Pound came and dined with me-we had about 2 hours talk after
I told him at the start of our talk that I wanted to go over the
question of the Air against the Sea because I was anything but
happy at the way in which the matter was developing.
Pound then proceeded to tell me the story of what had happened
very much down the lines of what he said in the Cabinet  when
presenting the Chiefs of Staff views upon my paper.  The real
conclusion to be drawn from what Pound said was that his mind was
running down the lines that it is frightfully difficult to get
anything out of the Air Ministry but the position had slightly
improved over the last two months, and the Air Ministry was
becoming slightly more reasonable and the relations between the
Admiralty and Air Ministry were improving.
In the light of this Pound's attitude seems to be that they should
be thankful for small mercies and accept what the Air Ministry was
prepared to let them have. This attitude I challenged very
strongly and urged on Pound that the situation with regard to our
sea communications was so serious that it did not seem to be a
matter of gradually improving the position but that the Admiralty
should insist upon what they believed was vital and be prepared to
fight to the last ditch for it. I then tried very hard to stir
Pound out of this attitude and bring home to him the great
responsibility that rested upon his shoulders.
I stressed to him that I was not arguing in the least for the
abandonment or material reduction of the Bomber offensive against
Germany-what I was arguing for was that the Bomber offensive
against Germany and the ensuring of our vital sea communications
had got to be kept in proper perspective. If the Air Ministry were
prepared to play on that basis I was entirely in favour of
avoiding rows and creating a tense situation. On the other hand,
however, so vital did I consider the question of the protection of
our sea communications and so dangerous did I think was the
situation that had developed, that if the Air Ministry were not
prepared to play on a reasonable basis then it seemed to me there
had got to be an all-in fight even to the point of the elimination
of those at present responsible for the policy of the Air
I put it to Pound that was it not possible to induce the Air
Ministry to take a more reasonable view. On this Pound was not
very optimistic as he referred to Portal's article in to-day's
Sunday press, with special reference to his statement that the
bombing of Germany would so destroy the industrial machine as to
render it unable to provide for the needs of the fighting forces
and the people of Germany.
I said that while that might be the position we could hope for at
some point in the future, it was an impossible attitude to adopt
in respect to the next few months.
We then had a fairly long discussion on the part which the bombing
of Germany should play in the eventual defeat of the Axis powers.
This was down the lines of a progressive increase in our bombing
offensive up to the maximum point with the proviso that delay in
reaching the maximum point had to be faced if it were necessary to
delay in order to provide for our vital Air against the Sea
This part of our talk was very exhaustive and very protracted but
eventually I asked Pound what he saw as the next move. On this
Pound clearly had nothing in mind and made the somewhat astounding
statement that he was not clear what had been the upshot of the
Cabinet discussion as he and the other Chiefs of Staff had to
leave the meeting before any conclusion was reached, in order to
attend a Conference with the Americans.
I asked him if Alexander had not told him and he said that the
First Lord had not made it at all clear to him what the final
I told him that the result of the Cabinet discussion had been that
the order of priority laid down in the Chiefs of Staff paper had
been approved and that the War Cabinet had instructed that a new
statement should be prepared showing with all the relevant
(a) when and how the Navy's essential requirements could be met if
treated on the basis of giving to such requirements an absolute
(b) the effect of (a) on other operations, e.g. the bombing of
I stressed to Pound that what the War Cabinet required was the
fullest information as to the present and prospective position
with regard to our Air resources. The statement asked for was
designed to provide this information and in the light of it the
War Cabinet could then come to a decision with a full knowledge of
what the effect of that decision would be.
None of this appeared to register as it should have with Pound and
the conclusion I arrived at, as the result of our conversation,
was that Pound has not the necessary force and drive to ensure
that the vital requirements of the Navy for co-operation from the
Air will be provided.
On the whole the conversation was distinctly depressing and if
what is vital to be done is going to be accomplished it will be
necessary for Pound to go.
One point that seems to me [? to indicate] that the present
situation is all wrong is that from my conversation with Pound it
was quite clear he and the other Chiefs of Staff did not have
before them the picture with regard to the Air in the detail
necessary for them to arrive at the decisions embodied in their
report to the Cabinet.
S. M. B.