Third Washington Conference (TRIDENT)

U.S. State Department (May 17, 1943)

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

United States United Kingdom China
Admiral Leahy General Brooke Foreign Minister Soong
General Marshall Admiral of the Fleet Pound Major General Chu
Admiral King Air Chief Marshal Portal
Lieutenant General McNarney Field Marshal Dill
Lieutenant General Somervell Lieutenant General Ismay
Vice Admiral Horne Admiral Noble
Major General Fairchild Lieutenant General Macready
Major General Streett Air Marshal Welsh
Rear Admiral Cooke Captain Lambe
Brigadier General Wedemeyer Brigadier Porter
Colonel Smart 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 17, 1943, 10:30 a.m.


Visit to Annapolis

Admiral King invited the Combined Chiefs of Staff to visit Annapolis on Sunday, 23 May, leaving Washington at approximately 9 a.m.

Conclusions of the Previous Meeting

Sir Alan Brooke said that with reference to Item 5 of the 85th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the British Chiefs of Staff, in telegraphing to the appropriate British authorities in the Far East, had thought it wise to add to the last sentence of the draft telegram the words “including airfields necessary for maintaining air superiority.”

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Approved the conclusions of the 85th Meeting as recorded in the Minutes.

b. Took note that the British Chiefs of Staff, in telegraphing the British authorities in the Far East, had added to the last sentence of the draft telegram contained in the conclusion to Item 5 of CCS 85th Meeting the words “including airfields necessary for maintaining air superiority.”

At this point Dr. T. V. Soong and General Shih-ming Chu entered the meeting.

Situation in China

Admiral Leahy asked Dr. Soong to give the Combined Chiefs of Staff the benefit of his views on the Chinese situation, with particular reference to Chinese needs and the opening of a land route to China.

Dr. Soong said that it must be remembered that China had been in a state of siege for five years. The Japanese had seized the Chinese coast, then Indo China and finally, with the occupation of Burma, the investment had been completed save for the air route. The resultant economic pressure, deterioration of morale and lack of supplies made the situation very grave. After Casablanca Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had been informed in a message from the President and Prime Minister, firstly, that the U.S. Air Force under General Chennault would be strengthened with a view not only to attacking the Japanese in China but also Japan itself, and secondly, that a combined all-out assault on Burma by naval, ground and air forces would be undertaken at the conclusion of this year’s monsoon. These assurances were naturally very welcome to the Generalissimo.

It was appreciated that the existing air route, with a capacity of only a few thousand tons per month, would not permit the implementation of a strong air offensive from China and, at the same time, the supply of the Chinese troops in Yunnan. The Generalissimo had therefore asked the President that for the next three months all supplies carried by the air route should be those for General Chennault’s air force. The General had worked out a plan for attacking the Japanese air forces, their lines of communication, and most important of all, for providing air support for the Chinese ground forces. So far, these forces had received no air support, and this was vitally important. The Japanese not only had better lines of communication but also better equipment, and were assisted by their air. Recent Japanese attacks in the neighborhood of Ichang had enabled them to capture territory on the south of the Yangtze. This provided them with an excellent line of communication via the Yangtze; and unless they were dislodged, it would enable them to attack Chang Sha and Chungking itself, since their logistic situation was far more favorable than that of the Chinese, whose lines of communication, now that the use of the Yangtze could be denied them by Japanese air power, were over most difficult mountainous country. Air power, and air power alone, would be of any value in the present situation, and it was for this reason that the Generalissimo asked that, for three months, supplies to General Chennault’s air forces should take priority over everything else so that these could be used in support of the Chinese Army.

The situation was, frankly, very bad. General Chiang Kai-shek’s military views had been guided over a period of years not only by United States and British advisers but by a series of outstanding German and Russian general officers. General Chiang Kai-shek was the Supreme Commander in the Chinese Theater of War, and for this theater he was responsible. On him depended the safety of China. His military views, therefore, must, unless he were absolved of this responsibility, be given overriding consideration.

With regard to the first promise made by the President and Prime Minister, i.e., the strengthening of General Chennault’s air forces, the Generalissimo regarded this as all-important. Japan had changed her policy vis-à-vis China. She had now given the puppet government in Nanking many concessions, including the control of currency. She had restored factories in the occupied area. This new policy of conciliation was far harder for the national government to combat than her previous line of action and called for strong positive steps.

With regard to the second promise, i.e., that the United Nations would undertake a full-scale offensive in Burma towards the end of 1943 the official record of the meeting held in Calcutta between the British, American and Chinese representatives gave a clear picture of the situation.

This discussion was regarded as one to insure that the decisions reached at Casablanca and Chungking should be perfectly clear to all concerned. General Ho had outlined the action to be taken by the Chinese forces. All had agreed that the provision of naval forces was essential and that success would be impossible without them. The importance of air superiority had been emphasized and General Arnold had pointed out that, even if the Japanese Air Force were as strong as believed by the Chinese representatives, the British/American air force would be considerably stronger. The Chinese representatives had agreed to provide three extra airfields at the China end and additional facilities to match those provided by the British at the Indian end. Field Marshal Wavell had said he had not had time to work out details. He must consider the needs of his own troops in the area who were dependent on difficult lines of communication. The Generalissimo might be assured that he would do his utmost to meet his request. He was confident that it would be possible to carry up to the airfields as much as the ferry service could carry forward.

From all this it was clear that the Burma plan for 1943 was a definite U.S./British commitment and he must therefore ask for its fulfillment and would be interested to know further details of it.

As a background to this request the Chinese situation must be borne in mind. Inflation had taken place; there was economic distress; China had borne long years of war; and the Japanese were adopting the policy of loheedling rather than terrorizing the people. Throughout the Chinese Army and indeed the people, the plan to retake Burma hi 1948 was an open secret. If not undertaken, they would believe themselves abandoned by the Allies and suspect that the latter did not intend to achieve the unconditional surrender of Japan by force of arms.

Prior to the Casablanca Conference other plans had been suggested for limited operations and General Stilwell, who had a profound knowledge of China, had in January proposed the launching of an offensive by Chinese troops in North Burma at the beginning of March, with the object of opening an all-land route to China. The Generalissimo, however, both then and now, was in disagreement with this plan believing it to be logistically impracticable since, while the Allied forces would be operating from very limited lines of communication from Ledo onwards, the Japanese would have the use both of the Irrawaddy River and the railroad. The Generalissimo felt that even if this plan achieved initial success, we should eventually be faced with the Japanese being able to maintain stronger forces at the ends of their good lines of communication than could we.

With regard to the state of preparedness of the Chinese troops, everything possible had been done to fulfill their commitment for a full-scale attack on Burma, and forces had been drawn from many parts of the area, some having marched 2,000 kilometers. The troops required for the full Burmese operation were now all available within one week’s march of Kunming. The promised airfields in China had been built, and though painfully constructed by manual labor, the preparations at the Chinese end were further forward than those in India. General Chen Cheng, considered by General Stilwell as the ablest Chinese commander under the Generalissimo, had been placed in command of the Chinese forces in Yunnan. The general situation in China was bad. The Yangtze had been cut; Chang Sha, and Chungking which was of immense economic, moral and military importance, were threatened. The Chinese would do everything possible to meet their share of the operation. He hoped to be informed of the availability of the Allied forces. He asked only that the decisions taken at Casablanca with regard to the offensive in Burma be implemented.

Admiral Leahy thanked Dr. Soong for his most interesting talk on the situation in China. He asked how many Chinese troops would be available for the Burma operation.

Dr. Soong said that there would be 32 divisions, though these would not be at full strength and would amount to the equivalent of some 22 full-scale divisions, i.e., about 220,000 men. In addition, there were the Chinese forces training at Ramgarh and further troops held in readiness for holding operations to prevent the Japanese attacking Kunming from the south.

In reply to a question by General Marshall, Dr. Soong said that the operations near Ichang were being undertaken by the 5th and 6th Armies. These forces were short of artillery since the Chinese had received no additional guns except Polish artillery captured by the Russians. In spite of the general lack of artillery, the Chinese ground forces would be able to undertake their part in the proposed operations, and their degree of readiness was evinced by the fact that in January General Stilwell had been prepared to launch an offensive in March.

Admiral Leahy asked General Chu if he wished to add anything to Dr. Soong’s statement.

General Chu stated that he had nothing to add at this time but would be available later if the need should arise.

Portuguese Islands (CCS 226)

Admiral Leahy suggested that paragraph 7 of CCS 226, with a short preamble explaining the vital military needs for these islands as aids to maintaining the security of our Atlantic communications, should be used as a basis of a recommendation by the Combined Chiefs of Staff to the President and Prime Minister.

Admiral Pound presented a chart showing the vital role which the Portuguese Islands would play in maintaining the security of our sea routes.

Admiral Leahy suggested alternatively that it might be wiser to delay the approach to the Portuguese Government until such time as sufficient forces were available in the U.K. to seize the Islands in the event of Portuguese refusal. If necessary, a European front in Portugal could be opened.

Admiral King suggested that since all were agreed on the strategic importance of the Islands and since time was of the essence, the Combined Chiefs of Staff should make plans and agree, during the course of the Conference, that the Islands must be seized by force if diplomatic action failed.

Sir Alan Brooke agreed that this possibility should be examined and a decision taken as to whether the operation was better undertaken by U.S. or British forces and as to the strength of the forces required. With regard to the opening of a second front in Portugal, he saw certain advantages in this course, but it must be considered in relation to projected operations in the whole of the European Theater.

Admiral King then explained that his proposal had been that the possibility of seizing the Islands without diplomatic negotiations should be considered since this course might render it easier for the Portuguese to say that action had been taken against their will and therefore action in defense of Portugal itself might be avoided. The time factor was vital. More and more traffic would be routed through the Mediterranean. The Portuguese Islands were very important to the security of the U.S.-U.K. sea lane, but vital to the U.S.-Mediterranean route.

In reply to a question by General Marshall, Sir Dudley Pound said that he could see no advantage in postponing action with regard to the Islands. They were vitally important at all times of the year but more particularly so in the winter. The use of the southern route, with its better weather, was important and only escort carrier air protection could be given unless we held the Azores.

Discussion then took place on the strength and source of forces required in the light of possible resistance.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Agreed to recommend to the President and the Prime Minister:
i) That the acquisition of the Azores Islands should be accomplished as soon as possible and, in any event, early enough for them to be utilized by the United Nations during the winter of 1943–1944.

ii) That an effort should first be made to secure the use of these islands by diplomatic means without making military commitments to the Portuguese Government.

b. Agreed:
i) That the British Chiefs of Staff should bring before the Combined Chiefs of Staff a plan for the occupation of the Azores Islands. This plan, when approved, should be submitted to the President and Prime Minister with a covering note showing suggested timings, and the effect of the plan on other military commitments now in view.

ii) That as soon as these plans have been approved preparations should be made to implement them in case diplomatic efforts should fail.

c. Directed that the secretaries, in consultation with the Chief of the British Air Staff, should prepare for the approval of the Combined Chiefs of Staff a draft letter for submission to the President and the Prime Minister which would include the above recommendations and proposals.

Agreed Essentials in the Conduct of the War (CCS 85th Meeting, Item 2 a (1)) (CCS 232)

The Committee considered a report by the Combined Staff Planners. The British Chiefs of Staff presented a memorandum suggesting certain amendments to the paper. In the course of discussion on paragraph 2 b of the paper, on the desirability of relating the extension of unremitting pressure against Japan to the agreement that the unconditional surrender of the Axis in Europe must be brought about at the earliest possible date, Admiral Leahy said that he believed that this British suggestion would not be acceptable to the United States Chiefs of Staff. The defeat of Japan was a matter of vital importance to the United States. A situation might arise in which an extension of effort against Japan, if necessary, even at the expense of the European Theater, would be essential to maintain the integrity of the United States and her interests in the Pacific.

Admiral King pointed out that the so-called adequate forces for the Pacific had always been a matter susceptible to differences of opinion. It must be remembered that while the Casablanca Conference dealt only with operations in 1943, the present deliberations aimed at deciding on the strategy to be adopted to bring the war as a whole to a successful conclusion. In his view, CCS 155/1 did, in fact, visualize the extension of pressure against Japan.

Admiral Leahy said that operations in the Pacific had actually been extended since Casablanca and there was no doubt that adequate forces for further extension were available. The only shortage was of shipping. If an unfavorable situation arose in the Pacific, all would realize that whatever agreements were in existence, the United States would have to divert forces to meet this eventuality.

Sir Alan Brooke said that shipping alone prohibited an equal effort in the Pacific Theater. He was convinced that it was not possible to achieve the defeat of both Germany and Japan at the same time, and the maximum effort must be made against one or the other. There was no possibility of holding Germany while concentrating on Japan, and therefore it was essential that the defeat of Germany should first be accomplished. This would be the best method of ending the war as a whole at the earliest possible date.

With regard to paragraph 3 b, it was generally agreed that this paragraph should be recast in order to clarify its intention.

With regard to paragraph 3 d, General McNarney agreed on the importance of both the air offensive against the Axis Powers and of relieving pressure on the Russian Front, but considered that concentration of air effort was essential. The British proposals left the way open to a dispersal of air forces from Norway to Greece which, while it might take pressure from the Russians, would not be the best application of our air power.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Agreed to the following changes in CCS 232:
i) In the third line of paragraph 3 delete the word “fixed” and substitute the word “first” therefor.

ii) Delete the captions “Priority Group 1” and “Priority Group 2” immediately preceding paragraphs 3 a and 3 6, respectively.

iii) Delete the words “in the Atlantic and Pacific” from paragraph 3 c.

b. Agreed that paragraph 2 b, 3 b, 3 d, and 3 f of CCS 232 should be considered further.

c. Directed the secretaries to publish an amended version of CCS 232 which will show the items of agreement and disagreement. (Subsequently published as CCS 232/1.)

Agenda for the Remainder of the Conference (CCS 233)

The Committee had before them a note by the Combined Staff Planners setting forward a tentative agenda for the remainder of the conference.

With regard to Item 6, Sir John Dill reminded the Committee of the importance of discussing the action being taken with regard to rearming Turkey in relation to our plans for the conduct of the war in Europe.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Agreed to the agenda for the remainder of the conference shown in CCS 233, with the following exceptions:
i) Delegate paragraph (1), discussion on Global Strategy.

ii) Delete reference to the report of the Kauffman-Mansfield Committee under the heading of U-boat Campaign in paragraph (4).

iii) Insert a new item immediately following paragraph (5) entitled “Turkish Situation, General Discussion.”

(Revised agenda subsequently published as CCS 233/1.)

b. Agreed that the papers being prepared by the U.S. and British Planners on “The Defeat of Germany” would, in order to save time, be circulated as CCS papers without receiving prior approval of their respective Chiefs of Staff.

c. Agreed that, if necessary, the Combined Chiefs of Staff would meet in an afternoon conference on Friday, 21 May, to consider papers receiving their attention which have no special reference to the subject matter of the TRIDENT Conference.

At this point the following left the meeting:

  • General Somervell
  • Admiral Home
  • General Fairchild
  • General Streett
  • Admiral Cooke
  • General Wedemeyer
  • Colonel Smart
  • Commander Freseman
  • Commander Long
  • Admiral Noble
  • Lt. General Macready
  • Air Marshal Welsh
  • Captain Lambe
  • Brigadier Porter
  • Air Commodore Elliot
  • Brigadier Macleod

Operation HUSKY

Sir Alan Brooke informed the Committee of certain information which pointed to the desirability of advancing the date of Operation HUSKY.

The Committee discussed the advisability of asking General Eisenhower to consider the mounting of an earlier operation against HUSKY -land but it was pointed out that General Eisenhower had already given his views on this matter and had received all the available information referred to above. It was generally agreed that any specific action to draw General Eisenhower’s attention to this information might suggest a lack of confidence in his judgment, which most certainly did not exist.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Agreed that they should take no action on this matter.

Operation UPKEEP

Sir Charles Portal outlined Operation UPKEEP and the results which it was hoped had been attained.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Took note with interest of this statement.

Roosevelt-Churchill luncheon meeting, 1 p.m.

United States United Kingdom
President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill
Mr. Hopkins
Mr. Baruch

Baruch’s memorandum to Watson indicates that the supply of magnesium was one of the questions raised during the luncheon. The possibility of settling refugees in North Africa also appears to have been discussed at this meeting.

Leahy-Soong meeting, afternoon

United States China
Admiral Leahy Foreign Minister Soong

Soong sought to obtain assurances for the carrying out of the Burma operation and immediate and exclusive shipment of aircraft material to China.

U.S. State Department (May 18, 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 Somervell Lieutenant General Ismay
Lieutenant General Embick Admiral Noble
Vice Admiral Horne Lieutenant General Macready
Major General Smith Air Marshal Welsh
Major General Streett Captain Lambe
Rear Admiral Cooke Brigadier Porter
Brigadier General Wedemeyer Air Commodore Elliot
Colonel Smart Brigadier Macleod
Commander Freseman
Commander Long
Brigadier Redman
Brigadier General Deane
Commander Coleridge
Lieutenant Colonel Vittrap

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

May 18, 1943, 10:30 a.m.


Conclusions of the Previous Meeting

Admiral Leahy said that the U.S. Chiefs of Staff did not consider that the conclusion to Item 5 of the 86th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff was correctly worded. The Combined Chiefs of Staff had not approved CCS 232 subject to the deletion of certain paragraphs, but rather had accepted certain paragraphs, had amended others, and agreed to reconsider those upon which there was disagreement.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Approved the conclusions as shown in the Minutes of the 86th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, held on Monday, 17 May 1943, except that the conclusions under Item 5 were changed to read as follows:

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Agreed to the following changes in CCS 232:
i) In the third line of paragraph 3 delete the word ‘fixed’ and substitute the word ‘first’ therefor.

ii) Delete the captions ‘Priority Group 1’ and ‘Priority Group 2’ immediately preceding paragraphs 3 a and 3 e respectively.

iii) Delete the words ‘in the Atlantic and Pacific’ from paragraph 3 c.

b. Agreed that paragraphs 2 b, 3 b, 3 d, and 3 f of C.C.S. 232 should be considered further.

c. Directed the Secretaries to publish an amended version of CCS 232 which will show the items of agreement and disagreement. (Subsequently published as CCS 232/1.)”

Portuguese Islands (C.C.S. 226/1) (Previous Reference: C.C.S. 85th Meeting, Item 6)

The Committee had before them a draft memorandum for the President and Prime Minister prepared by the Secretaries in collaboration with the British Chief of the Air Staff.

Sir Alan Brooke said that he considered that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should decide who should be responsible for providing the necessary forces and preparing a plan for seizing the Islands should this be necessary. The Azores were in a British sphere of responsibility. There was available a British Royal Marine Division which could undertake the task though the availability of landing craft and shipping would have to be further considered. If the U.S. Chiefs of Staff accepted British responsibility for the planning of this operation and for the provision of the troops, then he suggested that conclusion b (1) of Item 4 of the 86th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff should be altered to read:

That the British Chiefs of Staff should bring before the Combined Chiefs of Staff a plan for the occupation of the Azores Islands. This plan, when approved, should be submitted to the President and Prime Minister with a covering note showing suggested timings, and the effect of the plan on other military commitments now in view.

Admiral King suggested that in view of the British alliance with Portugal, it might, for diplomatic and psychological reasons, be better for U.S. troops to undertake the operation even though the Azores were in a British sphere of responsibility.

The U.S. Chiefs of Staff agreed that the British should undertake this commitment, but General McNarney pointed out in connection with the alternative conclusion suggested by Sir Alan Brooke that, since the Azores should be put to the earliest possible use, plans must be prepared to provide the necessary facilities in the Islands. He suggested therefore that the words “and use” should be inserted after the words “for the occupation” in the draft.

In discussing the draft memorandum to the President, it was generally agreed that the urgency of obtaining facilities in the Portuguese Islands should be stressed and that it should be made clear that the Combined Chiefs of Staff proposed that, while the diplomatic approach was being made, they should prepare forces for the prompt seizure of the Islands in the event of this approach failing.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Agreed to amend the conclusion in paragraph b (1) of Item 4 of the Minutes of the 86th Meeting to read as follows:

That the British Chiefs of Staff should bring before the Combined Chiefs of Staff a plan for the occupation and use of the Azores Islands. This plan, when approved, should be submitted to the President and Prime Minister with a covering note showing suggested timings and effect of the plan on other military commitments now in view.

b. Approved the draft memorandum to the President and the Prime Minister, shown in CCS 226/1, subject to the following changes:
i) Insert the words “earliest possible” before the word “use” at the beginning of line 3.
ii) Change the first sentence of the second paragraph to read:

In submitting this recommendation, the Combined Chiefs of Staff propose that while the diplomatic approach is being made, forces should be prepared for the prompt seizure and use of the Azores if diplomacy fails.

(Amended version, as prepared for the signature of Sir Alan Brooke and Admiral Leahy, subsequently published as CCS 226/2.)

Future Work of the Committee

With regard to future discussions on the essentials to the conduct of the war, Sir Alan Brooke said that he believed the Committee should consider and first agree on European and Pacific strategy, and it would then be found that global strategy and agreed essentials could more easily and quickly be set out.

Admiral Leahy said that he believed it was wise to agree on the essentials prior to considering theater strategies.

Admiral King said that he considered that it was necessary that the U.S. views on the existing points of difference with regard to the essentials should at least be stated as early as possible.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Took note that the United States Chiefs of Staff would wish to discuss CCS 232/1 at the meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to be held on Wednesday, 19 May 1943.

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

Admiral Leahy suggested that this matter was one of urgency and should receive the consideration of the Combined Chiefs of Staff as early as possible. It might be necessary to consult the Foreign Office and State Department. The views of the theater commander must, he felt, be given full weight.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Agreed to consider CCS 185/3 at their meeting to be held on the following day.

Defeat of the Axis Powers in Europe (CCS 234)

The Committee had before them a memorandum by the British Joint Planning Staff prepared after consultation with the U.S. Joint planners.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the British Chiefs of Staff were in general agreement with the views set out in this paper.

General Marshall said that in the short time he had had to examine this paper he hesitated to bring out points of detail. The general impression he received was that in the early part of the paper it was pointed out that a cross-Channel operation in April 1944 would be impossible, not only on account of the shortage of landing craft, but also because the risks would be unacceptable. Later on, however, it appeared that if Mediterranean operations were undertaken in the interval, a target date for April 1944 should be agreed on for cross-Channel operations.

Sir Alan Brooke said that it was believed that April 1944 as a target date would not be possible of achievement unless Mediterranean operations were undertaken. These would influence the strength of the opposition and should create a situation permitting cross-Channel operations. Landing craft alone were not the bottleneck, and one of the difficulties was the provision of the necessary personnel to man them. The rate of buildup of German forces in western Europe would greatly exceed our own buildup on the Continent unless Mediterranean operations were first undertaken to divert or occupy German reinforcements. If these operations were undertaken, April 1944 might well be right for a target date, though the actual operation would be more likely to be possible of achievement in May or June. The knocking of Italy out of the war would be the greatest factor in using up Germany’s reserves and enabling our own buildup to exceed the enemy’s.

General Marshall said that he appreciated that it was the British view that by continuing SICKLE and by undertaking Mediterranean operations, a situation would be created permitting of a reasonable chance of successful cross-Channel operations in the spring of 1944. The point on which he was extremely doubtful was whether, if these Mediterranean operations were undertaken, sufficient forces would be available in the United Kingdom to exploit the situation which the Mediterranean operations might have created. It might well be that operations in the Mediterranean would of necessity exceed in magnitude those now visualized, and that therefore the forces available in the United Kingdom would be correspondingly diminished. Thus when the moment to strike across the Channel arrived, we should be unable to reap the benefits of the effect of Mediterranean operations and of the vast concentration of air forces, and our resources in the U.K. would permit of nothing more than an unopposed landing.

Sir Alan Brooke pointed out that the cost of Mediterranean operations on the buildup in the United Kingdom was estimated to be no more than from three and a half to four divisions, and this he believed was a cheap price to pay for the immense advantages and consequent diversion of German troops which knocking out Italy would insure. Italy might drop out of the war as a result of a successful HUSKY, but at any rate the elimination of Italy was, he believed, the best and only way of helping Russia this year. If we caused the Germans to disperse their forces and therefore to slow up their possible rate of buildup against cross-Channel operations, the loss of three and a half divisions would be more than counterbalanced. The Mediterranean operations visualized were not interdependent, and each or any of them could be undertaken separately as the situation developed. For instance, it might be desirable, though perhaps not essential, to go into western Greece with the object of rallying General Mihailovitch and the partisans. The cost value of each operation could be assessed at the appropriate time. Landings in Italy or in Sardinia were alternatives. If the situation on the Russian Front was bad and the Germans stronger in the Mediterranean, we might have to forego a direct attack on Italy and capture Sardinia and possibly Corsica instead. These latter would prove valuable air bases for increasing the air bombardment of Italy, as well as being stepping stones for an invasion of southern France. In any event, all calculations had been made on the basis of the SICKLE buildup remaining unaffected.

General Marshall said that he would like further time to examine the figures given in the British paper. He feared that the cost had been assessed too low since the wish might have been the father to the thought. If the ends could be achieved as cheaply as was visualized in the British paper, then the plan was worthy of further consideration, but he feared that the momentum consequent on the launching of Mediterranean operations would be difficult to check.

Both Admiral Leahy and General Marshall said that they wished further time to consider the British paper before expressing definite opinions and to have available to them at the same time the United States paper with regard to cross-Channel operations.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Deferred action on this paper pending further study by the United States Chiefs of Staff.

Re-Arming of the French in North Africa

Admiral Leahy said that it was his personal opinion that in order to utilize the French forces to the maximum, they should be provided with equipment and instructed in its use as rapidly as possible. At present somewhat more than three divisions had been equipped, but the remainder of the existing 11 divisions were almost without modern equipment. Early action to supply these seemed wise in view of their potential value in the invasion of France.

Sir Alan Brooke agreed as to the importance of rearming the French, but considered that it was a matter of timing and of the availability of shipping. French forces fighting in North Africa had shown themselves to be good soldiers. They would certainly prove useful in continental operations, but particularly as garrison troops in North Africa, Corsica and Sicily. It was important, however, not to use shipping to reequip the French at the expense of a build-up of Allied forces for important operations.

General Marshall reminded the Committee of the Presidential memorandum given to General Giraud, which the latter had in some ways misinterpreted. He asked General Smith to give his views on the reequipment of the French.

General Smith said that Allied Force Headquarters had been guided by the ANFA decisions. 25,000 tons of shipping per month had been made available for reequipping the French forces and 35,000 tons a month for civilian supplies. A possible use for French troops was for the assault of Corsica, if this and an attack on Sardinia were undertaken simultaneously. For this operation there would be available two divisions, one of them trained in mountain warfare. No armored division would be fit for combat duty until September, and no other troops could be prepared for offensive fighting in 1943. Captured German and Italian equipment was being issued to accelerate the rate of reequipment and certain of this was found to be of French manufacture. It was hoped that the lines of communications and the majority of the anti-aircraft defenses in North Africa could be manned by the French at an early date. French troops used in the recent fighting had not been issued new equipment from America, but had had their existing equipment made up by allotments from the British and United States forces. In general, the French had fought excellently.

General Giraud used the equipment shipped to train and equip those divisions which were not actively engaged in operations. General Eisenhower’s policy was, in general, to equip as many French troops as possible for garrison and line of communication duties. French Divisions were being provided with equipment on a 50 to 60 percent basis for training. General Giraud, on the other hand, was naturally anxious to equip on an expeditionary force basis. He (General Smith) believed that in three to four months sufficient French Divisions would be available to undertake the defense of Morocco. Equipment was arriving at a rate sufficient to provide 50 percent of the equipment for one division every convoy. Though this rate did not satisfy General Giraud, it was the maximum which, at present, could be achieved. He believed that though the French must be equipped as rapidly as possible, it would be unwise to sacrifice any tonnage required for our own forces for the benefit of the French since it was unwise to count on an adequate return in combat value in the near future. 25,000 tons per month was the maximum which could be found from the shipping resources allocated to General Eisenhower. Unless the Combined Shipping and Adjustment Board could provide additional tonnage, General Giraud’s requirements of 100,000 tons per month could not be met.

General Marshall pointed out that in the event of the U.S. divisions being moved to the U.K., their equipment would be turned over to the French.

Sir Alan Brooke agreed that in general the correct policy was initially to equip the French forces for a static role to enable them to relieve Allied forces for offensive operations. At a later stage the French could be equipped as an expeditionary force.

General Smith pointed out that in general this was being done but that General Giraud was not anxious that all his troops should be assigned to defensive roles. Coast and AA defenses were being taken over by the French.

Sir John Dill asked if the possibility had been considered of supplying captured material to the Turks, particularly that of French manufacture, since they already possessed ammunition of this type.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Agreed that the rearming and reequipping of the French forces in North Africa should be proceeded with as rapidly as the availability of shipping and equipment will allow, but as a secondary commitment to the requirements of British and U.S. forces in the various theaters.

Plan for Combined Bomber Offensive from the United Kingdom (CCS 217)

Sir Charles Portal suggested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should consider giving their approval to General Eaker’s plan for the combined bomber offensive outlined in CCS 217. He invited General McNarney to explain the main points of this plan.

General McNarney explained that a committee of Industrial and Engineering Experts with first-hand experience of Germany had thoroughly surveyed the German industrial organization with a view to selecting systems of targets which, if destroyed, would produce the maximum reduction of the German war potential. A plan based on this survey had then been worked out by General Eaker and had been shown to and agreed with by the Royal Air Force Staff in London. To implement the plan certain minimum forces were required. These were set out in paragraph 4 of CCS 217. The most important feature of the plan was the reduction of the German fighter force which would be achieved not only by air fighting but by systematic precision bombing of airfields, aircraft manufacturing plants, and ball-bearing factories. Fifty percent of German ball-bearing manufacturing capacity was in two plants, one in Germany and one in Paris.

The plan was in four phases which were described in maps 1, 2, 3 and 4 and legends thereon, CCS 217. The whole plan was based on 6 raids per month backed up by RAF night bombing on the same objectives. The United States Planners had estimated that the necessary forces could be made available except for a minor deficiency in the first phase. One important point was, that, unless the plan was approved and put into immediate effect, the German fighter strength would expand. The Germans had switched over much of their productive capacity from bombers to fighters, and unless the German fighter potential was attacked at once, not only the task of the bombers in carrying out the plan would become more difficult but also German air strength would render all our operations against them more hazardous. The ground echelons required for this plan were estimated to amount to some 375,000 men by the first of April, 1944. He believed, however, that this figure might be exceeded and the total ground echelons for air forces in the U.K. might amount to some 400,000 to 425,000 men.

Sir Charles Portal explained that General Eaker’s plan had been based on all the information available to the Air Ministry. He (General Eaker) had worked out the plan himself and had then put it to the Air Ministry for consideration. In spite of the most critical examination by all available experts, the Air Ministry was convinced that, if given the resources asked for, General Eaker would achieve the results he claimed. He (Sir Charles Portal) was one hundred percent in favor of the plan. The figure of 6 raids per month had been based on weather statistics collected over a period of years, but it was hoped that by the use of special equipment (H2S) which General Eaker proposed to fit to his leading bombers, attacks through overcast or cloud could be made on targets the size of a city. Raids undertaken under these conditions would be in addition to the 6 precision attacks per month in clear weather. He had no doubt that the result of a salvo of bombs falling from some one hundred unseen B-17s in daylight would be tremendous. General Eaker hoped to use these methods beginning in the autumn. It must be remembered that when bombing from above the clouds, reaction from German fighters was to be expected, with resulting fighter attrition. A somewhat similar device to the H2S was already in use for night bombing but, since once discovered by the enemy it would have no further value to us, it was only employed in Mosquito aircraft used to lead in night attacks.

General McNarney suggested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should give their approval to the plan for the combined bomber offensive set out in CCS 217 and agree to the provision of the necessary forces to implement it.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Approved the plan for the combined bomber offensive from the United Kingdom which is set forth in CCS 217.

Bombing of Ploești

Referring to the plan for the attack on the refineries at Ploești by heavy bombers operating from North Africa or the Middle East, General McNarney stressed the importance of timing in particular reference to the German commitment on the Russian Front. An early and successful attack on the refineries would, be felt, be the greatest single contribution which could be made to assist the Russians this year. If we waited to capture bases nearer the objective, the delay would detract from the decisive value of the operation. The ranges from Ploești of possible bases now available were:

Tobruk 857 miles
Aleppo 835 miles
Alexandria 963 miles
Cyprus 755 miles
Tripoli 1,080 miles

From all these bases Ploești was within range of B-24 Ds with a load of 6,000 pounds; B-24 Cs with 3,000 pounds and B-17 Fs. It was estimated that a total of 155 aircraft were required. More than sufficient were available in North Africa and the United Kingdom. An early decision to carry out the attack was necessary since not only was the weather best in June and early July, but also an attack at this time would interfere less with air preparations for HUSKY and possible subsequent operations. The exact defenses of Ploești were not known but it was believed that only a few, if any, fighters were available and the main defense was provided by a balloon barrage, mainly to the south. If bombers operated from Tobruk, it was estimated that they could pass northward out of radar range of Crete and might thus achieve surprise without interference from fighters. If the attack took place at dusk they could return in darkness.

The method of attack would probably be low level bombing with delay action bombs. If command of these forces were given to General Doolittle, who was available and in whom he had great confidence, he, General McNarney, was convinced that success would be achieved. Losses might be heavy, but would be more than offset by results. If the raid could be carried out prior to HUSKY, this example of overwhelming Allied air power would have profound effects, both on the Russian Front and Italian morale.

Sir Charles Portal said that he would be prepared to recommend the operation if he were certain that a large proportion of the attacking aircraft armed with 6,000-pound bombs would reach the objective before dusk, but he was doubtful if this could be achieved since the operation was essentially dependent on accurate weather forecasting.

General McNarney said that this point had been carefully considered and it was believed that in June or early July a forecast could be made of the weather at Ploești and en route twenty-four hours ahead with 85 percent accuracy.

Sir Charles Portal said that if this accuracy of forecasting could be achieved, the operation should have good prospects of success. Its effect, however, on HUSKY and other operations must be borne in mind. He would like to ask the commanders in the theater for their views on the advisability of undertaking this operation in the light of the necessity for concentrating our air resources in support of Operation HUSKY.

Sir Alan Brooke also stressed the disadvantage of the dispersal of air forces prior to Operation HUSKY and the great results it was hoped to achieve by the concentration of our air power on Italy. If Italy could be knocked out, bases closer to the Ploești objective could be obtained, enabling us to undertake sustained bombing of the refineries.

General McNarney pointed out that the attainment of these bases in Italy might be delayed for some six or seven months, and by then the weather would be far less favorable.

The Committee then discussed the availability of aircraft and the periods during which they would be diverted either from the United Kingdom or their tasks in the Mediterranean.

Sir Charles Portal said that if the operation succeeded, it would certainly have more effect than almost any other on softening up Germany for operations in 1944. There was, therefore, a case for careful examination of this project, even though it might reduce our air preparations prior to HUSKY.

General McNarney undertook immediately to arrange for the necessary special sights to be sent to North Africa together with personnel fully conversant with the plan who could discuss it with General Eisenhower, Air Marshal Tedder, and their staffs.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Agreed that the United States Army Air Forces should send representatives, without delay, to present to the Commander in Chief. North African Theater, the plan which they have prepared concerning the bombing of the Roumanian Oil Fields, and that the Commander in Chief of the North African Theater should be asked to submit appropriate comments and recommendations to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

b. Took note that special bomb sights and instructor personnel needed for such an operation would be sent to the North African Theater by the United States Army Air Forces as soon as practicable.

Operation UPKEEP

Admiral Leahy, on behalf of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff offered Sir Charles Portal congratulations on the success of the RAF force in this operation.

Sir Charles Portal, in thanking Admiral Leahy, said that the success attributed to the operation in the newspapers was borne out by aerial photographs.

Meetings With the President and Prime Minister

Admiral Leahy informed the Committee that the President and Prime Minister wished to meet the Combined Chiefs of Staff at 6 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, 19 May, for a short discussion on the schedule for the future work of the Conference. The Prime Minister and President also wished to meet the Combined Chiefs of Staff on Friday, 21 May, and for final meetings on Monday and Tuesday, the 24th and 25th.

Roosevelt-Soong conversation, 11:50 a.m.

United States China
President Roosevelt Foreign Minister Soong

The Chinese Foreign Minister to the President’s Special Assistant

Washington, May 18, 1943.

Dear Harry: On the basis of my conversation with the President this morning, I am sending a draft of my telegram to the Generalissimo for the President’s approval, as it is important that there be no misunderstanding in so vital a matter.

I shall be grateful if you could lay it before the President as soon as possible, and give me his reply.

Yours sincerely,


The Chinese Foreign Minister to President Roosevelt

Washington, May 18, 1943.


Dear Mr. President: Following our conversation today I wish to submit for your approval the following draft report to the Generalissimo on the decisions you have reached:

I saw the President today, who told me he fully understands and is concerned over the military and economic crisis confronting you and is anxious the air force be immediately strengthened to support you. He has accordingly made the following decisions:

  1. Starting July 1, 1948, the first 4700 tons of supplies per month flown into China over the India-China route shall be for General Chennault’s Air Force; after this priority is fully satisfied, the next 2000 tons per month shall be for other purposes including ground forces; thereafter the next 300 tons per month shall also be for the Air Force.

  2. President has ordered that starting September 1, the original goal of 10,000 tons per month shall be reached and even stepped up.

  3. I asked the President for all the tonnage for the remainder of May and June 1943 on both Air Transport Command and CNAC planes for air force supplies for the 14th Air Force. The President replied that certain small exceptions might be needed for ground forces and asked me to work this problem out with the Deputy Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

I saw the Deputy [Chief] of Staff this afternoon and we came to the following conclusions. Ground forces will have 500 tons each month in May and June, and all the rest goes to air force. From July 1 onward Chennault will have absolute priority of 4700 tons monthly, and the balance, whatever it may be, goes to Stilwell until he has received in all 10,000 tons.

  1. General Wheeler has been ordered to take an engineering detachment from the road project and use it to rush to completion the Assamese airports now being constructed and repaired.

  2. The President told me that it is the position of the United States that there is a firm commitment for the ANAKIM project this fall and that he has advised the British that he expects them to carry out their part of this commitment. Definite and detailed plans for this project will, I trust, be communicated to me for presentation to you before the conclusion of the conferences now going on with the President and the Prime Minister, so that you may make your own observations.

Yours sincerely,

McNarney-Soong meeting, afternoon

United States China
Lieutenant General McNarney Foreign Minister Soong

Record of Presidential Press Conference No. 897, 4:10 p.m.

Washington, May 18, 1943.



THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think I have anything of any importance.

I have just had – in the past hour – a very satisfactory conference with the Duke of Windsor. And as you probably know, we are bringing a large number – several thousand – of laborers from the Bahamas, and others from Jamaica, to help out the farm labor this summer and autumn. And I think it’s progressing very well.

The talks of the Prime Minister are going along very satisfactorily. They are not finished yet.

I think that’s about all.

Q. Is the Prime Minister going to be subjected to the tender mercies of a Press Conference, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think so. He doesn’t worry about it any more than I do. (laughter)

Q. Would Friday be a good guess, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. I have no idea about it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Q. Mr. President, has Prime Minister Mackenzie King (of Canada) joined the conferences yet?

THE PRESIDENT: No. He-- I understand that he just got into town this afternoon, and he is coming to the White House in the morning, to spend the night.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Q. Mr. President, I didn’t understand you a moment ago to say that the Prime Minister met the Duke of Windsor?


Q. He did?

Q. The Prime Minister did not meet him.

THE PRESIDENT: The Prime Minister-- I don’t know, this is society column – (laughter) – the Prime Minister lunched up at the British Embassy. The Duke and Duchess were there, I think. And afterwards, the Prime Minister brought the Duke of Windsor down, and the Duke and I talked for about an hour; and we would be talking longer if I hadn’t noticed that it was four o’clock.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Smith-Brooke conversation, evening

United States United Kingdom
Major General Smith General Brooke

Smith anticipated that a solution to the problems regarding future strategy would be put forward which would limit operations in the European area for the benefit of the Pacific Theater.

U.S. State Department (May 19, 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 Somervell Admiral Noble
Vice Admiral Horne Lieutenant General Macready
Vice Admiral Willson Air Marshal Welsh
Major General Smith Major General Holmes
Major General Streett Captain Lambe
Rear Admiral Cooke Brigadier Porter
Brigadier General Wedemeyer Air Commodore Elliot
Colonel Smart Brigadier Macleod
Commander Freseman
Commander Long
Brigadier Redman
Brigadier General Deane
Commander Coleridge
Lieutenant Colonel Vittrup

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

May 19, 1943, 10:30 a.m.


Conclusions of the Previous Meeting

Admiral Leahy suggested that it might be preferable to eliminate the words “and in the light of the probable operation and employment of the French forces” in the conclusion to item 6 of the 87th Meeting.

The British Chiefs of Staff agreed with this view.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff: Approved the conclusions as shown in the Minutes of the 87th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff held on Tuesday, 18 May 1943, subject to the deletion of the words “and in the light of the probable operation and employment of the French forces” at the end of the conclusion to item 6.

Agreed Essentials in the Conduct of the War (CCS 87th Mtg., Item 3)

Admiral Leahy stated that the United States Chiefs of Staff wished to defer consideration of CCS 232/1.

Defeat of the Axis Powers in Europe (CCS 234 and 235)

Admiral Leahy asked for the comments of the British Chiefs of Staff on the United States Planners’ paper, CCS 235.

Sir Alan Brooke said that it appeared from the two papers before the Committee that there were certain basic factors on which the U.S. and British Staffs were in agreement. On others there were differences of opinion which must be eliminated.

With regard to the target date for cross-Channel operations, April 1 had been selected for two reasons. This date coincided with the conclusion of the fourth phase of the bomber offensive, and it was the earliest practicable from the point of view of weather. He would like to suggest, however, that April 1 might be too early a date to select. At that time the Russian Front was likely to be static since it was the period of the thaw. The weather conditions 0in western Europe would not be as favorable on that date as later, say the end of May or early June, which would also coincide with the end of the thaw in Russia. If the first of May or the first of June was accepted as the target date, the buildup in the United Kingdom would also be further advanced.

Though in the United States paper the elimination of Italy was considered and accepted as a possibility, yet no appreciation was given as to the steps necessary to deal with this or to take advantage of it. We might be called upon by some political party other than the Fascists to enter Italy, or we might be confronted with complete collapse and a state of chaos. In either case we should be faced with a decision as to what action was necessary to take advantage of this situation, and the result such action would have on other operations. There were obvious advantages in going into Italy which could be used as a naval and an air base, but how far we should be drawn in was a matter for discussion. There were great advantages in obtaining the northern plains for use as an air base. German air defense was not organized on this sector, and its occupation would force the Germans to detach forces to protect the northern and western frontiers of Italy. We should also examine the possibility of limiting the extent of our occupation of Italy and examine the magnitude of the commitments and the action required to implement our plans.

The next point in the United States proposals was the period of inactivity on land for a period of some six to seven months after HUSKY. In paragraph 5 c it was pointed out that Germany intended to concentrate on the defeat of the Russian Armed Forces in 1943 and that Germany would either fail or succeed in Russia this summer. This year was the most critical time for Russia, and we must take all possible steps to assist her. It would, he felt, be most difficult to justify failure to use available forces for this purpose.

Without crippling ROUNDUP in 1944, we could, he believed, with the forces now available in the Mediterranean achieve important results and provide the greatest measure of assistance to Russia in this critical period and at the same time create a situation favorable for cross-Channel operations in 1944.

It was difficult from paragraph 17 of the paper to visualize the shape of operations to defeat Germany, but it appeared that it was proposed to capture ports to enable a direct buildup from the United States. This concept, he believed, would present considerable difficulties since a study of this problem had shown that the sustenance of the forces used to cover these ports would absorb the larger part of their capacity. After the capture of a bridgehead, Cherbourg might be seized, but the provision of the necessary forces to cover this would be difficult unless the Germans were greatly weakened or unable to find reserves. For this reason active Russian operations were essential. If the Russians suffered defeats in 1943, the possibility of any landing was bad.

In conclusion, he felt that the first of May or the first of June was a better target date for ROUNDUP since this would be the period when the summer fighting in Russia would be starting. By maintaining pressure with limited forces in the Mediterranean, German troops estimated at some 20 to 30 divisions would, by the elimination of Italy, be dispersed and tied down.

He would like to add one minor point. The United States’ buildup envisaged would, he believed, require at an early date additional SOS troops, possibly even at the expense of SICKLE, to prepare the depots to receive them. This was necessary since the manpower situation in England was very serious.

Admiral Leahy said that he understood the British proposal to be for Mediterranean operations and a magnified SLEDGEHAMMER. He was interested to know what effect the British proposals had on the ANAKIM operation since he believed some form of operation to help China to be essential.

Sir Alan Brooke explained that the British proposals for Mediterranean operations contemplated only a deduction of some 3½ to 4 divisions from the forces available for ROUNDUP. Landing craft was a critical item, and the shortage would anyhow necessitate the assault going in on a relatively narrow front. In any event it was not proposed to move any forces from the Mediterranean for use in ANAKIM since all the troops required were already in India, but any operations in Burma would be hampered by a shortage of shipping, naval covering forces, and landing craft. If it was decided only to open the Ledo Road to China, then, of course, naval operations could be dispensed with, but this operation would probably be at the expense of the capacity of the air route. Before discussing Burmese operations in detail, he felt it wise to await the report of the Combined Staff Planners.

General Marshall said that he personally believed that the postponement of the target date for ROUNDUP to the first of May would be acceptable in view of its relation to Russian operations, and the extra time given for the buildup. He agreed also that the action required in the event of the collapse of Italy must be studied and preparations made to meet it.

He agreed with Sir Alan Brooke’s view on the importance of helping Russia in 1943, but he believed that it would take some time to mount any operation subsequent to HUSKY which itself might not be completed until September. We should, therefore, be helping Russia up until the end of the period of the German campaign.

Sir Alan Brooke explained that he considered that operations in the Mediterranean, with a consequent diversion of German forces, were important throughout the entire year.

General Marshall, commenting further on the British plan, believed that the calculated buildup through the ports was pessimistic. Experience had shown that estimated port capacities were likely, in practice, to be doubled.

In general, he believed that the British plan magnified the results to be obtained by Mediterranean operations and minimized the forces which would have to be used and the logistic requirements. It was too sanguine with regard to the results of enemy reaction, and in this connection, it must be remembered that in North Africa a relatively small German force had produced a serious factor of delay to our operations. A German decision to support Italy might make intended operations extremely difficult and time consuming.

General Marshall then turned to detailed comments of the British plan. Paragraph 2 a visualized it as essential for invasion that the initial assault must be on a sufficiently large scale to enable the rate of our buildup to compete with that of the enemy. In this connection a deteriorating German situation was visualized earlier in the paper. As he saw it, the first step was aimed, not at the immediate defeat of the German Army, but at the establishment of a bridgehead which would have results not only psychologically, but on the U-boat campaign, and would provide airfields, giving better bases for operations against the enemy which in turn would result in the destruction of a growing percentage of the enemy’s air fighting capacity. These were immediate and important results, and these, rather than an immediate advance to the Rhine, should be our first objective. He did not believe that the British paper gave sufficient weight to the devastating effect of our air bombardments with the resulting diminution not only of Germany’s power but of her ability rapidly to build up forces in western Europe. The effects of the bombing offensive were becoming more and more apparent daily.

Paragraph 7 of the British paper, while showing the limitations imposed on cross-Channel operations by lack of landing craft, did not sufficiently stress the expenditure of these craft in Mediterranean operations. The limitations of landing craft production in the United States must be remembered. In addition, the need for these craft for Operation ANAKIM was not brought out.

In paragraph 27 it was suggested that Ploești could not be attacked except from bases in Italy. This matter had, of course, been discussed at the previous meeting when it had been agreed that an attack could be carried out from bases already in our hands.

In paragraph 35 he believed that the Italian people’s will to deal with the Allies was overestimated. If Germany decided to support her to the full, serious delay might be imposed on our plans, our resources would be sucked into the Mediterranean, and we should find ourselves completely involved in operations in that theater to the exclusion of all else.

With regard to the proposal in paragraph 38, that, during the period of confusion after the collapse of Italy, we should secure a bridgehead at Durazzo, he believed that such an operation would so commit us that through shipping and landing craft limitations no other important operations would be possible.

The summary of commitments contained in paragraph 42 might be an accurate estimate but it was axiomatic that every commander invariably asked for more troops than were originally estimated as being necessary. We should, he believed, if Mediterranean operations were undertaken, find ourselves overwhelmed with demands for resources over and above our original estimates.

He had read the British estimate on the shipping requirements to sustain Italian economy in the event of her collapse. He believed that these were too optimistic and that some 32 to 40 sailings a month would be required. It must be remembered that there was a large Italian element in the United States who were politically powerful and who would not permit the undue curtailment of supplies to Italy.

He believed that the shipping requirement for the BOLERO buildup was larger than had been estimated. Even if the personnel and cargo shipping required was available, the limitations of escorts would curtail the full BOLERO buildup if operations in the Mediterranean continued. If operations in any magnitude were undertaken in the Mediterranean after HUSKY there would, in all probability, be no landing craft available to be returned to the United Kingdom for cross-Channel operations.

In general, he considered that the British paper throughout was over-pessimistic with regard to the possibilities of cross-Channel operations, particularly in so far as the results of our vast air power and its relation to ground operations. On the other hand, in considering Mediterranean operations, the British paper was very optimistic with regard to the forces required, the Axis reaction and the logistic problem.

Admiral King, with reference to the suggestion that the target date for ROUNDUP should be postponed to the 1st May or 1st June, agreed that the weather would be better at a later date but considered that to achieve the maximum results in relation to the operations on the Eastern Front, it should take place before the thaw finished. The target date was seldom met, but he believed that it would be wise to plan the target date for 1 May which would be reasonable in all the circumstances.

At this point all officers with the exception of the Combined Chiefs of Staff themselves, left the meeting.

After a full discussion the Secretaries were recalled.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. Informed the Secretaries of the lines on which draft resolutions were to be drawn up.

b. Instructed the Secretaries to prepare these draft resolutions for their consideration at a meeting to be held later that day.

1 Like

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 Inoia

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. 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

1 Like

Churchill’s concern was valid in 1943 as well as far into the future.


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.

Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, 3:30 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

Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes

May 20, 1943, 3:30 p.m.


The Combined Chiefs of Staff met in closed session and resolved on:
a. The concentration of available resources as first priority within the Assam-Burma Theater on the building up and increasing of the air route to China to a capacity of 10,000 tons a month by early fall, and the development of air facilities in Assam with a view to:
i) Intensifying air operations against the Japanese in Burma;
ii) Maintaining increased American Air Forces in China;
iii) Maintaining the flow of airborne supplies to China.

b. Vigorous and aggressive land and air operations from Assam into Burma via Ledo and Imphal, in step with an advance by Chinese forces from Yunnan, with the object of containing as many Japanese forces as possible, covering the air route to China, and as an essential step towards the opening of the Burma Road.

c. The capture of Akyab and of Ramree Island by amphibious operations.

d. The interruption of Japanese sea communications into Burma.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff also directed that CCS 229, CCS 231, and CCS 238 be withdrawn from the agenda.

Resolutions by the Combined Chiefs of Staff

Washington, 20 May 1943.

CCS 237/1

European Operations (Reference: CCS 89th Meeting, Item 1)

The Combined Chiefs of Staff:
a. That forces and equipment shall be established in the United Kingdom with the object of mounting an operation with target date 1 May 1944 to secure a lodgment on the Continent from which further offensive operations can be carried out. The scope of the operation will be such as to necessitate the following forces being present and available for use in the United Kingdom by 1 May 1944:

Assault: 5 Infantry Divisions (Simultaneously loaded in landing craft)
2 Infantry Divisions – Follow-up
2 Airborne Divisions
Total: 9 Divisions in the Assault
Buildup: 20 Divisions available for movement into lodgment area
Total: 29 Divisions

b. That the Allied Commander in Chief, North Africa, should be instructed to mount such operations in exploitation of HUSKY as are best calculated to eliminate Italy from the war and to contain the maximum number of German forces. Each specific operation will be subject to the approval of the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The Allied Commander in Chief in North Africa may use for his operations all those forces available in the Mediterranean area except for four American and three British divisions which will be held in readiness from 1 November onward for withdrawal to take part in operations from the United Kingdom, provided that the naval vessels required will be approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff when the plans are submitted. The additional air forces provided on a temporary basis for HUSKY will not be considered available.

c. The above resolution shall be reviewed by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at a meeting in July or early in August, the date to be decided later, in order that the situation may be examined in the light of the result of HUSKY and the situation in Russia.

Hull-Mackenzie King dinner meeting

United States Canada
Secretary Hull Prime Minister Mackenzie King

The Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs to the Secretary of State

Washington, May 20, 1943.


S – Mr. Secretary You will be seeing Mr. Mackenzie King at dinner tonight. This brief memorandum on our relations with Canada may be of interest to you in connection with your conversation with Mr. King.

Our relations with Canada are excellent. The only cloud on the horizon is that the extent of our War Department expenditures and activities in western Canada has been so great in connection with the war effort that some people in Canada have privately expressed apprehension. In other words, some people feel that we may have a vested interest there and be reluctant to leave when the war is over. That is of course nonsense but not all Canadians realize it. I don’t think this is particularly serious. We have done everything we can to dispel any apprehensions on that point.

The only other thing about our relations with Canada which troubles me is the fact that in spite of the President’s close personal relations with Mr. Mackenzie King and your own personal friendship and close relations with him, and in spite of the traditionally close and direct relations between our two Governments, Canada continues to receive what information she gets about high policy discussions between the White House and London from London rather than direct from Washington.

Mr. Norman Robertson, the Canadian Under Secretary of State for External Affairs, whom you met during the Trade Agreement negotiations in 1938, is here with Mr. King. He told me at lunch today that the Prime Minister might discuss with you the advisability of appointing an American Minister to Canada at an early date.

There is attached a brief telegram from our Legation in Ottawa summarizing the general political situation in Canada [not printed].