The White House Historical Association / Home
The White House Historical Association / Classroom
graphic detail
graphic detail
PRIMARY DOCUMENTS  |  Provoked by Pearl Harbor: The White House Meetings of FDR and Churchill, December, 1941
graphic detail
 

Activities: II. Inside the White House  |  Back to Activity


C. Churchill: Preparing to meet President Roosevelt

In order to prepare myself for meeting the President and for the American discussions and to make sure that I carried with me the two Chiefs of Staff, Pound and Portal, and General Dill, and that the facts could be checked in good time by General Hollis* and the Secretariat, I produced three papers on the future course of the war, as I conceived it should be steered. Each paper took four or five hours, spread over two or three days. As I had the whole picture in my mind it all came forth easily, but very slowly. In fact, it could have been written out two or three times in longhand in the same period. As each document was completed after being checked I sent it to my professional colleagues as an expression of my personal convictions. They were at the same time preparing papers of their own for the combined Staff conferences. I was glad to find that although my theme was more general and theirs more technical there was our usual harmony on principles and values. No differences were expressed which led to argument, and very few of the facts required correction. Thus, though nobody was committed in a precise or rigid fashion, we all arrived with a body of doctrine of a constructive character on which we were broadly united.

The first paper assembled the reasons why our main objective for the campaign of 1942 in the European theatre should be the occupation of the whole coastline of Africa and of the Levant from Dakar to the Turkish frontier by the British and American forces. The second dealt with the measures which should be taken to regain the command of the Pacific, and specified May 1942 as the month when this could be achieved. It dwelt particularly upon the need to multiply aircraft-carriers by improvising them in large numbers. The third declared as the ultimate objective the liberation of Europe by the landing of large Anglo-American armies wherever was thought best in the German-conquered territory, and fixed the year 1943 as the date for this supreme stroke.

I gave these three papers to the President before Christmas. I explained that while they were my own personal views, they did not supersede any formal communications between the Staff.

I couched them in the form of memoranda for the British Chiefs of Staff Committee. Moreover, I told him they were not written expressly for his eye, but that I thought it important that he should know what was in my mind and what I wanted to have done and so far as Great Britain was concerned, would try to bring to action. He read them immediately after receiving them, and the next day asked whether he might keep copies of them. To this I gladly assented. . . . 

In October I could only tell him what our British ideas and plans were while we remained alone. We were now Allies, and must act in common and on a greater scale. I felt that he and I would find a large measure of agreement and that the ground had been well prepared. I was therefore in a hopeful mood. 

* Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, British First Sea Lord; Air Marshall Sir Charles Portal, British Chief of Airf Staff; Field Marshall Sir John Dill, British Chief of the Imperial General Staff; General Sir Leslie Hollis, Assistant Secretary of the British War Cabinet.


The Grand Alliance, pp. 573-574





Return to PRIMARY DOCUMENT LESSONS: "FDR and Churchill"

The White House Historical Association | Classroom



graphic detail
White House History / Navigation WHHA / Museum Shop WHHA Home WHHA / White House Christmas Ornament WHHA / White House History WHHA / The Classroom WHHA / Publications WHHA / Press Room WHHA / About Us
graphic detail
 
graphic detail
The White House Historical Association | P.O. Box 27624 | Washington, D.C. 20038-7624 | (202) 737-8292 |
graphic detail
The White House Historical Association / Home