Chapter V: 
December 1941 - January 1942
The military conversations that began in Washington during the last week in December 1941, which accompanied the first wartime meetings of the President with the Prime Minister ( the ARCADIA Conference), gave the American military staffs the chance at once to reassure and to warn the British staff concerning the military- effects of American reaction to the Japanese attack.1 On 14 December the Prime Minister and his party, which included the British Chiefs of Staff, had set out on H. M. S. Duke of York. The War Department's preparations began on 18 December, on the receipt of a short message suggesting the agenda for the meetings, sent ahead by the British Chiefs of Staff. The British message listed five principal topics for the conference:
(i) Fundamental basis of joint strategy.
(ii) Interpretation of (i) into terms of immediate Military measures, including redistribution of forces.
(iii) Allocation of joint forces to harmonise with (i) .
(iv) Long term programme based on (i) , including forces to be raised and equipped required for victory.
(v) Setup joint machinery for implementing (ii), (iii) and (iv). 2
Several of the War Department planners, working together, hurriedly prepared "notes" on the British message.
Although the Army planners had something to say in their notes about each of the five points raised by the British Chiefs of Staff, the discussions among staff officers that followed and the discussions of the military leaders with the President amounted only to a reserved exchange of views on military dispositions in the near future.3 The President and the military leaders were extremely cautious and went into the conference without trying to define the American position. The preparations served chiefly to remind the President that the military staffs believed the United States and Great Britain would have all they could do to stop the Japanese and to remind the military staff that the. President was anxious to undertake in the Atlantic as strong a demonstration as possible of British and American

unity of purpose. The possible movements involving U. S. Army forces fell under five main headings: (1) establishment of an air force based in Australia; (2) strengthening of other positions in the Pacific, especially in Hawaii; (3) reinforcement of British troops in the Middle East; (4) "acquisition" of positions in the South Atlantic-in northeastern Brazil, the Cape Verde Islands, or on the western or northwestern coast of Africa; and (5) relief of British garrisons in Northern Ireland and Iceland (and of the U. S. Marine provisional brigade on duty in Iceland). The Army was most certain of the immediate need to undertake movements under the first heading, and the President was most precise about the immediate need for movements under the last heading.
The exchange of views indicated that the President and Chiefs of Staff were alike uncertain how to proceed with the discussion of strategy until they had had a chance to talk with their British opposites. As the conference was to show, much more clearly than had vet been shown-or could have been shown--the President and the Prime Minister as political leaders in some ways had more in common with each other than either had with his Chiefs of Staff. Likewise, the Chiefs of Staff-particularly those of the same service- might agree with one another more readily on what could be done than they could agree with the heads of their respective governments.
Churchill and his Chiefs of Staff arrived in Washington on 22 December; the Prime Minister and the President talked over the situation that evening. On 23 December they began military discussions with the Chiefs of Staff. They held another such meeting on 26 December and, after the Prime Minister's return from Ottawa, two other meetings (1 and 4 January). The Prime Minister than went to Florida for several days to rest. After his return he and the President held two more meetings with the Chiefs of Staff, on 12 and 14 January. Mr. Hopkins, Lord Beaverbrook, and (usually) the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy attended along with the Chiefs of Staff and the senior planners. At these plenary sessions at the White House the President and the Prime Minister reached or confirmed their military decisions, after a review of the conclusions of the Chiefs of Staff. 4
The Army planners apparently expected that, after the preliminary British-American meetings, the scope of military conversations would he extended to include the representatives of Australia, China, and the Soviet Union.5 But the military conversations at ARCADIA-Unlike the political conversations, which led to the drafting and signing of the Declaration of the United Nations involved only the British and American staffs.
The British and American Chiefs of Staff met together twelve times during the conference in an effort to reach agreement on the outstanding military problems so far as

possible before presenting them to the President and the Prime Ministers.6 General Marshall and General Arnold represented the Army at these meetings, which were held in the Federal Reserve Building, and the senior Army planner, General Gerow, or his deputy, General Eisenhower, also attended.7 To help formulate the problems for their meetings, the Chiefs of Staff relied on a committee of British and American planners, who met ten times during the conference. and who in turn divided up their work among subcommittees. The War Plans Division, the Air War Plans Division, and (for shipping questions) the G-4 Division furnished the Army members of these subcommittees.8
Grand Strategy
At the opening of the conference it was evident that the British delegation could take for granted American agreement on strategy up to the point to which the British-American staff conversations had gone earlier in the year. It remained the American view, notwithstanding the dangerous situation in the Pacific, that the basis of strategy must be collaboration among the powers at war with Germany, with the primary object of defeating Germany. The powers at war with Germany must increase their production of munitions and raise forces equal to the object and, while doing so, defend themselves at home, hold their strategic outposts as best they could, and weaken German resistance to the extent necessary to prepare for the final assault. The fullest statement of the American view, prepared in the War Department, was an affirmation of American agreement on these propositions, carefully worded so as to introduce no new element.9
The British retained their by then familiar view of strategy, looking ultimately to the establishment at various points in Europe of armored forces which, with the help of patriot forces rallying to the cause, would liberate occupied ,Europe and defeat Germany. Their theory of these operations, already stated by the British Chiefs in August 1941, the Prime :Minister restated at some length for the President, in a document drawn up during the voyage from England.10 His aim was to make full use of the advantages that the United States and Great Britain could expect to have-command of sea and air, and the aid of the people of occupied Europe. He envisaged landings,

perhaps as early as the summer of 1943, "in several of the following countries, namely, , Denmark, Holland, Belgium, the French Channel coasts and the French Atlantic coasts, as well as in Italy and possibly the Balkans." He explained:
In principle, the landings should be made by armoured and mechanised forces capable of disembarking not at ports but on beaches, either by landing-craft or from ocean-going ships specially adapted. The potential front of attack is thus made so wide that the German forces holding down these different countries cannot be strong enough at all points. An amphibious outfit must be prepared to enable these large-scale disembarkations to be made swiftly and surely. The vanguards of the various British and American expeditions should be marshalled by the spring of 1943 in Iceland, the British Isles, and, if possible, in French Morocco and Egypt. The main body would come direct across the ocean.
It need not be assumed that great numbers of men are required. If the incursion of the armoured formations is successful, the uprising of the local population, for whom weapons must be brought, will supply the corpus of the liberating offensive. Forty armoured divisions, at fifteen thousand men apiece, or their equivalent in tank brigades, of which Great Britain would try to produce nearly half, would amount to six hundred thousand men. Behind this armour another million men of all arms would suffice to wrest enormous territories from Hitler's domination. But these campaigns, once started, will require nourishing on a lavish scale. Our industries and training establishments should by the end of 1942 be running on a sufficient scale.11
According to the Prime Minister, the British Chiefs remained in accord with this theory of operations on the Continent and ready to urge the idea of "the mass invasion of the continent of Europe as the goal for 1943." in three phases; first, "Closing the ring"; second, "Liberating the populations"; and third, "Final assault on the German citadel." 12 But the version of British grand strategy that they presented for consideration to the American Chief --unlike the version they had presented in August- --was not at all explicit on the manner of invading the Continent, although quite explicit about British aims in the Mediterranean. This version, presented by the British Chiefs of Staff on their arrival in Washington, began with a statement of agreed principles, leading to the agreed conclusion "that only the minimum of force necessary for the safeguarding of vital interests in other theaters should be diverted from operations against Germany." The British Chiefs then went on to develop certain corollaries. First they listed the essential features of grand strategy:
The realisation of the victory programme of armaments; which first and foremost required the security of the main areas of war industry.
The maintenance of essential communications.
Closing and tightening the ring around Germany.
Wearing down and undermining German resistance by air bombardment, blockade, subversive activities and propaganda.
Maintaining only such positions in the Eastern theatre as will safeguard vital interests while we are concentrating on the defeat of Germany.
In elaborating on these statements the British Chiefs developed their theory of operations against Germany. 'The first

stage was that of "Causing and tightening the ring round Germany," which they defined as "a line running roughly as follows: Archangel--Black Sea-Anatolia-the Northern Seaboard of the Mediterranean-the Western Seaboard of Europe." They explained
The main object will be to strengthen this ring, and close the gaps in it, by sustaining the Russian front, by arming and supporting Turkey, by increasing our strength in the Middle East, and by gaining possession of the whole North African coast.
They looked forward to limited offensives on the Continent as the next stage, conceivably in 1942 but more probably in 1943, "either across the Mediterranean or from Turkey into the Balkans, or by simultaneous landings in several of the occupied countries of North-Western Europe." They proposed that the allocation of troops and materiel should provide for carrying out such operations as a "prelude" to the assault on Germany, the direction and scale of which would evidently depend on the development of these limited offensives.13
It was a foregone conclusion that the British representatives would reintroduce the concept of passing from the defensive to the offensive in the Mediterranean. As late as October, the War Department had had a reminder of the British adherence to this approach from Colonel Bundy, who had talked over future plans with British officers while he was en route to Moscow with the Harriman mission. As he reported, they looked forward to using North Africa "as a stepping stone to cutting Italy out, and finally closing in on the continent." As previously  instructed by General Marshall, Colonel Bundy had been entirely noncommittal as to the War Department view. 14
The American planners had remained noncommittal. They did not go so far as to propose that the United States should either accept or reject the British concept of the transition from the defensive to the offensive against Germany. Before 7 December the nearest they had come to stating a principle to govern decisions during the transitional period was to emphasize the need for economy of effort in "subsidiary'' theaters. They classified as subsidiary theaters not only the Far Fast but also Africa, the Middle Fast, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Scandinavian Peninsula, in accordance with their premise that the plains of northwest Europe constituted the main theater, where "we must come to grips with the enemy ground forces." 15 At the time of the ARCADIA Conference the Army planning staff again stated the idea of a great final offensive "with the main effort in Western Europe," which should be "made in conjunction with the strongest possible Russian offensive on the Eastern Front and secondary offensives wherever feasible." The staff was convinced that this must be the final step, seeing "no other area in which it would be feasible from a logistics viewpoint to transport and main-

tain forces required for an operation of such magnitude." 16 The Army planners were disposed to consider all other operations as strictly holding operations and to regard with disfavor any proposal to establish and maintain in a , "subsidiary" theater the favorable ratio of Allied to enemy forces that would be necessary in order to take the offensive there.
It appeared to the Army staff that the United States and Great Britain would in any event be compelled to act in accord with this view of strategy for several months to come. Thus from the American point of view there was no reason for dwelling on the principle for the time: being. The staff reached the following conclusions about American and British capabilities:
It appears that the best which Great Britain can do at the present time is to maintain its position in the British Isles and the Middle East and to attempt to send reinforcements to the Par East. Any British operation, other than those stated, must necessarily be of an opportunist nature, executed with exceedingly small forces and with very doubtful chances of success.
At the present time the United States can only inadequately defend its coasts against air raids, hold Hawaii, the Panama Canal and other existing bases, gradually complete the relief of the British in Iceland. reinforce the Philippines or Dutch East Indies, occupy Natal, and possibly occupy some other base not seriously defended by Axis forces or sympathizers (Cape Verdes or Azores) . It will be practicable and pray be necessary to send some armored or infantry divisions to the British Isles in the winter or spring . . . . The shortage of U. S. Hag shipping, there bring only enough to carry about 60.000 men simultaneously, precludes the possibility of executing more than one, or at most two, of these operations concurrently. 17
The Northwest Africa Project
The British Chiefs of Staff, on the other hand, had a specific reason for proposing at once that the American Chiefs of Staff should concur in the British view of the conduct of operations against Germany and specifically that they should accept the conception of "Closing and tightening the ring around Germany." The Prime :Minister was hoping for a chance to move soon into French North Africa and wanted American help. He was expecting a favorable American response if the war with Japan did not force the project into the background.18 He made his proposal at the opening meeting of the conference on 23 December at which he and the President told the Chiefs of Staff what they wanted done. He explained that there were 55,000 British troops and the necessary ships ready to move into Algeria in case Empire forces should gain a decisive enough advantage in the shifting war in the Libyan Desert to push westward to the Tunisian frontier. He therefore "offered for consideration the proposition that at the same time United States forces, assuming French agreement, should proceed to land on the 'Moroccan coast by invitation." 19

The current British successes in Libya were merely the latest occasion for reviving the expectation that influential French leaders might "incite" an Allied occupation of -North Africa, in anticipation of their being no longer bound or protected by the terms of the French-German armistice and their loyalty to the government at Vichy. The Prime Minister believed it essential to be ready to take advantage of this disposition, ill the hope of gaining Important military objectives at small cost. He hoped to seize the moment when the cost would be least-when French forces, released from their allegiance to any government in metropolitan France, might even help instead of opposing the operation -certainly much less than it would later become, when the Germans would have established political and military control over North Africa.
The American military staff was familiar with the project of occupying Trench North Africa. A statement of the advantages to be gained from such a move had appeared in a report written for the ,Joint Board in September:
Prevention of Axis penetration into Northwest Africa and the Atlantic Islands is very important, not only as a contribution to the defense of the Western Hemisphere but also as security to British sea communications and as a potential base for a future land offensive. In French North and West Africa, French troops exist which are potential enemies of Germany, provided they are re-equipped and satisfactory political conditions are established by the United States. Because the British Commonwealth has but few troops available and because of the unfriendly relations between the British and the Weygand regime it seems clear that a large proportion of the troops of the Associated Powers employed in this region necessarily must be United States troops. 20
In August 1041, during the stall' talks that accompanied the conference of the President arid the Prime Minister aboard the Prince of Wales, the British staff had mentioned the project as one of the means by which early American intervention would "revolutionize" the military situation. The American planners, in commenting on this point ill late September, had advised the Joint Board that the United States did not then have "land forces adequate in strength and suitably equipped for operations in North Africa." They added that the success of such an operation as the United State might launch would depend largely on co-operation by French forces, and that Trench co-operation was too uncertain to plan on. 21 This remained the American position till the time of the ARCADIA Conference.
American planning during 1941 had provided for assembling an expeditionary force for possible use in the South Atlantic during the period after full mobilization. The most ambitious task contemplated for such a force in joint Board plans under development before 7 December was the taking of Dakar. 22 More recently, the President had drawn special attention to this project.23 The War Department acted accordingly.

General Marshall ordered Maj. Gen. Joseph -. Stilwell to Washington with the intention of putting hire in command of an expeditionary- force to be made ready for an operation against Dakar. 24
Even this operation, according to the Army planning staff, was more than the United States should try. 25 Col. Matthew B. Ridgway had the occasion to explain for Vice President Henry A. Wallace why the United States should not carry out the operation. Ridgway explained that
. . . difficulties of troop movement and logistical support by sea of the forces required. would in my opinion, make this a very hazardous operation at this time, in view of shipping shortages and the ability of German and (iceman-controlled ford's to arrive' in that area much more rapidly than ours could.
I added that in my opinion there was a psychological factor of tremendous importance. Our first major effort must be insured of success beyond any reasonable doubt, for failure -would react to our profound disadvantage at home and abroad. 26
For operations in North Africa, against which these objections applied with even greater force, there was no developed Army-Navy plan, and the President had gone only so far as to say that the area should be studied in preparation for the ARCADIA conference.27
Apart from the current lack of means, the War Department staff objected to French North Africa as a theater of operations. The staff held that the landing forces would be fighting at a great disadvantage, since their lines of communication would be exposed to attack through Spanish-Morocco, and since lack of port facilities, railroads, and roads would slow the whole operation. The staff was also inclined to object to landings in northwest Africa as a diversionary operation, concluding that even the attainment of the final objective of control of all Forth Africa, although "tremendously favorable" to the anti-Axis powers, would be only an "indirect contribution to the defeat of the Nazis." 28  
After the Prime Minister had made his proposal, a far stronger statement of these views was drawn up by 'Maj. Gen. Stanley D. Embick, who continued to be Marshall's senior adviser on grand strategy. General Embick objected to the British views on operations in North Africa and the Mediterranean as "persuasive rather than rational" and as "motivated more largely by political than by sound strategic purposes." He objected first of all to the assumption that the control of North Africa was of so great strategic importance, dissenting from the "suggestion that Allied occupation of North Africa would restore to the Allies communications through the. 'Mediterranean" and from the "implication that North Africa would afford an advantageous area from which to launch an invasion of Europe." He went on to declare:
It is my conviction that under present conditions North West Africa is a theater far more favorable to the Germans than to ourselves. The British state their man power is exhausted. They propose 5,000 as their contribution to a joint force. This would be merely a token contribution to the Allied force

that would be required if that area becomes a theater of operations prior to the time the German military machine is materially weakened.
He specifically foresaw "continuous and heavy losses" of troop carriers and naval escort which the United States and Great Britain could ill afford and a serious risk of strong counterattack by German forces through Spanish Morocco, at the end of a line of communication "completely protected save for the short passage at the Strait." He concluded by expressing the conviction "that our acceptance of a commitment in North Nest Africa at this time, would prove to be a mistake of the first magnitude." 29
Whether or not Marshall shared this view, he was careful not to say.30 What he had to bear in mind was that the Prime Minister's proposal interested the President. As a political leader the President was obliged to weigh essentially political as well as "strictly" military needs in seeking common ground on which to conduct Allied military operations. Furthermore, the Prime Minister's proposal met one of his own political conditions for military strategy. The President explained that
. . . he considered it very important to morale, to give this country a feeling that they are in the war, to give the Germans the reverse effect, to have American troops somewhere in active fighting across the Atlantic. 31
To begin "Closing and tightening the ring round Germany" was a course of action obviously well adapted to this end. Throughout the conference the American Chiefs of Staff avoided debate on the soundness of the strategy of encirclement or of the proposed first step in carrying it out, the occupation of forth Africa. General Stilwell, who had just begun to study the Dakar operation, was reassigned to this operation.
The Planners Estimates of the Forces Required
The President's interest in the Prime Minister's proposal made the preparation of a preliminary estimate on operations in French North Africa the first business before the Chiefs of Staff and the planners. On 26 December the planners presented a draft paper on the "Northwest Africa Project," which served to show on what scale the operation would have to be begun, given little or no opposition to the landings and initial occupation and about three months before the Germans could mount a heavy counterattack from Spain. On the critical question of the size of the forces required, the paper was a compromise between American and British views. The American planners estimated the requirements for ground forces during the first three months at a somewhat higher figure than the original British estimate, and the ultimate requirement for both ground and air forces at about three times the figure proposed by the British planners. They compromised on an estimate of requirements for the first three

months of the operation- -six divisions (including two armored divisions), supported by a fair sized air force (385 aircraft), and by heavy antiaircraft defenses (114 heavy guns and 252 light guns) for port and base facilities. The American ground forces taking part would be an amphibious division, an armored division, and an infantry division. The American air units !the main body of the air force) would be two pursuit groups, one medium bomber group, one light bomber group, and one observation group. The British would furnish three divisions, three fighter squadrons (forty-eight planes), and the antiaircraft units. British and American forces would each provide their own service units.32
Behind this compromise lay a serious disagreement on the concept of ,the operation. The British originally proposed using only, one American division (a Marine division), and about four British divisions during the first three months. The Americans originally proposed using during the same period the equivalent of about one British and six American divisions (including one Marine and two armored divisions). The explanation of the difference was that the American planners anticipated, as the British did not, a need for sending lame forces into Algeria before the operation was over. The American planners in effect proposed that U. S. forces should carry out the operation in French Morocco and the British forces in Algeria, as the Prime Minister had indicated. They were willing to agree with the British planners that the initial British landing at Algiers should be on a small scale -one armored brigade ; about the same as an American regiment), one infantry brigade group (about the same as an American regiment reinforced), three fighter squadrons, and two antiaircraft regiments. But they anticipated that ultimately the eastward extension of British and American forces from their base on the Atlantic (at Casablanca) would involve large forces. How large, would depend on whether the area to be held would be only the triangle Casablanca-Agadir-Oran, or would include Algeria. Even in the former case, the American planners calculated that a ground force of five infantry divisions and two armored divisions, supported by an air force of seven pursuit groups and six to eight bombardment groups ( including three groups of heavy bombers) would he necessary. On this basis, the American estimate called for transporting over 200,000 men to North Africa as against the 100,000 men required in the British estimate. In case the operation wire extended further eastward to occupy and hold Algeria, the American planners foresaw the need for a force half again as large--about 300,000 men. 33
The American view, as the Army planning staff explained, was that if "the operation is worth undertaking it should be done in sufficient strength to give a reasonable chance of ultimate success." Although the staff' did not regard even the forces in the American estimate as large enough to be certain to hold against the

heaviest attack that the Germans might launch, the staff doubted that the Germans considered the area of enough importance to make so heavy an attack, and also pointed out that a force mainly dependent on the Atlantic ports and the rail and road communications therefrom could scarcely be much larger. 34
Although it was impossible to do any practical planning by simply splitting the difference between estimates based on two such different views of the North African project, it was necessary for the planners to agree at once on a tentative estimate for submission to the President and the Prime Minister.35 They therefore settled on a temporary compromise, whereby they presented- as upper and lower limits-two sets of figures for ground forces and a fairly high estimate for air forces (some 1,400 planes) with a qualification that the size of British and French forces would be "affected by the assistance that may be furnished by French and Spanish units in North Africa." The force was still not large enough, from the American point of view, to achieve the stated objective: "to hold French North Africa against possible German attacks through Spain and Italy and to open the Mediterranean route." But by stating this objective, the planners at least made it clear that the force had to be a large one, particularly in air units, which had to be strong enough to undertake "offensive air operations against Axis bases and ports in the Mediterranean area" on which counterattacks might be based. 36
The Report of the Shipping Experts
The planners at the same time presented a preliminary study of questions affecting the priority of projects in the Atlantic. The principal one was availability of troopships. Even before the opening of the conference the American staff had been well aware of the shortage of American troop shipping.37 Possibly the British had not fully realized how little American shipping would be available; if so, they very soon learned. On 24 December, at their first meeting, the British-American planners set up a special subcommittee., on which Brig. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell; Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, and his adviser on transportation, Col. Charles P. Gross, represented the Army, to investigate shipping requirements and availability of shipping. 38 This subcommittee

submitted a formal report on 26 December, with only a general statement on the British shipping shortage but with a complete breakdown of all American troop shipping. The total troop lift of existing American flag shipping of all types, including some ships not as yet converted to military use, came to about 200,000 men, but a very great part of it was already committed to maintaining present Army and Navy forces overseas and to sending reinforcements already ordered. The subcommittee calculated that the maximum American troop lift available for new operations in the Atlantic by mid-January would be about 25,000. Additional capacity would gradually become available in the Atlantic for new operations--about 18,000 by 1 February, about 15,000 more by 1 March, and an additional 24,000 by 1 April.39
The three divisions, air forces, and service units that would compose the American part of the planners' estimated three months' force would run well over 60,000 men. On this basis, the planners pointed out in their study on priorities that so far as they could see there would be no prospect of any other major troop movement in the Atlantic: for at least three months if the North African operation were undertaken. Similarly, the diversion of British shipping to the operation would "seriously curtail" the projected series of troop movements from the British Isles to the Middle Fast and thence to the Far East. 40
The Relief of British Troops in Ireland and Ireland
These reports, taken together, raised a question to which the Chiefs of Staff and the planners, British and American alike, needed an answer before they could go very far: Should actual preparations for the North African operation, which might or might not be undertaken, take precedence over the loading and dispatch of troops for movement in the North Atlantic? The North African operation would obviously take precedence over other operations in the Atlantic-the occupation of Brazil, the Cape Verde Islands, the Azores, the Canary Islands, and Dakar-which were also contingent on negotiations with foreign powers and for which there would be little or no need if the North African operation were to be launched. The movement of troops to Northern Ireland and Iceland was in a different category. As the British and American staffs had recognized in making their plans earlier in 1941, British forces were already overextended. Any new British commitments overseas would increase rather than decrease the need for American troops in the British Isles and Iceland. The American forces sent to Iceland and Ireland would either add protection against invasion or allow the release of seasoned British troops from the defense of the home islands in order to strengthen British positions in

the Middle and Far East. Although there was no immediate prospect of an invasion of the British Isles, the British could dispatch reinforcements to the Middle and Far East- or undertake the occupation of French North Africa--during the first half of 1942 only by considerably increasing the risk of an invasion of the British Isles during the summer. On these grounds, the American planners not only appreciated but were inclined to emphasize the need for deploying U. S. Army forces in the North Atlantic.
The plan adopted at the outset of the ARCADIA Conference, in accordance with the wishes of the President and the Prime Minister, was to carry through the already planned relief of British troops and U. S. marines in Iceland by a U. S. Army division and to send a force of two or more divisions to relieve the British garrison in Northern Ireland.41 The Army had at once proceeded to set up a Northern Ireland force ( code name MAGNET) composed of the 33d, 34th, and 37th Divisions, with an armored division attached, together with air forces.42 In addition to releasing British troops for service in more active theaters, the President and the Prime Minister expected that the arrival of American forces in the British Isles would be encouraging to the British people and hoped that the replacement of British by American forces in Ulster might improve relations with the Irish Free State, which were of considerable practical military importance.43 The President looked forward to the early relief of the U. S. Marine brigade in Iceland. Admiral King was very insistent on this point, objecting to the further retention on garrison duty of a very sizeable portion of the small U. S. forces then trained for landing operations.44
The Army was ready to make the forces for the initial movements available at once. The division sent to Ireland did not need to be fully trained or equipped and therefore could be sent without affecting the Army's readiness to undertake overseas operations.45 The only thing that delayed the movements was that all U. S. troopships then available in the Atlantic would be needed to transport the U. S. forces required for the initial occupation of French Morocco. Similarly, all available British troop lift would be needed to move the British forces. The specific question before the Chiefs of Staff and the planners was whether all the ships should be held for the North African operation, or whether

Photo - THE CHIEF OF STAFF AND THE SECRETARY OP WAR. General Marshall conferring with Henry L. Stimson.
THE CHIEF OF STAFF AND THE SECRETARY OP WAR. General Marshall conferring with Henry L. Stimson.
some of them could he used for the movement of troops to Iceland and the .British Isles. They thus had the occasion to point out to the President and the Prime Minister that if the North African operation were undertaken, the relief of British troops in Ireland and Iceland would have to be postponed.
The President and the Prime Minister, in their opening conference with the Chiefs of Staff, had given no indication of whether, they would give precedence to the projects in the North Atlantic or to the projected forth African operation if they had to choose. To be sure, Field Marshal Sir
John Dill had said at the fiat meeting of the Chiefs of Staff, in answer to a direct question from General Marshall, that the North African project would take precedence over the relief of the British garrisons, but the planners needed a clear declaration of policy.46 How necessary it was, became evident on the afternoon of 26 December when the Chiefs of Staff and the senior planners met with the President and the Prime Minister to consider the problem.
Sir John Dill and General Marshall in turn explained that there was certainly not

enough shipping to go around. Marshall recommended that ships should be gotten together "and made ready for contingent use." The President then declared the time was not right to invade North Africa and suggested that, since it was so uncertain when the right time might come, it was worth considering whether they should not go ahead with plans for the movement to Northern Ireland, with the understanding, however, that so long as the ships were in port, they might still be diverted to the North African operation. The Prime Minister strongly questioned the conclusion that there was not enough shipping. Recollecting that during World War I two million men had been moved to Prance in five months, he asked how it was possible that the United States and Great Britain could not now move a quarter of a million men in three months. He felt that the shipping could be found, and concluded by saying that he would be "frightfully unhappy if he had to adjust between expeditions." No formal decision was reached at the meeting, but as the rest of the discussion showed, the Chiefs of Staff had in fact made their point, although they did not answer the Prime Minister's question.47
The Army and Navy went ahead, as the President had suggested, to prepare for the first movements to Ireland and Iceland. The British Chiefs of Staff, after corresponding with authorities in London, agreed to Admiral King's proposal that the U. S. marines in Iceland be relieved on the arrival of the first U. S. Army contingent. 48 On 1 January the President and the Prime Minister formally approved a motion introduced by Marshall to load the first shipments for Iceland and Northern Ireland, on the basis, as stated by the President, that it should be done in "such a manner that these operations could be halted if other considerations intervened." The ships, which were then being loaded were to sail on 15 January, with 14,000 troops for Northern Ireland and 6,000 for Iceland (4,500 to relieve the marines), but they could be unloaded and used for the North African operation, with six days' delay, if the decision to do so were taken before 13 January. 49 As soon as the President and the Prime Minister had reached this tentative decision, the War Department established an Army headquarters in England, under the command of General Chaney, the special Army observer in London, who was designated Commander, United States Army Forces in the British Isles ( USAFBI ) , to whom the Northern Ireland force ( but not the Iceland force) would report. This command was intermediate between the informal "nucleus mission," of which he had been in charge, and a theater command, which the War Department did not set up until late in the spring. 50
The Northwest Africa Project Considered as a Military Operation
Having brought to the attention of the President and the Prime Minister the fact

that there was not enough shipping to go around, the Chiefs of Staff on the next day went over the planning committee's initial report on the North African operation (which had been given the British code name GYMNAST). Both the British and American Air members, Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal and Lt. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, were deeply disturbed that so large an air force was allocated. Portal explained
. . . that in allocating planes, the largo strategy must be the primary consideration, rather than local requirements; that in the matter of Greece it was realized that there was an insufficient number of troops and planes, vet those available were allocated despite the expectations that this force: would be knocked down. Although this happened, the strategic importance of this operation was great because it delayed the attack on Russia for two months. 51
General Marshall made it clear that he did not believe in taking in North Africa the kind of risk that the British had taken in Greece. He was perfectly willing that the paper should go back to the planning committee for further consideration, but he declared-in words reminiscent of Colonel Ridgway's remarks on the Dakar operation-that
. . . this operation might result in the first contact between American and German troops. Success should not be jeopardized by failure to provide adequate means. A failure in this first venture would have an extremely adverse effect on the morale of the American people. 52
The planners, reconsidering their compromise paper in the light of the remarks of Portal and Marshall, could not agree on the scope of the operation and the size of the force it would ultimately require. They reported to the Chiefs of Staff that it was "premature" for them to make any recommendations on those points 53 The Chiefs of Staff in turn recognized that an operation on the scale acceptable to the American staff would have an effect not only on projects in the North Atlantic-the only effect the planners had as yet considered-but also on the reinforcement of positions in the Pacific. On 31 December they returned the subject to the planning committee to be restudied in the wider context of strategy and in the light of the American conviction that the operation, even though it must still assume political preparation, would not rely on the ready collaboration of French forces in North Africa nor on a weak German reaction. 54
The study made from this new point of view added to the evidence that any operation the American staff would be willing to undertake was beyond the means available. On the assumption that it was necessary to prepare to meet opposition, the assault convoy must include not only assault troops but also armored units, and the landing forces must at once have air support. They must take airfields and unload large quantities of fuel and essential equipment. The first convoy must include aircraft carriers, to protect the convoy and the initial landings, and, if possible, to carry the first complement of planes to be flown in to the seized airfields. This was only the most important of the new problems of amphibious operations, on which neither the British nor the American planners could speak with any great confi-

dence as yet. How long it would take to land a single convoy at Casablanca was an important factor. The expedition would for a long time be dependent on the port of Casablanca, partly because other Atlantic ports could not take ocean-going vessels, and partly because there would not be enough air and naval cover for more than one port. With the long period for unloading at Casablanca (estimated at ten to fourteen days) went a correspondingly great risk of submarine attacks, especially on aircraft carriers accompanying the assault convoy. The capacity of the port of Casablanca was a limiting factor determining not only how long it would take to unload the assault convoy but also how long it would take to unload the initial three months' forces, supplies, and supporting units through that port. The planners expected this phase to take four months, no matter how many ships were available. Incomplete and conflicting intelligence presented another problem. The military planners did not know what to make of the various reports on the attitude of French leaders and troops and hesitated to plan in ignorance of vital operational data, in particular with reference to airfields. 55
The experience of dealing with such a problem, although useful, was discouraging. On 4 January Admiral Turner, the senior Navy planner, reported to Admiral Stark and Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, L. S. Elect, that the planning committee believed that
. . . it will be impracticable in the near future to capture French North Africa if important resistance is encountered. Therefore, it is considered that no plan should be made for such a project at this time. It is recommended that the Chiefs of Staffs issue a directive on this point. 56
In the afternoon the problem was discussed at great length, first in a staff meeting of American officers held by the Secretaries of War and Navy and then in an American-British meeting convened by the President and the Prime Minister.57 At the latter meeting the President and the Prime :Minister confirmed the decision of 1 January to go ahead with the first shipments to Northern Ireland and Iceland. As the Prime Minister was well aware, these movements themselves constituted an important, if indirect, contribution to the opening of an offensive in the Wediterranean.58 He was verve emphatic on the need for them and concluded that the planners should go ahead with SUPER-GYMNAST, "but make no diversion of shipping on the Ireland relief; that we should take no real ships from real jobs; and that we could talk about the matter again in a few days." 59
The ARCADIA Study of the North African operation ended inconclusively. On 10

January, as a basis for future planning, the British planners reintroduced the estimate for the first three months' force on which the committee had originally agreed to compromise. Except for the first American and the fiat and second British convoys, they presented even these estimates as "guesses" of what the task force commander might consider necessary, and the guesses included no estimate of air strength. The British did not propose what, for planning purposes, should be taken to be the total strength required for the operation. Their purpose was in fact only to present "a suggested convoy programme" that would fully utilize the limited port capacity of Casablanca. This schedule indicated that the maximum forces that could be landed (including two convoys to Algiers) during the four months following the first sailings would be some 180,000 troops ( about half British and half American). 60
Reinforcement of the Southwest Pacific
At this point in the conference, planning for troop movements in the Atlantic finally converged with planning for troop movements in the Pacific. It then appeared that- -quite apart from the availability of troop shipping and the capacity of the port of Casablanca-the proposed shipping schedule was far too ambitious for any North African operation begun before the latter part of May 1942. The factor that actually limited American participation in any North African operation begun before that time would be the shortage of cargo vessels in the Atlantic that would result from the desperate effort to contain the Japanese in the South and Southwest Pacific.61
During the conference the American planners had been getting impatient with the protracted study of movements in the Atlantic because it was holding up decision on movements to the Pacific. They expected the Japanese might "overextend" themselves until they had isolated the projected American base in northern Australia.62 By the end of the first week of the conference, the British staff, like the American staff, began to show concern over the danger to the northern and eastern approaches to Australia and New Zealand. The British, quite apart from their dismay at the Japanese advances in Malaya and Burma, were obliged to consider the security of Australia and New Zealand, if they were to keep forces from these dominions in North Africa and in India, as they very much wanted and needed to do. The British planners accordingly began to consider sympathetically the American planners' views. They brought up for discussion the whole question of the defense of the air ferry route from Hawaii to Australia, together with the Nay's project for establishing a refueling station at Borabora (some 2,300 miles south of Hawaii in the Society Islands which, like New Caledonia, were in the hands of the Free French).63 The American planners

agreed that, besides arranging for local defense of Palmyra, Christmas, Canton, Samoa, and Borabora, the United States should consider helping Australia and New Zealand with the defense of New Caledonia and the Fiji Islands, if the Australian and New Zealand Governments could not make adequate provision for it.64
While waiting for information on the Fijis and New Caledonia, the War Department was rapidly drafting orders for shipments to the "island bases" in the South Pacific that were the Army's responsibility.65 the projected garrisons were 2,000 for Christmas Island and 1,000 for Canton Island. 66 In the next lower priority came a force of about 4,000 troops, requested by the Navy to garrison a refueling station on Borabora on the convoy route to Australia.67 The orders called for only small Army contingents at these bases, on the assumption, clearly expressed by Marshall, that the Navy ,would relieve the Army garrisons in case of heavy attack.68 In addition, the Army undertook to send a pursuit group (700 men) to Suva to supplement the New Zealand garrison. The Navy at the same time went ahead with its preparations to garrison Palmyra and American Samoa.
During the closing days of the conference, the American staff also projected additional forces for the Southwest Pacific. In view of the growing possibility of air raids on northern Australia, the first step ( using the largest British liners on the Pacific run) was to add antiaircraft units (numbering, with necessary services, about 10,000 troops) to the pursuit units and art air base group (numbering about 6,000 ) already approved for shipment. These 16,000 troops were in addition to projected shipments of 10,000 air troops.69 A further increase was involved when it appeared that, for the next six months, Australia would have no forces available to send reinforcements to New Caledonia, where there was only a company-sized Australian garrison anti some 3,700 ill-equipped Free French troops. The planners regarded this island as the logical target of a Japanese attempt to gain control of the northern and eastern approaches to Australia and New Zealand, because-, it was large enough to be strongly held and contained important nickel mines.70 Adequate defense for New Caledonia was especially important since the local Free French authorities in control of the island were threatening to prohibit future work on a large airfield there, lest its completion serve as an additional temptation to the Japanese to occupy the is-

Photo - CHIEF OF WAR PLANS DIVISION AND HIS DEPUTIES, January 1942. Left to right: Brig. Gen. Robert W. Crawford; Brig. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower; and Brig. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow, Chief.
Left to right: Brig. Gen. Robert W. Crawford; Brig. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower;
and Brig. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow, Chief.
land.71 In anticipation of a decision to send additional U. S. reinforcements to the Pacific, the War Department staff organized a task force of about 16,000 troops ( a heavily reinforced infantry brigade, about 10,000 men plus supporting service units; , under Brig. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, with a view to their possible employment as a garrison for New Caledonia.72 Together with this force, the staff also planned to send about 5,000 additional troops for Australia, including air replacements and engineer units urgently requested by General Brett. This convoy brought to about 37,000 the number of Army troops that the American planners were preparing to send at once to the Southwest Pacific, with 10,000 more to follow.
liven before this last addition was made, the proposed shipments to the South and Southwest Pacific exceeded the troop lift then available in the Pacific. The -American Chiefs of Staff accordingly asked the British Chiefs of Staff to consider diverting

troopships from the Atlantic specifically to get reinforcements to Australia with all possible speed. The British Chiefs of Staff agreed to refer the question at once to General Somervell and his British opposite, Brigadier Vernon M. C. Napier, for study and recommendations, and later in the same meeting instructed them to study also the possibility of sending American forces to New Caledonia.73
Under their new directive the shipping experts quickly- came forward with a solution that gave unquestioned precedence to American shipments to Australia and British shipments to the Near and Far Fast, at the expense of the North African operation, the reinforcement of Hawaii, and the movements in the North Atlantic. On the basis of the recommendation of the shipping experts, the American Chiefs of Staff on 12 January proposed to reduce the Iceland convoy of 15 January from 8,000 to 2,500; the Ireland convoy, from 16,000 to 4,100. By using the troop lift thus released, together with the Kungsholm (then allocated to the State Department-troop lift, 2,900 ) and two American vessels then on the youth American run (combined troop lift, over 2,000), the United States could send 21,800 troops to the southwest Pacific-General Patch's task force and essential ground service units for the Australian force. The United Mates thus could still keep in readiness on the cast coast the Navy combat loading vessels which could lift a Marine division (12,000 men).74
This disposition of American troop shipping did not mean the discontinuance of the North Atlantic convoys. Shipments to Iceland could go on at ,a rate of as many as 2,500 troops a month. The British planners were willing to recommend arranging British schedules so as to help keep up shipments to Northern Ireland.75 By the end of February over 20,000 troops would be dispatched to Northern Ireland. On this basis, the initial effect in the North Atlantic was to postpone by about a month the release of the first British division in -Northern Ireland and the U. S. Marine brigade in Iceland. 76
The President and the Prime 'Minister were by then quite ready to accept these consequences of the evident need to give precedence to the defense of the Southwest Pacific. There was not much question but that, in addition to the effect on deployment in the North Atlantic, the withdrawal of American troopships from the Atlantic would have the effect of postponing a full-scale planned operation in North Africa. The Prime 'Minister and the President also accepted this consequence, the more readily because the Prime Minister foresaw that the reported arrival of German reinforcements in Africa would postpone the date at which German forces would be pushed back to Tripoli, and because the President had o rip received reports indicating that negotiations with French authorities could be put off for a while. The President was still interested in a North African operation, and wanted to know as definitely as possible when it could begin, so as not to start negotiations

prematurely, for, as he pointed out, as soon as negotiations were begun the German Government would learn of them. He stressed the need of landing before the Germans would have had time to react, Mating that assault forces should actually he loaded before negotiations here begun.77
General Marshall at once answered to the point by observing that the factor limiting American participation in the North African operation would not be transports but cargo shipping. 78 The following day the American planners elaborated upon this answer in a report to the Chiefs of Staff. They concluded that the mounting of the full-fledged North African operation would have to await the return from the Southwest Pacific not only of the troop transports-due back about the third week of April-but also of the cargo ships required by the troop movements to the Southwest Pacific-. -which were not due back till after the middle of May. Furthermore, American participation in any operation that might be mounted earlier would depend on finding eight cargo vessels to match the troop lift provided by the Navy combat loaders. If the interim operation were to be speeded up by diverting troopships from the Hawaii and North Atlantic runs, still more cargo shipping-thirteen to fifteen vessels---would have to be found.79
There was a simple reason why cargo chipping at this point replaced troop shipping as the critical factor. It required far more tonnage to establish forces in a new and largely undeveloped area directly in the path of the main Japanese offensive than to supply the same number of troops sent as reinforcements to areas better developed and less immediately threatened. Once the greater part of American troop shipping was diverted to the garrisoning of the island bases in the South Pacific, the development and local defense of the Australian air base, and the development of air operation: north of Australia, the: ratio of tonnage to troops greatly increased. General Eisenhower commented, "Somervell (G-4) did a good job finding boats. We'll get off 21,000 men . . . to Australia; but I don't know when we can get all their equip. and supply to them. Ships! Ships!" 80 All we need is ships!''  The great -New York convoy that was to leave for the Southwest Pacific was only a part of what was rapidly becoming a major movement of American and British troops for the purpose of containing the Japanese advance. The projected American shipments, besides the 21,000 troops in the Mew York convoy to the Southwest Pacific, then included the garrisons for the island bases (nearly 8,000 ) and three convoys from the west coast to Australia-the first (7,000 troops) ready to sail, the second (14,000 troops) to sail at the end of the month, the third (11,000 troops) to sail some time in February.81 The initial shipments required to house and feed these force, to provide them with guns and ammunition. planes, fuel, and engineer equipment would amount to well over a half-million tons of cargo (over and above what they could obtain locally).

Apart from the consequences for the timing of the North African operation, the trees demands for cargo shipping brought the President and the Prime Minister to another Problem. The Shipping experts, after making as estimate of cargo shipping, concluded that the effort to contain the Japanese advance would require seven additional cargo ship, and they recommended that the ships he obtained by cutting lend-lease shipments to the Soviet Union by about 30 percent during the trees three or four months. 82 This recommendation the President and the Prime Minister would not accept, but they agreed to divert the seven ships to the Army's needs and to leave it up to Mr. Hopkins and Lord Beaverbrook to find some way or other of securing equivalent tonnage to meet the scheduled shipments to the soviet Union. 83
Neither the President nor the Prime Minister gave up their determination to launch the North African operation. They were willing to postpone it until the end of May in order to deal with the Pacific crisis, but if the moment came to act, they very ready to start the operation with what they had. The reaffirmed their position on 14 January, the last day of the conference:
The President then stated that if the Germans should move into the Gymnast area in the interim, the thing to do would be to utilize whatever forces were available.
The Prime observed that in this case we should make a slash with whatever forces were available and, if necessary, operate on the guerrilla basis. 84
The American planners could scarcely doubt that once the Japanese offensive was contained, if not before, the North African operation would again become the first question of American-British strategy.

Page created 10 January 2002


Previous Chapter     Next Chapter

Return to the Table of Contents