4-265 To General Dwight D. Eisenhower, February 21, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 21, 1944

Subject: World War II

To General Dwight D. Eisenhower

February 21, 1944 Radio No. 151 Washington, D.C.


For Eisenhower London from Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Reference your proposal to British COS on February 19th and their COS (W-1156) to United States COS urging complete abandonment of ANVIL:1 You were delegated to represent United States Chiefs of Staff in conference with British COS on question of OVERLORD-ANVIL. At present moment we have no clear cut statement of basis of your agreement or disagreement with them and the situation is therefore seriously complicated. Please seek an immediate conference and reach agreement or carefully stated disagreement, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff will support your decision subject of course to the approval of the President.2

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Top Secret Message File CM-OUT-8770, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. General Eisenhower had informed the British Chiefs of Staff on February 19 that additional naval lift capability for amphibious operations beyond OVERLORD’S requirements would permit ANVIL on a two-division basis, but there would be nothing left over for Italian operations. He added that ANVIL would force the Germans to retain divisions in southern France and allow the maximum commitment of Allied strength on the continent of Europe. (Papers of DDE, 3: 1732-34.) Eisenhower also sent a message to General Marshall on February 19 in which he described his recent meeting with the British Chiefs of Staff. Eisenhower stated his continued interest in a two-division ANVIL, but he added that if the operation must be reduced below that level ANVIL should be abandoned and the troops gathered for it committed to Italian operations. Recent operations in Italy, he told Marshall, “have been leading me personally to the conclusion that ANVIL will probably not be possible.” He had suggested to the British Chiefs of Staff that the Combined Chiefs of Staff must soon decide if “the prospects in the Mediterranean can really offer any reasonable chance of executing ANVIL.” (Ibid., pp. 1735-36.)

On the same day the British Chiefs of Staff sent to the Joint Staff Mission in Washington their reaction to Eisenhower’s proposal. The British Chiefs believed that retention of ANVIL was resulting in Allied resources being “skimped” for both OVERLORD and ANVIL and that an increased German commitment to the defense of Italy presented the Allies with the same opportunities to tie down German forces there as would be presented through an invasion of southern France. Given the current situation in Italy the prospect of launching ANVIL was, in the opinion of the British Chiefs of Staff, “exceedingly remote,” and they strongly recommended “the immediate cancellation of ANVIL.” (British Chiefs of Staff C.O.S. [W] 1156 to Joint Staff Mission, February 19, 1944, NA/RG 165 [ODD, Exec. 10, Item 52a].)

2. This Radio No. 151, hand-drafted by Marshall, was sent out in conjunction with Radio No. 153 to Eisenhower from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Radio No. 153 included the text of a memorandum that the J.C.S. had submitted to the British Chiefs of Staff on February 21, after considering C.O.S. (W) 1156. The Joint Chiefs of Staff supported ANVIL being launched on a two-division basis. “All combat ground forces in the Mediterranean should be considered available to the Italian campaign but U.S. and French units being rehabilitated should be re-equipped and trained for ANVIL as required.” The employment of French units in the invasion of southern France should be considered. (Joint Chiefs of Staff to Eisenhower, Radio No. 153, February 21, 1944, NA/ RG 165 [ODD, TS Message File (CM-OUT-8837)].) Eisenhower responded to the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Radio No. 153 on February 22 that the ANVIL landings were contingent upon the success of operations in Italy. (Papers of DDE, 3: 1744-45.) Also on February 22, Eisenhower and the British Chiefs of Staff agreed to maintain the status quo regarding Italy and ANVIL until March 20, when they would review the situation. For further discussion of ANVIL, see Marshall Memorandum for General Handy, March 14, 1944, and Marshall to Eisenhower, March 16, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-290 [4: 341-43] and #4-296 [4: 348-50].

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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 313-314.

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