3-589 Memorandum for the President, April 3, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 3, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

April 3, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: ANAKIM.

With reference to your comments yesterday1 on the possible reduction if not omission of the ANAKIM operation commencing late in November or early in December, I submit the following:


The agreed strategy for the Pacific was to retain the initiative by maintaining pressure on the Japanese and advancing into a position of readiness for a full-scale offensive following the defeat of Germany.

The abandonment of ANAKIM would to a material extent permit the Japanese to pursue the following courses of action:

Attack our ground installations for the maintenance of air communication into China.

Bomb Calcutta and other Eastern India centers to demoralize their British control and prestige.

Concentrate more heavily against the Southwest Pacific with the possibility of effecting a landing at Port Darwin as a diversionary measure.

Any reverse in the South or Southwest Pacific will immediately compel the diversion of more tonnage to that region with its long turn-around and serious effect on BOLERO shipments. If Chennault’s air offensive is punishing to the Japanese, a violent reaction against our air communications with China would be inevitable, and if successful might well have a disastrous effect on the whole Chinese situation.

The British requests for U. S. shipping covering the present plans for ANAKIM amount to 25 ships per month in April, May, and June, and 19 ships per month in July and August. It is possible that we can better this outlay by the use of the Mediterranean route, thus shortening the haul and obviating the necessity of the early departure of the ships from England.

Limited ANAKIM

We have made a superficial estimate of a more limited ANAKIM operation (without reference to Stilwell) which would:

Continue pressure on the Japanese in Burma, compelling a dispersal of their forces to our advantage in the Pacific.

Protect our air installations.

Open a land route to China via LEDO-MYITKYINA-BHAMO-LASHIO (this route plus the contemplated air ferry route would handle approximately 30,000 tons of supplies a month).

The modified operation would involve three phases:

I. Capture of the airfield at Akyab by the British, followed by the capture of Ramree Island. Simultaneously there would have to be a Naval demonstration in the Bay of Bengal to convince the Chinese that we have control of the waters in that area.

II. A British advance towards Pakokku and Mandalay from their present positions in the Imphal-Chindwin River-Chin Hills area. A Chinese (Ramgarh Force) advance from Ledo to Myitkyina.

III. Chinese advance from Yunnan to Myitkyina-Bhamo-Lashio, to make a junction with the Chinese forces from the Ledo area and eventually with the British at Mandalay.

The Chinese are not now aware of the full extent of the British proposed ANAKIM operation on Rangoon; this at Wavell’s personal request. However, I fear that any intimation to them at the present time we are considerably modifying the original ANAKIM proposal would stir up a vigorous reaction, notwithstanding the fact that they are reluctant to put their troops into an offensive action. What they are insisting on is the Naval concentration and British offensive action, with U. S. troops alongside the British to guarantee, they say, aggressive action.

I have only been able to give superficial consideration to the proposed modified operation, and the matter of tonnage adjustments is still in a fluid state. Therefore I would not wish to commit myself to a fixed opinion at this time as to the pros and cons in this matter.

I might say that the operations and shipping people tell me that at present the situation is as follows: The British have committed to ANAKIM personnel ships sufficient for a lift of 7,000 men per month, and the equivalent of one cargo sailing per month (that is, about 10% of the cargo sailings scheduled for the Indian theater). The British have requested the United States to supply 113 sailings to the Indian theater during the period April-August 1943, inclusive, but General Somervell considers that their needs could be met if 90 sailings were provided during the same period. Our own requirements for that theater are relatively light and their reduction would have little effect on other operations, but if the 90 ships involved in the British request were made available for BOLERO and not diverted to British imports as a result of a cancellation or modification of ANAKIM, the initial equipment and maintenance for approximately 215,000 troops could be transported to the U. K. during the remainder of 1943.

This assistance to Bolero build-up would be especially valuable during the summer when the overall shipping situation is tightest. Likewise, if the British troop ships now programmed for ANAKIM were placed in the North Atlantic run, an additional 10,000 men per month could be moved to the U. K. Thus, while our own commitments to the Indian area have little bearing on BOLERO, the overall shipping involved, if applied to BOLERO build-up would materially increase our effective strength in the U. K. before the end of 1943.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. General Marshall dictated this memorandum to his secretary on March 31, 1943. He had attended a meeting at the White House with President Roosevelt on March 30.

2. Marshall had sent a copy of this memorandum to Admirals Leahy and King on April 3. “I think this is a splendid statement of the situation, and that the President should have it,” replied Leahy. Admiral King recommended adherence to the decision to implement ANAKIM. “I feel that we should continue our decision to build up ANAKIM and that shipping for this purpose should be allocated,” replied King. “I recognize that a limited ANAKIM, such as is set forth in your Memorandum, may be found necessary.” (Marshall Memorandum for Admiral Leahy, April 3, 1943, and King Memorandum for General Marshall, April 3, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 381 ANAKIM (4-3-43)].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 627-629.

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