Here it is, enjoy! Mike Will come in at least two parts, file too big!
It is my contention that the British did not want to do Operation Overlord. I believe that we dragged them kicking and screaming to do this operation. I have assembled below some extracts from several books that helped me form this opinion. I have listed the books and all information needed for anyone to acquire the books. I did not type in footnotes, but if you want a footnote, please state so and I will type it in as soon as possible. I did not try to “Cherry pick”, but I have not gone through my entire library yet to look for more evidence to support or disprove my opinion. My opinion was formed by reading lots and lots of history books; I was not born with this opinion. As I find more evidence one way or the other I will post it for all to read.
Things to remember:
1. If I made a comment at the bottom of a passage I clearly state that it is my opinion.
2. To General Marshall OVERLORD and ANVIL were linked, to him they were part of the same operation, not two separate operations.
3. All spelling errors are mine and any British spellings have been changed to the American version.
4. If you read something and it does not make sense, it may be because I missed a line while typing it in, contact me and I will correct it.
5. If you disagree with my opinion, please list the books and passages that show that I should change my mind
6. Arguing that “well the British did participate in Operation Overlord!’ Does not disprove my contention.
“Partners in Command”, by Mark Perry (ISBN 978-0-14-311385-0 (pbk))
. . Then too, Franklin Roosevelt was now firmly on his side in arguing for the invasion of France. Overlord, the president had decided, should take precedence over any other campaign. 2 As Marshall knew, Great Britain’s opposition to Overlord now rested on shaky foundations-that Germany could somehow be defeated from the air, that its forces could be fatally degraded by attacks in the Mediterranean or the Balkans, that pinpricks at its periphery would spell and end to Hitler’s Reich.
. . Franklin Roosevelt’s commitment to confronting the British prime minister (if such a confrontation was necessary) with an American insistence that the time had come, finally, to fight the Germans in northwestern Europe. Marshall knew, of course, that the U.S. had made the arguments at Arcadia and Casablanca and again with Churchill in Algiers. And each time, he also knew the British had deftly sidestepped the issue, postponing the invasion to some uncertain future date. Now, with Roosevelt firmly on his side, Marshall believed the British would have to face the inevitable. Roosevelt’s willingness to finally confront Churchill was essential if Marshall was to win his battle against Brooke.
. . . The stage was set for yet another confrontation between George Marshall and Sir Alan Brooke, a face-off that was now a traditional part of every Anglo-American meeting. Indeed, the battle lines of Quebec were drawn early in the conference when the two commanders engaged in a heated and painfully blunt discussion on the invasion of Europe. As always, Brooke’s soaring opinion of his own strategic (page 216) sense served to deepen Marshall’s suspicions, while the American chief’s continued intransigence on Overlord seemed (at least to Brooke) yet another sign of American strategic simplicity. When Marshall insisted that the Combined Chiefs specify a date for France’s invasion, Brooke fired a salvo at the American commander. This was the same old argument, he said, that was being put forward solely because of Marshall’ amateurish understanding of warfare. The chief of staff simply did not “begin to understand a strategic problem,”7 Marshall responded heatedly. The problem was not America’s, but Brooke’s and his inability to understand that diverting resources from a cross-Channel attack to conquer Italy would not defeat Germany, but only postpone the ending of the war. . .
. . . So, for one last time, the British prime minister attempted to convince Roosevelt to postpone Overlord.12 But it was too late, and Churchill retreated for the first time since the beginning of the war. He was heartbroken: “Italy was now to pass through the most tragic time in her history and to become the battle-ground of some of the fiercest fighting of the war, “ he later wrote. 13
Page 236 (Tehran)
. . . In his first meeting with Roosevelt and Churchill, Stalin peremptorily dismissed Churchill’s talk of hitting Hitler’s “soft underbelly.” Overlord, he announced, was his priority. 79 The next day Stalin’s view were reinforced by Soviet Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, who met privately with the American and British chiefs. An imposing man and veteran of the Soviet-German war on the eastern front, Voroshilov questioned Marshall and Brooke on the invasion of France. Brooke, as was his wont, was irritated by the questioning, thought that Voroshilov was being simplistic, and immediately dismissed him as a superficial thinker. 80 Voroshilov was not intimidated. Did Brooke support the cross-Channel invasion as much as Marshall or not? Brooke was silent, jaw set, clearly irritated by anyone who dared question his views-let alone a Russian. But he could no longer hedge. Yes, he said, he supported Overlord, but added, as if the question were of little moment, that the British had “always” considered Overlord essential. . .
. . . Marshall knew about Stalin and was blunt in speaking about his reputation (he was a “tough SOB who made his way by murder” and “not a Foreign Service officer”), but Marshall was tickled by Stalin’s continued needling of Churchill about Hitler’s soft underbelly. “He was turning the hose on Churchill all the time,” Marshall remembered, “and Mr. Roosevelt, in a sense, was helping him.”82 Inevitably, as the conference drew to a close, Stalin reiterated the importance of the cross-Channel operation. Overlord should be carried forward and not postponed, not for any reason, he emphasized. It should also be reinforced by landings in southern France, he said, and a supreme commander to head the operation should be named at once.83 (my comments: why would the soft underbelly be brought up at this time when the invasion of France had been decided on? Was Churchill fishing for support in order to out vote the Americans 2 to 1?)
. . . The diversion of resources first to North Africa, then to Sicily, and finally to Italy sidetracked this initiative, frustrated Marshall, and threatened to institutionalize British thinking-to peel away German strength by attacks on its periphery. In the more than two years since, British insistence on invading Europe’s soft underbelly, had provided endless teeth-gnashing moments for the chief of staff, but Marshall had come to understand the constant British hesitations. While the Americans were still capable of getting there “the firstest with the mostest,” a methodical village-by-village war of attrition in France was a British nightmare. The British were scraping the bottom of the manpower barrel, and the effects of this were being felt on the field of battle. . .
. . . So who postpone the inevitable reckoning with Hitler’s legions? That question was finally answered to Marshall’s satisfaction when Churchill’s physician sidled up to him during a particularly contentious debate with the British Chiefs: “You are fighting the Battle of the Somme,” he said.27
Eisenhower told Marshall that he had grave doubts about the Allied landing at Anzio, despite Churchill’s Italy obsession. At the same time, he supported plans to carry out landings in southern France, code-named Anvil, that would coincide with D-day. Marshall agreed strongly on both points and noted his concern that in the immediate aftermath of Overlord the Allied right flank would be “in the air,” unprotected and vulnerable to a German counterattack.54 Anvil, he said, must go forward. Marshall was also worried that Eisenhower would be forced to concede resources to other combat theaters, resources that would be needed on Normandy’s beaches. The Anzio landing presented a major obstacle. A continued stalemate in Italy would rob Overlord of badly needed landing craft. The landing-craft issue was particularly knotty, as continuing offensive operation in the Pacific demanded the constant deployment of newly produced LSTs . . .
. . . Marshall had worked and fought with the British Chiefs of Staff for three years, and over those three years, he had learned a salient lesson. The British might retreat in the face of American political power, but they would never surrender. They had killed Sledgehammer and Roundup and had gotten their way in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. They might now claim that they supported Overlord, but Marshall was cautioning Eisenhower not to be fooled. They played the international political game well, because they had in large part invented it. Churchill and Brooke would do anything to impose their vision of the war on Americans, even if that meant hobbling or even killing Overlord. That Eisenhower was supreme Allied commander, that he was to head the largest military force in the world, meant nothing. Marshall girded himself for one final battle and signaled to his chief lieutenant that he expected and would demand his support. It is eminently clear from Marshall and Eisenhower’s exchanges in the wake of Montgomery’s Overlord briefing that while Eisenhower was the supreme Allied commander, George Marshall was still his commanding officer. And in the wake of that exchange, Eisenhower reasserted his control of the Overlord planning process and then quietly but firmly put Anvil, which the British were busy strangling, back on the table.
. . . Marshall was not fooled and implied that British planner had purposely underestimated the number of soldiers who could be carried to the beaches in Overlord: “Combined planners in Washington figured a total personnel lift of 34,000” he said and went on to note: “There was a further difference in bases of calculation regarding U.S. combat loaders. London planners calculated on a total of 960m men per vessel in order to permit unloading in two trips. U.S. calculations are based on 1400 and Navy advises that landing boats are sufficient for unloading in two trips.”2 Put simply, the British figures were wrong.
Marshall’s message to the Combined Chiefs of Staff might seem best consigned to a footnote in Overlord’s planning, but Marshall had correctly discovered a hidden political agenda in the landing craft figures put forward by the British. In scaling back the numbers of men and landing craft available for Overlord, the British hoped to pressure Marshall and Eisenhower to see the logic of canceling Anvil. But their second purpose was even more important. They wanted to make more landing craft available for Mediterranean operations, where, not incidentally, they were in command. In the Combined Chiefs’ figures Marshall sniffed the nearly expunged odor of Arcadia, Casablanca, Quadrant, Trident, and Cairo, where the British prime minister and his chief lieutenant, Sir Alan Brooke, had continually opposed a landing in France in favor of lopping off the Germans in Italy. Marshall suspected that after three years of debate, the British- and Winston Churchill in particular-were still attempting to make more resources available to Wilson and Alexander. The memory of the Somme and the Marne was ever present in these British calculations. But Marshall was having none of it. When Churchill insisted that the landing craft issue be discussed in person, Marshall snapped back. Having warned Eisenhower that the Sledgehammer and Roundup game was still on, and having been reassured by his chief lieutenant that he would not cave in to “localities,” Marshall was determined to leave the issue of Anvil in his hands. Marshall’s message to the British chiefs had its desired effect. By March 10 this last-gasp attempt to divert resources from Overlord was defeated and Anvil was reconfirmed. Churchill was disappointed, but Brooke, having already calculated that Marshall had won this round, was laconic. They would fight another day. Brooke went to Churchill to convince him to drop his Anvil objections.
Having thus raised saying no to an art form and for once following his instincts, Eisenhower must have wished that he had done so back in November, when common sense told him that Shingle, the landing of the Allies at Anzio, would not work. By mid-February, just four months later, it was clear not only that his judgment had been correct; but that the British claim that the Germans could be bled down by snipping at their periphery was having precisely the opposite effect. Not only were thousands of American troops now penned in by the resourceful Albert Kesselring, but 263 landing craft that were suppose to come to Eisenhower in Shingle’s wake might now have to used to lift Allied troops off the Italian beaches. Anzio was a disaster.
. . . But even with Anvil approved, Churchill turned maudlin, even tearful. “When I think of the beaches of Normandy choked with the flowers of American and British youth and when in my mind’s eye I see the tides running red with their blood I have my doubts-I have my doubts Ike, I have my doubts.”34
Organizer of Victory 1943-1942, George C. Marshall, by Forrest C. Pogue (SBN 670-33694-7)
Marshall got much less than he had wanted. However he had been fairly certain before he came to Casablanca that he must accept a campaign against Sardinia or Sicily. To a disappointed Stimson, positive that the cross-Channel operation was still in jeopardy, Marshall later explained that he had accepted the operation against Sicily because (1) there were sufficient troops in the Mediterranean for the attack, (2) British Intelligence believed that the Luftwaffe had been severely depleted and that this was the best way to prevent its recovery, and (3) the British refused to go along with the cross-Channel operation for the present. . .
At the same time the Americans demanded a firm agreement on long-range strategy. They needed to set goals for the military production and allot men and supplies for the various theaters. Even now Marshall did not know how many divisions and air groups would be needed to finish the job. More to the point, he feared that lack of a firm commitment on a 1944 invasion of the Continent would mean its postponement until 1945. And long postponement might bring new diversions of operations.
In March 1943 the U.S. Chief of Staff for the first time spoke of the political importance of going across the Channel. He suggested that serious problems might arise if the Allied drive from the west into Germany fell behind Russian advances from the east. If the Allies “were involved at the last in Western France and the Russian Army was approaching German soil,” he warned, “there would be a most unfortunate diplomatic situation immediately involved with the possibility of a chaotic condition quickly following.”
Despite his fears over delays in the cross-Channel invasion, Marshall kept an open mind about the next phase of operations. He was willing to consider limited moves on the Italian mainland after attacks on Sicily or Sardinia. During the Casablanca meeting he had even suggested to Eisenhower that if they could advance into Sicily from Tunisia on the heels of withdrawing Axis forces, the might cash in on the resulting confusion to gain a great success very cheaply. He was equally receptive to exploiting a Sicilian victory. In his willingness to grasp a sudden advantage, the Chief of Staff showed that he was not wedded exclusively to an early cross-Channel attack.
So far as future strategic planning was concerned, Marshal was firmly set on the cross-Channel attack. He told Roosevelt on May 2 that the Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed following the invasion of Sicily with an attack on the Italian mainland. Marshall did not go into all the reasoning that lay behind this conclusion at his meeting with the President. But it was the consensus of Marshall and his colleagues that in all future operations in the Mediterranean they wanted to emphasize aid to Russian and, except for air attacks, exclude operations east of Sicily.
In talking with Stimson the day following his discussion with Marshall, the President said that the Allies should go to Sicily but not be drawn into Italy. To Stimson’s amusement the President added that he hoped that the Chief of Staff would go along with his views. . . .
On May 9, while the British party was still at sea, the Joint Chiefs of Staff outlined their strategic views in greater detail for the President and won his agreement that their principal objective would be “to pin down the British to a cross-Channel invasion of Europe at the earliest practicable date and to make full preparations for such an operation by the spring of 1944.” Although pleased that the President accepted the proposals “in principle,” Marshall admitted to Stimson that he was not certain exactly what this entailed. The Secretary of War agreed that they might have a repetition of 1942, when the Prime Minister had managed to sell the President on Torch.9. . .
Realizing that it was essential to win Marshall to his side, the Prime Minister made every effort to conciliate him and graciously included him in any honors intended for himself. He addressed his arguments principally to the American Chief at the meeting in Eisenhower’s villa the following afternoon, stressing the importance he attached to the build-up for the cross-Channel attack and emphasizing the desire of the British people and the British Army to fight across the Channel. General Marshall was guarded in his comment, neither rejecting nor accepting an operation on the mainland of Italy after the Sicilian invasion. He stuck to his suggestion of setting up two planning groups, one to study an operation against Corsica and Sardinia and the other to consider moves against the mainland of Italy. When it was clear which should be attempted, all resources would be shifted to that attack. The Prime Minister would have preferred a more specific commitment from the Americans but was satisfied when Eisenhower indicated that if Sicily were polished off easily, he would be willing to go straight into Italy proper.6
The Prime Minister next trained his heavy on Eisenhower. On the evening of the thirtieth, while General Marshall and Colonel McCarthy were visiting Eisenhower’s forward headquarters between Tunis and Bizerte, Churchill sought to allay American fears that the British were attempting to delay a cross-Channel attack. Sensing that Churchill’s real purpose was to press for further action against Italy, Eisenhower explained that his opportunity for exploitation was somewhat limited by the string the Chief of Staff had placed on seven divisions, which were to be shifted to Britain by November.7
In an earlier conversation with Churchill, the Secretary of War stressed his and Marshall’s conviction that it was essential to launch a cross-Channel attack in 1944. Seizing on the Prime Minister’s interest in the 1944 presidential election and the change of administration that might result, Stimson said there was a danger that by getting United States involved in the eastern Mediterranean in which Americans were not interested Britain might raise an issue that “would be used against the Administration in the campaign.” Only by an intellectual effort had the Americans been convinced that Germany and not Japan was the most dangerous enemy that must be eliminated first: “. . . the enemy whom the American people really hated, if they hated anyone, was Japan which had dealt them a foul blow to the prestige of the President’s war policy.”32
The Prime Minister knew a telling political argument when he heard one, and he tried to offset it with an emotional reference to a Channel filled with corpses, an illusion he mad to Stimson several times. The Secretary went at him “hammer and tongs,” charging that he continued to oppose the cross-Channel venture and was “hitting us in the eye.” Churchill admitted that if he were Commander-in-Chief he “would not figure the [cross-Channel] operation,” yet having made his pledge he would go through with it loyally. He said he was not insisting on going farther than Rome “unless we should by good luck obtain a complete Italian capitulation throwing open the whole of Italy as far as the northern boundary.” Although he had no desire to send troops into the Balkans, he indicated that munitions and supplies would be sent to the foes of the Germans in that area. Stimson feared that Eden wanted to carry the war into Greece and the Balkans generally and that Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa and Empire elder statesman whose advice was often sought by the British leader and the War Cabinet, was encouraging Churchill against the cross-Channel operation. Stimson reminded Roosevelt and Marshall that the Prime Minister “was looking so constantly and vigorously for an easy way of ending the war without a trans-Channel assault, we must be constantly on the lookout against Mediterranean diversions.”
Persuaded from his talks with Churchill and Eisenhower that the British were wavering in their commitment to OVERLORD, Secretary Stimson returned to the United States convinced that the operation would be carried out only if an American was named Supreme Commander and if that American was George Marshall. . .
Since June, General Marshall had seen in every proposal from London the counsel of further delay. Even a plan for the peaceful occupation of the Azores, intended to protect the Portuguese islands from possible German attack, contained a whiff of diversionary tactics. The Chief of Staff strongly urged Roosevelt not to give the British an opportunity “to get out of doing OVERLORD.” OVERLORD was the latest designation for a cross-Channel attack, replacing earlier code names such as ROUNDUP, SLEDGEHAMMER, and ROUNDHAMMER. The build-up for cross-Channel activities continued under the name BOLERO.1
For at least six weeks before Roosevelt and Churchill and their staffs met at Quebec (the QUADRANT conference) in August 1943, General Marshall’s advisers searched for a formula that would-in General Wedemeyer’s words-“stir the imagination and win the support of the Prime Minister if not that of his recalcitrant planners and chiefs of staff.”2
In a memo to General Handy, Wedemeyer reviewed the three possible approaches: cross-Channel or Mediterranean operations or the use of air bombardment and blockade, “and of course there could be various combinations and permutations of these.” Marshall himself still strongly favored the cross-Channel approach as the one most likely to result in victory over Germany in 1944.
London had no monopoly on shifting views. As the Allies became deeply immersed in Mediterranean operations, even some of Marshall’s close advisers despaired of mounting a cross-Channel attack the following spring-among them Brigadier General John E. Hull, Chief of the Operations Division’s Theater Group. One of the original authors of the cross-Channel approach, Hull developed doubts as he saw the resources intended for the build-up in the United Kingdom drained away southward. He reluctantly concluded that the Allies must seek a final decision in the Mediterranean.3
Hull won some support for shelving OVERLORD from the Navy representative on the Joint Planners Staff, Admiral Cooke. Seeing an opportunity to push Pacific operations, Cooke, who never slept when there was a chance to aid that area, suggested that OVERLORD might be reduced to an emergency effort. The bulk of the remaining resources could then go to the Mediterranean and Pacific. His Army and Air Forces opposite numbers, Wedemeyer and Kuter, disagreed with Cooke; they insisted that conditions had not changed sufficiently to justify reversing the earlier concept.4
Consequently the move to downgrade OVERLORD gained little headway in Washington. Moreover, even faith in the operation seemed to flicker in certain American quarters, it flared up in London. Under General Morgan, the COSSAC staff at Norfolk House was now hard at work on plans for a cross-Channel invasion to be undertaken in the spring. After TRIDENT the Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander had received a supplementary directive to prepare an operation with a target date of May 1, 1944, in order to secure a lodgment on the Continent from which the Allies could launch further operations against Germany. In addition Morgan was to plan on the assumption that he would have in the United Kingdom twenty-nine divisions, nine of them to be used in the assault. He was directed to start expansion of logistical facilities in the United Kingdom and have an outline plan ready for submission by August1.5
The presence in London of this active planning staff, strongly British in make-up, gave an OVERLORD operation for 1944 an immediacy that it had hitherto lacked. Although at times a frustrated General Morgan felt that his headquarters was being used by his own people as window dressing for an operation that they did not intend to carry out, he worked at his mission faithfully. He convinced Secretary Stimson of his sincerity during the latter’s visit to the United Kingdom in July and earned the warm approval of General Marshall, who considered making Morgan his Chief of Staff if he commanded the invasion forces.6
. . . At last it was possible for discussion to proceed on the basis of a specific plan for a specific invasion. Although lacking almost everything except the paper on which it was written, the plan had been made. General Marshall was encouraged to learn from Major General Ray W. Barker, Morgan’s American second in command, who came to brief the Chief of Staff before the Quebec meeting, that OVERLORD was strongly backed by the British planners, as well as by General Sir Bernard Paget, commander of 21 Army Group, whose force would furnish British troops for the operation. But Barker conveyed a word of caution: the Prime Minister was still keenly interested in further expansion in the Mediterranean and the Aegean, and when the British Chiefs of Staff came under his “sun lamp,” they were likely to warm to his designs.8
To counter the Prime Minister’s seductive fluency, Marshall since early July had been impressing his views on the President. On July 25 he explained to him that Churchill’s strategy was based on the belief that continued Allied pressure would be sufficient to force political and economic collapse of German rule in the occupied countries. If the Prim Minister’s analysis was wrong, his strategy led to a war of blockade and attrition that the American people would not support. Confronted with such a protracted struggle, they would prefer to seek a decision in the Pacific. . .
But the New World could be stubborn about the redressing. Sir John Dill had warned the British Chiefs of Staff that Marshal and his colleagues were in a very positive mood about future strategy. At Hyde Park the Prime Minister discovers that the President, formerly receptive to alternative suggestions, was firmly set on OVERLORD.
Actually the Americans wee less adamant than they appeared. Indeed Brooke indicated on August 15 that there appeared to be no fundamental divergence in their positions. He supported OVERLORD as the chief operation for 1944, suggesting that the Italian offensive be planned with this in mind. Thus far there was no wide disagreement. But in restating COSSAC’s requirements for a viable OVERLORD plan-(1) reducing enemy fighter strength, (2) holding down German Strength in France and the Low Countries to manageable proportions, and (3) solving the problem of maintenance over the beaches-Brooke seemed to list them in a way that led straight to the Mediterranean.17
Brooke habitually blamed Churchill for frightening the Americans by talking of greater commitments elsewhere, but in this instance, even before the Prime Minister appeared on the scene, it was the Chief of the Imperial General Staff who roused their fears. Brooke suggested that the offensive lines across the neck of Italy, currently considered the northern limit of Allied advance, be regarded merely as the first stage of future operation and that they should try to seize areas to the north as well. From this vantage point it might be possible to drive into southern France. (This route had been proposed earlier by Admiral Leahy in a meeting of the American Chiefs of Staff, but Marshall had ruled it out since the advance would be through extremely rough terrain.)18
The Americans had anticipated that the visitors might force a postponement of OVERLORD by continued expansion in Italy. To King it seemed that Brooke had confirmed that suspicion. Rejecting the assumption that only Italian operations could pave the way to cross-Channel success, the Admiral declared that the required preconditions could be met by gains on the Russian front or by the air offensive then in progress from the United Kingdom. A little less rigid, Marshall was willing to take as much of Italy as weak opposition permitted. He agreed with Portal that it would be better for the Allies if they, rather than the Germans, held the airfields in the north, but shared Arnold’s belief that the same aerial results could probably be gained from fields in the area of Florence. He was willing to capitalize on enemy weakness but not to build a major front on the Italian mainland.
Having conceded something to Brooke, Marshall insisted that if OVERLORD was not given overriding priority, the slippage already evident in planning would continue and the operation would not take place. His bite was in the conclusion: if OVERLORD was out for 1944, then the whole strategy might have to be recast and the United States effort in Great Britain reduced to providing a reinforced corps for a return to the Continent in case of German weakness or collapse.19
Predictably Marshall’s attitude irked Brooke. The morning had been a bitter one for the British Chief. Almost abruptly the Prime Minister had informed him that the Supreme Command, promised to him earlier, was not to be his; now a painful day became intolerable. Finding Marshall unyielding on OVERLORD, Brooke hastily assumed that the General had not even read Morgan’s plan and was unaware of the relation between cross-Channel and the Italian campaign. He apparently was unaware that Morgan’s American Deputy, General Barker, had earlier briefed Marshall and his colleagues on the plan and that they had carefully considered the part Italian operations might play in aiding landings in the north. He had heard from Dill that on this point the American Chief of Staff was adamant and had even threatened to resign if the British pressed for major operations in Italy.20 . . .
Amid this prevailing tension it was not surprising that the British and the Americans continued to strike sparks from each other. On the sixteenth, after chasing all planners and secretaries from their conference, the Combined Chiefs explored their differences with brutal frankness. Brooke pleaded with the Americans for a greater show of mutual confidence. The Americans thought the British were not wholehearted about the cross-Channel attack, he noted, while he and his colleagues feared that the Americans would demand that OVERLORD be carried out even if the strategic situation in Europe changed. He conceded that he and his colleagues had continued to withhold final acceptance for the cross Channel effort while the Americans, despite their strong arguments, had adjusted to every strategic change in the Mediterranean.21
Brooke laid the blame for the misunderstanding squarely on Churchill. With the Prime Minister constantly dredging up alternatives, Brooke complained, the Americans believed that he would continue to wonder far afield in the hope that the German question could somehow be settled without a direct confrontation on the Continent. This was indeed what they believed. It was not failure to understand the possible value to OVERLORD of victories in Italy that caused Marshall to question British aims, but the obvious ill effects on the build-up in the United Kingdom that would result from a long-drawn-out fight in the Mediterranean.
. . . Consequently it was arguable that continuation of the advance up the boot hardly constituted the logical preparation for OVERLORD. Instead it appeared to be an attempt to avoid coming to grips with the main enemy in the spring of 1944.
In the final dissection of OVERLORD the Prime Minister reiterated that the British would accept the operation only if certain conditions as to the limits of German strength had been met. If it appeared that the enemy’s ground or air strength was greater than the acceptable maximum, the launching of OVERLORD must be reviewed by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. Despite the opposition of his advisers he suggested that JUPITER, his perennial favorite, be developed as a second string to their bow. Brooke wince at the effect this alternative might have on the Americans. Churchill and his advisers stipulated that, as agreed at TRIDENT, seven divisions would be returned from the Mediterranean to the United Kingdom unless the strategic situation required a review of that provision. In addition he insisted that the invasion force for OVERLORD be increased by 25 per cent. In this requirement, at least, Marshall and his colleagues were in accord with the British.
On September 9, as Clark’s force landed at Salerno, the Prime Minister resumed his effort to win the Chief of Staff’s support. Churchill showed Marshall and the other Chiefs a paper he proposed to submit to the President at a White House conference later in the day in which he outlined action to follow the expected surrender of Italy. . . This limited objective was most acceptable to the Americans as was his assurance that “There can be no question of whittling down OVERLORD.”26
Roosevelt and Churchill, the Admiral related, had each taken familiar stands in their play for Stalin’s approval-the President extolling cross-channel and the Pacific campaigns and the Prime Minister pointing out that the Mediterranean activities, though secondary, were vital to Russia. To the delighted surprise of the Americans, Stalin had made quick work of the Prime Minister’s arguments. He declared that the Western Allies must concentrate on OVERLORD and, as a diversionary action, make a landing in southern France, preferably well in advance of the landings in the north. He had disappointed Churchill by dismissing the likelihood of Turkey’s entrance into the war and ruling out proposed operations in the eastern Mediterranean. Nor had he been interested in further campaigns in Italy, citing Marshal Suvorov, who had fought French revolutionary armies there in 1799 and 1800, on the difficulties of fighting in the Alps. The British were appalled to find the Russians backing United States strategy for the future. . .
Brooke drew the Russian’s fire by arguments against landings in southern France prior to OVERLORD. Voroshilov observed that General Marshall’s remarks indicated that the United States considered OVERLORD of the first importance. “He wished to know if General Brooke also considered the operation of first importance. He wished to ask both Allies whether they think that OVERLORD must be carried out or whether they consider that it may be possible to replace it by some other suitable operation when Turkey has entered the war.”31 . . .
Brooke brusquely replied that the British had always considered OVERLORD an essential part of the fight against Germany but were determined that it should be launched when it had the best chance of success. He thought that these conditions existed for 1944. Forces were currently being brought back to mount the operation, but efforts to keep a May 1 date would bring operation to a halt in the Mediterranean.
Concluding that Brooke was stalling, Voroshilov cannily apologized for his failure to understand but persisted that “he was interested to know whether General Brooke. . . considered OVERLORD as important an operation as General Marshall had indicated that he did.” The British commander bristled at his pressure, replying that he deemed it of vital importance but that he was familiar with the defenses of northern France, and he did not wish to see the operation fail.
Voroshilov pursued his advantage. Agreeing that diversionary operations in the Mediterranean would be valuable, he insisted that the Allies should decide that OVERLORD was the key operation and that all the other operations “must be planned to secure OVERLORD . . . and not to hurt it.”
Marshal, already on record against the proposed Rhodes operation, predicted that it would probably delay the landings in southern France until mid-July. The British countered with several suggestions. Brooke referred to Eisenhower’s message saying that an assault on northern Italy might be more valuable to OVERLORD than an attack in southern France and that the landings in the south of France should be considered as only one of several means of aiding OVERLORD. Air Marshal Portal proposed that lift for one division be left in Italy until Rome fell and lift for one division be left in the Middle East until mid-February, when it would be known if Turkey would come into the conflict. If she did not, the craft could be sent to OVERLORD. General Marshall disagreed. This arrangement, he feared would divide the reserve of landing craft so that there would be no real strength anywhere. In the end a new operation-outlined by Churchill-would delay the shift of landing craft beyond the point Cunningham had considered wise.
From landing craft the Chiefs turned to the question of a date for OVERLORD. General Brooke conceded that unless a firm answer was given to the Russians, there was no point in continuing with the conference. But some embarrassment arose because the Western Allies had just promised the Russians that the operation would take place in May-the tentative date having been set at TRIDENT by splitting the difference between April 1, suggested by the Americans, and June 1, proposed by the British. . .
Churchill cleverly argued that the Tehran discussions had changed the conditions under which Roosevelt had promised Chiang Kai-shek to launch BUCCANEER. The Russians had now indicated their willingness to go to war against Japan as soon as Germany collapsed; the allies had told Stalin they would launch OVERLORD in May; and there was now a firm agreement to land in southern France. The President, chagrined at the prospect of hiving to disappoint the Generalissimo, urged that Mountbatten be instructed to stage the best operation he could with the resources he had at hand. Brooke tried to make the decision more palatable by arguing that it might be wise to diver the landing craft from BUCCANEER to provide a three-division lift for the operation in southern France. Before many months he and his colleagues would argue that a one division diversionary attack would be sufficient. This was an instance of the opportunism that made the Americans suspicious of Brooke.
Although BUCCANEER was dropped, General Marshall could feel gratified that he had pinned down the British to a May date for the invasion of northern France and to an assault on southern France. He was not opposed to further advances in Italy or even in the eastern Mediterranean if they did not use resources earmarked for OVERLORD and ANVIL. But he wanted no further diversions from other theaters to Mediterranean “sideshows.”
Montgomery had sensed his advantage on examining the COSSAC plan. If the Americans wanted to succeed in the operation for which they had argued so eloquently, they would have to give way on the landings in southern France or force King to disgorge part of his landing craft in the Pacific. Montgomery opened the game with a bid that ANVIL be dropped at once, and the southern operation reduced to a threat only. In transmitting this word to Eisenhower, still in Washington, General Smith strongly agreed.7
To General Marshall this argument was another British device aimed against cross-Channel itself. The attack in southern France was closely lined, he believed, to the success of OVERLORD. He was prepared to see the northern front broadened, but he wanted to be certain that everything had been done to find the landing craft elsewhere before abandoning the ANVIL assault.
The Chief of Staff’s view was reflected in Eisenhower’s reply from Washington on January 5, 1944. Although strongly favoring a broader based OVERLORD-a view he had expressed before leaving the Mediterranean- he agreed with Marshall that ANVIL could not be merely a threat. He left the door open to the acceptance of Montgomery’s proposal, however, by saying that only if OVERLORD could not be broadened without abandoning the landings in southern France would he consider it.8
The British Chiefs of Staff quickly sided with Montgomery; they notified the Prime Minister on January 14 that the proposed reduction of ANVIL to a one-division threat would not run counter to the Allied commitment at Tehran: “OVERLORD will be launched in May, in conjunction with a supporting operation against the south of France on the largest scale that is permitted by the landing craft available at that time.”9
It was this seemingly constant search by the British for a loophole that upset the Americans, who saw carefully wrought compromises dissolving into meaninglessness. Eisenhower was clear about Marshall’s viewpoint before he left for London on the evening of January 13. Four days later he assured the Chief of Staff that while most people there, including Montgomery and Smith, wanted a major reduction in ANVIL, he would not favor that except as a last resort. His resolve seemed fairly firm, but this last statement appeared to open the door to acceptance of London’s views. He conceded that the Allies must keep in mind the promise to the Russians and the Allied investment in the French army that was to be used in southern France. But he added, “It is with such reasons as these in mind that I am determined to uncover every single expedient for increasing the initial weight of the OVERLORD attack before I am willing to recommend any great weakening of the ANVIL project.” It was a dilemma that he could not resolve.10
The situation had been made worse by recent developments in Italy. While Eisenhower and Marshall talked of cross-Channel preparations, plans had been readied for an attack at Anzio that was to affect profoundly their ideas for landing in southern France simultaneously with OVERLORD. Churchill had set the Mediterranean pot to boiling again.
Anzio’s delays added daily to the problem of OVERLORD and increased the likelihood of ANVIL’s postponement. Rather than speeding the larger operation, Churchill’s gamble, in which Marshall and Eisenhower had acquiesced, became a serious drain. The effect of the Italian battle was studied anxiously in London and Washington.
Pressure had continued to build up in the United Kingdom through January for a reduction in the size of ANVIL. Still struggling to preserve the operation as more than a threat, Eisenhower acknowledged that Montgomery was justified in demanding a broader invasion front and a five division assault loaded for the cross-Channel attack. Casting about means of salvaging the assault in southern France, he was prepared to delay the launch of OVERLORD and ANVIL until the end of May, thus benefiting from an extra month of British production of LSTs at the cost of a month of good campaigning weather.21 To this proposal the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed within the week.
On the broader issues Eisenhower outlined his views formally to the Combined Chiefs of Staff on January 23. “OVERLORD and ANVIL,” he insisted, “must be viewed as one whole,” and he described the ideal as being a five-division OVERLORD and a three-or, at worst, two-division ANVIL. It was becoming clear that if there were not enough resources or both, he was prepared to accept a one-division ANVIL-but not without a nervous glance in Marshall’s direction.
Marshall did not know how completely Eisenhower was swinging to the London view, but he sensed that pressure was building up on the Supreme Commander and that Eisenhower was responding – as could be expected-to the situation closest at hand. In the past when Marshall had found commanders’ sore beset, he sought to bolster them by a firm statement of the American position. Now he did so by commenting dryly that the British and U.S. Chiefs of Staff seemed to have reversed themselves recently, with the Americans becoming Mediterraneanites and the British pro-cross Channel.
The U.S. Chiefs also believed that the British were exaggeration the alleged shortage of LST’s in Europe. They suspected that estimates on the serviceability of craft and the number of men that could be transported were far too low-a point on which the British agreed in later years. Acting for the Joint Chiefs, Marshall asked Eisenhower on what basis London planners were making their predictions.
Failing to get the information he desired, Marshall wrote Eisenhower unequivocally: “OVERLORD of course is paramount and it must be launched on a reasonably secure basis of which you are the best judge. Our difficulties in reaching a decision have been complicated by a battle of numbers, that is, a failure to reach a common ground as to what would be the actual facilities. As to this the British and American planners here yesterday afternoon agreed that there is sufficient lift to stage at least a 7 division OVERLORD and at the same time a 2-division ANVIL on the basis of May 31st.” But they found no such view in London where there “is an apparent disagreement with British planners . . . or Montgomery, I don’t know which.”
He added that if the Supreme Commander considered it “absolutely imperative” to send everything but one division lift to OVERLORD, “then it should be done that way.” He warned, however, that before the decision was finally made, eight to nine divisions in the Mediterranean that could have been brought in through southern France would not be on hand to assist Eisenhower’s main assault. Having dropped that shoe, he then asked, “Can you afford to lose this pressure, considering that we are almost certain to get an uprising in southern France to a far greater degree than in the north.”25
U. S. Army in World War II, The War in the Pacific, Strategy and Command: The First Two Years. By Louis Morton. Center of Military History, United States Army
It was at the Casablanca Conference that the Americans first used the Pacific as a counterbalance to the Mediterranean. Both bore somewhat the same relationship to global strategy. The British considered the Pacific; the Americans the Mediterranean, as the theater that threatened to drain away from the area of primary interest the resources of both allies. General Marshall was weel aware of this and deliberately lined the two when he warned the British that the threat of “another Bataan” in the Pacific “would necessitate the United States regretfully withdrawing from the commitments in the European theater.” 16 In doing so he served notice on the British that proposals for further offensives in the Mediterranean would be met with similar proposals for the Pacific. Thus used, Pacific strategy became a lever by which the Americans could exert pressure on the British to bring them back to the cross-Channel assault.
By taking this position at the start, the strategists pointed out, the U.S. Chiefs would be able to counter the anticipated insistence of the British on Mediterranean operations, and their reluctance to undertake the cross-Channel invasion, with the requirements of the Pacific theater.
Churchill As War Leader, by Richard Lamb. ISBN 0-88184-937-5
Stalin and his advisers argued fiercely with the British delegation that Torch in 1942, instead of a cross-Channel invasion, breached the commitment given to Molotov by the President and the Prime Minister for a second front that year. Churchill replied that he had been careful not to make any promise to Molotov. This was correct, but of course Roosevelt had made a firm commitment without Churchill’s consent. Finally Stalin, on hearing from Churchill an inspired defense of Anglo-American strategy, accepted the decision after Churchill had rashly promised a full-scale cross-Channel invasion in 1943. Then the meeting ended with a banquet in an atmosphere of cordiality. 30
This marked the high point in Churchill-Stalin relations during the war, but the Russian leader never forgave Churchill for not honoring his pledge for 1943. Despite the arguments of the Chiefs of Staff to the contrary, in Moscow in August 1942 Churchill had persuaded himself that Sledgehammer in 1943 was still possible despite carrying out Torch in the latter part of 1942. Later he admitted that he was too optimistic, but that his conscience was clear because “he did not deceive or mislead Stalin”. But the consequences were that Stalin never again trusted Churchill fully. Probably the Soviet policy of acquiring Poland and eastern Europe sprang from Stalin’s disillusionment over the breach of promise over a second front in 1943.
Churchill was overawed neither by his precarious political position at home nor by the daunting task ahead. He threw all his energies into organizing a confrontation with German armies as soon as possible so as to draw German strength off Russia. The alternative lay between waiting for roundup across the English Channel in 1943, or an attack in the autumn of 1942 on the French North African colonies. Churchill’s temperament was such that he could not bear the prospect of US and British armies staying idle until the spring of 1943, but he failed to realize that diverting resources to the Mediterranean must inevitably mean postponing Roundup until 1944 except for small-scale operations. He was deeply conscious of the promise he had made to Stalin, first for an attack in Europe in 1942, and then for a major cross-Channel assault in 1943. As the Russian military position became more and more precarious Churchill became more and more enthusiastic for the immediate combined British-American North African operation, Torch. As has been seen, both he and Roosevelt deluded themselves that Torch did not make a 1943 Roundup impossible.
On the day when Churchill proposed the Casablanca meeting to Stalin and Roosevelt he harangued the Cabinet at length about “swinging back toward s a Western Front” in 1943, and said repeatedly that North Africa must act as a “springboard” and not a “sofa” for future action. Previously he had urged attacks on Sardinia and Sicily. Brooke was concerned, knowing it was impossible to attack in the Mediterranean and the Channel at the same time. 17 He argued that the best plan was to eliminate Italy, bring in Turkey and finally to liberate France. He emphasized that all this depended on Russian “holding out”, but by the end of 1943 this seemed a “safe bet” because she had beaten off the attacks on Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad.
According to General Ismay, “the very word Balkan” was anathema to the Americans, and they were determined not to allow Churchill’s enthusiasm for the Aegean to “lead to our getting seriously involved in that part of the world and to a further postponement of Overlord.” During the Conference Eisenhower brushed aside the British commander’s arguments, but the British were lukewarm in their support of the Prime Minister.10
In Cairo the Prime Minister pleaded with Roosevelt that 68 landing craft, intended to depart on 15 December for Overlord, should remain in the Mediterranean, and that Wilson should be given the modest help he heeded to capture Rhodes. The Americans were up in arms at once. Ismay recorded that they were “haunted by the ghost of Gallipoli” and feared that Churchill, instead of backing Overlord to the hilt, wanted to get a footing in what they regarded as “his favorite hunting grounds, the Balkans. The Americans firmly ruled operations in the Aegean must be fitted in without any detriment to other operations.” Ismay commented: “that ruled them out altogether”. The Americans had valid reasons for their suspicions. Brooke wrote in his diary en route from Cairo to Teheran: “He [Churchill] is inclined to say to the Americans, “Alright, if you won’t play with us in the Mediterranean we won’t play with you in the English Channel.”17
When the Big Three met at Teheran . . Churchill told the Conference that the very large Anglo-American forces in the Mediterranean must not stay idle during the six months before Overlord began. He wanted them to advance to the Pisa-Rimini line in Italy, and to hold it with minimum forces while using their surplus troops to land either in the south of France or Istria in the northern Adriatic and advance t Vienna through the Ljubljana Gap. Churchill insisted that the immediate subsidiary objective should be to persuade Turkey to enter the war, to seize the Aegean islands and to open the Dardanelles for convoys to Russia.
Stalin did not agree. He was sure Turkey would not come into the war and did not much mind if they did not; he attached minor importance to opening the Dardanelles, pointing out that the last Arctic convoys had got through unscathed while the capture of Rome and northern Italy was desirable but not of great importance. Instead Stalin wanted Overlord to go ahead at the earliest possible moment, supported by as large an operation as possible in the south of France, compared to which taking Rome was “a mere diversion”. The Russian leader was keen to keep the Allies out of the Balkans and would not give any post-war promise to Turkey about the future of the Dardanelles.
Command Decisions, Office of the Chief of Military History United States Army
OVERLORD Versus the Mediterranean at the Cairo-Tehran Conferences
by Richard M. Leighton
(See Chapter 8 for information on the author.)
The long debate between U.S. and British leaders over the strategy of the European war reached a climax and a turning point at the great mid-war conferences at Cairo and Tehran late in 1943. Since the decision to invade North Africa, a year and a half earlier, the debate had focused on the war in the Mediterranean, the British generally advocating a bold, opportunistic strategy, the Americans a more cautious one. On the surface, they had disagreed on specifics rather than fundamentals. Few on the American side advocated complete withdrawal from the Mediterranean, and U.S. leaders were as quick as the British to respond to the opportunity offered by the disintegration of Italian resistance in early summer of 1943. They opposed the British primarily on the choice of objectives, especially east of Italy. For their part, the British never questioned the principle that the main attack against Germany in the West, and the decisive one, must eventually be made from the northwest (OVERLORD) not the south. In the meantime, they argued, aggressive operations in the Mediterranean were not merely profitable but even essential in order to waste the enemy's strength and to contain and divert enemy forces that might otherwise concentrate on other fronts. But the debate was embittered by American suspicions that the British intended somehow to sidetrack, weaken, or indefinitely postpone the invasion from the northwest, subordinating it to peripheral and indecisive ventures in the Mediterranean that would serve their own long-range political ends. Since the British consistently disclaimed such intentions, the issue of OVERLORD versus the Mediterranean could not be debated as such-and, indeed, cannot now be proved even to have existed outside the minds of the Americans. For them, nevertheless, it was the real issue, and the question actually debated at Cairo and Tehran,
(Emphasis added) (My comments: Perception is reality in the absence of FACTs!)