U.S. State Department (January 21, 1943)
||Admiral of the Fleet Pound
|Lieutenant General Arnold
||Air Chief Marshal Portal
|Lieutenant General Somervell
||Field Marshal Dill
|Rear Admiral Cooke
||Vice Admiral Mountbatten
|Brigadier General Wedemeyer
||Lieutenant General Ismay
||Major General Kennedy
||Air Vice Marshal Slessor
||Brigadier General Deane
Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes
January 21, 1943, 10 a.m.
The U-Boat War
The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them a report by the Combined Staff Planners on minimum escort requirements to maintain the sea communications of the United Nations (C.C.S. 160).
Sir Dudley Pound said that most of the points in the body of the paper had been touched on in the course of previous discussions, but he drew particular attention to paragraph 14 emphasizing the need for adequate air cover if the number of escorts was to be kept to a minimum Schedule V on the last page of the paper showed the large number of escorts required for this purpose. The table in Enclosure “C” showed the small numbers of escort vessels which would be coining out of production during the first half of 1943.
Sir Charles Portal explained that the categories of aircraft in this Schedule were as follows:
- VLR – Aircraft with a range over 2,000 miles, such as Liberators, and specially prepared Halifaxes with a range of about 2,100 miles which were temporarily assigned to antisubmarine work.
- LR – Aircraft with a range between 1,200 and 2,000 miles.
- MR – Aircraft with a range between 600 and 1,200 miles.
He inquired whether it could be taken that the requirements of Section 2 in Schedule V (North Atlantic, East Coast U.S. and Canada) involved no commitments for the United Kingdom.
Admiral King said that he had not the exact figures, but he had no reason to doubt that this commitment would be fulfilled by the U.S. and Canada entirely. The Caribbean and the East Coast of South America were also, of course, entirely U.S. commitments. The full details of the U.S. figures were not available at the present time, but he suggested that the report should be accepted as a working basis.
Admiral King said that the report of the Combined Staff Planners on the U-boat war, which had been ordered by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at a recent meeting in Washington, should be ready very shortly. This would contain the full U.S. figures.
Sir Dudley Pound pointed out that in their agreed policy for the conduct of the war in 1943 (C.C.S. 155/1), the Combined Chiefs of Staff had said that the defeat of the U-boat must remain the first charge on the resources of the United Nations. Nevertheless, it had been decided that the Rabaul and Husky operations were to be carried out, and these would inevitably detract from the anti-submarine effort. He felt that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should clearly record their reasons for thus diverging from the anti-submarine effort as a first objective. He passed around draft conclusions on the Combined Staff Planners’ report, which he had discussed with Admiral King, but suggested that since the first two of these were bound up with the directive for the bomber offensive from the U.K., which was to be discussed next, these should be taken up after that item.
After an adjournment,
a) Took note of C.C.S. 160.
b) Agreed that:
Intensified bombing of U-boat operating bases should be carried out.
Intensified bombing of U-boat constructional yards should be carried out.
U.S. and British Naval Staffs should:
a. Scrutinize the dispositions of all existing destroyers and escort craft;
b. Allocate as much new construction, or vessels released by new construction, as possible to convoy protection. The above with a view to each nation providing, to the greatest extent possible, half of the present deficiency of sixty-five escorts for the protection of Atlantic convoys.
U.S. and British Naval Staffs should provide auxiliary escort carriers for working with Atlantic convoys at the earliest practicable moment.
Long distance shore-based air cover should be provided over the following convoy routes as a matter of urgency:
a. North Atlantic convoys (U.S.-U.K.) – from both sides of the Atlantic.
b. DWI oil convoys from the West Indies and the U.K.
c. Torch oil convoys from the West Indies and Gibraltar.
d. U.K.-Freetown convoys from Northwest and West Africa.
Greenland airdromes should be developed for use by LR or VLR aircraft.
Non-ocean-going escorts should be used for Husky to the maximum possible extent.
The Bomber Offensive from the United Kingdom
The Combined Chiefs of Staff had before them a draft directive for the bomber offensive from the United Kingdom submitted by the British Chiefs of Staff (C.C.S. 166).
Sir Charles Portal, in answer to a question by General Marshall on the precise implications of paragraph 6, said that political considerations often override military expediency in the case of objectives in the occupied countries. The British Government, on representations from one of the exiled Governments, sometimes placed a political embargo on some excellent military target. In such cases decisions had often to be taken very quickly, and it would not be practicable to deal with the matter through the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington.
General Marshall suggested, and the Committee agreed, that the words “for political reasons” should be inserted in paragraph 6 in order to make this clear.
In discussion it was also agreed that the word “synthetic” should be deleted from paragraph 2 (d).
Sir Charles Portal referred to the difficulty which always arose in such directives over the precise interpretation of placing the German submarine bases and construction yards first in order of priority. This might be held to preclude attacks on any other targets. At the present time the U.S. 8th Bomber Command had U-boat targets at the top of their list and attacked them on every possible occasion with good results. There had been, however, considerable criticism in the U.K. because they never attacked targets in Germany. If too literal an interpretation of the order of priority were taken and the entire weight of our bomber effort were placed on the German submarine bases, to the exclusion of targets in Germany, there would be very serious criticism indeed. His own view was that other targets besides the submarine bases and yards should not be excluded and that paragraph 2 of the paper required some redrafting to make it clear that there was no intention to concentrate on what were strategically defensive operations to the exclusion of the offensive.
General Marshall said that he fully appreciated this difficulty.
Sir Dudley Pound pointed out that the acceptance of large-scale amphibious operations for 1943 must inevitably detract from the antisubmarine effort and every endeavor should, therefore, be made to offset this by a higher concentration of the air effort against U-boat targets. He believed that if we put the maximum effort onto the Biscay bases now, and destroyed all the facilities and accommodations in the towns, we should vitally affect German capacity to carry on the U–boat campaign. It was no good making sporadic attacks, the pressure had to be continued for a considerable period. If the Germans had gone on bombing Plymouth, Liverpool and Glasgow instead of stopping when they did, we should have been placed in a very difficult position indeed.
He could not see that there was any real difference between so-called offensive and defensive bombing. Both were directed against the power of the enemy to carry on the war.
Admiral King agreed that the bombing of the U-boat bases should be sustained. His impression was that the bombing of anti-submarine targets had so far been sporadic. For example, it appeared that Berlin had had in two raids twice the weight of bombs dropped on Lorient recently.
Sir Charles Portal agreed that it would be a sound move to destroy completely the four Biscay bases if experience showed this was possible. Attacks would be continued on Lorient, but so far we had no information of the result of the recent concentrated bombardments. It had had a greater weight of bombs dropped on it than Plymouth. In comparing this with the weight on Berlin, regard must be paid to the comparative size of these two targets. Weight in relation to area was much greater at Lorient than Berlin.
Sir Alan Brooke did not think that we could win by defeating the U-boat alone. We should be careful, therefore, not to allot more effort than was absolutely necessary for this purpose. The bombing of Germany contributed directly to the destruction of German power, whereas the bombing of U-boat targets was only an indirect contribution.
General Marshall recalled that in the bombing directive for the Mediterranean the emphasis had been laid on preparations for Husky. He asked what would be done from the United Kingdom to support an invasion of Europe.
Sir Charles Portal said that this point was covered by paragraph 5 of the draft directive. Targets would be selected in accordance with the plan of the Commander-in-Chief, so as to give the best possible support to the operations of the Army. Whenever operations were immediately in prospect, attacks on what might be called the long-term targets, such as industry, had to give way to immediate operational needs.
General Arnold said that no one was keener to go for targets in Germany than the U.S. Air Commanders in the United Kingdom. They had been directed on to U-boat targets by General Eisenhower as a direct means of supporting Torch. About half the U.S. bomber force in the U.K. had already been withdrawn from the United Kingdom to North Africa, but large increases in its strength were now in prospect. We should soon be able to think in terms of hundreds of bombers where we were now thinking in tens.
General Marshall said that the control of bomber operations by the U.S. Air Forces in the United Kingdom would be in the hands of the British. It would be a matter of command rather than of agreement with the U.S. Commanders. It would be the responsibility of the U.S. Commanders to decide the technique and method to be employed.
After an adjournment,
Approved, subject to minor amendments, a revised draft directive prepared by the British Chiefs of Staff (circulated subsequently as C.C.S. 166/1/D).
Draft Telegram to M. Stalin
Sir Alan Brooke suggested that paragraph 5 of the draft telegram prepared for the President and Prime Minister to send to Premier Stalin be amended by changing the first sentence to read, “We have taken the decision to launch wide scale amphibious operations at the earliest possible moment” and to amend the second sentence to read, “the preparations for these operations are now underway and will involve a considerable concentration of forces, particularly landing craft and shipping in North African ports.”
These changes were acceptable to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
Sir John Dill suggested that in paragraph 5 the 5th sentence be terminated with the word “subjected” and that the remainder of the sentence be deleted.
Sir Charles Portal suggested that paragraph 8 should be strengthened in view of the much greater Allied bomber offensive which will be undertaken against Germany as the result of the increased bomber strength which is in view. The British will increase their heavy bomber strength from 600 to 1,000 and the United States’ increase will be from 200 to 900. This will enable the intensity of the bombing attack against Germany to be at least doubled, a fact that M. Stalin should be glad to learn.
Admiral King suggested that the last two sentences of paragraph 5 be deleted from that paragraph and amalgamated with the redraft of paragraph 8, suggested above by Sir Charles Portal.
It was agreed that the last two sentences of paragraph 5, paragraph 7, and a more positive statement of paragraph 8 be amalgamated into one paragraph.
Directed that representatives of the Combined Staffs be directed to revise the draft telegram to M. Stalin in the light of the discussion given above.
General Marshall suggested that in the remarks [paragraph 3, c concerning the availability of air forces, the last two words, “Middle East,” be deleted, and the words, “Mediterranean area” be substituted therefor.
This change was agreed to by the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
Sir Alan Brooke stated that he believed the target date of November 1943, given as an assumption in paragraph 2, was probably too early for actual accomplishment, but that it should do no harm to let it stand as a target date to be aimed at.
(a) Took note of C.C.S. 164 as amended and agreed:
- To approve November 15, 1943, as the provisional date for the Anakim assault.
- To approve the provisional schedule of forces laid out in paragraph 3 of C.C.S. 164, recognizing that the actual provision of naval forces, assault shipping, landing craft, and shipping must depend on the situation in the late summer of 1943.
- To confirm in July 1943 the decision to undertake or to postpone Operation Anakim.
- Bolero Buildup
The Combined Chiefs of Staff were informed that a paper on the subject, being prepared by the British Joint Planning Staff, was not ready for consideration.
General Marshall suggested that there be some general discussion regarding Bolero prior to receipt of the British paper. He stated that it had already been decided to keep plans for a cross-channel operation up to date on a month-by-month basis in order to be ready at any time to initiate such operations.
Sir Alan Brooke agreed with this statement.
General Marshall then said he wished to discuss the question of organization. He asked what is to be done in England and also how the plans regarding Bolero are to crystallize.
Sir Alan Brooke said that the British can absorb American troops at the rate of 120,000 per month. In this connection, General Somervell said that the number to arrive would be somewhat less than 120,000 per month up to July but considerably more thereafter.
Sir Alan Brooke said that one of the greatest difficulties regarding the reception of American troops in England is the lack of sufficient receiving depots for equipment. It would be necessary to construct additional depots. The British have stopped such construction because of the manpower situation and because they have only been committed to receive five additional American divisions, or a total of 427,000 troops. The construction which must be undertaken and the operating force required for new reception depots will require personnel from the United States. These should be included in the earliest possible troop convoys to the U.K.
An area has been reserved in southwestern England for the United States troops which will be next to the area reserved for British troops in southeastern England. These areas will face France. The area to be occupied by the United States troops is being cleared of British forces. Their accommodations, except for some which cannot be moved, such as schools, will be available to the American forces.
He said that the immediate necessity was the appointment of a Commanding General and staff. The British are now engaged in reorganizing their forces from defensive organizations, supplied from fixed bases, to offensive organizations which include their own mobile service elements. It is expected that 12 divisions will be so organized by July and 15 by October. The new offensive organizations will be divorced entirely from the defensive organizations of the British Isles. Each will be under a separate commander. The British offensive forces, together with those being built up by the United States, including air forces, should come under a supreme commander who should be appointed in the near future.
General Marshall stated that General Andrews is now going to England to replace General Hartle and undertake the same duties that General Eisenhower performed prior to Operation Torch. He will have the responsibility of receiving American divisions in England; and, as soon as these divisions are ready, General Andrews will turn them over to the Supreme Commander for assignment to the cross-channel task force. He assumed that although the British contemplated setting up a separate Home Defense force, the cross-channel task force would also have to be on an alert status and considered as available to participate in the defense of the British Isles.
Sir Alan Brooke said that there were two types of planning involved with regard to the cross-channel operations; one was for a limited offensive operation which might be expected in 1943, and the other was for the larger task of an all-out invasion of the Continent. In the latter case, the decision must be made as to the direction of the attack once the landing was effected. It must be decided whether such an attack would be aimed at Germany or at occupied France. Plans might well be made to meet both contingencies.
He said that plans must envisage making the maximum use of SOE activities and that these activities must be carefully coordinated with the military operations proposed. This has not always been done in the past.
Admiral King said he considered that the appointment of a supreme commander was urgent.
General Somervell said that he had understood Sir Alan Brooke to say that the British could absorb 120,000 troops per month without assistance from the United States. This is contrary to an opinion which General Somervell attributed to Lord Leathers, that assistance would be required from the United States if the flow of troops to England exceeded 70,000 per month. General Somervell said it would be necessary to determine at once which estimate is correct. He also said that he understood it would be necessary for the United States to furnish some locomotives and rolling stock to the British in order to assist in the increased traffic resulting from troop movements.
He pointed out that the speed of sending troops to the U.K. would depend largely upon the success attained in combating the submarine menace. He urged that the United Nations concentrate their efforts in this respect.
General Somervell said that the location of United States troops in England must be made with an eye to training facilities. The troops will need amphibious training for which few facilities are available in southern England. He concluded that, from a supply point of view, an early decision was necessary as to the size of the buildup of United States forces contemplated and the type of operations in which they would be engaged. These decisions are particularly necessary with respect to the allocation of tonnage.
Sir Alan Brooke said that any operation in 1943 will of necessity be limited since an all-out offensive across the Channel can hardly be undertaken until 1944. With regard to the rolling stock for the railroads, he pointed out that when an invasion of the Continent is undertaken, the Germans will make every effort to deny our use of their rolling stock. For this reason, the United Nations must be prepared to follow the initial assault with such equipment.
He stated that the British now send their troops from southern England to Scotland or Northern Ireland by brigade groups for amphibious training. He suggested the possibility of United States troops stopping off in Ireland or Scotland for such training on their way to the final assembling area in southwestern England. The greatest difficulty is in the training of armored units, and that as far as possible it would be better if the United States forces could have this training prior to their departure from the United States.
General Marshall said that this can easily be arranged. It must be remembered that the forces used in the Torch operation were hurriedly gathered together and that the training of the troops, prior to their departure from the United States, had been difficult. The buildup for Bolero can be accomplished more deliberately and will enable the armored units to participate in major maneuvers and complete their target practice prior to departure. Units will be frozen three months prior to leaving the United States, and this will facilitate their training. He pointed out that firing ranges have been made available for use by units in staging areas en route to ports of debarkation.
In reply to a question from Lord Louis Mountbatten, he stated that insofar as possible, all units would have had amphibious training prior to their departure from the United States.
Lord Louis Mountbatten said that the British had set up an amphibious training establishment at Appledore on the Bristol Channel. The northern part of this training area has been turned over to the Americans for amphibious training. Flat beaches, changes of tides, and all means of possible defense are available to insure the thoroughness of the training. Another amphibious training establishment will be available in the Clyde area in two months and, in addition, one in Northern Ireland which has been started by Admiral Bennett.
General Marshall said that he assumed that the American troops included in the assault waves of a cross-channel attack would have to be rehearsed in amphibious operations, but that the great bulk of American troops would not need such rehearsals.
Lord Louis Mountbatten then pointed out that it would be well to arrange to have American forces use landing craft manned by American crews, with which General Marshall agreed.
General Somervell stated that the movement of American forces to England must be considered in connection with the escort vessels available for convoys.
Admiral King agreed that the Bolero troop movements would constitute an additional requirement for escort vessels.
Sir Charles Portal said that air forces must be reorganized with Bolero in view. At present the RAF operates from static bases. Mobile air units must be organized to support cross-channel operations. He suggested that American fighter aircraft should be under the operational direction of the British in the same manner as had already been decided for heavy bombardment aircraft.
Sir Charles Portal called attention to the fact that a decision must be made as to whether to utilize troop-lift capacity from the United States to Great Britain for ground troops or for the ground echelons of the air force. He also stated that a decision might be forced on the Combined Chiefs of Staff with regard to utilizing some of the shipping engaged in the delivery of munitions to Russia in the buildup of a Bolero force.
General Somervell said that a paper was being prepared, designed to show how many troops can be transported from the United States to the U K. The paper had to be based on a great many assumptions and the figures which it would contain could not be considered as a reliable estimate until certain decisions have been arrived at with reference to other operations, notably Husky. Assuming that Husky is mounted in August and that an attack will be mounted from England on August 15th, it would be possible to bring in approximately 400,000 troops to England by July 1st. This would give them six weeks to settle down in order to be available for an attack August 15th. The 400,000 troops mentioned included those now in England. Of the total number, approximately 172,000 would be air corps troops and there would be five to six ground divisions. He said that, assuming 150 ship voyages could be made available from British imports, the number could be raised from seven to nine divisions.
Sir Alan Brooke stated that these figures bore out his previous estimates that there would be from 18 to 21 divisions available in England in the latter part of the summer.
General Somervell said that if the attack from England were not to be mounted until September 15th, four additional divisions could be transported from the United States, three in American, and one in British shipping. The rate of four divisions per month could be maintained thereafter inasmuch as most of the overhead personnel would be included in the earlier shipments.
Sir Alan Brooke asked what rate of flow could be expected from America monthly, assuming an attack from England in September. Would one division per month be the maximum?
General Somervell replied that the figure would greatly exceed this as far as shipping was concerned. However, if the troops were to be transported to France, the number would be limited by the port facilities available. For this reason, any plans made should envisage the capture of sufficient port facilities.
Admiral King agreed that this should be given careful consideration in planning the operation.
General Marshall suggested that once the operation is initiated, it would probably be necessary to conduct separate operations to gain additional port facilities.
Sir Alan Brooke said he thought it would be easier to establish a bridgehead and widen it out by overland operations in order to capture the ports that would be necessary. He said that at least two or three ports would be required before any attempt could be made to advance further inland. He thought that the ports from Calais to Bordeaux were the most desirable. When the British were in France, they operated from Lorient to Calais and that even with these ports, it required a long period of time to build up nine divisions.
General Marshall said that after the direct crossing had been accomplished, he thought it would be desirable to find some method of making a flank attack in order to shorten the operations. In this connection, he had considered the possibilities of Holland and Denmark.
Sir Alan Brooke said that before a sufficient force could be built up for a direct attack, the Germans, because of their superior communications, could concentrate against our forces in superior numbers. This will be true unless German divisions are forced to withdraw from France because the Russian “steam roller” had started rolling.
Sir Dudley Pound said that Denmark did not offer good opportunities for hostile landings because of the difficulties of air coverage and also because of the lack of ports on her western coast. Holland is undesirable because of her canal system which favors the defense in retarding forward movements.
Sir Alan Brooke said that it would be necessary to determine accurately what flow of reinforcements from the United States could be expected.
General Somervell stated that he would be prepared to present such data within from 8 to 10 hours after a decision concerning Operation Husky had been made.
Admiral King then suggested that limited operations proposed from England in 1943 be discussed.
The British Chiefs of Staff stated that they had a paper on this subject in the process of preparation and would be prepared to discuss it during the meeting of January 22nd.
Sir Alan Brooke brought up the question of what organizational set-up for Bolero would be.
Both the United States and British Chiefs of Staff agreed that they had not discussed this matter among themselves and had not come to a definite conclusion.
General Marshall said that there were two methods of organization that might be followed: either a Deputy Commander or a Chief of Staff could be set up with an appropriate staff; or a Commanding General could be selected at once and organize his own staff. In either case, the planning and training for these operations should be undertaken at once and carried out on a month-to-month basis, ready at any time to undertake a cross-channel operation if the opportunity was presented.
Sir Alan Brooke stated that there was a combined staff in London now which might be a nucleus around which the Bolero planning organization could be built.
Lord Louis Mountbatten pointed out that any operations undertaken this year would be very small.
Sir Alan Brooke considered that regardless of how small the operations might be, they should be tied in with the overall plan for the all-out invasion of the Continent and designed to further those operations in some way.
Agreed that representatives of the Combined Staffs should prepare and submit recommendations to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, to be ready not later than the afternoon of January 22 relative to the command, organization, planning and training set-up necessary for entry of Continental Europe from the U.K. in 1943 and 1944.
- Report to the President and the Prime Minister
Directed the Secretariat to prepare a draft report of decisions reached subsequent to the submission of C.C.S. 153/1.