Part 1: Background and Plans
Chapter 1: Allied Strategy in the Mediterranean
Casablanca: The Decision for Sicily
At a series of meetings held in Casablanca, French Morocco, in January 1943, the United States and Great Britain decided to attack the island of Sicily. The decision made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, in concert with their principal military advisers, the Combined Chiefs of Staff, started a chain of events which led ultimately to invasion of the mainland of Italy, collapse of the Italian Fascist regime, and the surrender of Italy.
The Casablanca Conference set up the initial Allied move to return to the continent of Europe by way of the Mediterranean. It marked a continuation of the indirect approach toward the center of Axis might started by the Anglo-American landings in French North Africa two months before, in November 1942.
In retrospect, the decision taken at Casablanca appears as an essential link in an apparently consistent over-all Allied strategy for World War II in the Mediterranean: first, to expel Italo-German forces from North Africa; second, to attack Sicily as a steppingstone to the Italian mainland; third, to invade the mainland and eliminate Italy from the war; and finally, to contain and wear down German forces in Italy as a prelude to the main attack across the English Channel into northwest Europe.
In reality this was not the case. There was no broad plan at the outset to eliminate Italy first as the weaker of the Axis partners.1 Actually, Allied strategy in the Mediterranean—after the decision of July 1942 to invade North Africa—evolved as a series of ad hoc decisions, each setting forth objectives limited by available resources and the conditions of the time.
At Casablanca, for the first time, the strategic initiative passed to the Allies. Hitherto the Allies could do little more than react to Axis movements: resist the submarine warfare against their sea lines of communications; hold the thin line in Egypt protecting the Suez Canal; attack Germany from the air for lack of other avenues to the enemy heartland; support the Soviet Union; contain the Japanese in the Pacific. But between July 1942 and January 1943 the pattern had begun to change: there was the Russian breakthrough behind Stalingrad; British victory at El ‘Alamein; Anglo-American occupation of French Northwest Africa. Though each of these was essentially a defensive action, by the time Allied leaders
convened at Casablanca the balance had shifted. For the first time the Allies had a considerable degree of freedom in selecting their next move or their next objective.
The instrument of discussion and decision at Casablanca—the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS)—represented a new institution in the evolution of warfare. A body composed of the service chiefs of staff of the United States and Great Britain, it had taken form within a month after Pearl Harbor.2 Despite the fact that this combined directorate helped make possible an extraordinary integration of Anglo-American effort, serious differences on strategy did emerge between the U.S. Joint Chiefs and the British Chiefs of Staff.
These differences reflected the dissimilar geographic positions, the unequal war potentials, and the divergent historical experiences of the two countries. Even the English language as used in America and Britain is not identical, and occasionally problems of verbal expression superimposed themselves on divergent concepts arising from diverse national outlooks.
A basic Allied strategic plan for the global conduct of the war began to appear at the ARCADIA Conference in Washington, December 1941, when the Combined Chiefs of Staff came into being. Here the Anglo-American decision was made, or reaffirmed, that the main weight of America’s effort would be directed toward Europe to achieve, in cooperation with Great Britain and the USSR, the defeat of Germany. Against Japan, a limited and essentially defensive action would be conducted until after victory in Europe.3
Though the American Government would threaten at times to turn its effort against Japan, the Allies fought a genuinely coalition war, one great group of powers against another. And though the Americans might have preferred to turn their major energies toward avenging Pearl Harbor, they had to retain a British base from which to mount an attack against the European continent; and they realized the value of the eastern land
front in absorbing much of the strength of Germany’s ground forces.
How was Germany to be defeated? General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, asked this question of Brig. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower soon after the latter reported to the War Department in December 1941. As chief of the War Plans Division, which in March 1942 was reorganized to become the Operations Division (OPD), Eisenhower had the task of formulating the basic plan. In the early spring of 1942 Eisenhower considered a variety of plans for defeating the Axis in Europe: plans for attacking through Norway; plans for working through the Iberian Peninsula; even plans for the use of sea and air power only. The Mediterranean route was also briefly considered, this when the British situation in the Middle East was relatively good. But the domination of the central Mediterranean by Axis air forces ruled out detailed planning for an attempt to attack Italy from Gibraltar.4
By early April 1942 OPD had developed the basic American strategic concept.5 Rejecting the Mediterranean route for a number of cogent reasons—the great distance from North African bases to the German industrial centers; the improbability of achieving a decisive result by first eliminating Italy from the war; the disadvantage of attacking Germany over the great natural barrier of the Alps; the inability to concentrate the full power of the United States and of Great Britain in the Mediterranean—OPD came out strongly for a cross-Channel attack. Only in England could the Allied military resources be effectively concentrated for the main blow against the Axis. No natural barriers comparable to the Alps protected Germany from attack from the west. Furthermore, England was closer to the great American ports on the Atlantic seaboard.
After getting the concurrence of the other two members of the Joint Chiefs—Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, and Lt. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, commander of the Army Air Forces—then President Roosevelt’s acceptance, General Marshall in the second week of April presented the concept to the British Chiefs. The British agreed enthusiastically, and the idea took concrete form under the code name ROUNDUP, which projected a full-scale attack across the Channel into northern France in the spring of 1943.
General Marshall and his colleagues adhered consistently to this concept, which was based on a number of assumptions that in the spring of 1942 were little more than mere hopes. Could the Soviet armies resist under Adolf Hitler’s second summer onslaught? Could the Anglo-American coalition relieve the pressure on Russia’s ground forces?6 When President Roosevelt pressed for any action which would assist the Russians in some manner, however minor, the outcome was the July 1942 decision in favor of TORCH, an Allied invasion of French Northwest
Africa. An emergency decision designed to help the Russians, it also had the virtue of getting American troops into battle quickly and giving them combat experience.
The landings in North Africa in November 1942 created a new situation. The American Joint Chiefs of Staff felt that the TORCH decision had undermined the basic strategy agreed upon in April, for the North African operations meant such an investment of resources that a cross-Channel operation became improbable in 1943. Even the decision to concentrate first against Germany rather than against Japan was thrown open to question. The TORCH decision necessitated a reconsideration of fundamental policies.
Thinking about the next step beyond TORCH began even before the successful execution of that operation in November 1942. During the planning phase for TORCH, Allied leaders hoped and believed that the North African expedition would culminate in a campaign of no more than a few weeks. Prime Minister Churchill forecast “a peaceful occupation for liberation purposes of French North Africa and the next step will be to build up the attack on Sicily and Italy as well as on Rommel’s back at Tripoli.”7
But Churchill also envisaged a left hook after the Allied jab with the right: a new expedition to Norway which would eliminate Axis aerial interference with the convoys to Russia and bring visible evidence to the Soviet Government that the Western Powers were waging war against the Germans.8
By November 1942, British thinking tended to favor continued Mediterranean operations. At the very time the Allied landings in North Africa were taking place, Churchill informed the British Chiefs of Staff that he foresaw for 1943 efforts to pin down enemy forces in northwest Europe by threatening a cross-Channel attack; by invading Italy or southern France, preferably the latter; and by pressure “to bring in Turkey and operate overland with the Russians into the Balkans.”9
Toward the end of the same month, he felt that the paramount task was to conquer North Africa and use the bases established there to strike at the Axis underbelly. The second immediate objective, he considered, should be either Sardinia or Sicily. Churchill considered Sicily by far the greater prize.10 Accordingly, the British Joint Planners already had code names, appreciations, and outline plans for attacking the major Italian islands: BRIMSTONE for Sardinia; HUSKY for Sicily.
Elated by the initial successes gained by the North African venture, President Roosevelt supported British inclinations toward a Mediterranean strategy. On 18 November, the President proposed to Churchill a survey of all possible insular and peninsular invasion targets along the southern fringe of the European continent: Sardinia, Sicily, Italy, Greece, and the Balkans.11
Roosevelt’s thoughts did not reflect a unified outlook in the American camp.
Maj. Gen. Thomas T. Handy of OPD saw the continuation of operations in the Mediterranean beyond North Africa as logistically unfeasible and strategically unsound. He recommended either the continuation of ROUNDUP as originally planned or turning the weight of America’s resources against Japan.12
In the middle of December 1942, General Marshall still hoped for a cross-Channel attack in 1943—a modified ROUNDUP. Marshall wanted to turn back to the main road immediately after what he considered the North African detour. According to a private conversation reported by Field Marshal Sir John Dill, Marshall was “more and more convinced that we should be in a position to undertake a modified ‘Round-up’ before the summer if, as soon as North Africa is cleared of Axis forces, we start pouring forces into England instead of sending them to Africa for the exploitation of ‘TORCH.’ Such an operation would, he [Marshall] feels, be much more effective than either ‘BRIMSTONE’ or ‘HUSKY,’ less costly in shipping, more satisfying to the Russians, engage more German air forces, and be the most effective answer to any German attack through Spain.”13
Churchill’s and Marshall’s views were colored by early successes in Africa. The race for Tunisia was on. Until Christmas of 1942, the Allies hoped to seize Tunisia quickly. But it soon became clear that the North African campaign would be long and hard and that the next operations beyond North Africa would follow not in the spring, but in the summer of 1943. Furthermore, the Axis reaction required more Allied resources than initially allotted and outgrew the proportions contemplated in the TORCH planning phase.
In this new situation the U.S. Joint Chiefs felt the need for a long-range view in order to guide American mobilization and the allocation of men and material. Early in December they had proposed a strategy of three basic elements: a balanced build-up in the United Kingdom for a cross-Channel attack in 1943; a great air offensive against Germany from bases in England, North Africa and the Middle East; and a massive air bombardment of Italy “with a view to destroying Italian resources and morale and eliminating her from the war.”14 They made no reference to further operations in the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, Allied Force Headquarters (AFHQ) in the Mediterranean, commanded by Lt. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, had begun to consider possible alternatives beyond TORCH. It looked at Sardinia as a possible next step after North Africa, and made this proposal to the chiefs in London and Washington.15
The British Chiefs gave greater support to this proposal than the American Joint Chiefs who gave it only limited encouragement.16
The British were thinking of what would later be termed a peripheral strategy to defeat Germany: continue the build-up in the United Kingdom; initiate operations in the Mediterranean against Sicily, Sardinia, Italy, and the Balkans; and hold back the effort against Japan. The Americans, by contrast, were eager to initiate direct action against Germany by means of a power thrust across the English Channel. If no offensive action against Germany were possible in the near future, the Americans were ready to consider increasing their allocations to the Pacific theaters for more powerful blows against the Japanese. In the view of Admiral King, the defeat of Japan would be infinitely more difficult once the Japanese had consolidated their conquests.17
After studying the British views, General Marshall concluded that the British Chiefs wanted the build-up in the United Kingdom but not the cross-Channel operation until a serious crack in German morale appeared. Opposed to any offensive action that might result in a heavy loss of resources inimical to the cross-Channel thrust, in particular the loss of shipping, Marshall did not entirely rule out operations in the eastern Mediterranean—near Palestine, Iraq, or Cyprus—in order to retain Turkish good will and perhaps even to induce Turkish support of the Allies. But he opposed an invasion of Sardinia, which, he felt, would be too costly in terms of shipping.18
Neither Americans nor British had as yet mentioned the possibility of a return to the Continent by the Mediterranean route, though both agreed that the elimination of Italy from the war was a desirable aim. A seed of serious disagreement on the price to pay for this goal—a difference which would emerge full-blown at the next major conference in May 1943 (TRIDENT)—already was apparent in early January. The Americans obviously were willing to pay only a small price. Although they accepted the need of putting pressure on Italy to bring about Italian collapse, they believed that air operations from North Africa would be enough, and they rejected the idea of ground operations on the Italian mainland. The British were not averse to paying a higher price to knock Italy out of the war. They were interested in eliminating Italy as a means of diminishing German strength. Churchill noted that the North African campaign had compelled the Germans to shift eleven divisions to southern France, thus weakening the forty-division force that garrisoned and protected the Channel areas of northern France and the Netherlands. He predicted that the Germans would probably need to move four to six divisions into Italy against the threat of Allied invasion of Sardinia and other vulnerable targets in the Mediterranean. Dispersing German strength and stretching the German defensive line in Europe
would, of course, facilitate Allied re-entry into the Continent by way of northern France.19 Carrying the thought further, some British planners explored the possibilities of “an offensive aimed at the collapse of Italy, and subsequently developed against the Balkans.” One conclusion was that “the loss of either Sardinia or Sicily would almost certainly lead to the collapse of Italy.” It would then be necessary for Germany to fill the vacuum by increasing the German commitment in Italy and the Balkans to the extent of twenty to thirty additional divisions.20
Immediately before departing for Casablanca, President Roosevelt called his Joint Chiefs to the White House on 7 January 1943 to determine whether they had formulated what might he considered an American position. Acting as spokesman, General Marshall admitted that though the Joint Chiefs regarded a cross-Channel strategy more favorably than a Mediterranean course of action, the question remained open. He summarized the British position as he understood it to maintain the momentum of the North African campaign even at the expense of a build-up in the United Kingdom, and to attempt to bring about the collapse of Italy in order to force the commitment of additional German military units to replace Italian troops in Italy and the occupied countries.
General Marshall saw the issue primarily in logistical terms. He declared his willingness to take tactical risks, but he preferred not to gamble with shipping. Heavy shipping losses in an operation such as an invasion of Sardinia, he said, might destroy the opportunity to close with the main enemy in the near future. If he had to choose between Sardinia and Sicily, Marshall would favor the latter. Sicily was a more desirable, though probably a more difficult objective because it had more and better airfields. But any operation in the Mediterranean, Marshall believed, would impose a limit on the resources that could be sent to the United Kingdom. Admiral King added his explicit preference for Sicily over Sardinia, if a choice had to be made, for his primary concern was the protection of sea lanes of communications in the Mediterranean. Allied possession of Sicily would insure a sheltered corridor between the island and the African north coast. All the Joint Chiefs were agreed in opposing the concept of invading the southern shore of the European continent. When they indicated that Sardinia looked like a blind alley, the President summed up their feeling by saying that if the Allies took Sardinia, they could shout “Hooray,” and then ask, “Where do we go from here?” The only argument in favor of invading Sardinia, Marshall remarked, was Eisenhower’s suggestion that the operation could be mounted from outside the Mediterranean, perhaps one division coming directly from the United States, several from England.21
The American party, with the exception of Admiral William D. Leahy, who was ill, arrived in Casablanca on 13 January. Before meeting formally with the British, the Joint Chiefs again came together
to try to work out a clear-cut American position. Concerned with the diversion of resources in the struggle against Germany and Japan, Admiral King urged the formulation of an over-all strategy which would enable the Americans to resist expected British pressure in favor of an invasion of Sardinia. But General Marshall made no real effort to unite the American Joint Chiefs except to emphasize the necessity of a cross-Channel invasion. Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell Commanding General, Services of Supply, estimated that once the Mediterranean was cleared of enemy forces the Allies would save 1,825,000 tons of shipping in the first five months. King supported the estimate and spoke in favor of opening the Mediterranean to eliminate the long voyage around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. Saving cargo space, the Americans believed, was much more important than eliminating Italy from the war, an aim which they were sure the British would favor.
Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark, Eisenhower’s deputy commander in chief in the Mediterranean, who was asked to consult with the Joint Chiefs, estimated that an operation against either Sardinia or Corsica could not be undertaken before the summer of 1943 because an all-out offensive against the Axis forces in Tunisia could not be mounted until the middle of March. To expel the Axis from North Africa by spring, the Allies would have to build up a force of half a million men. Might it be better, after North Africa had been cleared, to use critical shipping space to move part of that force elsewhere? Or should the force be used in operations launched directly from North Africa? If, as AFHQ calculated, four divisions plus service troops and air force units were needed for occupation and other purposes, Clark said, it would be necessary to keep 250,000 men in North Africa. An excess of some three American divisions and the entire British First Army would then remain in the theater at the conclusion of the North African campaign.
The main concerns of the U.S. Joint Chiefs before their meetings with the British at Casablanca were three: the shortage of shipping; how to use excess forces in the theater at the end of the Tunisia Campaign; and apprehension that the British would insist on invading Sardinia.22
Somewhat ironically, the main concern of the British Chiefs was their apprehension that the Americans would prefer the invasion of Sardinia over that of Sicily. Field Marshall Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, who spoke for the British when the conference opened on 14 January, indicated a lessening of anxiety with respect to Spain, which was increasingly likely to remain neutral, and at the other end of the Mediterranean a more positive hope that Turkey, though not expected to undertake an active campaign in the Balkans, might grant the Allies air bases from which to launch attacks against the German oil supply in Rumania. In the center of the Mediterranean area, Brooke suggested, the Allies had their major opportunity—to knock Italy out of the war; to force Germany to disperse her resources, and thereby to give positive aid to the Russians. As for the cross-Channel operation, Brooke estimated that the Allied build-up in England would total thirteen British and nine American
divisions by August 1943; these would comprise a force large enough to take advantage of a break in German morale.
Brooke the next day, 15 January, again urged the elimination of Italy from the war. He presented several choices of invasion: Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, and the Dodecanese. The threat to all these islands would compel Germany to take defensive measures or face the prospect of relinquishing them. With Italy out of the war, Germany would have to make larger commitments of military forces to hold Italy and the Balkans. The British favored Sicily as the best invasion target but did not advocate going beyond it unless Italy collapsed completely. “We should be very careful about accepting any invitation to support an anti-Fascist insurrection,” General Brooke warned. “To do so might merely immobilize a considerable [Allied military] force to no purpose.”23
Relieved that the British were not interested in occupying Italy, and beginning to feel that he was fighting a losing battle for a cross-Channel attack in 1943, General Marshall did not oppose an operation against Sicily. One of the strongest reasons was his appreciation of the need to use the excess of Allied troops that would remain in North Africa after Tunisia was clear of Axis forces. He therefore urged that operations undertaken in the Mediterranean be conducted with troops already in the theater. Yet he returned to a question more fundamental than the immediate issue—what
about an over-all strategy? “Was an operation against Sicily merely a means toward an end, or an end in itself? Is it to be part of an integrated plan to win the war or simply taking advantage of an opportunity?”
The questions were asked, but they were not answered. Perhaps they could not be. Perhaps the Americans had, as Churchill remarked with some annoyance, an “undue liking for logical clear-cut decisions,” whereas the British were basically inclined toward an opportunistic approach to strategy.24
Despite their differences, the British and Americans reached agreement on the fourth day of the conference, 18 January. They decided then to invade Sicily following completion of the Tunisian campaign. As General Marshall explained, although the Americans preferred a cross-Channel attack in 1943, they were willing to accept an invasion of Sicily because of the large number of troops which would become available in North Africa, the great economy in shipping tonnage to be obtained (the major consideration), and the possibility of eliminating Italy from the war and thereby forcing Germany to assume responsibility for Italian commitments.25
On the question of alternative operations, General Marshall reiterated American opposition to an invasion of Sardinia because that island offered merely an air advantage whereas either Sicily or the cross-Channel operation might produce decisive results. Though invading Sicily would be more difficult than invading Sardinia, Marshall was more concerned with the security of Mediterranean shipping and with the immediate effects of operations against Germany, however indirect, than he was with eliminating Italy from the war. General Brooke, though stating his general agreement, insisted that plans be prepared for other operations on which the Allies could fall back in case of absolute necessity. The British and the Americans could not resolve differences of opinion, and in the end the decision for Sicily was the only concrete achievement of the Casablanca Conference affecting Mediterranean strategy.
In discussing the date of the projected invasion of Sicily, the British mentioned 22 August as coinciding with the favorable phase of the moon, though they were willing to settle on another, possibly earlier, date. Favorable lunar conditions actually represented a compromise between the divergent requirements of the Navy and of the airborne units—airborne troops needed a brief period of moonlight for their drops, the fleet required total darkness to cover its approach toward the Sicilian shore. When Admiral King proposed 25 July as another suitable date, the CCS quickly approved. The CCS also decided that General Eisenhower was to command the operation, General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander was to be the deputy commander in chief and in charge of the ground warfare, Admiral Sir Andrew B. Cunningham was
to command the naval forces, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder was to be the air commander.26
General Eisenhower was “infuriated” with the new command establishment and planned to combat actively “intrusion of the British Committee system” into the Allied Force Headquarters “scheme of things.” He drafted a cable to the Combined Chiefs demanding a continuation of the centralization of command in his own person, which he felt had worked so well during the early stages of TORCH. The cable was never dispatched. At the insistence of Maj. Gen. Walter B. Smith, his chief of staff, General Eisenhower tore up the draft; Smith felt this was no time to be “creating any fuss.” Thus, General Eisenhower found himself lifted to a supreme command with actual operations to be conducted by a committee of commanders over which he presided.27
From even immediate retrospect, the decision for Sicily represented a compromise between American and British views. The purposes of the invasion were to secure the Mediterranean sea lanes, to divert pressure from the Russian front, and to intensify pressure on Italy. There was no agreement on the matter of the Mediterranean versus cross-Channel strategy, no agreement on what to do beyond Sicily, no agreement even that knocking Italy out of the war was the immediate objective of Anglo-American strategy—merely hope that the limited insular operations might, in conjunction with air bombardment, force Italy from the war. Even the expression of this hope reflected a difference that was later to emerge as a head-on clash. In the session of 18 January, General Marshall remarked “that he was most anxious not to become committed to interminable operations in the Mediterranean.” He wished northern France to be the scene of the main effort against Germany. Air Chief Marshall Sir Charles Portal, chief of the British Air Staff, replied that “it was impossible to say exactly where we should stop in the Mediterranean since we hoped to knock Italy out altogether.”28
Toward the end of the Casablanca Conference President Roosevelt, in a seemingly offhand manner, announced to the press the unconditional surrender formula to be imposed upon Germany, Italy, and Japan. The phrase was not made on the spur of the moment, for Mr. Roosevelt had discussed the matter with his Joint Chiefs on 7 January. He had told them of his intention to speak with Mr. Churchill on the advisability of informing Marshal Joseph Stalin (who had declined two invitations to confer with the American and British leaders) that the United Nations would prosecute the
war until they reached Berlin and that their only terms would be unconditional surrender. Mr. Roosevelt’s original thought was to assure the Soviet Government that the Anglo-American allies would make no separate peace in the west. Sometime before 20 January, he had proposed to Churchill that they make a public announcement. At Casablanca some thought was given to excluding Italy in the hope that the omission would encourage Italian collapse. When the Prime Minister on 20 January wired a report of the conference to the War Cabinet in London, he asked its views on an official statement. The Cabinet discussed the matter and expressed a desire for even greater rigor. In view of the misgivings that might arise in Turkey and the Balkans if Italy were excepted, the Cabinet recommended that unconditional surrender be applied to all three chief enemy powers alike. Although Churchill personally had no reservations on the unconditional surrender formula or on application of it to Italy, he was nevertheless surprised at the President’s public announcement; but, recovering quickly, he indicated his full support.29
TRIDENT: Beyond Sicily
The CCS at Casablanca were hopeful that an amphibious invasion of Sicily and a subsequent ground campaign on that island, together with intensified air bombardment of the Italian mainland, would produce Italian collapse. But after the conference, as planners in Washington, London, and Algiers began to consider the Sicilian decision, the question arose not only how to use the Allied forces in the Mediterranean if the Sicilian Campaign did indeed precipitate Italian collapse, but also what to do if it did not.
An Italian collapse would leave Germany facing three alternatives, all of them favorable to the Allies: (1) occupation of Italy, Sicily, and perhaps Sardinia; (2) withdrawal from Italy but reinforcement of the Balkans; and (3) occupation of both Italy and the Balkans. The Allies regarded the latter as the most improbable of the three alternatives, for they felt that Germany did not have the resources to undertake so large an enterprise while at the same time trying to stabilize the Russian front.
If the invasion of Sicily did not lead to Italian collapse, the Allies could move into three areas, each with disadvantages as well as benefits. The invasion of the Continent through southern France could be undertaken with profit only in conjunction with an assault from the United Kingdom; immediate preparatory steps would be the conquest of Sardinia, Corsica, and possibly of the Italian Riviera for air bases. An invasion of the Italian mainland would bring the difficult problem of maintaining internal security and perhaps even of establishing civil administration throughout the country; nor was a crossing of the Alps enticing. Entrance into the Balkans would threaten Rumanian oil, perhaps induce Turkey to enter the war on the Allied side, and possibly force the Germans to abandon Greece and the Aegean Islands; but several subsidiary operations were necessary first—the capture of Crete and occupation of the toe and heel of Italy to insure control of the
Strait of Messina and to open up the Adriatic.30
Top Allied commanders in the Mediterranean were in general agreement except Air Chief Marshal Tedder, who felt that the planners had not properly evaluated the benefits to be realized from an invasion of the Italian mainland. North Italy in particular was attractive, he believed, for the air bases that would permit intensification of the air offensive. Italy, Tedder declared on 26 March 1943, was “the backdoor of Germany’s vitals,” and he called for a fuller examination of this target area.31
Embarked on an examination of what might be required if Italy did not collapse during or after the Sicilian Campaign,
AFHQ planners continued to feel that the Allies ought to seize Sardinia and Corsica. Conquest of all three islands “and the subsequent bombing offensive against Italy which can be conducted from bases in these islands” might be sufficient to drive Italy out of the war. If not, air action from these islands could cover amphibious operations launched either through Genoa into the Lombard plain or into the Rome–Naples area. Invading Italy directly from Sicily, without the prior conquest of Sardinia and Corsica, as a means of forcing Italian collapse was a possibility not even considered.32
Though General Eisenhower agreed with his planners and though he kept open the possibility of moving into the Balkans, he was convinced that the best strategy for the Allies was a cross-Channel blow—a main assault against Germany from England and through northern France. Yet even as he asked General Marshall for his views on the best courses of action in various assumed situations—that Sicily would prove difficult to conquer; that the Sicilian operation would proceed according to plan and without great difficulties; and that the Sicilian defenses would collapse suddenly—Eisenhower outlined his own ideas on possible Mediterranean operations. Seeing Sardinia and Corsica as immediate objectives after Sicily, he indicated that General Henri Philippe Giraud, commander of the Free French forces in North Africa, had specifically requested permission to take Corsica, a request Eisenhower favored granting. More important, the long-range implication of taking the major Tyrrhenian islands, Eisenhower thought, was the need to invade the Italian mainland immediately thereafter, particularly since the Italian west coast seemed very weakly defended. The major objection to an Italian campaign appeared to be the great material investment required, not only to support the troops but to nourish the Italian population. The main advantage to be gained was the basing of bombers within better range of such critical targets as the Ploesti oil fields. Or, Eisenhower suggested, the attack on the southern shore of Europe could be shifted eastward in the Mediterranean, an attractive course in view of Turkey’s neutrality, but disadvantageous because of the lengthening of Allied sea communications. Yet in the final analysis, if Mediterranean operations interfered with the build-up required for the cross-Channel attack, Eisenhower favored calling a halt to further offensive warfare in the Mediterranean.33
To AFHQ planners, a campaign on the Italian mainland seemed heavily weighted on the side of disadvantage. If Italy remained in the war or if Germany strongly reinforced the Italian peninsula, the Allies might find themselves committed to a major campaign necessitating heavy garrison requirements, heavy shipping and economic commitments, and heavy military forces—even though the campaign were limited to the toe and heel areas. Since the AFHQ planners were unable to gauge in advance the state of Italian morale at the end of the Sicilian Campaign, they preferred the insular operations, particularly because only comparatively limited forces would be needed. This would give the Allies full
liberty of action to strike, at the conclusion of HUSKY, in whatever direction seemed advisable at that time.34
Tedder continued to disagree. The difficulties of a Sardinian operation, he said, were consistently being glossed over and the air advantages of Sardinia grossly exaggerated. He insisted that he perceived a great benefit to be obtained from establishing air bases in central Italy for bombing targets in Germany.35
Though Brig. Gen. Lowell S. Rooks, the AFHQ G-3, presented on 8 May an outline plan for an invasion of Sardinia and proposed that the operation be entrusted to the Fifth U.S. Army, now commanded by General Clark and engaged in occupation and training duties in French Morocco, Eisenhower refrained from issuing a directive.36 He awaited guidance from the CCS, but until the British and Americans came closer in their strategic thinking, the CCS could give no advice or instruction.
British planners in London believed that upon the collapse of Italy Germany would withdraw its military forces at least as far to the north as the Pisa–Ravenna line to cover the Po valley, thus permitting the Allies to land directly in southern and central Italy without great difficulty. They also envisaged the possibility of offensive action in the Balkans. They therefore recommended a series of expeditions to exploit Italian collapse—not against determined German resistance, but rather to follow the expected German withdrawal everywhere in the Mediterranean. After these advances and occupations, the Allies could then face the problem of choosing the route for the decisive strike against the enemy heartland.
The British were not thinking of deploying great armies on the Continent, where the decisive strike would be made. They were thinking rather of the large-scale employment of air power, of cutting the German lines of economic supply, of drawing in new allies such as Turkey, of aiding patriot forces in Yugoslavia, of stimulating political revolt in Hungary. As a consequence, logistical problems were no more important than other factors of politico-strategic planning. Furthermore, the British had no liking for far-reaching plans. They wished instead to retain a freedom of choice and the ability to adjust to new opportunities as they arose.37
The effect of this thinking on a cross-Channel attack was to reduce it to a moderate-scale operation, one of many which might be executed if the situation appeared favorable. If, for example, the Allies decided to invade southern France, then a limited cross-Channel operation might have value as a holding attack to divert German ground and air forces from the main invasion area.
Specifically, the big prize for the British was eliminating Italy from the war. They therefore excluded immediate operations against the Dodecanese “since the capture
of these islands would have no immediate effect on the collapse of Italy.”38
If Italy did not fall after Sicily, was Sardinia and Corsica or the Italian mainland the better invasion target in order to produce Italian surrender? If Italy did not sue for peace during the Sicilian Campaign, the British planners recommended invading the toe of Italy (Operation BUTTRESS) as soon as possible after Sicily. Whereas AFHQ planners tended to think of the insular operations as necessary preliminaries to the Italian mainland, the British considered the problem as a choice between the islands and the mainland.
Both invasion targets imposed difficulties. An amphibious operation against a defended shore would not be easy, particularly because of shortages of landing craft. Escort carriers would be needed to provide air cover for the landings, and these could be had only at the expense of requirements in the Atlantic. Considerable quantities of shipping would also be necessary. But, as the British put it, “In the long run, the War in Europe would thus be shortened and the switch over of our European resources to the War against Japan would be brought correspondingly closer.”39
In the spring of 1943, while considering the choice of immediate targets after Sicily, the British planners preferred the Italian mainland over Sardinia and Corsica. Operations on the mainland, they believed, would more likely lead to Italian collapse that year and would open a land front capable of attracting and containing more Axis forces. Capture of Sardinia and Corsica, on the other hand, would increase the weight of Allied aerial pressure on Italy, but not until the spring of 1944. The British, therefore, favored an operation (BUTTRESS) against the toe of Italy before completion of the Sicilian Campaign or as soon thereafter as possible, with the initial objective to capture Reggio di Calabria across the Strait of Messina and to open a land front on the European continent. The campaign on the Italian mainland was to develop toward Crotone in the Italian instep (GOBLET) and toward the heel (MUSKET) with Bari and Naples as eventual objectives. If opposition seemed strong enough to deny the Allies the heel, Sardinia could be an alternative target.40
Although considerable long-range politico-strategic speculation took place in London in the spring of 1943, the focus was on immediate and short-range possibilities. The next Allied task, according to the British view, was to force Italy out of the war, and the best way to assure this was by invading the mainland as soon as possible and at the nearest point. No grand design for winning the war by the Mediterranean route was even implied. British long-range planning faded out at the Alps or on the fringes of the Balkan peninsula.41
In contrast, the Americans felt that the single route by which a great Allied army might penetrate the shore defenses of the Continent and break through to the vital area of German power was by way of northern France, and this General Marshall emphasized when he replied to General Eisenhower’s request of 19 April for his views. Yet General Marshall admitted that plans to seize Sardinia or Corsica or both had to be available for immediate implementation if the Sicilian Campaign went according to plan or if the Italians suddenly collapsed. An all-out invasion of Italy, Marshall believed, would have such an effect on shipping as virtually to put a stop to serious offensive operations elsewhere in the world. “The decisive effort,” Marshall was sure, “must be made against the Continent from the United Kingdom sooner or later.”42
American planners in Washington were searching for a grand design by which to reach the heartland of Europe. Visualizing large-scale armies re-entering the Continent to engage the Axis armies in decisive battle, they wanted a basic overall plan to which could be fitted such matters as war production, the raising of forces, and the movement of those forces to the theaters of war. Hence they regarded approaches to the Continent in terms of where these approaches would lead. They were concerned about the stretch of road beyond the point where British thinking stopped. Having gained a beachhead on the Continent, could the Allies develop it into a base capable of supporting a feasible and effective drive into Germany?
In assessing Mediterranean possibilities in terms of a decisive blow to be struck against Germany, the American planners examined the Iberian Peninsula, southern France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, the Aegean Islands, and Turkey as possible entrances into the Continent. But none offered the possibility of a strong base backing a good route for a great Allied movement into Germany.
To invade Europe by way of Italy and southern France seemed the best of the Mediterranean approaches, and these possibilities the American planners studied with care. They soon concluded that there seemed little point in considering anything beyond the initial move into Italy. Collapse or unconditional surrender of Italy, they recognized, would make it necessary for Germany to divert some fifteen divisions to replace Italian troops in occupied areas; the Italian Fleet would probably be lost to the Germans, as would certain industrial and agricultural products of marginal significance; and the Allies would gain an area from which to conduct air operations against German industrial centers. But the planners calculated that these disadvantages to Germany would in part be offset by certain advantages. Germany would regain the use of rolling stock required to supply Italy with some twelve million tons of coal annually, and would probably seize a large part of the Italian railroad cars. It would save not only coal but also bread grains and other materials provided to the Italian ally. The loss of Italy to the Germans, therefore, would be a decidedly mitigated one. Although occupation of Italy after its collapse would give the Allies a small quantity of critical nonferrous metals and some supplemental supplies of certain agricultural
products, as well as enhanced safety of ship transport through the Mediterranean, they would be burdened with a heavy occupational and administrative force of some fifteen divisions. It would drain shipping resources, for an estimated one and a half million dead-weight tons of merchant shipping would be needed to maintain the Italian economy at a minimum level, a requirement the Allies would find very difficult to meet. Political and psychological gains were speculative and incapable of precise measurement, whereas the burden of supporting an Italy pried loose from the Axis was a tangible consequence—a huge subtraction from Allied shipping and manpower resources.43
The American Chiefs wanted a definite commitment and a definite date for a cross-Channel attack as the main effort of the Allies in Europe.44 While rejecting the Mediterranean as unsuitable for a main effort, the American Chiefs did not rule out limited operations in this area. A blow against the Dodecanese, they admitted, would be most suitable for bringing Turkey into the war as an ally. Occupation of the toe and heel of Italy, they estimated, would be the best way to compel the dispersion of Axis forces, divert German divisions from the Russian front, and “best satisfy a situation whereby a limited scale operation might force Italy out of the war.” But because operations against Sardinia and Corsica would be limited in size and scope, the U.S. Chiefs judged such a course as the least objectionable—in general, the most acceptable alternative if political pressure impelled the Allies to take some action between the completion of the Sicilian Campaign and the inception of the cross-Channel endeavor. In any case, a choice among the three possible acceptable limited operations, the U.S. Chiefs felt, ought to be postponed as long as possible in order to better assess the motives impelling additional operations in the Mediterranean.45
Thus, on the question of what to do after Sicily, a gap still existed between American and British views. The British wanted to put all resources available in 1943 into the Mediterranean and to force Italy out of the war by invading Calabria, the toe of the Italian mainland, at its nearest point to Sicily, and eventually to secure the airfields of central Italy and those in the north. But they did not foresee the movement of large Allied armies from the Mediterranean into the heartland of the continent to meet the Germans directly. The Americans wished precisely what British planning avoided—a grand scale re-entry into the Continent, which meant a main effort across the Channel and through northern France. They did not wish to win the fight on points, they wanted a knockout. Opposed to the occupation of Italy because Italy was not a vital area and because an Italian invasion would involve a huge shipping commitment, the Americans envisaged Mediterranean operations
beyond Sicily as involving limited objectives and sustained by limited resources. Seizing Sardinia and Corsica, perhaps even the heel of Italy, might be sound, but a landing on the toe of Italy seemed unwise.
As for the unconditional surrender formula, which was to have an indirect effect on the combat not only in Sicily but beyond, President Roosevelt had reiterated in February the remark he had first made at Casablanca the previous month. In March, when British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden came to Washington to discuss political matters, the phrase again came under consideration. President Roosevelt once more declared that “he wanted no negotiated armistice after the collapse.” The Allies, he said, “should insist on total surrender with no commitments to the enemy as to what we would do or what we would not do after this action.”46
Soon after Eden’s departure the State Department submitted several memorandums to the White House dealing not only with the treatment of Italy but also with the Allied military government to be established there. Unconditional surrender was the implicit assumption in all the State Department’s papers. Thus, the department recommended the removal of “the entire fascist party leadership from local party secretaries to the top.” Yet the department recommended that local technical and professional officials be retained in the lower ranks, responsible to the military administration. President Roosevelt was dissatisfied. With the advice of Harry Hopkins he revised this to read: “On the basis of unconditional surrender, the entire fascist party membership from the highest to the lowest should be removed from any post of government authority.” Although the State Department suggested “some special treatment” of the power of Crown, the President simply deleted the statement.47 Not only was Roosevelt preparing to demand unconditional surrender, he was also ready to assume the responsibility, through military government, for the domestic regeneration of the country.
All these matters came under examination at the next formal meetings of the CCS, held at Washington between 12 and 25 May 1943 and called the TRIDENT Conference—where “the movements of the land, sea, and air forces of the American and British Allies combined ... [were] translated into firm commitments.”48
Mr. Churchill and the British Chiefs of Staff sailed on the Queen Mary on 4 May for the United States. During the voyage the British leaders worked out their final paper proposing the seizure of a beachhead on the toe of Italy, followed by an assault in the heel, and finally an advance up the Italian boot. Soon after the Prime Minister and his party of about one hundred persons reached Washington by special train from New York, the British delegation delivered the paper to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff as the basis for discussion.49
As Churchill stepped off the train in the U.S. capital, he was in fine fettle.
He was big and magnificent, Washington loved him, and the whole nation admired his courage. Invited to speak before the Congress, he made an impression there that no foreigner since Lafayette had equaled. His straightforward, simple words, his great speaking voice, came at a time for rejoicing, for his visit coincided with the final Allied victory in Tunisia. There was much to cheer about, and there was no one who could better lead the cheering.
It was one thing for Churchill to speak to the public in generalities. It was another matter for him to match his persuasive powers and oratorical talents against the careful calculations of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff. At the plenary opening session of TRIDENT, held in the White House on the afternoon of 12 May, the Prime Minister sketched out the British view for the full employment of all Allied resources in the Mediterranean in 1943 and the relegation of a cross-Channel attack to the indefinite future. Admitting the need to find employment for the large Allied forces in the Mediterranean theater, President Roosevelt drew back from the idea of putting large military forces into Italy. Mr. Churchill expressed a lack of enthusiasm for Roosevelt’s proposal for reconstituting
Italy, stating that he did not feel an occupation of the country would be necessary. If the Italians collapsed, the United Nations could occupy the necessary ports and air bases from which to conduct operations against the Balkans and southern Europe, but they could let an Italian government control the country, subject to United Nations supervision.50
When the Combined Chiefs met to work out a program in detail, the Americans suggested that winning the war against Japan and the European Axis were aspects of a single problem. The Americans still favored the basic goal of defeating Germany first, but to them that meant a determined attack against Germany on the Continent at the earliest possible date. A strategy of nibbling at the periphery of German power, the Americans implied, was equivalent to repudiating the idea of first defeating Germany. And in that event, though they did not state it, the inference was clear—the Americans would consider seriously concentrating the greater part of their resources against Japan.51
The American position clearly set the limits to the discussions at TRIDENT. If the British had had any thought of candidly proposing to discard the cross-Channel concept in favor of a Mediterranean strategy, they abandoned the notion at the outset. The official discussions accepted in principle the American frame of reference—all proposed operations were to be weighed in terms of a cross-Channel attack.
The British nevertheless insisted that the main Allied task in 1943 was the elimination of Italy from the war. The continuance of Mediterranean operations and the intensification of the Allied bomber offensive, the British felt, were the only methods of giving effective aid to the Russians that year.52 When General Marshall suggested that air power could hasten the collapse of Italy, General Brooke voiced doubt that air bombardment alone would be enough. Admirals King and Leahy cautioned against diverting to, or maintaining in, the Mediterranean forces that could be used in a cross-Channel operation. Suspicious that the British were not really converted to the cross-Channel idea, the Americans stated that U.S. ground and naval forces in the Mediterranean would not be used east of Sicily.53 The British protested that a premature attempt to land in France would court disaster. The Americans continued to argue that further ground operations in the Mediterranean would delay the invasion of northwest Europe and prolong the war. Reassured by British declarations accepting the cross-Channel concept, the Americans agreed to consider Mediterranean operations beyond Sicily as preliminary steps for re-entry into northern France.54
By the end of the first week the issue was clear: would Mediterranean operations facilitate and expedite the main attack
based on the United Kingdom?55 As the CCS debated the question during the second week of the conference, the Americans proposed halting ground force operations at the Messina Strait, the British persisted in their desire to eliminate Italy as a requisite preliminary for the main attack into northern France. Where the discussion concerned a course of action for the immediate future, the British made some telling arguments and presented their case skillfully. The Americans couched their views chiefly in negative terms, but held out for a cross-Channel attack in April 1944.56 The British pointed out the loss of deception that would result from discontinuing operations in the Mediterranean and concentrating forces in the United Kingdom; the threat that could be created against southern France; and other benefits implicit in their concept. Eliminating Italy from the war might even make the difference, they claimed, between success and failure in the invasion of northwest Europe in 1944. The British believed that continued operations in the Mediterranean need not detract from the build-up in the United Kingdom.57
By 18 May the Americans were coming around to the modified British position. General Brooke emphasized the low cost of the Mediterranean strategy, a loss of only three and one-half or four divisions from the build-up of forces in the United Kingdom. General Marshall still had doubts, for he feared that Mediterranean operations might exceed in magnitude those now visualized because a drive in Italy might generate its own momentum and draw in increasing numbers of troops.58 Finally, the American Chiefs accepted the elimination of Italy as a prerequisite for a cross-Channel attack, although they insisted on holding Mediterranean operations to a role subordinate to re-entry into northern France in the spring of 1944. The date originally proposed for the cross-Channel attack was 1 April 1944, the conclusion of the fourth phase of the Allied bomber offensive against Germany and the earliest practicable date from the point of view of weather. But when General Brooke noted that 1 May or 1 June would coincide more nearly with the spring thaw and the opening of operations on the Russian front, the CCS readily accepted a postponement.59
Final agreement came on 19 May. The CCS decided to launch the cross-Channel attack on 1 May 1944 and to eliminate Italy from the war immediately. For the latter purpose, General Eisenhower could use only those forces already in the Mediterranean, less seven divisions to be withdrawn on 1 November 1943 and transferred to the United Kingdom.60 The Mediterranean strategic plan transmitted by the CCS to General Eisenhower directed the Allied commander “to plan such operations in exploitation of HUSKY [the invasion of Sicily] as are best calculated
to eliminate Italy from the war and to contain the maximum number of German forces.” Which of the various possible plans beyond Sicily would be adopted and exactly how far along the southern approaches the Allies would go were matters that the CCS reserved for future determination.61
TRIDENT, as it turned out, was only one stage in the protracted Anglo-American struggle to reach agreement on a Mediterranean versus a cross-Channel strategy.
Keenly disappointed because the TRIDENT Conference did not commit the Allies to an invasion of the Italian mainland and still confident that an attack on Italy, if properly pushed, might be decisive enough to make unnecessary General Marshall’s direct attack on Germany, Churchill decided to press his case in another quarter. Since General Eisenhower now had the responsibility of formulating specific plans designed to knock out Italy, Churchill determined to fly to Algiers, there to attempt to influence the planning in favor of the Italian mainland instead of Sardinia and Corsica. He made no secret to Mr. Roosevelt of his hopes and intentions. Lest he appear to exert undue influence on the Allied field commander, Churchill requested that General Marshall accompany him. General Marshall did so, along with General Brooke and General Sir Hastings L. Ismay.62
Churchill had wanted for some weeks to consult with General Eisenhower. He apparently hoped that a powerful blow against Italy might start in the unstable Mediterranean-Balkan region a kind of chain reaction, the ultimate results of which, together with Russian pressure, might render Germany incapable of continuing the war. General Brooke, and apparently Churchill too, subscribed to the belief that only the armies of Soviet Russia could yield decisive results in continental warfare; an Anglo-American force would be, in comparison, only a drop in the bucket. Brooke therefore urged that Allied strategy be directed toward diverting German strength from the Russian front so as to enable the Soviets to inflict a decisive defeat on the Germans. Naval blockade and aerial bombardment, in Brooke’s opinion, were the prime Allied weapons. Tremendous losses sustained in a ground campaign, he maintained, would be useless, and a land front in Italy was about the size he thought appropriate for the Allies.63
The formal meetings of what became known as the Algiers Conference opened on 29 May 1943 in General Eisenhower’s villa as ten British officers, including Brooke, Alexander, Cunningham, and
Tedder, and four American officers, Marshall, Eisenhower, Smith, and Rooks, met with Mr. Churchill. General Marshall came right to the point. When, he asked, should Eisenhower submit his plan for eliminating Italy from the war? He suggested that Eisenhower set up two headquarters in different places, each with its own staff, one to prepare operations against Sardinia and Corsica, the other operations against the mainland. As soon as the situation in Sicily became clearer, the choice could be made and the appropriate air and naval elements shifted to the force charged with executing the plan.
Mr. Churchill expressed the thought that the Sicilian Campaign—now less than six weeks away—might proceed too rapidly, thereby causing an embarrassing interlude of Allied inactivity. Eisenhower quickly replied that he would be willing to go straight into Italy if Sicily fell easily. But beyond that, the same factors of uncertainty that had precluded a firm choice of plan at TRIDENT—the strength of Italian resistance and German intentions—still obtained at Algiers. All agreed that it would be unwise to attack the Italian mainland against strong resistance. After considerable discussion on the opposition to be met in Sicily, including Churchill’s guess that the campaign would end by 15 August, Eisenhower summarized three possibilities: (1) if the enemy collapsed quickly in Sicily, immediate operations should be undertaken against the Italian mainland; (2) if the enemy offered prolonged resistance on Sicily, no Allied resources would be available for immediate post-Sicily operations; (3) if resistance was stubborn but could be overcome by the middle of August, no decision could be made in advance. The best idea, Eisenhower said, was for him to designate two separate headquarters to plan for the alternative courses of action.64
This was the extent of the decision reached at Algiers, even though Churchill began to talk of Rome as the most productive Allied objective in the theater. “The capture of Rome, with or without the elimination of Italy from the war,” he concluded, “would be a very great achievement for our Mediterranean forces.”65
Not only the ancient capital but the prospect of sweet revenge on Mussolini, once greatly admired by Churchill but now the object of his distaste, fascinated the Prime Minister. Control of the Adriatic ports would also make it possible to supply the patriot bands in the Balkans, particularly in Yugoslavia, and to foment revolt in Greece and Albania. And Turkey—this time surely the conditions would be ripe for Turkey’s entrance into the war.66
One other matter came under discussion at Algiers: the bombing of Rome. Because daylight precision bombardment was quite accurate, the Allies could bomb railroad marshaling yards with little risk of damaging the city and no danger of hitting the Vatican. A tenable objection no longer existed. The conferees agreed that the marshaling yards were an important target, and they decided to request
permission from their respective governments to authorize General Eisenhower to bomb them at a time best suited to advance the Sicilian Campaign.67
The Surrender Problem
And what if Italy surrendered? How were the Allies to accept an Italian surrender and validate it? This was as much a political as a military problem.
The first set of armistice terms for use in Italy emerged from the planning for the conquest of Sicily. As early as 29 April, General Eisenhower had forwarded a set of terms to Washington for approval by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The twenty-one clauses of this instrument provided in detail for full use by the Allies of all material resources in Sicily for further prosecution of the war. With a few minor changes, the terms had been approved by the CCS on 10 May.68 Though surrender was to be unconditional, the terms did not deal with the sovereignty of the Italian state or the question of the continuance of the Italian monarchy. In formulating the paper, General Eisenhower had been considering a situation in Sicily where the enemy field commander might wish to surrender the whole island.
At about the same time, the U.S. Joint Chiefs began to study the problem of Italian surrender from a broader viewpoint. The Joint War Plans Committee (JWPC) assumed that civil war, collapse, or unconditional surrender might occur in Italy.69 Civil war was the most unlikely. But if a revolution developed, the Allies could establish ground and air forces in Italy to support the revolutionists, give economic assistance, and secure from the revolutionary government military bases useful in the further prosecution of the war. Collapse might arise from Italian military reverses, from German refusal of further military assistance, from destruction caused by Allied air attacks, from a loss of faith by the Italian people in their leadership. In this situation, the Germans would probably withdraw from Italy. The Allies might then occupy a defensive line in north Italy, establish air bases in Italy, provide garrisons to maintain order, and give economic assistance. The Italian Government might surrender—but this was scarcely to be expected from Mussolini, who was publicly branded in the Allied camp as a war criminal. Yet the Italian Government might nevertheless try to negotiate for an armistice.70
To the British planners, the Italian alternatives seemed clearly collapse or surrender. In the event of collapse, a draft declaration of the United Nations to Italy, setting forth the general purposes of continuing the war against Germany from Italian soil, might be sufficient. In the event of surrender, the sovereign government of Italy would have to make a legal guarantee that all opposition against
United Nations military operations would cease, and that the Allies could make full use of Italian territory, facilities, and resources to prosecute the war against Germany. For this contingency, the British proposed a formal list of armistice terms totaling forty-five articles, which formed the basis of what later became known as the Long Terms.71
The British submitted to the CCS the draft of their armistice terms on 16 June, and requested that if approved the terms be submitted to the Soviet Union and to the other governments at war with Italy. The U.S. Joint Chiefs referred the British draft to the Civil Affairs Division (CAD) for study, and the CAD recommended withholding concurrence because the British draft instrument “does not constitute an unconditional surrender.” The CAD proposed that, after surrender, the Italian Government cease to exist, at least for the period of the war against the Axis—that it be superseded by an Allied military government functioning throughout Italy, except over the Vatican City.72 The U.S. Joint Chiefs accepted the recommendation (after the concurrence of the State and Treasury Departments) on 29 June, and presented it, with minor modifications, as a substitute for the British proposal.
When the CCS on 2 July—a week before the invasion of Sicily—considered the problem of Italian surrender, a gap existed between British and American views, a gap so wide that no reconciliation of views was immediately possible. The CCS decided to refer both British and American proposals to a newly established Combined Civil Affairs Committee (CCAC).73
When the CCAC took up the problem on 10 July, the British members requested instructions from their capital. On this point the Anglo-American machinery for directing the war stalled. For, seventeen days later, though the Sicilian Campaign was by then well under way, the British representatives were still waiting to receive the views of their government.74
A remarkably skillful and successful organization in formulating a military strategy, the CCS could not draw up an Anglo-American political program. Planning the Italian surrender, like the strategic planning to achieve it, had to await further developments and the outcome of the combat in Sicily.