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|
|Brigadier General Deane|
|Lieutenant Colonel Vittrup|
Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes
May 17, 1943, 10:30 a.m. Secret
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.
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
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.
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.