Cablegram Winch 5 LONDON, 23 August 1944, 2.10 a.m.
Your Johcu 78  and 81. 
I am repeating for your private information, the following
telegram despatched by the Chiefs of Staff to Washington, which
explains the conclusion reached by the Defence Committee on our
strategy for the war against Japan. Begins:-
'As agreed at Sextant Conference, we have devoted prolonged study
to the strategy for the war against Japan. We have considered how
best our forces can be disposed and what operations they should
carry out, taking into account the undertaking given by His
Majesty's Government at the Casablanca Conference that on the
defeat of Germany we should assist the United States to the utmost
of our power in defeating Japan.
2. Several important developments have taken place since I
attended the Conference.
(i) The advance of United States forces across the Pacific has
(ii) The Japanese have strongly reinforced Burma and their
strength in that country has risen from four and a half to ten
(iii) The capture of Myitkyina rules out, as was always foreseen,
any purely defensive policy in North Burma.
(iv) The likelihood of aggressive action by the Japanese fleet in
the Bay of Bengal is now remote.
(v) Progress of the war against Germany on all fronts has been
such as to render possible the partial or total collapse of
Germany which might free forces from the European theatre in the
(vi) We now have overwhelming air superiority in South-East Asia
The following paragraphs contain our proposals in the light of the
Operations in South-East Asia Theatre
3. The present directive to the South-East Asia Command prescribes
as a first task the protection of the air link to China and so far
as is possible, support of further construction of the Burma road
(which cannot be completely opened until 1946) and of the pipe
lines to Yunnan (which are also progressing slowly). In addition,
we have, of course, to defend the frontiers of India. We are thus
committed to a long drawn out struggle in the jungles and swamps
against an enemy who has superior lines of communication to those
which we possess. The wastage from sickness and disease amounted
during the campaign of 1944 up to 30th June alone to 282,000 in
addition to a loss in killed, wounded and missing of approximately
40,000. Clearly, therefore, we should make every effort to
liquidate this highly undesirable commitment if it can by any
means be done.
4. Admiral Mountbatten has put forward two plans. The first plan
(Champion) is to continue to engage the Japanese in North Burma.
This, in our opinion, will merely lead to a continuation of the
present unsatisfactory state of affairs and we feel bound to
5. The second plan (Vanguard), put forward by Admiral Mountbatten
is to capture Rangoon by an air-borne operation to be followed by
opening of the port of Rangoon and maintenance of the expedition
by sea. This plan is now rendered practicable by the large measure
of air superiority which we enjoy in this theatre and by the
Japanese inability any longer to dispute our sea lines of
communication to Rangoon.
6. The capture of Rangoon and Pegu (20 miles distant) will at a
stroke sever the enemy's main lines of communication to the
interior of Burma by road, river and rail. This will give us the
opportunity of liquidating once and for all, under most favourable
military conditions, our commitments in Burma by destruction of
the Japanese forces.
7. Until such time as the Rangoon operation can be launched it
will be essential to contain the Japanese by offensive action
South of Myitkyina.
8. The bulk of necessary resources for Rangoon are already
available and we now ask the Combined Chiefs of Staff to agree to
the above plan in principle and that every effort should be made
to provide from our combined resources the balance of the forces
required. We propose that General Wedemeyer  should proceed to
Washington as soon as possible to expound the outline of the plan
to United States Chiefs of Staff and to provide them with any
local information they may require.
9. We are now building up a strong fleet in the Bay of Bengal, the
bulk of which, including our newest battleships, will not be
required for the operations outlined above in the South-East Asia
theatre. It is our desire in accordance with His Majesty's
Government's policy that this fleet should play its full part at
the earliest possible moment in the main operations against Japan
wherever the greatest naval strength is required and that its
strength should be built up as rapidly as possible.
This fleet by mid-1945 could probably comprise four battleships of
the King George V class, six fleet carriers, four light fleet
carriers, 15 escort carriers, 20 cruisers, 40 escorts and a
considerable fleet train, the whole constituting a force which
could make a valuable contribution in crucial operations leading
to an assault on Japan. This fleet, built up as fast as possible,
would operate under United States command.
10. If for any reason, the United States Chiefs of Staff are
unable to accept support of a British fleet in the main operations
(which is our distinct preference) we should be willing to discuss
an alternative. The suggestion we would make in this event is the
formation of a British Empire task force under a British Commander
consisting of British, Australian and New Zealand land, sea and
air forces to operate in the South West Pacific under General
MacArthur's supreme command. This alternative, if decided upon,
would still enable the British fleet to be well placed to
reinforce the United States Pacific Fleet if this should later be
11. We ask for an early expression of the views of the United
States Chiefs of Staff on all the above proposals. The urgency is
dictated by the need to work out as soon as possible the logistic
problems involved, including development of necessary base
2. The reaction of the United States Chiefs of Staff have not yet
3. This will let you see how the matter stands at present.