its geographic position and for the use of Chinese manpower. He felt that ultimately the United Nations must meet the Japanese Army on the mainland of Asia. If China were allowed to fall now, it would be a long road back before the United Nations would be in a position to meet Japan on Chinese soil. He said that to keep China in the war it was essential to retain control of Yunnan.
General Stilwell said that he had been worried for a long time over the possibilities of a Japanese attack against Kunming, particularly one from the south. The Japanese have the forces available in Indo China to make such an attack. He said that if we are to hold Yunnan, ground forces must be trained to do it, and they must be Chinese forces.
General Stilwell said that there are now 32 divisions in training which will be available for the defense of Yunnan. At the present time they have a strength of about 8,100. However, it is planned to inactivate one out of each three divisions so as to bring the remainder to a total strength of 10,000 each. This will result in 22 divisions being available as soon as their equipment is received and the others will be brought up to strength later. He felt that if this force could be trained and equipped, it would be capable of defending Yunnan Province. Sufficient equipment would be available if 10,000 tons capacity were utilized for this purpose over the air transport route between now and September.
General Stilwell indicated that it was absolutely essential to open land communications to China. Even though the initial supplies were small, they would have a tremendous moral effect on China and munitions thus transported would be used to build up a second group of 30 divisions which had been promised by the Generalissimo. He said that under this program, there would ultimately be a force capable of fighting the Japanese. If supplies for these ground forces were not sent at once, it would be impossible to train and equip the Chinese Yunnan forces and the Chinese Army would disappear. He admitted that if all supplies were devoted to building up the Chinese Air Forces, it would have an effect on the Japanese shipping lanes, and it would be a shot in the arm to Chinese morale, but he felt that it would not lead to decisive results. He said as soon as the buildup of American forces begins to sting the Japanese too much, they will launch an attack from Indo China to capture the Kunming Area. If that proved to be the case, the eastern terminal of the air route would disappear and China would be out of the war. It was imperative, therefore, that Yunnan Province be defended and the only way this could be accomplished was by the build-up of Chinese Ground Forces.
The President said that he had never accepted such a low tonnage figure for the air route, that it must be divided up between Air and Ground equipment. Why should not sufficient be conveyed for both?
General Stilwell said that up to the present, 3,400 tons had been the maximum conveyed in any one month. Increased quantities were certainly possible on paper, but it must always be remembered that we were fighting the conditions of the country, the monsoon, and inadequate airfields, and there was always the danger that the Japanese would interfere with the route.
Field Marshal Wavell said that there was no great danger to the Assam airfields from land attack. The warning system was reasonably adequate, giving 13 minutes warning.
General Stilwell thought that the warning system required improvement. He thought that all possible steps had already been taken by Field Marshal Wavell to speed up the development of the airfields. Labor had already been switched from the Ledo Road.
In response to an inquiry by the President, General Stilwell said that his requirements for the Chinese Army in Yunnan were 2,000 tons a month in the next five months; and General Chennault said that he required 4,700 tons a month for four months, and after that 7,000 tons a month.
The President suggested that the immediate objective for the air route should therefore be 7,000 tons a month.
In further discussion, it was pointed out that the plan was already to achieve 10,000 tons per month by November, though something might be done to speed up matters so as to try to achieve 7,000 tons a month by July.
General Stilwell said that the only way of getting large quantities of material into China was by road. We might, by a great effort, achieve 10,000 tons by air, but a land route would ultimately be essential.
The President said that it must be borne in mind that the Generalissimo was head of the State, as well as Commander in Chief. General Stilwell and General Chennault were thus hi a sense under him when they were in his territory. It was difficult from the psychological point of view to tell the Generalissimo that we thought things should be done in some manner different from his ideas.
General Chennault agreed that it was necessary to listen to what the Generalissimo said. His own plan was first to use his air forces to protect the terminal base in Yunnan, and then to operate from another area farther east from which Japanese shipping could be attacked in the Hong Kong-Formosa area. He doubted whether the Japanese could advance across-country and capture Yunnan. They had never yet succeeded in such an operation. They had always advanced up rivers which they used for their line of communication, and the traffic on the rivers was thus open to air attack. The Generalissimo certainly feared an attack up the Yangtze, but quite a small force, say two Fighter squadrons and one Bomber squadron, would be enough to prevent such an advance.
The Prime Minister suggested that if all efforts now concentrating on the Ledo Road and on supporting the troops in Burma were concentrated on developing the airfields, the progress might be more rapid, and the higher tonnage might be achieved earlier.
Field Marshal Wavell said that a certain amount of resources might be saved from the Ledo Road, though it was in itself of some importance for improving the warning system. Airfields already had first priority.
General Marshall said that several steel mats for airfields were on their way, and General Wheeler’s demand for two or three more Engineer Battalions was under examination. It might be possible to supply these from the Middle East.
The President inquired what would be the effect on the Generalissimo if Operation ANAKIM were not carried out.
General Stillwell said that the effect was unpredictable, but there was no doubt that the Generalissimo was relying on the operation.
General Chennault said that the Generalissimo always wanted definite commitments on dates and size of forces. He believed that if 7,000 tons a month were flown in the Generalissimo would be satisfied.
Field Marshal Dill pointed out that the Generalissimo knew about the plan for 10,000 tons a month, and was expecting this to be carried out in addition to ANAKIM. A 7,000-ton project would thus not be anything new to him.
General Stilwell said that the Generalissimo felt that he had been himself concerned in the making of the ANAKIM plan, and was committed to it. He expected the operation to be carried out as planned. If it were not, he would feel deserted. Operations against Sumatra or Malaya would have no bearing on the opening of the Burma Road, and would thus greatly prolong the period during which no steps were being taken to reopen it. The Chinese were suspicious of the British, and it would be necessary for the British to prove to them that they were in earnest. The effect of the cancellation of ANAKIM would be very bad on the Chinese people, and the development of the air supply route would not be regarded as an adequate substitute.
The Prime Minister said that he was not prepared to undertake something foolish purely in order to placate the Chinese. He was not prepared to make war that way. He would do anything that was sensible to help the Chinese in exactly the same way as he would do anything that was sensible to help the Russians; but he did not see any particular value in carrying out costly operations to no purpose.
Admiral King said that the Burma Road was a symbol to the Chinese, and operations in Burma would make them feel that at any rate the reopening was on the way.
The President suggested that a possible alternative solution would be to make use of the forces designed for ANAKIM for an advance towards China, opening the Road as the advance progressed.
Field Marshal Wavell said that this possibility had been carefully studied. The question was how could a force advancing in this manner be sustained? The railhead in Assam was already overloaded. Beyond that there were 200 miles of hill road already completed. Then came 80 miles of partly made hill road to a point still west of the Chindwin River. After that point there was no all-weather road at all in Upper Burma north of Mandalay. The Japanese had built a dry-weather road towards the Chin hills, but it was separated from the end of our road by 120 miles. We should have to build 250 miles of all-weather road in 4/5 months – an engineering effort entirely beyond the capacity of the line of communication through Assam to support. Upper Burma was the most malarial country in the world, and if operations were continued there in the rainy season, 25% casualties per month must be expected. It might be better to go down to Mandalay, rather than to try to go due east, but after we got to Mandalay, we should then be trying to maintain our forces over 300 miles of road of which 150 miles were not all-weather. We could not possibly meet the Japanese on even terms as they would have behind them the railway, the road, and the river. He did not think it would be possible to cut their line of communication decisively by air.
General Stilwell, in reply to a question by the President, said that he agreed with Field Marshal Wavell that an attack on Rangoon would be very hazardous. He thought it might be better to go in through Bassein.
Admiral Somerville observed that an attack on Bassein was open to the same objection, that for two or three weeks air support would have to be provided by carriers.
The Prime Minister, reverting to General Stilwell’s statement about the attitude of the Chinese, said that he was sorry to hear that the Chinese were suspicious of the British. The British had asked nothing of the Chinese and were prepared to do anything that would really contribute to their safety. He was not prepared, however, to undertake months of unprofitable operations in order to remove the unfounded suspicions of the Chinese. The United States would realize that it was not a question of saving the expenditure of British blood. The British were perfectly prepared to fight in true brotherhood with their Allies.
General Stilwell explained that it was only because China was essential ultimately as a base that it was so necessary to undertake operations to open the way thereto.
The Prime Minister said that he was not at present convinced that this was so. However, he saw no reason openly to abandon the operation at present. He thought that moves in preparation should continue provided they did not hamper the development of the air route. Further study would be necessary before a decision could be taken on the actual operation to be carried out.
The President said that he thought the two objectives should be to get 7,000 tons a month by air into China by July; and, secondly, to open land communication with China. It was for the Military advisers to suggest the best way in which the latter objective could be carried out.
Admiral Leahy thought that the task for the staffs was to find out the most promising operation to open the way to China irrespective of any agreement actually to carry it out in the immediate future.
General Marshall urged that no suggestion be made to the Generalissimo that 7,000 tons per month was the target as this would appear to the latter as a reduction from the 10,000 tons per month which he knows to be the objective. He said that in the development of ANAKIM, RAVENOUS had been the first approach. Field Marshal Wavell had objected to RAVENOUS as being unsound for supply reasons, Sir Alan Brooke had objected because of the insecurity of the south flank, and the Generalissimo had objected because it was not coupled with naval action. Finally, ANAKIM in its present form had been agreed upon by all. This was now considered to be impracticable. He said that the plan proposed by General Stilwell was new in many of its features and should be thoroughly explored.
The Pittsburgh Press (May 14, 1943)
Drive launched to Tokyo