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|
|Brigadier General Deane|
|Lieutenant Colonel Vittrap|
Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes
May 18, 1943, 10:30 a.m. Secret
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:
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.
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.