51 Churchill to Curtin

Message unnumbered LONDON, 26 February 1945

TOP SECRET AND PERSONAL

Received 18 February 1945 [1]

I send you herewith for your personal information a summary of the major operational decisions reached in the Anglo-American and tripartite military discussions at Malta and Yalta.

A. Anglo American Discussions 2. The U-Boat war. In view of the possibility that German U-Boats may again constitute a serious threat to the North Atlantic shipping lanes a directive was approved for issue to all Commanders concerned ordering an intensification of counter measures such as the bombing of assembly yards and operating bases, air mining and attacks on enemy minesweepers.

3. Operations in North West Europe. General Eisenhower's plan of operations is first to seize the Rhine crossings north of Cologne and subsequently to direct his main offensive north of the Ruhr.

He intends also to carry out a secondary offensive in the South in the general direction of Frankfurt. The maximum possible strength will be allotted to the main offensive, the secondary thrust being designed to retain German forces in the south or to take advantage of their withdrawal.

4. Strategy in the Mediterranean. It was agreed that the primary object in the war against Germany should be to build up the maximum possible strength on the Western Front and to seek a decision in that theatre. Accordingly five divisions and certain air forces are to be withdrawn from the Italian theatre to General Eisenhower's command. These divisions are to be Canadian and United Kingdom thus bringing about the concentration of the whole Canadian Army in one theatre and strengthening the forces under the command of Field Marshal Montgomery. [2] The transfer is commencing at once but its completion is dependent upon the release of British forces from Greece.

5. A directive has been issued to Field Marshal Alexander instructing him by means of such limited offensive action as may be possible after the withdrawal of the above forces to contain the German forces now in Italy and prevent their withdrawal. The maximum advantage is also to be taken of any weakening or withdrawal of German forces from the Italian front.

6. Operations in the Pacific Area. The programme of operations in the Pacific will depend to some extent upon the end of the German war. A point will be reached in the American advance towards Japan when operations will be of such magnitude that they cannot be conducted until forces are released from the European theatre.

Various alternative programmes are being studied: the one to be adopted will depend upon progress in Europe. It is not intended to give the Japanese any respite.

7. Operations in South East Asia Command. A new directive has been approved for the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, which gives as his first object the liberation of Burma. His next main task is to be the liberation of Malaya and the opening of the Straits of Malacca.

8. Admiral Mountbatten has been asked to prepare for approval a fresh programme of operations in the light of his new directive.

9. Planning dates for the end of the war against Germany and Japan. Following dates for planning production and allotting manpower were agreed:-

German War. Earliest date 1st July, 1945.

Date beyond which war is unlikely to continue 31st December, 1945.

Japanese War. Eighteen months after defeat of Germany.

10. The Russians were in general agreement with planning dates for the German War.

11. Shipping. The cargo shipping position in the first six months of this year is extremely acute. At the beginning of the Conference it seemed that there were deficiencies on required sailings which would be of unmanageable size. Intensive study of the problem of the economical use of shipping led to a reduction in the deficits to dimensions which are likely to be manageable though some cuts in programmes will be unavoidable. The shipping position for the whole year is to be reviewed again and a report presented to the Combined Chiefs of Staff not later than 1st April, 1945.

B. Tripartite Military Discussions 12. The Tripartite Military discussions between the United Kingdom, American and Russian High Commands were officially confined to the war against Germany and dealt with the military situation in its broadest aspects. Discussion was very frank and complete agreement was reached as to the timing and scope of future operations against Germany from the East and West. The Russians intend to prosecute their offensive without relaxation though pause may be forced on them by the thaw which usually occurs about the middle of March and lasts till May. ENDS.

1 A handwritten note, dated 28 February, indicates that Curtin received this message from Sir Ronald Cross.

2 Commander-in-chief, Twenty-First Army Group, Allied Expeditionary Force, North-West Europe.

[AA:A5954, BOX 577]