America at war! (1941–) – Part 3

Roosevelt-Chiang meeting, 5:00 p.m.

United States China
President Roosevelt Generalissimo Chiang
Colonel Roosevelt Madame Chiang

Madame Chiang described her plans for future improvements in China, particularly in the matter of literacy. Roosevelt and Chiang again referred to the question of unity in China, “specifically as regarded the Chinese Communists,” according to Elliott Roosevelt.

Operations in the China-Burma-India Theater were also discussed and that Chiang “reversed himself on every point.” The points in question were those set forth in CCS 411/2, to which Chiang apparently had agreed in a meeting with Churchill and Mountbatten earlier the same day.

It was probably at this meeting that Roosevelt gave Chiang the promise “of a considerable amphibious operation across the Bay of Bengal within the next few months.”

The Secretary of State to the President

Washington, November 25, 1943

For the President from the Secretary of State

Lisbon’s cable no. 2835 of November 23, 1943 announces the departure on the preceding day of the group of Army and Navy technicians from Horta for Terceira Island, and adds that the early departure of these American technicians was thanks to British cooperation in Horta.


The Director of the Civil Affairs Division, War Department to the Assistant Secretary of War

Washington, 25 November 1943



(Eyes only, for McCloy from Hilldring signed Marshall)

Conference with Secretary Hull and Mr. Dunn indicates State Department view that there is no preference between allocation on [of] northern or southern areas to United States under RANKIN (C). However, the State Department suggests that serious consideration be given organization of a combined U.K.-U.S. commission to deal with French political situation irrespective of allocation of primary obligation under RANKIN (C) for operations in French territory. This commission would have approximately the same representation as the Combined Civil Affairs Committee, but would be responsible to the SAC and its jurisdiction would be confined to civil affairs problems in France. The obvious advantage of such a commission would be to give Anglo-American sanction to all policies followed in French civil affairs, regardless of whether these policies were administered by the U.S. or the U.K. Aside from comments given above, Mr. Hull has no official comments to make with regard to RANKIN (C). However, in discussing the RANKIN (C) plan and your radio number 10013 on that subject Mr. Hull expressed some doubt as to the wisdom of allocating separate spheres of responsibility if, from a military point of view, this could be avoided. With respect to the spheres of responsibility, if assigned, it is Mr. Hull’s opinion that firm declarations should be made by the governments of the occupying forces to the effect that no advantage shall accrue to the U.S. or to any of our allies in the area in which the armed forces of any united nation are located. Generals McNarney and Hull are acquainted with the contents of this cable.

The Soviet Foreign Commissar to the Ambassador to the Soviet Union

Moscow, 25 November 1943

Personal and secret from the Peoples Commissar of Foreign Affairs V. M. Molotov to the American Ambassador Mr. Harriman.

I thank you for your message from Cairo. General Connolly may address himself through the Soviet Chargé d’Affaires in Teheran to General Arkadiev with respect to questions which interest him regarding coordination of measures. I hope to meet with you soon. Most cordial greetings.

Roosevelt Thanksgiving dinner party, 8:00 p.m.

United States United Kingdom
President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill
Mr. Hopkins Foreign Secretary Eden
Admiral Leahy Lord Moran
Ambassador Winant Mr. Martin
Ambassador Steinhardt Commander Thompson
Ambassador Harriman Mrs. Oliver
Minister Kirk
Major General Watson
Rear Admiral Brown
Rear Admiral McIntire
Colonel Roosevelt
Major Boettiger
Mr. Robert Hopkins

The President was host at Thanksgiving dinner at his villa. He had brought his own turkeys from Washington (they were gifts to him from Under Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, and Mr. Joe Carter of Burnt Corn, Alabama). The dinner list included: The President, the Prime Minister, Mrs. Oliver, Sir [Mr.] Anthony Eden, Major Boettiger, Mr. John F. [M.] Martin, Commander Thompson, Lord Moran. Admiral Leahy, Ambassador Winant, Ambassador Harriman, Mr. Hopkins, Admiral McIntire, Admiral Brown, Elliott, Ambassador Kirk, General Watson, Robert Hopkins, and Ambassador Steinhardt. Music during the dinner was furnished by an orchestra from our Camp Huckstepp. The highlight of the dinner was the President’s toast to the Prime Minister. He told briefly the history and origin of the tradition of our annual Thanksgiving Day; of how our American soldiers are now spreading that custom all over the world; and how that he, personally, was delighted to share this one with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister rose to respond at this stage, but the President told him that he had still another toast first. The President then went on to say that large families are usually closer united than are small families; and that, this year, with the United Kingdom in our family, we are a large family and more united than ever before. The Prime Minister responded in his usual masterful and inspiring manner.

Combined Chiefs of Staff Thanksgiving dinner party, evening

United States United Kingdom
General Marshall General Brooke
Admiral King Air Chief Marshal Portal
General Arnold Admiral of the Fleet Cunningham
Air Chief Marshal Tedder

U.S. Navy Department (November 25, 1943)

CINCPAC Press Release No. 173

One of our carrier divisions covering the Gilberts operations to Novem­ber 24 (West Longitude Date) shot down 34 enemy fighters, nine bombers and three four‑engine patrol seaplanes. Its losses in these operations total three fighters and one torpedo bomber. Seventh Air Force Liberators which raided Imieji, Jaluit Atoll, on November 23, observed three float‑fighters, airborne, which did not attempt interception. One of our planes was damaged by anti­-aircraft fire.

Mopping-up operations on Tarawa, Makin and Apamama are virtually complete. Few live Japanese remain in the Gilberts.

The New York Times (November 25, 1943)

Pens, docks and repair facilities battered by Flying Fortresses

Casualties believed high; Liberators without escort make first ‘heavy; attack on Bulgarian capital

Light force engages foe off Bougainville and hits 5 of 6 ships

None of ours damaged; Allied Liberators sink enemy cargo vessel off Halmahera, southeast of Philippines
By Frank L. Kluckhohn

8th Army takes Alfedena and key to two Rome roads

By Milton Bracker

We win Gilberts in 76-hour battle

Nearly 4,000 Japanese slain on Betio – remnants on the other isles mopped up
By George F. Horne

Gilbert Islands in hands of Americans

In a 76-hour campaign on Tarawa (1), our forces captured Betio Island with its airstrip (inset map) and thus clinched control of the atoll. On Makin (2) and Apamama (3), both now firmly held, enemy remnants were being hunted down.

Foe driven into sea by Marines on Betio

By William L. Worden, for the combined U.S. press

With the 7th Air Force, Central Pacific – (Nov. 22, delayed)
U.S. Marine assault battalions today conquered the western end of Betio Island, on Tarawa Atoll, driving the defenders into the sea and others onto the eastern open flat sections where they became excellent targets for dive-bombing and strafing attacks.

The vicious air attacks were made by Navy planes operating from carriers in this area. The air assault was timed with our artillery fire, which pounded the fleeing Japanese almost at will once they had abandoned their prepared defense positions. Only a few isolated strong Japanese points remain intact.

On the east side of the island, some of the enemy attempted to escape by boat, but our patrol aircraft spotted them, sinking some and damaging others.

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – (Nov. 24)
The Gilbert Islands have fallen to U.S. forces and resistance has ceased except for the efforts of enemy remnants to prolong final extinction of the last sniper and scattered foxhole inhabitant.

Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, announced at 11:30 HT this morning that Betio Island, on Tarawa Atoll, had been captured shortly after noon yesterday following a last-ditch counterthrust that was mercilessly crushed by the 2nd Marines. It was here where the strongest resistance was encountered and here where it might have been expected, for the Betio Atoll had airstrips that we wanted.

Bemused mathematicians were uncertain today as to the time length of the Gilbert Islands occupation. First it was 100 hours, but official rewriting now makes it 76 hours, although lesser statisticians, wandering hereabouts with pencil and paper, figure slightly more. But officially, it is now 76 and corrections to that effect are speeding everywhere.

VAdm. R. A. Spruance, commanding the operation, presented the American people with the Thanksgiving Day gift.

While the capture of these islands may not be of major or defensive character, it has torn down the barrier to what Adm. Nimitz yesterday described as another road to Tokyo. It was a place where the Japanese had put a sign marked “Closed.”

In this short time, we have chocked a big dent in the Japanese perimeter, pushing the line of defense back 192 miles northward to the two islands of Jaluit and Mili, which hang like pendants from the Marshall chains of Ralik and Ratak, known as the Sunset and Sunrise chains, on which our strategic planners may already be gazing.

In connection with the swift wiping-out of the enemy’s garrison in the Gilberts, it is recalled here that Attu in the Aleutians continued organized resistance for more than 70 days. Complete details as to Japanese strength in the Gilberts have not been released, but Betio Island alone in the Tarawa Atoll had approximately 4,000 men. They still had a lot of these up until yesterday, when the hard fighting Marines, including many veterans of Southwest Pacific campaigns, pushed them back to the eastern end of Betio and pinned them there for the final onslaught.

Few Japanese left

There are few of them today, even as prisoners.

Betio fell after troops of the 2nd Marine Division crushed a fierce enemy counterattack. The Marines took very few prisoners. While the communiqué gave the time as shortly after noon, spokesmen here explained that it was at 4:00 p.m. HT and that was only a few minutes after correspondents had filed out of Adm. Nimitz’s room at his headquarters yesterday following a 45-minute interview in which he liberally discussed the Central Pacific offensive and other phases of the war.

His communiqué today said:

Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, was captured shortly after noon, November 23 (West Longitude Date), following a desperate enemy counterattack which was crushed by troops of the 2nd Marine Division.

Remnants of the enemy are being hunted down on Apamama, Tarawa and Makin Atolls.

Seventh Army Air Force Liberators continued diversionary attacks in the Marshalls.

Adm. Nimitz had said yesterday that the Gilberts were “securely” in our hands, but at the moment the last desperate Japanese forces on Betio were fighting like doomed rats in their corner hedged in by the sea and the coral reefs. A spokesman said today that the counterattackers were “wiped out.”

As to Apamama, it is said there were relatively few Japanese there. This atoll was of less importance than Tarawa and Makin, the former with its airstrips and the latter with three piers and a stone wharf. There were about 1,000 Japanese on Makin and these were presumably also wiped out.

There were virtually no casualties on Apamama among the American invaders.

Makin drive spectacular

The Makin collapse on Monday was preceded by a spectacular enveloping movement at dawn by units of the 26th Division, and this had been preceded by artillery preparation effected by combined infantry and assault forces. The Japanese were in foxholes, pillboxes and crude but strong stockades constructed out of the coconut trees.

The final phases of the capture of the Gilberts are now in progress. Presumably we are now turning attention to the other atoll groups that had been ignored or bypassed and are sweeping clean along the 177-mile-long series of 16 principal atolls, which include many islands and islets.

Navy Seabees and Army engineers have already swarmed ashore in the turbulent wake of the assault forces to prepare bases, installations and positions for further action. Adm. Nimitz made it clear yesterday that we would have airfield facilities not only on Tarawa but on Makin as well.

As for future plans, he has said repeatedly that we will continue to attack, to whittle down the Japanese airpower, already markedly inferior, and to go wherever the Japanese are.

He said yesterday:

The immediate future will be to consolidate and prepare to make further attacks.

We will need more airfields as we move further, and there are plenty of places within the range of our new bases where there are fields in being or where terrain will permit us to build them. Army Liberators of Maj. Gen. Willis H. Hale’s 7th Army Air Force attacked Mili, in the southern Marshalls, on Monday, and pictures are now available showing the effects of even earlier airstrikes on the field there. It is a pretty good field – or, at least, it was.

And there are other important bases and strongholds elsewhere in the Marshalls, including Wotje and Maloelap, both of which are further north than Truk, one of the principal Japanese bases. Wotje and Maloelap are south and a little east of Wake Island. Many students, imagining themselves standing in the newly-won Gilberts, may also look around and see Nauru and Ocean Islands.

Everywhere one looks, there are new prospects, where capable surveyors might lay out yet another “roadwa,” for the vast highway networks, the trunk lines of which must converge on Tokyo.

Our losses high, foe says

Tokyo radio warns Japanese people of bombing attacks

Japanese propagandists gave the figure of 5,000 in estimating casualties of the Americans “during the recent battle” of the Gilbert Islands, and termed the figure “a most disastrous damage for a single engagement of this kind.”

The Tokyo radio, in an English-language broadcast beamed to North America and recorded by U.S. government monitors, rehashed Tuesday’s Japanese Imperial Headquarters communiqué, claiming that one medium-sized aircraft carrier and one destroyer had been sunk, three other carriers, a battleship and a transport heavily damaged and 125 planes shot down “by the war eagle of the Japanese Navy.”

An earlier Tokyo broadcast by Adm. Yoshinari told the Japanese people that “our air strength is what will overwhelm these counterattack attempts of America.”

He said:

Consequently, the people of the home front must not become intoxicated with war victories, but must devote their full efforts in increasing the production of aircraft.

Another Japanese-language broadcast, beamed to South America, said that the Central Pacific was the Japanese Navy’s:

…immovable point and the enemy’s act of advancing is jumping into fire; so, their spirit must be hardened to receiving enormous losses.

A broadcast by Adm. Seizō Kobayashi warned the home front that the Allies had changed their center of operations from the Solomons to the Gilberts and “can be expected to change again,” concentrating on the bombing of Japan proper.

Standing vote, 200–27, sends it to Senate, where early hearings are scheduled

Treasury to renew plea; its $10,500,000,000 program to combat inflation will be urged before committee
By Samuel B. Bledsoe

Craven: FCC exceeds powers

Member tells House committee agency policies amount to ‘cessation of gradualism’
By the Associated Press

Black market meat conspiracy charged to 39 men and concerns

German Air Force tops 1939 strength

First-line power achieve at cost of depleted reserve, RAF commentator says

Casualties reach 121,319 in all armed services

Senate committee to consider promotion with prejudice pending such action

War Department silent; Gen. Allen’s recall linked to dispute with 7th Army’s commander
By C. P. Trussell

‘Patton’s orders’ rigidly enforced

Discipline was drastic around headquarters of 7th Army in North Africa
By C. R. Cunningham, United Press correspondent

Thomas of UAW joins in hailing new cooperation at three plants

Gain in output stressed; rose from 33 to 61% in last ten days of October – leader of local is commended

Report sent to Senate body charges that present trend imperils small business

Overall planning asked; citizen policy-making board would supervise change back to peace revolution

President acts after vain plea to 2,000 workers to go back after striking since Nov. 8

Union ends its stoppage; rally unanimously decides to resume tomorrow and votes to apply for AFL charter

House praises Wrights on flight anniversary