U.S. State Department (November 22, 1943)
|General Marshall||Major General Chennault|
|Admiral King||Major General Wedemeyer|
|General Arnold||Major General Deane|
|Ambassador Winant||Brigadier General Kuter|
|Assistant Secretary of War McCloy||Brigadier General Hansell|
|Vice Admiral Willson||Captain Burrough|
|Lieutenant General Stilwell||Captain Doyle|
|Lieutenant General Somervell||Colonel O’Donnell|
|Rear Admiral Cooke||Colonel Ferenbaugh|
|Rear Admiral Bieri||Colonel Timberman|
|Rear Admiral Badger||Colonel Smith|
|Major General Stratemeyer||Colonel Bessell|
|Major General Wheeler||Colonel Hammond|
|Major General Handy||Colonel Todd|
|Major General Fairchild||Commander Long|
November 22, 1943, 11 a.m. Secret
General Marshall said there was no formal agenda for the meeting which had been called principally for the purpose of hearing the views of Ambassador Winant, Ambassador Harriman and the representatives of the various theaters present as to the current situation in their particular areas. He said that the British Chiefs of Staff had proposed a meeting of the Combined Chiefs of [at?] 1500 hours in order to consider the matter of the procedure to be pursued during the conference and inquired if there were any objections on the part of the U.S. Chiefs to this proposal.
The U.S. Chiefs of Staff agreed to meet the Combined Chiefs of Staff at the hour indicated.
General Marshall then invited Ambassador Winant to express his views as to the state of mind of the British with respect to the current situation.
Ambassador Winant said that he found it difficult to give an accurate picture of British thinking with reference to a purely military conference, the need of which the British had felt some weeks ago. He pointed out that his statements would not in any way present his personal opinions but would indicate British opinion as he saw it. He said that the British felt the position of the United Nations was not sufficiently fluid to take advantage of the victories gained in Italy. These had resulted in the opening up of Mediterranean areas which offered to the Allies an opportunity for profitable action, if seized promptly, and which might assist in getting Turkey into the war. He said that Mr. Eden had differed with the Russian information [inclination?] to bring pressure to bear on Turkey and thought that a slow approach to her entry into the war was much better, and he had been able to persuade Mr. Molotov to accept this view.
Ambassador Winant said that he had recently had a talk with Admiral Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham, the British First Sea Lord. He had been impressed with Admiral Cunningham’s knowledge of the personalities who command Turkish policies and felt strongly that a conference with him would prove fruitful.
Mr. Winant said that in his opinion the British had no intention of diverting the means available for action in Burma. With reference to OVERLORD, he thought that the British had no idea of abandoning the operation but that they did oppose a fixed date for it. It is the British view that it was not possible to fix far in advance the psychological moment for launching an attack on the Continent and they feared that through the action of the British and U.S. military staffs they had signed a contract, the terms of which took precedence over subsequent changes in the military situation. He felt that the British were genuine in their desire to build up OVERLORD and that the principal difference in opinion as between them and the U.S. was as to timing. He pointed out that OVERLORD lacks a commander and that this lack was adding to the difficulties of the commander of the American forces in England. He said that the British were very anxious to employ fully the resistance possible to be developed among the unorganized forces in the Balkans. He felt that this was sufficient to warrant the expenditure of some means. With respect to Italy, he felt they do not want to advance as far as the Po Valley but only to go far enough to take Rome and secure the airfields in that area. They are of the opinion that day and night bombing is having tremendous effect in Germany in the destruction of bottleneck industry. They feel that this bombing has neutralized 17 cities and they hope that a comparable success will continue.
In answer to a question from Admiral King, Mr. Winant stated that the British feel that Russia wants Turkey in the war now and not later. He had been told by Mr. Eden that it was the Prime Minister’s opinion that Marshal Stalin is chiefly interested at the present moment in stretching German resources and that his interest in a second front was not nearly so great as it had been. He was still interested in vigorous action against the Germans but was not so much concerned as to the particular area in which it was brought to bear.
General Arnold inquired as to the British view on the possibility of carrying on operations in the Balkans without interfering with scheduled operations.
Mr. Winant replied that the British feel that it can be done without much cost by the employment of what he termed bush-league tactics in the Eastern Mediterranean. He said that the Prime Minister had been considerably upset by the British defeat in the Dodecanese although British military men thought that the Prime Minister’s view was considerably out of perspective.
Mr. Winant said that the British feel that they are supreme on the sea and that the British and the U.S. are supreme in the air but that the German is still superior to both in ground operations. Their ground operations in the Dodecanese had confirmed the Prime Minister’s views in this regard.
With reference to cross-channel operations he said that the British were disturbed now not so much by the difficulties of landing as by those to be encountered during the first 60 days. They were impressed with the excellent communications which ran from east to west and doubted that by bombing alone it would be possible to prevent the Germans from bringing up sufficient reinforcements to put the issue gravely in doubt.
Mr. Winant reiterated that the British are still behind the OVERLORD operation but wish to be sure that German resistance is properly softened before undertaking the actual landing operation.
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