Received on January 5, 1942
I am much concerned to read in the American papers the article in the Pravda of December 31st,17 as it is assumed that such articles have the approval of the Russian Government. I feel that you will allow me to point out to you the very great danger which might be caused here by a continuation of such criticism. From the very first day of the Nazi attack on you I have laboured to get all possible support for Soviet Russia in the United States, and therefore I venture to send you this most private and entirely friendly comment.
Sent on January 8, 1942
Thank you for the message and your solicitude for the progress of Soviet-American relations. The Pravda article to which you refer is not at all official and certainly has no other aims in view but the interests of the fight against aggression, which are common to our countries. For its part the Soviet Government is doing, and will certainly continue to do its utmost to strengthen Soviet-American relations.
Received on January 15, 1942
I am very glad to receive your kind telegram, which reached me through Monsieur Litvinov on January 9th. The papers here are filled with tributes to the Russian armies, and may I also express my admiration of the great victories which have rewarded the leadership and devotion of the Russian forces. I am emphasising in my talks here the extreme importance of making punctual deliveries to Russia of the promised quotas.
I send you every good wish for the New Year.
Sent on January 16, 1942
I have received your message of January 15.
I sincerely thank you for your good wishes for the New Year and the successes of the Red Army. I greet you and the British Army on the occasion of your major successes in North Africa.
Received on February 11, 1942
Words fail me to express the admiration which all of us feel at the continued brilliant successes of your armies against the German invader, but I cannot resist sending you a further word of gratitude and congratulation on all that Russia is doing for the common cause.
Sent on February 14, 1942
Thank you for your congratulations on the successes of the Red Army. Despite the difficulties experienced on the Soviet- German front and on the other fronts, I do not doubt for a moment that the mighty alliance of the U.S.S.R., Great Britain and the U.S.A. will crush the enemy and achieve complete victory.
Received on February 24, 1942
The twenty-fourth anniversary of the foundation of the Red Army is being celebrated today after eight months of a campaign which has reflected the greatest glory on its officers and men and has enshrined its deeds in history for all time. On this proud occasion I convey to you the Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and to all members of the Soviet forces, an expression of the admiration and gratitude with which the peoples of the British Empire have watched their exploits and of our confidence in the victorious end of the struggle we are waging together against the common foe.
Received on March 12, 1942
I have sent a message to President Roosevelt urging him to approve our signing agreement with you about the frontiers of Russia at the end of the war.18
2. I have given express directions that supplies promised by us shall not in any way be interrupted or delayed.
3. Now that season is improving we are resuming heavy air offensive both by day and night upon Germany. We are continuing to study other measures for taking some of the weight off you.
4. The continued progress of the Russian armies and the known terrible losses of the enemy are naturally our sources of greatest encouragement in trying period.
Sent on March 14, 1942
Thank you very much for your message, transmitted in Kuibyshev on March 12.
Please accept the Soviet Government’s gratitude for the information on the steps you have taken to ensure deliveries to the U.S.S.R. and to intensify the air offensive against Germany.
I feel entirely confident that the combined efforts of our troops occasional setbacks notwithstanding, will culminate in crushing the common enemy and that the year 1942 will see a decisive turn on the anti-Hitler front.
As to paragraph one of your message – concerning the frontiers of the U.S.S.R. – I think we still shall have to exchange views on the text of an appropriate treaty, if it is approved for signing by both parties.
Received on March 21, 1942
Many thanks for your reply to my latest telegram. Lord Beaverbrook is off to Washington where he will help to smooth out the treaty question with the President in accordance with the communications which have passed between us and between our Governments.
2. Ambassador Maisky lunched with me last week and mentioned some evidences that Germans may use gas upon you in their attempted spring offensive. After consulting my colleagues and the Chiefs of Staff I wish to assure you that His Majesty’s Government will treat any use of this weapon of poison gas against Russia exactly as if it was directed against ourselves. I have been building up an immense store of gas bombs for discharge from aircraft and we shall not hesitate to use these over all suitable objectives in Western Germany from the moment that your armies and people are assaulted in this way.
3. It is a question to be considered whether at the right time we should not give a public warning that such is our resolve, as a warning might deter the Germans from adding this new horror to the many they have loosed upon the world. Please let me know what you think about this and whether the evidence of preparations warrants a warning.
4. There is no immediate hurry and before I take a step which may draw upon our citizens this new form of attack I must of course have ample time to bring all our anti-gas preparations to extreme readiness.
5. I trust you will give our new Ambassador19 an opportunity of presenting this message himself and the advantage of personal discussion with you. He comes as you know almost direct from close personal contact with General Chiang Kai-shek, which he has maintained during the last four years. He enjoyed, I believe, the General’s high regard and confidence. I hope and believe that he will equally gain yours. He is a personal friend of mine of many years standing.
Thank you for the message which reached me through Mr Kerr a few days ago. I have had a talk with Mr Kerr, and my impression is that our joint work will proceed in an atmosphere of complete mutual trust.
I convey to you the Soviet Government’s gratitude for the assurance that the British Government will treat any use of poison gas upon the U.S.S.R. by the Germans as if that weapon were directed against Great Britain and that the British Air Force will not hesitate to use the large store of gas bombs available in Britain for dropping on suitable targets in Germany.
According to our information poison gas may be launched against the U.S.S.R. not only by the Germans, but also by the Finns. I should like what you say in your message about retaliation with gas attack upon Germany to be extended to Finland in the event of the latter assaulting the U.S.S.R. with poison gas.
I think it highly advisable for the British Government to give in the near future a public warning that Britain would treat the use of poison gas against the U.S.S.R. by Germany or Finland as an attack on Britain herself and that she would retaliate by using gas against Germany.
It goes without saying that, if the British Government so desires, the U.S.S.R. is prepared in its turn to issue a similar warning to Germany against a German gas attack upon Britain.
The Soviet Government holds that a British Government warning to Germany on the above lines should come not later than the end of April or early May.
The Soviet Government would be most grateful if the British Government could help the U.S.S.R. to obtain certain chemical means of defence it lacks, as well as means of chemical retaliation against eventual chemical attack upon the U.S.S.R. by Germany. If you have no objection I could send an authorised person to Britain shortly to take care of the matter.
March 29, 1942
Received on April 10, 1942
Yours of March 29th.
At the beginning of May I shall make an announcement warning the Nazis about our retaliating with poison gas for similar attacks on you. The warning will of course be applied equally to Finland and they will be mentioned though I do not see how we can get at them.
2. Please send your specialist in chemical means of defence and counter-attack to explain exactly what materials the Soviet Government requires from this country. We will then do our best to meet his wishes.
3. We could certainly let you have at least one thousand tons of Mustard and one thousand tons of Bleaching by the first available ship, if necessary in advance of your expert’s report. There is more danger to troops in the open field from Mustard Spray than to people in towns.
Thank you for the readiness you have expressed to give a warning to Germany and Finland early in May concerning the use of poison gas by Britain in the event of Germany and Finland resorting to that weapon in the war against the U.S.S.R.
I express to you my gratitude for the readiness to supply 1,000 tons of Mustard and 1,000 tons of Bleaching. Since, however, the U.S.S.R. has a more pressing need for other chemicals, the Soviet Government would like to receive, instead of the products mentioned above, 1,000 tons of calcium hypochloride and 1,000 tons of chloramine or, if these products cannot be supplied, 2,000 tons of liquid Bleaching in holders. The Soviet Government intends to send Andrei Georgiyevich Kasatkin, Deputy People’s Commissar of the Chemical Industry, to London as its expert in chemical defence and counterattack.
2. A few days ago the Soviet Government received from Mr Eden the drafts of two treaties between the U.S.S.R. and Britain, which substantially depart on certain points from the texts of the treaties discussed during Mr Eden’s stay in Moscow.20 As this circumstance involves fresh differences which it is hard to iron out by correspondence, the Soviet Government has resolved, despite the difficulties, to send V. M. Molotov to London for personal talks with a view to settling the issues holding up the signing of the treaties. This is all the more essential as the question of a second front in Europe raised by Mr Roosevelt the U.S. President, in his latest message to me, inviting- V. M. Molotov to Washington to discuss the matter, calls for a preliminary exchange of views between representatives of our two Governments.
Please accept my regards and wishes for success in the fight against the enemies of Great Britain.
April 22, 1942
Received on April 25, 1942
I am very grateful to you for your message of April 23rd,21 and we shall of course welcome Monsieur Molotov, with whom I am confident we shall be able to do much useful work. I am very glad that you feel able to allow this visit, which I am sure will be most valuable.
Received on April 27, 1942
Many thanks for your message of April 22nd. His Majesty’s Government will of course be very happy to receive M. Kasatkin and will do their best to supply your requirements after discussion with him.
I have a request to you. Up to 90 shiploads of essential war supplies for the U.S.S.R. have accumulated at present in Iceland and on the approaches to Iceland from America. I understand that the ships have been delayed for a long time owing to the difficulty British naval forces have in running a convoy.
I am conscious of the real difficulty involved and I know about the sacrifices which Britain has made in this matter. Nevertheless, I consider it possible to request you to do your utmost to ensure delivery of those cargoes to the U.S.S.R. during May, when we shall need them badly for the front.
Please accept my best regards and good wishes.
May 6, 1942
Received on May 11, 1942
I have received your telegram of May 6th and thank you for your message and greetings. We are resolved to fight our way through to you with the maximum amount of war materials. On account of the Tirpitz and other enemy surface ships at Trondhjem the passage of every convoy has become a serious fleet operation. We shall continue to do our utmost.
No doubt your naval advisers have pointed out to you the dangers to which the convoys are subjected from attack by enemy surface forces, submarines and the air from various bases in enemy hands which flank the route of a convoy throughout its passage.
Owing to adverse weather conditions the scale of attack which the Germans have so far developed is considerably less than we can reasonably expect in future.
We are throwing all our available resources into the solution of this problem, have dangerously weakened our Atlantic convoy escorts for this purpose, and as you are no doubt aware have suffered severe naval casualties in the course of these operations.
I am sure that you will not mind my being quite frank and emphasising the need of increasing the assistance given by the U.S.S.R. naval and air forces in helping to get these convoys through safely.
If you are to receive a fair proportion of the material which is loaded into ships in the United Kingdom and the U.S.A., it is essential that the U.S.S.R. naval and air forces should realise that they must be largely responsible for convoys, whether incoming or outgoing, when to the east of meridian longitude 28 degrees east in waters which are out of sight of the Murmansk coast.
The ways in which further assistance is required from the U.S.S.R. forces are as follows:
(a) increased and more determined assistance from the U.S.S.R. surface forces;
(b) provision of sufficient long-range bombers to enable the aerodromes used by the Germans to be heavily bombed during the passing of convoys in the North Cape areas;
(c) provision of long-range fighters to cover convoys for that part of their voyage when they are approaching your coasts;
(d) anti-submarine patrols both by aircraft and surface vessels. When broadcasting tomorrow (Sunday) night I propose to make a declaration warning the Germans that if they begin gas warfare upon the Russian armies we shall certainly retaliate at once upon Germany.22
Sent on May 12, 1942
I have received your message of May 11 and thank you for the promise to take measures to deliver the maximum war materials to the U.S.S.R. We fully realise the serious difficulties which Great Britain has to overcome and the heavy naval casualties involved in carrying out that major task.
As to your proposal for increased assistance by the Soviet air and naval forces in covering the supply ships in the area mentioned by you, rest assured that we shall immediately do all we can. It should be borne in mind, however, that, as you know, our naval forces are very limited and by far most of our air forces are engaged in action at the front.
Please accept my best regards.
Received on May 20, 1942
A convoy of thirty-five ships left yesterday with instructions to make its way to you. Having about a hundred bombers, the Germans are on the look-out for these ships and escort. Our advisers believe that unless the weather is again favourable enough to hamper operations by the German air forces we should expect the greater part of the ships and the war materials they carry to be lost.
As I pointed out in my telegram of May 9th,23 a very great deal depends on the extent to which your long-range bombers can bomb enemy air fields, including the one at Bardufoss, between May 22nd and 29th. I know you will do all in your power.
If we are in bad luck and the convoy suffers very heavy losses, then the only thing we can do will be to hold up the further sailing of convoys until we have greater sea space when the ice recedes northwards in July.
Received on May 24, 1942
We have greatly enjoyed receiving M. Molotov in London and have had fruitful conversations with him on both military and political affairs. We have given him a full and true account of our plans and resources. As regards the treaty24 he will explain to you the difficulties, which are mainly that we cannot go back on our previous undertakings to Poland and have to take account of our own and American opinion.
I am sure that it would be of the greatest value to the common cause if M. Molotov could come back this way from America. We can then continue our discussions which I hope will lead to the development of close military cooperation between our three countries. Moreover I shall then be able to give him the latest development in our own military plans.
Finally I hope that political discussions might also then be carried a stage further. For all these reasons I greatly hope you will agree that M. Molotov should pay us a further visit on his way home to you.
Sent on May 24, 1942
I have received the message, transmitted in Kuibyshev on May 20, in which you say that thirty-five ships with supplies for the U.S.S.R. are en route to Soviet ports. Thank you for the message and the steps taken by you in sending the ships. Our air and naval forces will, on their part, do all they can to cover the supply ships in the sector of which you informed me in your message of May 9.23
Sent on May 24, 1942
Your latest message reached me on May 24. Both Vyacheslav Molotov and myself think it advisable for him to stop in London on his way back from the U.S.A. to complete the discussions with British Government representatives on matters of interest to our two countries.
Received on May 27, 1942
We are most grateful to you for meeting our difficulties in the treaty25 as you have done. I am sure the reward in the United States will be solid and that our three Great Powers will now be able to march together united through whatever has to come.
It has been a great pleasure to meet M. Molotov and we have done a great deal towards beating down the barriers between our two countries. I am very glad he is coming back this way for there will be more good work to be done.
So far all has been well with the convoy, but it is now at its most dangerous stage. Many thanks for the measures you are taking to help it in.
Now that we have bound ourselves to be allies and friends for twenty years I take the occasion to send you my sincere good wishes and to assure you of the confidence which I feel that victory will be ours.
Sent on May 28, 1942
I am very grateful to you for the friendly sentiments and good wishes expressed on the occasion of our signing the new treaty.25
I am certain that this treaty will be of great importance in promoting friendly relations between the Soviet Union and Great Britain, as well as between our two countries and the United States, and that it will ensure close cooperation by our three countries after victory.
I also hope that your meeting with Molotov on his way back from the United States will make it possible to complete the work left unfinished.26
As to measures for covering the convoy, you may rest assured that we are doing and will continue to do our utmost in this respect.
Please accept my sincere good wishes and the expression of firm confidence in our common complete victory.
Received on June 17, 1942
We have told you about the various indications that the Germans are fortifying the North of Norway and Finland and sending invasion ships thither.
That may serve as a portent of an attack upon Murmansk with heavy surface ships based in the Far North, with the intention of cutting our supply lines. Please let me know what you think of Joint operations with us in the areas mentioned and particularly whether you want the six Royal Air Force squadrons I referred to in my Aide-Mémoire to Monsieur Molotov.
Sent on June 20, 1942
I fully share your view of the desirability of joint operations in those two areas, but I should like to know whether British naval and land forces are planned to take part in the operations and, if so, on what scale.
Thank you very much for the promise to send six squadrons to the Murmansk area. Will you let me know when they are due to arrive?
Received on June 21, 1942
As the Soviet Union enters the second year of the war I, as Prime Minister of Great Britain, which in a few months’ time will enter on its fourth year of the war, send to you, the leader of the great Allied Soviet peoples, a renewed expression of our admiration for the triumphant defence of your armed forces, guerrilla bands and civilian workers during the past year, and of our firm conviction that those achievements will be equalled and surpassed in the coming months. The fighting alliance of our two countries and of our other Allies, to whom there have now been joined the vast resources of the United States of America, will surely bring our enemies to their knees. You can count on us to assist you by every means in our power.
During the year which has passed since Hitler fell upon your country without warning, friendly relations between our two countries and peoples have progressively strengthened. We have thought not only of the present but of the future and our treaty of alliance in the war against Hitlerite Germany and of collaboration during M. Molotov’s recent visit to this country has been welcomed as sincerely by the British people as I know it has been welcomed by the Soviet people. That treaty is a pledge that we shall confound our enemies and, when the war is over, build a sure peace for all freedom-loving peoples.
Received on July 10, 1942
I have just heard from President Roosevelt that you have consented to the transfer to our forces in Egypt of 40 Boston bombers which had reached Basra on their way to you. This was a hard request to make to you at this time and I am deeply obliged to you for your prompt and generous response. They are going straight into battle where our aircraft have been taking heavy toll of the enemy.
Received on July 18, 1942
We began running small convoys to North Russia in August 1941, and until December the Germans did not take any steps to interfere with them. From February 1942, the size of the convoys was increased, and the Germans then moved a considerable force of U-boats and a large number of aircraft to Northern Norway and made determined attacks on the convoys. By giving the convoys the strongest possible escort of destroyers and anti-submarine craft, the convoys got through with varying but not prohibitive losses. It is evident that the Germans were dissatisfied with the results which were being achieved by means of aircraft and U-boats alone, because they began to use their surface forces against the convoys. Luckily for us, however, at the outset they made use of their heavy surface forces to the westward of Bear Island and their submarines to the eastward.
The Home Fleet was thus in a position to prevent an attack by enemy surface forces. Before the May convoy was sent off, the Admiralty warned us that losses would be very severe if, as was expected, the Germans employed their surface forces to the eastward of Bear Island. We decided to sail the convoy. An attack by surface ships did not materialise, and the convoy got through with a loss of one-sixth, chiefly from air attack. In the case of the last convoy which is numbered P.Q. 17, however, the Germans at last used their forces in the manner we had always feared. They concentrated their U-boats to the westward of Bear Island and reserved their surface forces for attack to the eastward of Bear Island. The final story of P.Q. 17 convoy is not yet clear. At the moment only four ships have arrived at Archangel but six others are in Nova Zemlya harbours. The latter may however be attacked from the air separately. At the best therefore only one-third will have survived.
I must explain the dangers and difficulties of these convoy operations when the enemy battle squadron takes its station in the extreme North. We do not think it right to risk our Home Fleet eastward of Bear Island or where it can be brought under the attack of the airmen of German shore-based aircraft. If one or two of our very few most powerful types were to be lost or even seriously damaged while the Tirpitz and her consorts, soon to be joined by the Scharnhorst, remained in action, the whole command of the Atlantic would be lost. Besides affecting the food supplies by which we live, our war effort would be crippled; and, above all, the great convoys of American troops across the ocean, rising presently to as many as 80,000 in a month, would be prevented and the building up of a really strong second front in 1943 rendered impossible.
My naval advisers tell me that if they had the handling of the German surface, submarine and air forces in present circumstances, they would guarantee the complete destruction of any convoy to North Russia. They have not been able so far to hold out hopes that convoys attempting to make the passage in perpetual daylight would fare better than P.Q. 17. It is therefore with the greatest regret that we have reached the conclusion that to attempt to run the next convoy, P.Q. 18, would bring no benefit to you and would only involve a dead loss to the common cause. At the same time I give you my assurance that if we can devise arrangements which give a reasonable chance of at least a fair proportion of the contents of the convoys reaching you, we will start them again at once. The crux of the problem is to make the Barents Sea as dangerous for German warships as they make it for ourselves. This is what we should aim at doing with our joint resources. I should like to send a senior officer shortly to North Russia to confer with your officers and make a plan.
Meanwhile we are prepared to despatch immediately to the Persian Gulf some of the ships which were to have sailed in P.Q. convoy. The selection of ships would be made with the Soviet authorities in London, in order that priorities of cargo may be agreed. If fighter aircraft (Hurricanes and Aircobras) are selected, can you operate and maintain them on the Southern Front? We could undertake to assemble them at Basra. We hope to increase the through-clearance capacity of the Trans-Iranian routes so as to reach 75,000 tons monthly by October, and are making efforts to obtain a further increase. We are asking the United States Government to help us by expediting the despatch of rolling-stock and trucks. An increased volume of traffic would be handled at once if you would agree to American trucks for the U.S.S.R., now being assembled in the Persian Gulf, being used as a shuttle service for transporting goods by road between the Gulf and the Caspian. In order to ensure the full use of capacity, we agree to raise the figure of loads due to arrive in September to 95,000 tons and October to 100,000 tons, both exclusive of trucks and aircraft.
Your telegram to me on June 20th referred to combined operations in the North. The obstacles to sending further convoys at the present time equally prevent our sending land forces and air forces for operations in Northern Norway. But our officers should forthwith consider together what combined operations may be possible in or after October when there is a reasonable amount of darkness. It would be better if you could send your officers here, but if this is impossible ours will come to you.
In addition to a combined operation in the North, we are studying how to help on your southern flank. If we can beat back Rommel, we might be able to send powerful air forces in the autumn to operate on the left of your line. The difficulties of maintaining these forces over the Trans-Iranian route without reducing your supplies will clearly be considerable but I hope to put detailed proposals before you in the near future. We must first beat Rommel. The battle is now intense.
Let me once again express my thanks for the forty Bostons. The Germans are constantly sending more men and aircraft to Africa; but large reinforcements are approaching General Auchinleck and the impending arrival of strong British and American heavy bomber aircraft forces should give security to the Eastern Mediterranean as well as obstruct Rommel’s supply ports of Tobruk and Benghazi.
I am sure it would be in our common interest, Premier Stalin, to have the three divisions of Poles27 you so kindly offered join their compatriots in Palestine, where we can arm them fully. These would play a most important part in the future fighting, as well as in keeping the Turks in good heart by a sense of growing numbers to the southward. I hope this project of yours, which we greatly value, will not fall to the ground on account of the Poles wanting to bring with the troops a considerable mass of their women and children, who are largely dependent on the rations of the Polish soldiers. The feeding of these dependents will be a considerable burden to us. We think it well worth while bearing that burden for the sake of forming this Polish army which will be used faithfully for our common advantage. We are very hard up for food ourselves in the Levant area, but there is enough in India if we can bring it there.
If we do not get the Poles we should have to fill their places by drawing on preparations now going forward on a vast scale for Anglo-American mass invasion of the Continent. These preparations have already led the Germans to withdraw two heavy bomber groups from South Russia to France. Believe me there is nothing that is useful and sensible that we and the Americans will not do to help you in your grand struggle. The President and I are ceaselessly searching for means of overcoming the extraordinary difficulties which the geography, sea-water and the enemy’s air power interpose. I have shown this telegram to the President.
Sent on July 23, 1942
I have received your message of July 18.
I gather from the message, first, that the British Government refuses to go on supplying the Soviet Union with war materials by the northern route and, secondly, that despite the agreed Anglo-Soviet Communiqué28 on the adoption of urgent measures to open a second front in 1942, the British Government is putting off the operation till 1943.
According to our naval experts, the arguments of British naval experts on the necessity of stopping delivery of war supplies to the northern harbours of the U.S.S.R. are untenable. They are convinced that, given goodwill and readiness to honour obligations, steady deliveries could be effected, with heavy loss to the Germans. The British Admiralty’s order to the P.Q. 17 convoy to abandon the supply ships and return to Britain, and to the supply ships to disperse and make for Soviet harbours singly, without escort, is, in the view of our experts, puzzling and inexplicable. Of course, I do not think steady deliveries to northern Soviet ports are possible without risk or loss. But then no major task can be carried out in wartime without risk or losses. You know, of course, that the Soviet Union is suffering far greater losses. Be that as it may, I never imagined that the British Government would deny us delivery of war materials precisely now, when the Soviet Union is badly in need of them in view of the grave situation on the Soviet-German front. It should be obvious that deliveries via Persian ports can in no way make up for the loss in the event of deliveries via the northern route being discontinued.
As to the second point, namely, that of opening a second front in Europe, I fear the matter is taking an improper turn. In view of the situation on the Soviet-German front, I state most emphatically that the Soviet Government cannot tolerate the second front in Europe being postponed till 1943.
I hope you will not take it amiss that I have seen fit to give you my frank and honest opinion and that of my colleagues on the points raised in your message.
We are making preliminary arrangements for another effort to run a large convoy through to Archangel in the first week of September.
2. I am willing, if you invite me, to come myself to meet you in Astrakhan, the Caucasus, or similar convenient meeting-place. We could then survey the war together and take decisions hand-in-hand. I could then tell you plans we have made with President Roosevelt for offensive action in 1942. I would bring the Chief of the Imperial General Staff with me.
3. I am starting for Cairo forthwith. I have serious business there, as you may imagine. From there I will, if you desire it, fix a convenient date for our meeting, which might, so far as I am concerned, be between August 10 and 13, all being well.
4. The War Cabinet have endorsed my proposals.
July 31, 1942* Quoted from Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. IV, London, 1951, pp. 409-410.
Received on July 31, 1942
In addition to my previous message. We are taking preliminary steps to run a convoy of 40 ships in the first week of September. I must, however, tell you outright that unless the air threat to German surface ships in the Barents Sea is so strong as to prevent them from operations against the convoy we shall have little chance, as the experience of P.Q. 17 convoy has shown, of getting so much as one-third of the ships safely through. As you certainly know, this situation was discussed with Maisky and I understand the latter has informed you that we think minimum air cover to be indispensable.
I have received both your messages of July 31.
I hereby invite you on behalf of the Soviet Government to the U.S.S.R. for a meeting with members of the Government.
I should be much obliged if you could travel to the U.S.S.R. for joint consideration of urgent matters relating to the war against Hitler, who is now threatening Britain, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. more than ever.
I think that Moscow would be the most suitable place for our meeting, since the members of the Government, the General Staff and myself cannot be away at this moment of bitter fighting against the Germans.
The presence of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff would be most desirable.
I would request you to fix the date for the meeting at your convenience, depending on how you finish your business in Cairo and with the knowledge that there will be no objection on my part as to the date.
I am grateful to you for agreeing to sail the next convoy with war materials to the U.S.S.R. early in September. Although it will be very difficult for us to withdraw aircraft from the front, we shall take all possible steps to increase air cover for supply ships and convoy.
July 31, 1942
Received on August 1, 1942
I will certainly come to Moscow to meet you, and will fix the date from Cairo.
* Quoted from Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. IV, London, 1951, p. 410.
Received on August 5, 1942
We plan to leave here one day, arriving Moscow the next, with intermediate stop at Tehran.
Details will have to be arranged in part by our R.A.F. authorities in Tehran in consultation with yours. I hope you may instruct latter to give the benefit of their assistance in every way.
I cannot yet give any indication regarding dates beyond what I have already suggested to you.* Quoted from Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. IV, London, 1951, pp. 425.
Sent on August 6, 1942
Your message of August 5 received.
The representatives of the Soviet Air Force in Tehran have been given the necessary instructions in compliance with your wishes.
Latest reports show that we have suffered the following casualties:
Aircraft Carrier Eagle
5 Merchant Ships.
(b) Mined or torpedoed, but condition not known:
3 Cruisers – Nigeria, Kenya, Cairo.(c) Damaged:
Aircraft Carrier Indomitable by air attack.
Destroyer Foresight by torpedo.
2. Enemy losses so far reported are 2 U-boats rammed and sunk and another U-boat almost certainly sunk by air attack. (Another U-boat sunk in Atlantic on 3rd August, and one on 10th August in Mediterranean.)
3. The enemy had concentrated very large air forces and it is considered that our fighters, operating from aircraft carriers, must have done very well and got a lot.
4. There may be an action this (Thursday) morning with enemy cruisers. The enemy also has a capital ship at sea.
5. As we expected, this convoy to this vital outpost in the Mediterranean has had to fight its way through against very heavy opposition, and what will reach its destination is as yet unknown.
On the night of August 11-12 we sent out 427 bombers in all; 220 went
to Mainz where very large fires were started and 154 to Havre. The
remainder were sea-mining, etc. Sixteen bombers were lost and 3 crashed
August 13, 1942
As a result of the exchange of views in Moscow on August 12 I have established that Mr Churchill, the British Prime Minister, considers it impossible to open a second front in Europe in 1942.
It will be recalled that the decision to open a second front in Europe in 1942 was reached at the time of Molotov’s visit to London, and found expression in the agreed Anglo-Soviet Communiqué released on June 12 last.28
It will be recalled further that the opening of a second front in Europe was designed to divert German forces from the Eastern Front to the West, to set up in the West a major centre of resistance to the German fascist forces and thereby ease the position of the Soviet troops on the Soviet-German front in 1942.
Needless to say, the Soviet High Command, in planning its summer and autumn operations, counted on a second front being opened in Europe in 1942.
It will be readily understood that the British Government’s refusal to open a second front in Europe in 1942 delivers a moral blow to Soviet public opinion, which had hoped that the second front would be opened, complicates the position of the Red Army at the front and injures the plans of the Soviet High Command.
I say nothing of the fact that the difficulties in which the Red Army is involved- through the refusal to open a second front in 1942 are bound to impair the military position of Britain and the other Allies.
I and my colleagues believe that the year 1942 offers the most
favourable conditions for a second front in Europe, seeing that nearly
all the German forces – and their crack troops, too – are tied down on
the Eastern Front, while only negligible forces, and the poorest, too,
are left in Europe. It is hard to say whether 1943 will offer as
favourable conditions for opening a second front as 1942. For this
reason we think that it is possible and necessary to open a second
front in Europe in 1942. Unfortunately I did not succeed in convincing
the British Prime Minister of this, while Mr Harriman, the U.S.
President’s representative at the Moscow talks, fully supported the
August 13, 1942
In reply to Premier Stalin’s Aide-Mémoire of August 13th the Prime Minister of Great Britain states:
1. The best second front in 1942, and the only large-scale operation possible from the Atlantic, is “Torch.”29 If this can be effected in October it will give more aid to Russia than any other plan. It also prepares the way for 1943 and has the four advantages mentioned by Premier Stalin in the conversation of August 12th. The British and United States Governments have made up their minds about this and all preparations are proceeding with the utmost speed.
2. Compared with “Torch,” the attack with 6 or 8 Anglo- American Divisions on the Cherbourg Peninsula and the Channel Islands30 would be a hazardous and futile operation. The Germans have enough troops in the West to block us in this narrow peninsula with fortified lines, and would concentrate all their air forces in the West upon it. In the opinion of all the British Naval, Military and Air authorities the operation could only end in disaster. Even if the lodgment were made, it would not bring a single division back from Russia. It would also be far more a running sore for us than for the enemy, and would use up wastefully and wantonly the key men and the landing craft required for real action in 1943. This is our settled view. The Chief of the Imperial General Staff will go into details with the Russian Commanders to any extent that may be desired.
3. No promise has been broken by Great Britain or the United States. I point to paragraph 5 of my Aide-Mémoire given to Mr Molotov on the 10th June, 1942,31 which distinctly says: “We can, therefore, give no promise.” This Aide-Mémoire followed upon lengthy conversations, in which the very small chance of such a plan being adopted was made abundantly clear. Several of these conversations are on record.
4. However, all the talk about an Anglo-American invasion of France this year has misled the enemy, and has held large air forces and considerable military forces on the French Channel coast. It would be injurious to all common interests, especially Russian interests, if any public controversy arose in which it would be necessary for the British Government to unfold to the nation the crushing argument which they conceive themselves to possess against “Sledgehammer.”32 Widespread discouragement would be caused to the Russian armies who have been buoyed up on this subject, and the enemy would be free to withdraw further forces from the West. The wisest course is to use “Sledgehammer” as a blind for “Torch,” and proclaim “Torch,” when it begins, as the second front. This is what we ourselves mean to do.
5. We cannot admit that the conversations with Mr Molotov about the second front, safeguarded as they were by reservations both oral and written, formed any ground for altering the strategic plans of the Russian High Command.
6. We reaffirm our resolve to aid our Russian allies by every practicable means.
August 14th, 1942
My dear Premier Stalin,
The following is a report on the results of the battle for a Malta convoy. Only three merchant ships out of fourteen have made Malta. Another two are being towed and may reach their destination. The three that are there have delivered supplies for a period of from two to three months. Thus a fortress which is vital to the situation throughout the Mediterranean can hold out until the inevitable battle in the Western Desert of Egypt and “Torch”29 take place.
2. We paid dearly for this. The aircraft carrier Eagle was sunk, the carrier Indomitable seriously damaged by three bombs and three close bursts; two good cruisers sunk, one damaged and the fate of a third unknown; one destroyer sunk together with nine or possibly eleven fast ships, so that few are unscathed. The Rodney was also slightly damaged by a close bomb burst.
3. I hold the view that the price was worth paying. Another aspect was the sad circumstance that the warships had to operate among all those land-based enemy aircraft. We sank three U-boats and probably inflicted serious damage on the attacking air force. An Italian cruiser and battleship did not venture to attack the remnants of the convoy under the air-defence canopy of Malta. The enemy will no doubt play this up as a great sea victory, and so it would have been, were it not for the strategic importance of Malta in terms of future plans.
Winston S. Churchill
Moscow, August 14th, 1942
On arriving at Tehran after a swift and smooth flight I take occasion to thank you for your comradeship and hospitality. I am very glad I came to Moscow, firstly because it was my duty to tell the tale, and secondly because I feel sure our contacts will play a helpful part in furthering our cause. Give my regards to M. Molotov.* Quoted from Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. IV, London. 1951, p. 425.
Received on, August 31, 1942
Rommel has begun the attack for which we have been preparing. An important battle may now be fought.
Received on September 7, 1942
Convoy P.Q. 18 with forty ships has started. As we cannot send our heavy ships within range of enemy shore-based aircraft we are providing a powerful destroyer striking force which will be used against enemy’s surface ships should they attack us east of Bear Island. We are also including in convoy escort, to assist in protecting it against air attack, an auxiliary aircraft carrier just completed. Further, we are placing a strong line of submarine patrols between convoy and German bases. The risk of an attack by German surface ships still, however, remains serious. This danger can only be effectively warded off by providing in Barents Sea air striking forces of such strength that Germans will not risk their heavy ships any more than we will risk ours in that area. For reconnaissance we are providing eight Catalina flying boats and three Photographic Reconnaissance Unit Spitfires to operate from North Russia. To increase scale of air attack we have sent thirty-two torpedo-carrying aircraft which have suffered loss on the way though we hope at least twenty-four will be available for operation. These with nineteen bombers, including torpedo carrying aircraft, forty-two short-range and forty-three long-range fighters which we understand you are providing will almost certainly not be enough to act as a final deterrent. What is needed is more long-range bombers. We quite understand immense pressure put upon you on the main line of battle makes it difficult to supply any more Russian army long-range bombers. But we must stress great importance of this convoy in which we are using seventy-seven warships requiring to take in 15,000 tons of fuel during the operation. If you can transfer more long-range bombers to the North temporarily please do so. It is most needful for our common interests.
2. Rommel’s attack in Egypt has been sharply rebuffed and I have good hopes we may reach a favourable decision there during present month.
3. The operation “Torch,”29 though set back about three weeks beyond the earliest date I mentioned to you, is on full blast.
4. I am awaiting President’s answer to definite proposals I have made him for bringing a British-American air contingent into action during winter on your southern flank. He agrees in principle and I am expecting to receive his plans in detail. I will then cable you again. Meanwhile I hope planning with regard to air fields and communications may proceed as was agreed, subject to your approval, by your officers while I was in Moscow. For this purpose we are anxious to send staff officers from Egypt to Moscow in the first instance as soon as you are ready for us to do so.
5. We are watching with lively admiration the continued magnificent resistance of Russian armies. The German losses are certainly heavy and winter is drawing nearer. When I address the House of Commons on Tuesday I shall give, in what I hope you will regard as agreeable terms, an account of my visit to Moscow of which I retain the most pleasing memory of all.
6. Please give my good wishes to M. Molotov and thank him for his congratulations on my safe return. May God prosper all our undertakings.
Sent on September 8, 1942
I received your message on September 7. I realise the importance of the safe arrival in the Soviet Union of P.Q. 18 convoy and the need for measures to protect it. Difficult though we find it at present to assign extra long-range bombers for the purpose, we have decided to do so. Orders have been given today to assign an additional force of long-range bombers for the purpose mentioned by you.
I wish you success in the operation against Rommel in Egypt and all success in “Torch.”29
Received on September 13, 1942
I am much obliged for the 48 long-range bombers, 10 torpedo bombers and 200 fighters, including 47 long-range fighters, which I now learn you are sending to help bring in P.Q. 18.33
2. I thought you might like to know the weight of bombs dropped by the Royal Air Force on Germany since July 1st this year. The total amount from July 1st to September 6th was 11,500 tons. The tonnage dropped on the more important targets was: Duisburg 2,500 tons. Düsseldorf 1,250 tons, Saardrücken 1,150 tons, Bremen and Hamburg 1,000 tons each, Osnabrück 700 tons, Kassel, Wilhelmshaven, Mainz and Frankfurt all about 500 tons; Nuremberg received 300 tons and there were many other lesser tonnages. Included in the bombs dropped were six 8,000-pound bombs and 1,400 4,000-pound bombs. We have found that by using these with instantaneous fuses the bombs explode most effectively so that parachutes are not required.
Received on September 23, 1942
We have made the following estimate of German operational aircraft production, which Air Ministry believe is trustworthy. It may be of interest to you and I should be very glad to learn, at your convenience, how it squares with your own estimate of enemy output.
Following is estimate referred to:
|Junker 88||A.T.G., Leipzig||30|
|Junker 88||Arado, Brandenburg Neuendorf||30|
|Junker 88||Arado, Rathehow||(?) 25|
|Junker 88||Heinkel, Oranienburg||15|
|Junker 88||Henschel, Schonfeld||35|
|Junker 88||Junker (Dessau and Bernberg)||75|
|Junker 88||Siebel, Halle||25|
|Total Junker 88||250|
|Heinkel 111||Heinkel (Rostock and Oranienburg)||100|
|DO 217||Dornier, Allmansweiller||30|
|DO 217||Dornier, Oberpfaffenhofen||30|
|DO 217||Dornier, Wissmar||25|
|Total DO 217||85|
|HE 177||Heinkel (Rostock and Oranienburg)||15|
|FW 200||Focke-Wulf, Bremen||(?) 5|
|Junker 87||Wesser, Bremen and Lemwerder||80|
|HS 129||Henschel, Schleswig
|Total dive bombers||100|
|ME 109||Ago, Oschersleben||55|
|ME 109||Erla, Leipzig||85|
|ME 109||Fieseler Kassel (is believed to be
changing over to FW 190)
|ME 109||Messerschmitt, Regensburg||45|
|ME 109||Wiener-Neustadter, Wiener-Neustadt||85|
|Total ME 109||310|
|FW 190||Focke-Wulf, Bremen||50|
|FW 190||Arado, Warnemünde||(?) 40|
|FW 190||Fieseler Kassel||(?) 10|
|Total FW 190||100|
|Total single-engine fighters||410|
|ME 110 and 210||Gothar, Gotha||10|
|ME 110 and 210||Messerschmitt, Augsburg||80|
|ME 110 and 210||Miag Brunswick (Braunschweig)||25|
|Total twin-engine fighters||115|
|HS 126||Henschel, Schonfeld||40|
|FW 189||Focke-Wulf, Bremen||15|
|BV 141||Blohm and Voss, Hamburg||10|
(P 1 and P 2)
|Total Army reconnaissance||70|
|AR 196||Arado, Warnemünde||15|
|BV 138||Blohm and Voss, Hamburg||20|
|DO 24||Dornier, Manzell||5|
|DO 24||Aviolanda, Papendracht||5|
|Total DO 24||10|
|Miscellaneous types and unidentified production||55|
I have got the following information from the same source that I used to warn you of the impending attack on Russia a year and a half ago.34 I believe this source to be absolutely trustworthy. Pray let this be for your own eye.
“Germans have already appointed an admiral to take charge of naval operations in the Caspian. They have selected Makhach-Kala as their main naval base. About twenty craft, including Italian submarines, Italian torpedo boats and minesweepers, are to be transported by rail from Mariupol to the Caspian as soon as they have got a line open. On account of icing up of the Sea of Azov, the submarines will be loaded before completion of railway line.” Ends.
2. No doubt you are already prepared for this kind of attack. It seems to me to make all the more important the plan I mentioned to you of our reinforcing with American aid your air force in the Caspian and Caucasian theatre by twenty British and American squadrons. I have never stopped working since we were together and I hope in a week or so to have the final approval of the President and to be able to make you a definite joint offer.
3. With regard to the one hundred and fifty-four Aircobras, which have been unloaded from P.Q. 19,33 I personally authorised this at the urgent request of General Marshall, American Commander-in-Chief. They were American machines assigned to us and by us assigned to you. The American demand was urgent and explicit and was concerned with “Torch.”29 General Marshall undertook to replace them via Alaskan route forthwith. I shall telegraph to you further within the next ten days.
September 30th, 1942
I must inform you that our position in the Stalingrad area has changed for the worse since the early days of September. It appears that the Germans have large reserves of aircraft which they concentrated in the Stalingrad area, achieving a twofold air superiority. We were short of fighters with which to cover our ground forces. Even the bravest troops are helpless without air cover. What we need particularly is Spitfires and Aircobras. I have given Mr Willkie detailed information on these points.
2. Supply ships with munitions have reached Archangel and are being unloaded. This is a great help. However, in view of the shortage of tonnage we could forgo for a while certain kinds of aid and thereby reduce the demand for shipping, provided the aid in the shape of fighter aircraft is increased. We could forgo for a while our request for tanks and guns, if Britain and the U.S.A. together could supply us with 800 fighters a month – Britain giving roughly 300 and the U.S.A. 500. This aid would be more effective and would improve the situation at the front.
3. Your intelligence to the effect that Germany’s monthly output of operational aircraft does not exceed 1,300 does not tally with our information. According to our data, the German aircraft industry, including plants in the occupied countries making aeroplane parts, turns out some 2,500 operational aircraft a month.
October 3, 1942
Received on October 9, 1942
Further to paragraph one of my message of September 30th, my later information shows that the German plans for sending shipping to the Caspian by rail have been suspended.
Received on October 9, 1942
We shall attack in Egypt towards the end of this month and “Torch”29 will begin early in November. The effect of these operations must be either:
(a) to oblige the Germans to send air and land forces to counter our move, or
(b) to compel them to accept new position created by our success which would then create a diversion by threat of attack against Sicily and South of Europe.
2. Our attack in Egypt will be in good force. “Torch” will be a heavy operation in which, in addition to United States Navy, 240 British warships and more than half a million men will be engaged. This is all rolling forward irrevocably.
3. The President and I are anxious to put an Anglo-American force on your southern flank and operate it under strategic control of Soviet High Command. This force would consist of following: British – 9 Fighter Squadrons, 5 Bomber Squadrons. United States – 1 Heavy Bombardment Group, 1 Transport Group. Orders have been issued by us to assemble this force and take their station so that they would be available for combat early in the New Year. Most of this force will come from Egypt as soon as they can be disengaged from the battle there, which we believe will be successful on our part.
4. In a letter, which M. Maisky delivered to me on October 5th, you asked for a great increase in fighter aircraft supplies for Russia by this country and the United States. We will send you as soon as possible by the Persian Gulf route 150 Spitfires with equivalent of 50 more in the form of spares to be sent as they become available as a special reinforcement which we cannot repeat. This special reinforcement is over and above protocol supplies35 by the northern route so far as it- can be used. President Roosevelt will cable separately about United States contribution.
5. I was greatly relieved that so large a proportion of the last convoy reached Archangel safely. This success was achieved only because no less than 77 warships were employed on the operation. Naval protection will be impossible until our impending operations are completed. As necessary escorts are withdrawn from “Torch” they can again be made available in northern waters.
6. Nevertheless, we intend in the meanwhile to do our best to send you supplies by the northern route by means of ships sailed independently instead of in escorted convoys. Arrangements have been made to sail ships from Iceland during moonless period October 28th to November 8th. Ten of ours are preparing in addition to what Americans will do. The ships will sail singly at about 200-mile intervals with occasional larger gaps and rely on evasion and dispersion.
7. We hope to resume flow of supplies in strongly escorted convoys from January 1943.
8. It would, of course, greatly help both you and us if Germans could be denied the use of air fields in Northern Norway. If your Staffs could make a good plan, the President and I would at once examine possibility of cooperating up to the limit of our ability.
Sent on October 13, 1942
Your message of October 9 received. Thank you.
Received on October 19, 1942
I should have added that the 150 Spitfires are all armed with two cannons and four machine-guns.
Received on November 5, 1942
I promised to tell you when our army in Egypt had gained a decisive victory over Rommel. General Alexander now reports that enemy’s front is broken and that he is retreating westwards in considerable disorder. Apart from the troops in the main battle, there are six Italian and two German divisions in the desert to the South of our advance along the coast. These have very little mechanical transport or supplies, and it is possible that a very heavy toll will be taken in the next few days. Besides this, Rommel’s only line of retreat is along the coastal road which is now crammed with troops and transport and under continuous attack of our greatly superior Air Force.
2. Most Secret. For yourself alone. “Torch”29 is imminent on a very great scale. I believe political difficulties about which you expressed concern36 have been satisfactorily solved. The military movement is proceeding with precision.
3. I am most anxious to proceed with the placing of twenty British and American Squadrons on your southern flank as early as possible. President Roosevelt is in full accord and there is no danger now of a disaster in Egypt. Before anything can be done, however, it is necessary that detailed arrangements should be made about landing grounds, etc., between your officers and ourselves. Kindly let me know as soon as possible how you would like this consultation to be arranged. The Squadrons it is proposed to send were stated in my telegram of October 9th, in accordance with which we have been making such preparations as were possible pending arrangements with you.
4. Let me further express to you, Premier Stalin, and to M. Molotov, our congratulations on the ever glorious defence of Stalingrad and on the decisive defeat of Hitler’s second campaign against Russia. I should be glad to know from you how you stand in the Caucasus.
5. All good wishes for your anniversary.
Sent on November 8, 1942
Your message reached me on November 5.
I congratulate you on the progress of the operation in Egypt and feel confident that now it will be possible to finish off the bands of Rommel and his Italian allies.
All of us here hope that “Torch”29 will be successful.
I am grateful to you for informing me that you and President Roosevelt have decided to send 20 British and American Squadrons to the Southern Front in the near future. Speedy despatch of the 20 Squadrons will be a very valuable help. As to the conferences required in this connection and to the working out of specific measures by representatives of the British, American and our own Air Forces, it would be best to hold the appropriate meetings first in Moscow and then, if necessary, directly in the Caucasus. I have already been informed that the U.S. side is sending General Elmer E. Adler for the purpose. I shall expect to hear from you the name of the British appointee.
The situation on our Caucasian front has deteriorated somewhat compared with October. The Germans have succeeded in capturing Nalchik and are closing in on Vladikavkaz, where heavy fighting is now in progress. Our weak point there is shortage of fighter aircraft.
Thank you for your good wishes for the anniversary of the U.S.S.R.
Received on November 8, 1942
I have just heard the following from General Alexander: Prisoners estimated now at 20,000; tanks 350; guns 400; mechanical transport several thousand. Our advanced mobile forces are south of Mersa Matruh. The Eighth Army is advancing.
Received on November 8, 1942
You have no doubt realised that when Hitler despairs of taking Baku he will try to wreck it by air attack. Pray accept this from me.
We are highly pleased with your success in Libya and the successful launching of “Torch.”29 I wish you all success.
Thanks for the warning about Baku. We are taking counter measures.
November 9, 1942
Many thanks for your messages of November 8th and November 10th which have both reached me.
2. I have appointed Air Marshal Drummond to represent Great Britain in Staff discussions between the Soviet, American and British representatives on the preliminary arrangements for the employment of twenty British and American Squadrons on your Southern Front. Air Marshal Drummond has been ordered to leave Cairo for Moscow with a small party of Staff Officers forthwith.
3. Important success has rewarded our operations both in Egypt and in French North Africa. We have already penetrated deeply into Cyrenaica. Tobruk has just been recaptured. The so-called Panzer army is now reduced to a very small hard-pressed band with hardly a score of tanks and we are in hot pursuit. It seems to me almost certain that Benghazi will soon be recovered and that the enemy will try to escape into Tripolitania, holding a line at Agheila. He is already evacuating stores from Benghazi and is endeavouring to open new improvised and restricted bases in the Gulf of Sirte.
4. “Torch”29 is flaming well and General Eisenhower and our own Commanders have every hope of obtaining complete control of French North Africa and building up a superior air power at the tip of Tunisia. All the great troop convoys have moved, or are moving so far, safely across the Ocean and from Great Britain. We hope to create a strong anti-German French army in North Africa under General Giraud.
5. Political reactions in Spain and Portugal have been most satisfactory and the danger of Gibraltar Harbour and air field being rendered unusable has ceased for the present to be an anxiety. The German invasion of Vichy France37 which was foreseen by us and also by you in our conversations is all to the good. The poison of the paralysing influence of Vichy on the French nation will decline and the whole people will soon learn to hate the Germans as much as they are hated in the occupied zone. The future of the Toulon fleet38 is obscure. The Germans have not felt themselves strong enough to demand its surrender and are reported to intend to respect Toulon. Admiral Darlan, who is in our power, has asked the fleet to sail for West African ports. Whether this order will be obeyed is still doubtful.
6. A great reversal of the situation along the whole African shore has taken place and may be counted on. If we can open a passage for military traffic through the Mediterranean our shipping problem will be greatly eased and we shall come into far closer contact with Turkey than has hitherto been possible. I am in communication with President Roosevelt who is delighted at the success of the American enterprise. The whole position must be reviewed in a few days with the intention of further vehement action. I will let you know as soon as possible what our ideas for the future are. You know, I am sure, how anxious we are to take off you some of the undue weight which you have steadfastly borne in these last hard months. Meanwhile I am proceeding on the assumption that you are still confident that the Caucasus range will not be penetrated in the winter months.
November 13th, 1942
Thank you for the message of November 13. All of us here are delighted with your success in Libya and the Anglo-American success in French Africa. I congratulate you with all my heart on the victory, and wish you further success.
In the past few days we have succeeded in halting the German advance on Vladikavkaz and stabilising the situation. Vladikavkaz is, and I think will remain, in our hands. We are taking all possible steps to retain our positions in the North Caucasus.
We are planning to start a winter campaign in the near future. Just when, depends on the weather, which is beyond our control. I shall keep you posted.
November 14, 1942
Sent on, November 20, 1942
We have begun the offensive operations in the Stalingrad area – in its southern and north-western sectors. The objective of the first stage is to seize the Stalingrad-Likhaya railway and disrupt the communications of the Stalingrad group of the German troops. In the north-western sector the German front has been pierced along a 22-kilometre line and along a 12-kilometre line in the southern sector. The operation is proceeding satisfactorily.
It gave me the very greatest pleasure to receive your warm and heartfelt congratulations. I regard our truthful personal relations as most important to the discharge of our duties to the great masses whose lives are at stake.
2. Although the President is unable with great regret to lend me the twelve American destroyers for which I asked, I have now succeeded in making arrangements to sail a convoy of over thirty ships from Iceland on December 22nd. The Admiralty will concert operations with your officers as before. The Germans have moved the bulk of their aircraft from North Norway to South Europe as a result of “Torch.”29 On the other hand, German surface forces in Norway are still on guard. The Admiralty are pleased so far with the progress of the Q.P. convoy, which has been helped by bad weather and is now under the protection of our cruisers which have been sent out to meet it.
3. I have communicated to President Roosevelt some preliminary ideas about Turkey and have found that he independently had formed very similar views. It seems to me that we ought all of us to make a new intense effort to make Turkey enter the war on our side in the spring. For the purpose I should like the United States to join in an Anglo-Soviet guarantee of the territorial integrity and status of Turkey.39 This would bring our three forces all into line; and the Americans count for a lot with the Turks. Secondly, we are already sending Turkey a considerable consignment of munitions, including 200 tanks from the Middle East. During the winter, by land route or coasting up the Levant, I shall keep on sending supplies of munitions to Turkey together, if permitted, with experts in plain clothes for training and maintenance purposes. Thirdly, I hope by early spring to assemble a considerable army in Syria drawn from our Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Armies, so as to go to help Turkey if either she were threatened or were willing to join us. It is evident that your operations in the Caucasus or north of it may also exercise a great influence. If we could get Turkey into the war we could not only proceed with operations designed to open a shipping route to your left flank on the Black Sea, but we could also bomb heavily from Turkish bases the Roumanian oil-fields which are of such vital importance to the Axis in view of your successful defence of main oil supplies in the Caucasus. The advantage of a move into Turkey is that it proceeds mainly by land and can be additional to offensive action in the Central Mediterranean, which will absorb our sea power and much of our air power.
4. I have agreed to President Roosevelt’s suggestion that we each send in the near future, if agreeable to you, two high British officers and two Americans to Moscow to plan this part of the war in 1943. Pray let me know if you agree.
5. I hope you realise, Premier Stalin, that shipping is our limiting factor. In order to do “Torch” we have had to cut our Trans-Atlantic escorts so fine that the first half of November has been our worst month so far. We and the Americans have budgeted to lose at the rate of 700,000 tons a month and still improve our margin. Over the year the average loss has not been quite so bad as that, but this first fortnight in November is worse. You who have so much land may find it hard to realise that we can only live and fight in proportion to our sea communications.
6. Do not be disturbed about the rogue Darlan. We have thrown a large Anglo-American army into French North Africa and are getting a very firm grip. Owing to the non-resistance of the French Army and now to its increasing support we are perhaps fifteen days ahead of schedule. It is of the utmost consequence to get the Tunis tip and the naval base of Bizerta at the earliest moment. The leading elements of our First Army will probably begin their attack immediately. Once established there with over-powering air strength we can bring the war home to Mussolini and his Fascist gang with an intensity not yet possible.
7. At the same time by building up a strong Anglo-American army and air force in Great Britain and making continuous preparations along our south-eastern and southern coasts, we keep the Germans pinned in the Pas de Calais, etc., and are ready to take advantage of any favourable opportunity. And all the time our bombers will be blasting Germany with ever-increasing violence. Thus the halter will tighten upon the guilty doomed.
8. The glorious news of your offensive is streaming in. We are watching it with breathless attention. Every good wish.
November 24th, 1942
Sent on November 27, 1942
Thank you for your message, which I received on November 25. I fully share your view that it is highly important to promote our personal relations.
I express gratitude for the steps you are taking to send another large convoy to Archangel. I realise that at the moment this is particularly difficult for you, especially in view of the considerable operations by the British fleet in the Mediterranean.
I agree with you and President Roosevelt concerning the desirability of doing everything to bring Turkey into the war on our side in the spring. That, without a doubt, would mean a great deal for the speedy defeat of Hitler and his accomplices. As for Darlan, I think the Americans have made skilful use of him to facilitate the occupation of North and West Africa. Military diplomacy should know how to use for the war aims not only the Darlans, but even the devil and his grandmother.
I have carefully read your communication saying that you and the Americans are continuing the preparations along your south-eastern and southern coasts in order to keep the Germans pinned in the Pas de Calais, etc., and that you are ready to take advantage of any favourable opportunity. That, I hope, does not imply renunciation of your Moscow promise to open a second front in Western Europe in the spring of 1943.
I accept President Roosevelt’s and your suggestion that we call a conference of representatives of our three Staffs in Moscow to make appropriate war plans for 1943. We are prepared to meet your representatives, and the Americans, whenever you like.
So far the Stalingrad operation is proceeding successfully, helped among other things by snowfall and fog which prevent full-scale action by German aircraft.
We are planning active operations on the Central Front one of these days in order to tie up the enemy and prevent him from moving forces south.
Sent on November 29, 1942
On the occasion of your birthday I send you best wishes for good health
and success in your war effort for the triumph of our common cause.
Received on December 1, 1942
I am most grateful to you for your kind message on my birthday. It was the first to reach me and has given me lively pleasure.
Received on December 4, 1942
The President tells me that he has proposed a meeting for us three in January somewhere in North Africa.
This is far better than the Iceland project we talked over in Moscow. You could get to any point desired in three days, I in two, and the President in about the same time as you. I earnestly hope you will agree. We must decide at the earliest moment the best way of attacking Germany in Europe with all possible force in 1943. This can only be settled between the heads of the Governments and States with their high expert authorities at their side. It is only by such a meeting that the full burden of the war can be shared according to capacity and opportunity.
Sent on December 6, 1942
Your message of December 4 received. I welcome the idea of a meeting of the three heads of the Governments to establish a common strategic line. To my great regret, however, I shall be unable to leave the Soviet Union. I must tell you that this is such a crucial moment that I cannot be away even for a single day. Just now the major operations of our winter campaign are getting under way, nor will they be relaxed in January. More than likely it will be the other way round.
I await your reply to that part of my previous message concerning the opening of a second front in Western Europe in the spring of 1943.
Fighting is developing both at Stalingrad and on the Central Front. At Stalingrad we have encircled a large group of German troops and hope to complete their destruction.
In your message to me of November 27th in the last sentence of paragraph 5 and also in your message of December 6th, you ask specifically about a second front in 1943. I am not able to reply to this question except jointly with the President of the United States. It was for this reason that I so earnestly desired a meeting between the three of us. We both understand the paramount military reasons which prevent you from leaving Russia while conducting your great operations. I am in constant communication with the President in order to see what can be done.
December 12th, 1942
Received on December 20, 1942
Please accept my best wishes and warm personal regards on your birthday.
We are all watching with admiration the magnificent offensives being carried out by the Red Army.
Sent on December 21, 1942
Please accept my heartfelt thanks for your congratulations and good wishes.
We are deeply encouraged by the growing magnitude of your victories in the South. They bear out all that you told me at Moscow. The results may be very far-reaching indeed.
2. The Axis are making good their bridgehead on the Tunis tip, which we nearly managed to seize at the first rush. It now looks as if fighting there will continue through January and February. I hope General Alexander’s Army will be masters of Tripoli early in February. Rommel will very likely withdraw towards the Tunis tip with his forces, which amount to about 70,000 German troops and as many Italians, two-thirds of all of them administrative. The warfare on the African coast is very costly to the enemy on account of the heavy losses in transit and at ports. We shall do our utmost to finish it as quickly as possible.
3. The December P.Q. convoy has prospered so far beyond all expectations. I have now arranged to send a full convoy of thirty or more ships through in January, though whether they will go in one portion or in two is not yet settled by the Admiralty.
4. For yourself alone, I am going to visit President Roosevelt soon in order to settle our plans for 1943.40 My supreme object is for the British and Americans to engage the enemy with the largest numbers in the shortest time. The shipping stringency is most severe. I will inform you of what passes.
30th December, 1942
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