America at war! (1941--) -- Part 2

Editorial: And Attu is the least

Edson: Ft. Knox armored forces ready for lightning action

By Peter Edson

Ferguson: WAACs after the war

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

War wives who ‘stay put’ seem to be more content

Those who continue living in the homes their husbands left them in agree it’s worth the price
By Ruth Millett

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Stock prices spurt on talk by Churchill

Industrial average climbs to new high since May 1940

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

In Tunisia – (by wireless)
The finish of the campaign such as this one in Tunisia has a definite reaction on everybody. At first there is terrific enthusiasm. Then after a few days a letdown occurs.

Each man realizes, once he relaxes, how terribly tired he is. He is like a rubber band that had been stretched too tight. A feeling of anticlimax settles over him. Dozens of times I’ve heard such expressions as “I’m all jumpy” and “I feel at loose ends” and “I want to get moving, I don’t care where, but somewhere.”

Staying in Tunisia now is like sitting on in the tent after the circus has finished its performance. Everybody is wondering what we are going to do next, and when, and where. Of course, the Germans would like to know that too. And I can assure you that if they don’t know any more about our plans than the correspondents and the bulk of the Army, they are completely in the dark.

We in the common herd have no inkling of what the next act will be. We can only hope it will be soon, for this feeling of intermission is getting us down.

Ernie at loose ends

As for me, I don’t know what I’ll do either. First, I’m going back into Algeria and take a bath and get some laundry done and read a few letters. The I’ll sit down for a couple of weeks of column-writing in peaceful surroundings. You’ll have to bear up under a few more Tunisian columns, for I have a lot of leftover items to put on paper.

What comes after that is anybody’s guess. I might go back to England for a while. I might take a Cook’s tour of South Africa. I might even take a Mediterranean cruise, or feed the pigeons at St. Peter’s in Rome, who knows?

The Germans didn’t quite hew to the ethical line in one thing – they continued trying to destroy their own stuff after the surrender. Vehicles were set afire, and soldiers broke their rifles over bridge abutments as they walked along. Sometimes their destructive frenzy was almost laughable. I saw one bivouac where they had left all their big guns, their ten-wheelers, all their heavy gear intact, yet they had smashed such things as personal radios, toilet kits, chairs, and even an accordion.

Destruction was trivial

However, what they put out of action was trivial. The collapse was so huge that most of their stuff was taken intact. Today you see long convoys of German trucks on the Tunisian highways, but they have American drivers, and the yellow star of the U.S. Army is painted on their sides. Our Military Police acted quickly to throw guards around all captured supply dumps and preserve them until the Army can collect, sort, and put to use all the captured material.

A little scene on the day of the surrender sticks in my mind. Hundreds of Germans were standing and sitting around a Tunisian farmyard. There was a sprinkling of Italian prisoners too, and a scattering of American, British, and French soldiers on various errands. It was indeed an international assembly.

In this far foreign farmyard, there was a windmill. The printing on the windmill’s big fan seemed so incongruous that I had to jot it down: “Flint & Walling Manufacturing Co., Kendallville, Ind.” You just can’t get foreign enough to lose us Hoosiers.

One of the English-speaking German soldiers asked me why I was copying that down, and when I told him it was because the windmill came from my home state he smiled and said, oh yes, he’s been in Indiana several times himself!

U.S. State Department (May 19, 1943)

Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, 4:30 p.m.

United States United Kingdom
Admiral Leahy General Brooke
General Marshall Admiral of the Fleet Pound
Admiral King Air Chief Marshal Portal
Lieutenant General McNarney Field Marshal Dill
Brigadier Redman
Brigadier General Deane
Commander Coleridge

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

May 19, 1943, 4:30 p.m.


Defeat of the Axis Powers in Europe(CCS 237) (Previous Reference: CCS 88th Meeting, Item 3)

The Committee considered the draft resolutions contained in CCS 237 and agreed to certain amendments which are incorporated below.

(These resolutions to be subsequently circulated as C.C.S. 237/1.)

At this point the Secretaries entered the meeting.

Operations From India

In reply to a question by Sir Charles Portal, Admiral Leahy said that he understood the term ANAKIM to mean operations in Burma and not to cover other operations based on India against such places as Sumatra or the Malayan Peninsula. The Chinese believed that they had received a firm promise that the British and Americans would, towards the end of 1943, undertake operations in Burma aimed at opening a road to China. He personally now accepted that the original operations which included the capture of Rangoon were impracticable, but he believed nevertheless that an operation to open a land route to China must be undertaken. This might take the form of attacking in North Burma with a view to capturing Mandalay and opening a route through Ledo, at the same time seizing Akyab and Ramree Island.

In reply to a question by Admiral Leahy, Sir Alan Brooke said that the Andaman Islands contained only one small airfield and their capture, except as part of large-scale operations, was not worthwhile.

Provision of Transport Aircraft for HUSKY

Sir Charles Portal said that despite the additional aircraft promised there was still a deficiency of 80 transports for the new HUSKY plan. He had discussed the subject with General Smith who was most anxious that every possible step should be taken to provide them. If trained crews were the bottleneck the Royal Air Force could provide them. He suggested that this matter might be further discussed at a future meeting, say Friday, of the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

General McNarney said that crews were not the limiting factor. The additional 80 aircraft required could only be provided at the expense of the South Pacific. He believed that if the airborne troops visualized were essential to the success of the plan, these could all be dropped by using the same aircraft for two drops. He fully appreciated the timing of these drops would not be perfect, but was convinced that by this means all the airborne troops required could be put across.

General Marshall said that the theater commander must be and had been backed to the limit but in this case the limit had been reached and the aircraft required were not available.

General McNarney agreed.

Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff with Roosevelt and Churchill, 6 p.m.

United States United Kingdom
President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill
Mr. Hopkins Field Marshal Dill
Admiral Leahy General Brooke
General Marshall Admiral of the Fleet Pound
Admiral King Air Chief Marshal Portal
Lieutenant General McNarney Lieutenant General Ismay
Brigadier General Deane
Brigadier Jacob

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

May 19, 1943, 6 p.m.


Progress of Conference

The President inquired what progress had been achieved in the Conferences between the Chiefs of Staff.

Admiral Leahy said that he hoped that it would be possible to furnish the President and the Prime Minister with some tentative conclusions in time for the weekend. ANAKIM had only been dealt with in a very general way up to the present, but would be considered in more detail the following day.

The Prime Minister said that he was entirely in favor of carrying out whatever operations might be possible in Burma without trenching too deeply on shipping and naval resources. Of course, any troops who could be placed in contact with the enemy should not be allowed to stand idle.

General Brooke agreed.

The Prime Minister said that he very much hoped it would be possible in time to arrange for some British squadrons to take part in the operations in China. Sir Charles Portal agreed that it would be very desirable.

General McNarney said that logistical difficulties would prevent any employment of British squadrons in the near future.

The President drew attention to the importance of political and personal considerations in planning action in China.

The U-Boat War and the Use of Portuguese Atlantic Islands

The President inquired whether in the opinion of the First Sea Lord the U-boat war was proceeding reasonably well.

Sir Dudley Pound said that results recently had been fairly satisfactory.

Sir Charles Portal said that the air operations against submarines were being extended and it was hoped to increase not only the total sinkings by this means but also the rate of sinkings per aircraft employed.

General Marshall inquired whether the President had yet considered the possibility of securing the use of the Azores.

The President said that he had been considering the matter and he thought that one method of procedure might be to ask President Vargas of Brazil to make a secret approach to the Portuguese Government. The President then read to the meeting a telegram drafted by the Secretary of State putting the matter to President Vargas. He said that he had mentioned the idea to President Vargas when he had last seen him, and had suggested that if a token Brazilian force were sent to the Islands, the Portuguese might be enabled to transfer back to the mainland some of the good troops which they had serving in the Islands. This might be an added inducement to the Portuguese to allow the United Nations to make use of bases in their Island territory.

In the discussion that followed the following were the main points made:
a. The Combined Chiefs of Staff were all agreed as to the great military advantages which would follow the occupation of the Azores and considered that no time should be lost in carrying it out.

b. Mr. Hopkins thought the chances of the Portuguese willingly conceding the use of bases in the Azores were extremely remote. He thought therefore that before any approach was made we should be quite sure in our minds that we were prepared to occupy the Islands by force if our request was refused.

c. Although on the face of it it might appear to be an action savoring somewhat of German or Japanese technique, the occupation by force of the Azores could hardly be condemned when it is remembered that Portugal, together with the other small nations depended for their very existence upon the victory of the United Nations, and that as long as the latter were debarred from making use of the Azores, their shipping was subjected to damaging attacks, against which a proper defense could not be provided. In the last war it had been found necessary to make a technical breach of neutrality by occupying the Piraeus, but the incident had eventually been settled to everyone’s satisfaction. It should not be forgotten that it was on the margin of shipping that the Allies depended for their warmaking capacity.

d. Probably the best way of handling the matter would be to have ample force available off the Islands, and to inform the Portuguese Government that the Islands would be occupied the following morning and that resistance would be hopeless. Solid inducements would be offered, and if the Portuguese desired it, the Brazilians could ostensibly provide the occupying troops.

In conclusion, it was agreed that the Prime Minister should telegraph proposals on these lines to the British Government for their comments, and that in the meanwhile the Combined Chiefs of Staff should have a plan prepared for carrying out the operation as soon as possible. The plan should be ready for examination by the President and Prime Minister on Monday, 24 May.

The Prime Minister asked how the discussions regarding the Mediterranean and BOLERO had been progressing.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the Combined Chiefs of Staff had today reached an agreement which provided for a buildup in England of a sufficient force to secure a bridgehead on the Continent from which further offensive operations could be carried out. This was to involve approximately nine divisions in the assault and a buildup of twenty additional divisions. At the same time, the Chiefs of Staff had agreed that the Commander in Chief, North Africa, should be instructed to mount such operations in exploitation of HUSKY as would be best calculated to eliminate Italy from the war and contain the maximum number of German forces. These operations would, of course, be subject to the approval of the Combined Chiefs of Staff. General Eisenhower was to be told that he might use for this purpose those forces available in the Mediterranean Theater except that four American divisions and three British divisions would be held in readiness from the first of November onward for withdrawal to take part in the operations from the United Kingdom. Sir Alan Brooke said it was also agreed that these decisions would be reviewed by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at a meeting in July or early in August in order that the situation might be reexamined in the light of the results of HUSKY and the situation then existing in Russia.

The President asked what the situation concerning the troops in Syria was at the present time.

Sir Alan Brooke informed the President that there were not many divisions available in Syria at this time. Most of them were being trained for HUSKY either in Syria or in Egypt. There were two Polish divisions now in Iraq.

The Prime Minister observed the Polish troops would be much improved if they could be actively engaged.

The President asked what use could be made of Yugoslav troops.

Sir Alan Brooke said that there was only a handful of these troops, about a battalion. He said the Greeks had also organized one brigade.

The Prime Minister said that he thought September of this year would be a good time to urge Turkey to permit the United Nations to use air bases in that country. He felt that the relations with Turkey would have been considerably strengthened by that time because of having supplied them with considerable munitions of war and that they might be receptive to such an approach.

In reply to a question from the President, Sir Charles Portal said that weather for flying conditions out of Turkey was not too reliable after the late summer.

The Prime Minister indicated that it would be desirable, of course, to obtain Turkey’s permission to use her air bases prior to September and thought it might be possible if Italy were to be eliminated from the war. In the latter case, we should get free access to Rhodes and the Dodecanese.

The President then indicated to General Marshall that he had sent him a message concerning General Eisenhower’s proposals that pre-HUSKY propaganda should contain a promise of peace with honor to Italy. The President and the Prime Minister both agreed that such a promise should not be made.

The Prime Minister indicated his pleasure that the Conference was progressing as well as it was and also that a cross-Channel operation had finally been agreed upon. He had always been in favor of such an operation and had to submit to its delay in the past for reasons beyond control of the United Nations. He said that he thought Premier Stalin would be disappointed at not having an invasion of northern France in 1943 but was certain that Mr. Stalin would be gratified by the results from HUSKY and the further events that were to take place this year.

The President and The Prime Minister agreed that the next meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff should be held at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, 21 May.

Roosevelt-Churchill-Mackenzie King conversation, evening

United States United Kingdom Canada
President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill Prime Minister Mackenzie King

This conversation followed a dinner at the White House attended by Roosevelt, Churchill, Mackenzie King, and several other unnamed guests. During the conversation, peacemaking and postwar international organizations were discussed, and Roosevelt set forth his proposal for a Supreme Council of the United Nations.

Roosevelt-Mackenzie King conversation, evening

United States Canada
President Roosevelt Prime Minister Mackenzie King

Roosevelt told Mackenzie King that he had sent a message to Stalin asking for a bilateral meeting. Roosevelt was concerned about Churchill’s possible reaction to the proposal.

U.S. Navy Department (May 20, 1943)

Communiqué No. 384

North Pacific.
On May 18, gunfire from U.S. light surface forces assisted in clearing the Holtz Bay‑Massacre Bay pass of enemy troops.

On May 19:

  1. U.S. forces captured Sarana Pass leading to the Chichagof Harbor area. The contacts of the U.S. north and south forces from the Holtz Bay and Massacre Bay areas have confined Japanese resistance to the Chichagof Harbor area, except for isolated sniper activities.

  2. A force of U.S. Army bombers attacked military objectives in the Chichagof Harbor area.

U.S. forces are now in possession of the runway in the Holtz Bay area.

South Pacific.
On May 18, during the night, six Japanese bombers attacked U.S. positions on Guadalcanal Island and in the Russell Islands. There was no report of damage or casualties.

U.S. State Department (May 20, 1943)

Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, 10:30 a.m.

United States United Kingdom
Admiral Leahy General Brooke
General Marshall Admiral of the Fleet Pound
Admiral King Air Chief Marshal Portal
Lieutenant General McNarney Field Marshal Dill
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 Lieutenant General Macready
Major General Fairchild Air Marshal Welsh
Major General Smith Major General Holmes
Rear Admiral Cooke Captain Lambe
Brigadier General Wedemeyer Brigadier Porter
Colonel Cabell Air Commodore Elliot
Commander Freseman Brigadier Macleod
Commander Long
Brigadier Redman
Brigadier General Deane
Commander Coleridge
Lieutenant Colonel Vittrup

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

May 20, 1943, 10:30 a.m.

Conclusions of the Previous Meetings

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Approved the conclusions as shown in the Minutes of the 88th and 89th Meetings of the Combined Chiefs of Staff held on Wednesday, 19 May.

Policy for Coming Operations Regarding Propaganda and Subversive Activities (CCS 185/3)

Admiral Leahy said that at the meeting at the White House on the previous day, the President and Prime Minister had signified their disagreement with certain points in General Eisenhower’s proposals put forward in NAF 221.

The U.S. Chiefs of Staff recommended therefore that General Eisenhower should be informed that his proposals were not approved and that he should continue to base his propaganda policy on the previous directive.

Sir Alan Brooke said that this matter had been referred to the Foreign Office and he would like to await their reply before giving any instructions to General Eisenhower. Until such instructions were issued General Eisenhower would, of course, continue to act on his previous directive.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Agreed to defer action on CCS 185/3 pending the receipt of the views of the Foreign Office.

Strategic Plan for the Defeat of Japan (CCS 220)

Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff had examined this plan with great interest. The plan was, however, not in any great detail. The ways and means of achieving the various courses outlined had not been examined nor their possibilities assessed. He suggested that machinery should be set up at once to examine the proposals and to draw up a more detailed plan.

Admiral Leahy explained that CCS 220 was not intended to be a detailed plan. He suggested that it might be accepted as a basis for study and elaboration.

Sir Charles Portal said that it was very important to examine carefully this great field of operations. He believed that a full appreciation should be prepared. The facts should be assembled, the objects set out, together with alternative courses of action to achieve these objects with full facts and arguments for and against each course. Only by starting from first principles could we decide on the most advantageous plan.

Admiral Leahy said that he was in entire agreement with Sir Charles Portal’s views.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Accepted CCS 220 as a basis for a combined study and elaboration for future plans.

b. Directed the Combined Staff Planners to initiate a study and prepare for consideration by the Combined Chiefs of Staff an appreciation leading up to an outline plan for the defeat of Japan including an estimate of the forces required for its implementation.

Operations in Burma to Open and Secure an Overland Route to China (CCS 231)

Sir Alan Brooke said the British Chiefs of Staff believed there was great danger in extensive operations from Ledo and Imphal, which would be dependent on two very precarious roads, whereas the Japanese forces would be supplied by road, rail and river, and would be operating out of a relatively dry area. The maintenance of our forces at the ends of their lines of communication would be particularly difficult during the monsoon season. Even if a road to China were opened, he believed that the Japanese could bring stronger forces to bear than we could maintain to defend it. With regard to operations on the coast, he believed that the capture of Akyab and Ramree was feasible but we had not the resources or the necessary landing craft to undertake the two more southerly amphibious assaults. The danger, as he saw it, was that by aiming both to build up the air route to the maximum capacity and to undertake a land offensive, we should do neither very efficiently. The undertaking of land operations would limit the amount of supplies which could be taken up to the air bases. He believed that the right course was to expand the air route to the maximum in order to increase the strength of the air forces operating in China and to provide limited maintenance of the Chinese ground forces. Dr. T. V. Soong, in his memorandum, had emphasized the necessity for maintaining General Chennault’s force at the highest possible level. Sir Alan Brooke believed that operations aimed at the capture of Mandalay were not possible of achievement and that instead we should concentrate on building up the air route and at the same time undertake limited operations from Ledo and Imphal in order to protect it, and capture Akyab and Ramree.

Field Marshal Wavell said he had only had a short time to examine the paper under discussion and was therefore not in a position to comment in detail. In general, however, he believed the possibilities outlined in the paper to be far too optimistic. He reminded the Committee of the administrative difficulties in connection with operations in Burma. The lines of communication were bad, heavy casualties had to be expected from malaria, trained lorry drivers were scarce, and, in general, the administrative difficulties invariably exceeded paper calculations of their magnitude. A margin of some 50 to 100 per cent had to be allowed on this account.

There were obviously great advantages to be derived from the capture of Mandalay and the control of Upper Burma to the northward of it. A land route would be open to China with consequent effect on Chinese morale, though it would be but an indifferent route and would carry but little for a long time. He was quite certain that even if Mandalay could be captured, it would be impossible, certainly during the monsoon season, to maintain there forces large enough to withstand the scale of attack which the Japanese, with their better lines of communication, could bring against them.

In planning, his personal tendency had always been to be optimistic, but after 18 months’ experience in the area, he felt it only right to warn the Committee that he believed it unlikely to be feasible to maintain forces as far south as Mandalay. In his opinion, the correct and possible courses of action were: Firstly, to make every effort to increase the air ferry route to its maximum capacity and to build up our own air superiority over Burma. These two objects should be our first charge. Then if the required resources, engineering facilities, boats and vehicles were made available, it should be possible to make attacks by land into Upper Burma from Yunnan on Lashio, from Ledo on Myitkyina and Bhamo, and from Imphal into the Chindwin Valley whence touch would be gained to the eastward with the Chinese moving in from Yunnan. These three advances must keep step, and our first objective should be a line from a point where the Burma Road crossed the Burma-Chinese border, through Bhamo, Katha, Pinlebo, Kalewa, and thence to the west. To gain a line of that kind might well be possible, and it would give sufficient cover to the Myitkyina airfields and the route to Burma. If on achieving this line the Japanese were weakened, we should then consider the possibility of going further south, but any idea, at this stage, that the capture of and subsequent maintenance of our forces in Mandalay was possible was likely to be falsified. We must decide our future operations in the light of events.

With regard to coastal operations, he believed we should most certainly try to capture Ramree and Akyab, though this was a difficult proposition since it was now heavily defended. It was not, in his view, worthwhile to endeavor to capture Sandoway and Taungup since they would be difficult to maintain during the monsoon owing to sea conditions and would be cut off from the rest of Burma by the Arakan range. The paper suggested the use of the long-range penetration brigade on An and Mimbua. He would examine this, but he believed that a better use for this unit would be in Upper Burma to maintain contact between the Chinese and the British. The possibility of an attack on Rangoon through Bassein had been examined by his Planning Staff, but they had reported adversely on its practicability, since it entailed a long and difficult advance through thick jungle country interspersed with creeks. Another possibility was to proceed up the railroad from Bassein to Henzada, using trucks on the railway, but from that point there were 40 miles of difficult jungle before the good road north of Rangoon was met. It had been judged that a direct assault on Rangoon up the river was less hazardous and more likely to succeed than either of these two plans.

Air Chief Marshal Peirse said that he wished to emphasize that wherever operations in Burma were undertaken air superiority was essential, both to defend the air route and to assist in land operations. Additional airfields for the fighting air force would therefore be required. If land operations were undertaken stronger air forces would be required including transport aircraft to maintain ground forces, particularly during the monsoon season. This necessity would probably cause a diversion of transports from the air ferry route.

Admiral Leahy said that as he understood it, the British proposals consisted of a maximum concentration on the air route and limited ground operations, including the capture of Ramree and Akyab.

General Marshall said that he was impressed both with General Wavell’s comments on the magnitude of the logistic problem and Air Marshal Peirse’s on the air diversion resulting from land operations. In his view, however, a great increase in the air route alone without offensive ground operations would produce a strong Japanese reaction. He believed ground operations to be essential for their effect both on Chinese morale and on operations in the South and Southwest Pacific. If no aggressive action were undertaken in Burma the results on Pacific operations would be most unfortunate. Similarly, if no aggressive action were taken in the Pacific it would have a serious effect on the Burmese operations.

Operations in New Guinea and Guadalcanal under somewhat similar conditions, with disease, monsoon and logistic difficulties had been successfully accomplished. Bombers had been used for supplies when transports had not been available.

He believed that lack of real aggressive action in Burma would be unfortunate for the South and Southwest Pacific and fatal to China. He did not believe that we should bank all on the attractive proposition of do everything by air. He realized that full-scale ground operations might limit supplies to China by air, but the Japanese must be threatened on the ground and this could only be achieved by hard fighting. Results on other theaters must be considered. Adequate shipping must be provided to build up the necessary resources. He was in no doubt as to the difficulties of the operations but equally he was in no doubt as to their vital importance.

Admiral Leahy said that he believed that without aggressive action by ground forces we should lose the air route. How far it was possible to go was a matter of some doubt but he believed that we should direct our attack on Mandalay in order to occupy the Japanese to the full, to save the air route and to insure Japanese withdrawals from other theaters. It must always be remembered that Japanese communications were open to sea and air attack. The two Governments were, he believed, decided that operations in North Burma must be undertaken.

Sir Charles Portal said that the main difference of opinion appeared to be as to whether or not limited land operations could succeed in insuring the safety of the air route. He believed that the maximum effect against the Japanese could be achieved by air superiority and the buildup of the air route into China, thus freeing our lines of communications and our air forces from the need to support and feed troops engaged in extensive ground operations. He firmly believed that we should put all our resources into the air and that the problem as a whole must be regarded as a military one, the object of which was to achieve the maximum effect on the Japanese.

General McNarney said that he had always been surprised that the Japanese had not made more effort to cut the air supply route, particularly Myitkyina where it was very exposed to fighter attack. He believed that they would do this as soon as the air effort being built up in China was sufficient to cause them serious worry. To prevent the airline being cut, it was necessary to advance our fighter bases as far as Myitkyina and the air warning line still further. Unless Mandalay and Lashio were captured, we should not have sufficiently far advanced bases for the air warning system to cover the fighters at Myitkyina. He did not believe that the necessity for supplying ground forces by air would necessarily limit the supplies taken into China. There were some 90 C-47s in India used for this purpose, and this number could possibly be increased. Further, heavy bombers could be used for this purpose.

Field Marshal Wavell pointed out that he was concerned not only with the problem of maintaining the supplies to our forces as far south as Mandalay, but also with the fact that the Japanese could bring and maintain stronger forces to bear at that point.

Sir Charles Portal, with regard to the vulnerability of the air route to China, said that he believed if adequate airdromes were available in Assam, the Japanese fighters could be bombed out of their bases.

General Chennault said that he believed it to be practicable to defend the two terminals of the air route with the air forces now available, since these could prevent the Japanese from concentrating and maintaining heavy air forces within range of these terminals. The major attack which had occurred at the Chinese end was against Kunming on the 8th of May, when 40 fighters and 36 bombers had attacked. Out of these, 13 fighters and 2 bombers had been shot down, with 10 further probables. No confirmed attacks on transports had been made. Occasional fighter patrols were flown from both ends, with an overlap at the center. The Japanese could, in any event, only maintain sporadic attacks on the route, and the forces available to the 10th and 14th Air Forces could reach all the Japanese airdromes within range of the route. If attacks developed, the route could be moved some 60 miles further north in the area of Myitkyina, which, though over higher mountains, would only increase the distance by 15 miles.

Sir Charles Portal said that General Chennault had expressed his own views exactly.

Sir Alan Brooke said he was in entire agreement that some sort of aggressive action was required and the forces available used, but, if operations were carried beyond a certain point, we should face a possible defeat with its consequent bad effects both on China and in the Pacific. An advance far to the south would put us at a severe logistic disadvantage with regard to the Japanese. In Assam we were relatively safe since the Japanese would have to operate over bad lines of communication to reach our own forces.

General Marshall pointed out that the Japanese now possessed an air barrier from Bougainville to Burma, along which they could rapidly effect concentrations in any area. The Japanese had not yet concentrated at the Burma end, but he believed that when powerful bombing from China was undertaken, the Japanese reaction against the air route would be strong, unless the Japanese air forces were tied down by active operations elsewhere.

Admiral Leahy said the Japanese must be prevented from attacking the airline to China. The maintenance of China was essential to successful operations against Japan, and therefore we must conduct operations toward Mandalay.

General Somervell said that General Wavell’s calculated requirements were some 180,000 tons per month. A large part of this, however, had no relation to the operations envisaged. There were 33 divisions in India, with a further 10½ overseas, but only 12 engaged in the operation. He believed there was no real justification for a tonnage greater than 90,000 per month for ANAKIM. 27,000 tons a month of the requirement was for civilian supplies.

Field Marshal Wavell and Sir Alan Brooke pointed out that India must be maintained and this could not be divorced from the operational requirement. India’s requirements had already been cut in order to make good the British import program. If the so-called civilian requirements were not met, India’s output of munitions could not be maintained.

With the aid of a map, General Somervell then outlined the amounts which he believed could be supplied over the various routes.

General Somervell said that he believed that the industrial capacity of India could be maintained without the figure of 180,000 tons per month being met. Many of the requirements would not bear examination in detail and some could be cut in half. For instance, the Indian requirement of 4,000 amphibious or special vehicles appeared excessive. It was greater than the number available to the entire United States Army.

He believed that the river route to Ledo had not been expanded to its maximum capacity. He outlined his views on the logistic possibilities of the routes to Mandalay and Lashio. The Japanese had only some four or five divisions in Burma and he saw no reason why stronger forces could not be maintained on the Mandalay line against them.

Sir Alan Brooke said that he could not agree with this estimate. The Japanese had excellent lines of communication available to them. It was not wise to decide on operations which were not feasible. These operations had to be carried out by the British. He believed that the maximum possible land operations should be undertaken but it must be appreciated that these would encroach upon the air route tonnage. An advance to a line through Bhamo and Kalewa was as far as the Commander in Chief considered possible.

In reply to a question, General Stilwell said that if they moved at all, he believed that the Chinese forces could get as far as Mandalay. He could see no object in stopping operations on the edge of the good road network. If the British forces could be supplied at Katha and Kalewa, the two rivers would permit their supply at Mandalay. The Chinese had been promised a major effort in Burma. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek would probably make any action by his forces conditional on the recapture of the whole of Burma.

Admiral Leahy suggested that the Chiefs of Staff should project the campaign towards the seizure of Mandalay, and proceed as far as possible with this object in view. The Japanese might stop us, but he believed it to be a wasted effort to limit the objective to Kalewa.

Field Marshal Wavell said that he was prepared to go as far as he could while maintaining a force equal to the Japanese. If the Japanese proved weaker than was expected, or, if he found he could maintain a stronger force than he believed, he was naturally prepared to advance further, but he believed it useless to accept a liability until he was certain he could carry it out. Any operations he undertook were dependent on the action taken by the Chinese forces since, if they did not advance, his eastern flank would be exposed. The Chinese and British must keep in step.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Agreed to postpone further discussion on this matter until a later meeting to be held in closed session at 3:30 p.m. the same day.

Potentialities of the Air Route from Assam to Burma (CCS 229)

Admiral Leahy said that all reference to the expansion of the air route to more than 10,000 tons should be deleted from the paper. The possibilities of any increase above 10,000 tons was problematical.

In reply to a question by Sir Charles Portal as regards the limiting factor to the expansion of the air route, General McNarney said that the Planners’ estimate had been based solely on the availability of aircraft from factories and not in relation to other demands for them. It would be dangerous to put forward a figure of 20,000 tons based on the premise that no other commitments existed for these aircraft. Further, an examination had shown that to increase the air route to 20,000 tons would mean getting some 50,000 tons per month into Assam which would require a large number of additional transports. The total requirements were higher than could be met by the end of December.

Sir Charles Portal said that although there might be a limit to the aircraft, he considered it wise for the terminals to be developed on the basis of a load of 20,000 tons/month. The development of the air route terminals would take far longer than the provision of additional transport aircraft. It might be possible for the British to provide certain of these.

Admiral King said that it appeared to be the suggestion that the Generalissimo should be offered 20,000 tons a month by air as an alternative to the opening of the Burma Road. His fear was that the increased bomber effort from China, resulting from the increased capacity of the air route, would force the Japanese to take strong action and the terminal points would be attacked. Even if the bases in Assam were secure those in Kunming were open to attack. The retention of China as a base for the defeat of Japan was as essential as the continuance of Russia in the war as a factor in the defeat of Germany.

General McNarney said that he saw no objection to expanding the facilities for the air route to 20,000 tons. The present limiting factor was hard standings rather than airfields.

Sir Charles Portal agreed that the date for the achievement of 20,000 tons might be optimistic, but believed that it should be laid down as the ultimate objective.

Admiral King pointed out that the President had laid down, and the Prime Minister concurred in, a figure of 10,000 tons a month for the air route being achieved by November. Anything we could do above this figure would provide a cushion which could be used for the support of ground operations against Mandalay. Though the opening of the Burma Road was a symbol to China, it might be possible to convince them that an air route would achieve the same results.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Agreed to consider CCS 229 further at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon in closed session.

Meeting of the Pacific War Council, 12:05 p.m.

United States United Kingdom Canada
President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill Prime Minister Mackenzie King
Mr. Hopkins Ambassador Halifax Minister McCarthy
China Australia New Zealand
Foreign Minister Soong Minister for External Affairs Evatt First Secretary of Legation Cox (representing Minister Nash)
Netherlands Philippines
Ambassador Loudon President Quezon

Memorandum by the President’s Naval Aide

Washington, May 20, 1943.


The thirty-first meeting of the Pacific War Council was held at 12:05 o’clock p.m., Thursday, May 20, 1943, in the Cabinet Room of the Executive Offices, the White House, Washington, DC.

The President informed the Council that he considers the Prime Minister’s address to the Congress to be the clearest and best exposition of global war that has ever been given. There appeared to be general agreement with this statement.

President Roosevelt then, with the aid of a chart, gave a brief explanation of the operations now in progress for the capture of the Island of Attu – the westernmost of the Aleutians. He described the physical difficulties that had to be overcome and laid special stress on the almost continuous bad weather that has prevailed during the month of the year when the best weather of the year is to be expected in the Bering Sea area. The commencement of the attack had to be delayed several days because of fog and gales; fog and occasional gales have kept up ever since; we have rarely been able to use either aerial or gun support; the physical difficulty of moving through the tundra is great; snow has impaired progress in the high spots; more men have been hospitalized with frozen feet than from enemy bullets; but nevertheless we have progressed and have now squeezed the defending forces into the high land surrounding Chicagof Harbor where they are making a final stand. The President stated that so much misinformation has been written and expressed about the significance of the capture of Attu Island that he thought members of the Council should have in mind that the capture of Attu and the establishment of an airfield there will not open the way to bombing the Japanese homeland even though we have moved appreciably nearer our final objective. The reason Attu will not facilitate bombing of Japan is due to the tremendously uncertain weather which is such that, even if we launched attacking squadrons, the chances of their return would be very slim. The occupation of Attu will secure and tend to neutralize the value of enemy bases at Kiska. This should enable us, in time, to push the Japanese out of the Aleutians. When, and if, Russia should join in the war against Japan, our position in Attu will help very much to take full advantage of Siberian bases. The Honorable Mackenzie King stated that the Japanese occupation of the Aleutians had been a matter of grave concern to Canada and that Canada welcomes and applauds every measure to evict the Japanese from the Aleutian Area.

President Roosevelt stated that he had not any further information to give the Council except that throughout the world we are assiduously continuing our pressure on our enemies and weakening his [their] position by daily attrition of his land, sea and air forces. In the case of Japan, the combined submarine and air action is steadily reducing the Japanese merchant marine to the point where the maintenance of her outlying stations will become more and more difficult. He wished to inform Dr. Soong that the Prime Minister plans to lend material help in revitalizing the air forces in China and that British air squadrons are to be added to the American and Chinese air forces in order that we may create in China a united Allied force that may learn by experience to work together effectively.

Dr. Soong stated that this prospect of additional aid would be highly valued by China.

President Roosevelt stated that, of course, everyone realized the principal difficulty of building up a powerful air force in China is in providing sufficient petrol; but that General Chennault, who is now here, feels perfectly confident that sufficient petrol can be brought in by air and that if we will give him sufficient planes he can accomplish two very positive things: (a) He can break up any extensive Japanese land offensive that aims at the demolition of Chinese airfields; (b) Within a year he can destroy 500,000 tons of Japanese shipping by constantly raiding their sea lanes and their river boat supplies. Dr. Soong stated that the people of China are very much heartened by the Prime Minister’s speech to Congress yesterday and that they, too, are very hopeful that the difficulties of maintaining a strong air force in China will be solved. However, he wishes to state with all earnestness that it is the opinion of his government and of all the Chinese that it is essential that we must continue the offensive in Burma for the purpose of restoring the Burma Road, as it is through the Burma Road alone that sufficient supplies can be brought into China to enable that country to drive out her invaders. Dr. Soong stated that he felt sure everyone would agree that air force alone cannot win the war and that we must provide a land route to equip Chinese armies. To do this we must carry out the promises made at Casablanca and send a combined naval and land expedition to recapture Burma.

The Prime Minister said that (while we will continue our offensive in Burma when the weather permits) it is his understanding that the Burma Road has been so damaged by the Chinese and Japanese that it could not possibly be restored to a point where it would be of any value in bringing in supplies until the year 1945.

Dr. Soong stated that, although it had been badly damaged, the Japanese are repairing their part of the road and the Chinese are repairing the part they still control, so that the road could be restored to useful condition very soon after we gain physical control.

Dr. Evatt, the Australian Minister of State for External Affairs, stated that he thought perhaps all of the members of the Council failed to realize what extremely heavy casualties are involved in tropical warfare. He stated that in New Guinea the combined Australian and American forces have suffered nearly 45,000 casualties up to February and that of the 50,000 Australians who had fought in New Guinea, over 7,000 have been lost in [action?] killed or missing, but that malaria had run the combined casualties up to above 40,000. President Roosevelt agreed that in the New Guinea campaign the casualties had amounted to nearly fifty percent of the forces involved, and that this was, of course, a terribly high mortality rate; but that, on the other hand, we must remember that the Japanese losses had been very much greater than ours and that he thought, in general, the proportion was nearly three to one. It was agreed by the President and Dr. Evatt that the bad eases of malaria should not be sent back into malaria countries, but it was also agreed that patients who have recovered could be used very effectively for garrisoning important non-malarial stations and thereby release other men to fight who had not been exposed to malaria.

The President asked Prime Minister Churchill whether he had anything to say to the Council.

The Prime Minister said that he welcomed the opportunity to inform the Council of several problems that he had very much in mind. He then delivered a very able brief statement of his theory of the general strategy that should be followed by the Allies now that we have gained the initiative and while we are building up an overpowering superiority in all weapons. In brief, the Prime Minister stated that we must recognize that we are limited in what we can do by the number of ships we have available to carry men and supplies to the chosen theatres of war and that, therefore, our purpose must be to force the enemy to fight in areas that are advantageous to us and disadvantageous to him. Tunisia was selected as a fine example of what the Prime Minister considers sound strategy. The enemy was compelled to lengthen his lines of communications; to overstrain his line of supply and to eventual collapse, because of his inability to maintain and reinforce his armies.

The Prime Minister expressed the opinion that an extensive campaign in Burma, instead of putting the enemy at a disadvantage, would place all of these burdens on our forces, because the rainy season would give us only six months to gain our objective; the heat of the jungle would decimate our forces, as had been demonstrated by our fighting in New Guinea; and that the problems of supply for our troops would be tremendous. The Prime Minister stated that he noted a comment of an American Senator that the British had two million men in India who were apparently unable to drive a few thousand Japanese out of Burma. The Prime Minister stated that such a declaration completely ignored the practical problems of logistics; that the forest and swamps of Burma are such that only a limited number of men can work and fight in any given area, and that, therefore, it becomes a question of quality rather than quantity – when we put troops into Burma they must be experienced fighters who can overcome difficulties and defeat superior numbers of the enemy; and it is for that reason that the Prime Minister has offered British air squadrons to fight in China as the most effective assistance that Great Britain can contribute at this time. The Prime Minister stated that this is in support of the view that President Roosevelt has held and enforced for the past several months. Mr. Churchill said that he wished to go on record as believing that President Roosevelt has a penetrating insight into the sound strategy of the present world war and that his instinct for lending immediate air support to China is wholly sound.

The Prime Minister also stated that, as a result of recent conferences, he was pleased to be able to announce for himself and for President Roosevelt that at least 450 planes would be added to the Australian Air Force for the prosecution of the war in that area. He stated that everyone knows that the Australian fliers are among the best in the world and that the planes would be provided for the Australians to man in order that they might take a more active part in the defense of their homeland.

The Prime Minister said there was only one other subject that he wished to touch on and that was that a disturbing rumor had reached him that China is massing troops on the borders of Tibet, and that he hoped that it was in error, both because the borders of Tibet had been secure for so many years and, also, because it would mean diverting forces away from the true enemy – Japan – and that he would regret to see the Chinese take offensive action against a neutral.

Dr. Soong stated emphatically that there was no truth whatsoever to the rumor, either that troops were being massed on the border or that China had any present intention of attacking Tibet. He stated, however, that Tibet is not a separate nation; that it is a part of China and that eventually China may have to take necessary action to maintain her sovereignty, but that they have no intentions of taking such action at the present time. Dr. Soong went on with considerable heat to state that he cannot accept the Prime Minister’s statement about the impossibility of undertaking a campaign in Burma. He stated that his people are greatly cheered by Allied successes in Tunisia and that it has demonstrated to the people of China that the Allies are able to defend their own. He stated that in his country the question is often asked, “How can the Englishmen, who were so feeble in their conduct of the war in Malaya, fight such magnificent battles as they have fought in Africa?” Dr. Soong said that his answer is that the Briton is always a good soldier when properly led and that perhaps the difficulty in Burma rested with the leadership. The Prime Minister interrupted to say that he hoped that no country would feel that it was their privilege to select the generals for the armies of their allies and that he believed that the leadership in Burma left little to be desired.

Dr. Soong stated with great earnestness that China expects and hopes that the United States and Great Britain will live up to their commitments.

The Prime Minister stated emphatically that he denied that any commitments had ever been made.

Some discussion continued, during which Dr. Soong held that the military discussions at Casablanca and later at Calcutta and Chungking were definite commitments; whereas, Mr. Churchill held that the Allied governments had never made any pledges to recapture Burma but that they had lent their full support to military studies which necessarily had to be modified from time to time as conditions changed. He stated that he had not seen the plans of attack until February. Dr. Soong said he did not understand how that could be so. The Prime Minister stated that it would be of no help to an ally to do anything foolish and that it would be a very foolish thing to consider pushing troops into Burma at the present time.

President Roosevelt intervened to state that he thought perhaps we were talking at cross purposes and about different things and that if Dr. Soong had gotten the impression that we had abandoned all thought of a Burma campaign that he was entirely wrong; we do expect to prosecute that campaign as soon as conditions will permit, but in the meantime our present need is to provide something that will benefit China at once and that there is a general agreement that air power can do this more effectively than any other way. He repeated that there was no change in intention and that the general policy remains the same, whereas the tactics of the situation had to be modified since the studies were initiated at Casablanca.

President Quezon stated that when an authority like Mr. Churchill informed him that an actual invasion and restoration of Burma was not practical at this time, he fully accepts that statement. He is, therefore, glad to support the request for additional aircraft for the Western Pacific as the best step that can be taken now to bring about the eventual defeat of Japan.

Dr. Evatt asked to be informed of the Japanese troop strength in China at present. He said that he had been given to understand that the Japanese had been withdrawing troops from China for some time and that, therefore, it would appear that the threat to China is not as great now as it has been at times in the past. Dr. Soong stated emphatically that he believes Japan will try to finish China this summer and that rather than removing troops from China they have merely replaced some of their troops that have been there for some time and are using China as a training ground for inexperienced troops.

The Prime Minister stated that Russia is, of course, the real answer to bringing about the coup de grâce of Japan, but because of the tremendous burden Russia is already bearing, neither the Prime Minister nor the President had ever requested Russia to join in the war against Japan as she is already doing her full share. When Germany is defeated, however, it is the Prime Minister’s personal opinion (he gave it only as a personal opinion without any suggestion that he had received any assurances) the Russians will be glad to join in the final defeat of Japan, as Russia disapproves of Japan’s treachery and her menace to stability as much as any other country.

Dr. Soong stated with considerable feeling and emotion that he must impress on the Council that the situation of China is indeed desperate and that she requires help by land as well as by air. He stated that the recovery of the Burma Road is not only a material necessity; that its recovery is necessary for the psychology of the Chinese people; that they regard it a symbol of the armed support of their allies.

Dr. Evatt stated that Australia also feels that she is seriously threatened and that the Japanese must be pressed on all fronts in order to prevent them from again assuming the initiative.

President Roosevelt reminded the Council that one of our most serious problems has been the German submarines in the North Atlantic. He stated that measures taken recently to increase our offensive action against enemy submarines, both by surface craft and by aircraft, encourage us to hope that our shipping situation will improve rapidly and that we may then develop more ambitious plans of action. However, he pointed out that the Japanese submarines have had marked success against our shipping in the South Pacific during the past month and that this requires more planes and more escort vessels to keep existing lines of communication open.

Mr. Churchill stated that he wished to make it perfectly clear that the British Empire would do everything humanly possible to support China but that he is convinced that the only effective aid we can give to China this summer is an increase of her air power and that this measure will be pressed with every possible atom of our energy. He hopes that Dr. Soong will not send a report home that will be too discouraging to his people. We must all try to maintain the morale of all of our allies.

Dr. Soong said that he greatly appreciated the Prime Minister’s assurances; that he had the highest respect for Mr. Churchill’s great ability as a strategist and an authority on war and that he begged the Prime Minister to devote his great talent to the relief of the people of “Tortured China,” to whom he had referred in his speech the day before. Dr. Soong repeated that the people of China are indeed a tortured people after four years of war and that the results of the failure to help them in time could not be predicted.

Mr. Evatt stated that before the Council adjourned he wished to express his sincere thanks to the soldiers, sailors and airmen of Holland who have continued to render outstanding services in the war against Japan.

At the suggestion of President Roosevelt, the Council then adjourned to have a photograph of the group taken by news photographers.

Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Roosevelt-Churchill-Mackenzie King luncheon meeting, 1 p.m.

United States United Kingdom Canada
President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill Prime Minister Mackenzie King
Mr. Hopkins

The post-luncheon conversation (at which Hopkins was not present) was given over to a consideration of post-war international organizations. Roosevelt also took the opportunity to suggest the raising of the Canadian Legation in Washington to Embassy rank.

The Pittsburgh Press (May 20, 1943)

Yanks take vital pass, final Attu battle near

Death or surrender only thing left for Japs on Aleutian side
By Sandor S. Klein, United Press staff writer

Ickes foresees further curb on motorists

Floods, cut supplies for East; farm plowing and invasion come first

‘Day shift’ attacking –
Fast bombers blast Berlin

Mosquito raid is fourth in single week
By Walter Cronkite, United Press staff writer

73 Axis planes destroyed by Yanks in Italian area

Americans meet heavy resistance, lose only four aircraft in raids on Sardinia, Sicily
By C. R. Cunningham, United Press staff writer

Clamor grows for attack right now against Japan

Churchill pledge fails to still demands in Congress; Premier, Roosevelt meet Pacific War Council

6-state flood halts travel, perils crops

3 million acres inundated, 82,000 are homeless in Midwest
By the United Press