Eisenhower sees 1944 as victory year (12-27-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (December 27, 1943)

Eisenhower sees 1944 as victory year

General says all on war, home fronts must do full duty
By C. R. Cunningham, United Press staff writer

Allied HQ, Algiers, Algeria –
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, newly-appointed commander of the Allied armies massing for invasion of Western Europe, declared confidently today that “we will win the European war in 1944.”

It was in effect a pledge to do his job within a year that Gen. Eisenhower gave the American and British correspondents at a farewell press conference for Britain to take over his new post.

Gen. Eisenhower’s words startled the correspondents after one of them asked the departing Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Theater for a new year’s prediction.

‘We will win’

He answered abruptly:

We will win the European war in 1944.

After the conference, he authorized the additional quotation:

The only thing needed for us to win the European war is for every man and woman all the way from the frontlines to the remotest hamlet of our two countries to do his or her full duty.

Smiling and unusually genial, Gen. Eisenhower gave quick answers to most of the questions, but pondered a few with his customary gestures of head-rubbing and leaning forward with clenched fists, finally to pound home his points. It was the biggest press conference here in months, with virtually every correspondent in Algiers present.

He apologized for being a few minutes late, then praised the correspondents in this theater, saying he had received the grandest cooperation any commander ever had in the field. The compliment was paid sincerely, he added, and was no eyewash.

To weld teams

Swinging quickly to the subject of his new task, announced only Friday by President Roosevelt, Gen. Eisenhower said:

My own and personal job immediately, of course, will be to do what we have done here. That is to weld the directing teams together in such a way that no real friction ever develops, that the people trust each other, work in unison and go into this thing with their full weight.

I believe that we have got here that sense of partnership which has come as nearly as it is humanly possible to the elimination of the friction that has been so typical of Allied actions in the past.

Gen. Eisenhower defined war as an extension of politics into force. He said time is what we fight for morale ranks next in importance to time.

He expressed amazement over the ability of U.S. and British frontline troops to accommodate themselves to the conditions on the Italian front, where they fight in knee-deep mud.

Gen. Eisenhower said that if the surrendering Italian armies had done their utmost, the Allies could have had all of Italy. He conceded that the surrender did not net all that had been hoped for, but what the Allies got made it well worthwhile.

Cites fleet surrender

The surrender of the Italian fleet permitted the withdrawal of heavy units of the British Fleet from the Mediterranean, he said, and enabled the speedy occupation of Taranto and Brindisi ahead of the Germans who attempted to take over the “heel” of Italy.

Explaining that the French had been rearmed to fight the Germans, he said any plans which excluded them would be silly. He praised Gen. Henri Honoré Giraud, and said from his observation he judged the French commander belonged near the frontlines, where Gen. Eisenhower had seen him twice.

Gen. Eisenhower said the North African campaign was won last January when Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery began receiving supplies through captured Tripoli. From that day, German Marshal Erwin Rommel was done, he added.

Describes defeat

Gen. Eisenhower described the American defeat in Kasserine Pass in Tunisia as an incident – a regrettable incident, but only an incident.

He chided the all-knowing who discuss campaign schedules, and said the original North African plans called for the capture of only Oran, Algiers and Casablanca for use as air bases to protect convoys through the Mediterranean.

The approach to hills within sight of Tunis in the original landing was a bold stroke which failed. Thereafter the normal campaign continued.