Roosevelt to Stalin – No ‘Second Front’ this year

The B-17 Flying Fortress “The Memphis Belle” is shown on her way back to the United States June 9, 1943, after successfully completing 25 missions from an airbase in England. Source: USAF. Historic Wings has more on the Memphis Belle.

The B-17 Flying Fortress “The Memphis Belle” is shown on her way back to the United States June 9, 1943, after successfully completing 25 missions from an airbase in England. Source: USAF. Historic Wings has more on the Memphis Belle.

The USAAF had arrived in Britain in force less than a year ago , they were now part on the main Allied strategy to relieve the pressure on Russia for the forthcoming year.

The USAAF was now well established in the UK. HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth are greeted by Brigadier Frank Hunter and Major General Ira Eaker of the 8th US Army Air Forces on a visit to Duxford, 26 May 1943.

The USAAF was now well established in the UK.
HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth are greeted by Brigadier Frank Hunter and Major General Ira Eaker of the 8th US Army Air Forces on a visit to Duxford, 26 May 1943.

In a message received in Moscow on the 4th June Roosevelt explained at length the current war situation. He knew that there would be disappointment that there would be no ‘Second Front’ in Europe this year but he tried to play up the other measures that the western Allies were taking to force the Germans to divert forces away from Russia:

Basic strategy in the recent decisions approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff…

In respect support of the USSR, the following decisions were made: the air offensive now being mounted against enemy-held Europe will be intensified, for the three-fold purpose of destruction of enemy industry, of whittling down of German fighter plane strength, and for the breaking down of German civil moral …

In March, there were about 350 United States heavy bombers in England. At the present time there are about 700. Plans call for 900 at the end of June, 1,150 at the end of September and 2,500 by the first of April.

It has been decided to put Italy out of the war at the earliest possible moment … The collapse of Italy will greatly facilitate the carrying out of the air offensive against South and East Germany, will continue the attrition of their fighter strength and will jeopardize the Axis position in the Balkan area.

With Africa firmly in our hands, it was decided that it was now feasible to resume the concentration of ground forces in England … there should be a sufficiently large concentration of men and material in the British Isles in the spring of 1944 to permit a full-scale invasion of the continent at that time. The great air offensive will then be at its peak.

A certain number of landing craft have necessarily been sent to the South-west Pacific, the Aleutians, and to the Mediterranean. The necessity of so doing has of course reduced by that extent the number of such boats sent to England. This has been the most important limiting factor as far as operations out of England have been concerned.

The decisions enumerated and explained above are believed to be such that the enemy will be forced to disperse his ground forces to an extensive degree, both to oppose actual attacks and to guard against the possibility of attack. He will in addition be subject to heavy and continuous activity in the air.

When signs of Axis weakness become apparent in any quarter, actual attacks and threats of attack will easily and quickly be translated into successful operations. We believe that these decisions as stated herein will require the full resources which we will be able to bring to bear.

The number of USAAF planes in England was set to more than treble over the course of the forthcoming year.

The number of USAAF planes in England was set to more than treble over the course of the forthcoming year.

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