The first half of 1942 was a difficult time for Britain.
It was not only hit by the fall of Singapore and the fall of Myanmar, but also faced the danger of the two sides of the fascist axis from the Caucasus in the East and North Africa in the south.
The heaviest thing was the fall of tubluk in North Africa.
After pulling out the nail, Rommel’s army can drive straight into the port of Egypt, Cairo and the Suez Canal.
This grim situation, especially the threat from North Africa, has led to an extremely difficult political situation at home – “only victory on the battlefield can save his position as prime minister”.
The way to achieve this goal is the landing of British and American Coalition forces in North Africa.
This idea is also in line with the Mediterranean strategy that Britain has always advocated.
In 1939, the British chief of general staff, general aisside, asserted that the Mediterranean Theater is the most important theater in which Britain can win or lose a war, and it is also the only battlefield in which Britain can launch ground offensive.
As long as Germany occupies Egypt and the Suez Canal, it is expected to win a short-term war.
Churchill wrote in April 1941: the loss of the Middle East is a major disaster for Great Britain.
For Britain, the Middle East is of great strategic significance.
Defending the Middle East is second only to defending the British mainland.
The Middle East is a base to support Turkey, the Soviet Union and the Mediterranean.
It is a springboard to India and Italy.
In particular, its rich oil resources are the lifeline of Britain.
Without it, Britain’s land, sea and air forces will be paralyzed.
In order to defend the Middle East, Britain has been preparing for the “sportsman” plan to land in northwest Africa since the summer of 1941, and has tried its best to persuade the United States to agree to the plan.
In December 1941, at the first meeting held by the United States and Britain, namely the “Acadia” meeting, Churchill expressed this strategic attempt of Britain in the form of a memorandum.
Churchill said that he realized that the development of the war in Russia was very important, but at present, he had no choice but to provide materials to the Russians.
Churchill suggested that the joint British and American landing operations in northwest Africa could reduce the pressure on the Soviet Union.
With the cooperation of the Libyan offensive launched by Britain, this amphibious offensive will eliminate the German troops in North Africa by the end of 1942 and make the Allied Mediterranean Sea unimpeded, which can save a lot of heavy tonnage than bypassing the Cape of good hope.
By controlling this key maritime link, the United States and Britain can turn their full attention to the European continent and completely defeat Germany.
Churchill’s proposal was endorsed by the president.
The “Acadia” conference finally ruled out the possibility of opening a second battlefield in Europe in 1942 and confirmed the strategic importance of the US British coalition occupation of French North Africa, which is scheduled to be implemented in May 1942.
Later, due to the tension in the Pacific theater, the British army in North Africa was frustrated in Cyrenaica, and the US military tended to land in Europe to open up a second battlefield, the “sportsman” plan was shelved.
In early July 1942, the North African front stabilized in Egypt.
Britain once again put forward the “sportsman” plan and advocated the implementation of large-scale landing operations on the northwest coast of Africa.
This can not only threaten Rommel’s rear and solve the siege of Egypt, but also drive German and Italian troops out of North Africa to ensure the security of Gibraltar, and then go north to Italy, the Balkans and forge ahead in Southeast Europe.
On July 7, the British wartime cabinet held a meeting and concluded that the US government must be persuaded to return to the “sportsman” campaign plan because it was unlikely to carry out the “attack” campaign, that is, the limited assault across the English Channel in 1942.
The next day, Churchill wrote to Roosevelt that the responsible generals of the British army, Navy or air force were not prepared to recommend the “attack” plan as a possible operation in 1942.
Organizing an immature battle in 1942 would only end in failure and decisively destroy the prospect of a large-scale battle in 1943.
Then Churchill made it clear that the British and American troops landed in North Africa in 1942.
He wrote: I am convinced that the “sportsman” plan is the best opportunity to ease the Russian Front in 1942.
This plan has always been in line with your opinion.
In fact, it is your dominant idea.
This is the real second battlefield in 1942.
I have discussed the matter with the cabinet and the National Defense Committee, and everyone agrees.
This is the most reliable and fruitful attack possible this autumn.
On July 14, Churchill wrote again to Roosevelt urging: I hope you understand my current situation.
I have found that no one thinks the “bash” plan is feasible.
I hope you will implement the “sportsman” plan as soon as possible.
On the evening of July 15, President Roosevelt, in a conversation with his personal adviser Hopkins, expressed unease about Britain’s lack of enthusiasm for “strike”.
At the same time, it pointed out that the United States could not wait until 1943 to fight Germany.
“If we can’t launch an attack in the ‘attack’, we should take the second best action – not the Pacific Ocean”.
He said that a clear and specific decision should be made on the theater of the US Army’s ground operations against Germany in 1942.
“The theater under consideration is North Africa and the Middle East”.
Although the military opposed fighting in North Africa and advocated fighting against the axis powers in Europe or the Pacific, Roosevelt insisted on his idea.
He believes that one of the great advantages of the “sportsman” operation is that it is purely an American initiative.
It will seize West Africa, make the enemy unable to use the ports there, and make a start for the ultimate control of the Mediterranean.
Another theater is the Middle East, where the United States may not encounter any resistance.
It can use troops in Egypt or dispatch troops from the northern end of the Persian Gulf.
Only the United States has the right to participate in the war as soon as possible, just as all other countries have the right to participate in the war.
To this end, Roosevelt sent us army chief of Staff General Marshall, Harry Hopkins and US Secretary of naval operations admiral Kim to London again on July 16 to discuss the joint operation plan with British leaders and gave instructions to the London meeting.
One of the instructions is to try to hold the Middle East, because losing the Middle East means a series of losses: losing Egypt and the Suez Canal.
Throw away the Mosul oil well.
As the enemy attacked from the north and West, he lost the Persian Gulf and could not get oil from the Persian Gulf at the same time.
If Germany joins forces with Japan, it is likely to lose the Indian Ocean.
virtueThe army is likely to occupy Tunisia, Algiers, Morocco and Dakar and cut off the sea crossing route through Freetown and Liberia.
It seriously endangers all shipping in the South Atlantic, as well as Brazil and the east coast of South America.
At the same time, Roosevelt also asked them to “carefully study the possibility of carrying out ‘attack’.
Such a combat action will certainly give great support to Russia this year, and it can become a turning point for saving Russia this year”.
According to the instructions, in the event of failure to reach an agreement on the implementation of the “strike hard” campaign, the United States representative shall notify the president of the situation and determine “other locations where the U.S. military fought in 1942” after careful study of the international situation.
Finally, the directive emphasizes that the current goal is that American ground forces must go to war against the German army in 1942.
On July 20, Britain and the United States held its first plenary meeting.
Marshall opposed the proposal of landing near Casablanca in northwest Africa, believing that it would not help the severe war on the eastern front and would not reduce the pressure on the Soviet Union.
In addition, if the troops are invested in the “sportsman” operation that does not play a great role, it will consume the troops for no reason.
Instead, it is better to use these valuable combat forces in the possible “encirclement and annihilation” operation in 1943.
Admiral Kim is more inclined to put his troops into the Pacific to deal with Japan’s expansion.
Churchill agreed with the “encirclement and annihilation” campaign in 1943, but firmly opposed large-scale ground operations in battlefields outside North Africa in 1942.
He first pointed out that with the existing ships, forces and weapons of the Allied forces, it was certainly impossible to implement the “strike hard” plan in 1942.
The plan not only faces the possibility of failure, but also will swallow up “all the resources” necessary for larger military operations.
He then stressed that since the plan to land in France could not be implemented, the “sportsman” plan to land in North Africa should be considered.
The British side believes that the scale of the “sportsman” plan is slightly smaller and requires less troops, equipment and materials than those landing in Europe.
Therefore, it is more likely to succeed.
Moreover, if implemented smoothly, it may become a decisive turning point in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
At the same time, it can also reduce the pressure on the southern battlefield of the Soviet Union and play the role of the second battlefield.
Subsequently, the chiefs of staff of the two countries held three meetings on this issue, but they failed to reach an agreement.
Roosevelt learned of this news and sent a telegram to the American personnel in London to reiterate his instructions before they left Washington that other plans for launching operations against Germany with the participation of American ground forces in 1942 must be formulated.
President Roosevelt proposed five battle plans and asked the military to give priority to landing in North Africa.
They are as follows: first, a new offensive aimed at Algiers or Morocco or returning to the two places.
Second, the US military is fully responsible for the initial stage of the original combat operations in North Africa.
Third, the operation of attacking northern Norway.
Fourth, the US military reinforced the British forces in Egypt in order to launch an offensive there.
Fifth, the US military has been entering the Caucasus through Iran.
Roosevelt finally urged the US representative to make a decision with “our friends” as soon as possible.
According to Roosevelt’s instructions, the Joint Chiefs of staff of the United States and Britain convened on July 24 to quickly reach an agreement and adopt a memorandum on the Allied campaign from 1942 to 1943.
The contents are as follows: as long as there is a possibility of successfully implementing the “encirclement and annihilation” campaign before July 1943, we cannot slow down the preparations for this campaign.
If before September 15, there are signs that the Russian resistance in the east line stops or weakens sharply, which makes the hope of successfully carrying out the “encirclement and annihilation” campaign slim, then we should make up our mind to jointly carry out the landing campaign along the coast of northwest Africa in the short term before December 1942.
Therefore, it is necessary to immediately formulate such a joint African campaign plan and set a deadline for the concentration of vehicles, naval forces and troops, so as to carry out the landing operation of the first echelon of the landing troops before December 1, 1942.
The implementation of the African campaign actually ruled out the possibility of successfully implementing the “encirclement and annihilation” campaign in 1943.
Therefore, we will be in a defensive situation around the European continent, excluding air force action and blockade.
However, the organizational work of attacking the mainland, the formulation of plans and the preparation of troops should be considered to continue under the following circumstances, that is, when Germany’s strength has been seriously weakened, of course, the campaign can be carried out only with the guarantee of resources.
The second meeting of the US UK Joint Chiefs of staff held on July 25 decided to change the code name of the landing campaign in North and northwest Africa to “Torch”.
On the same day, President Roosevelt telegraphed Hopkins that preparations should be made immediately for the plan to land in North Africa “no later than October 1”.
Accordingly, in July 1942, when the German and Italian troops were pressing on Egypt, Britain and the United States finally made the decision to carry out the landing campaign in North Africa in the autumn of 1942 after a long discussion.
From the beginning of August, the British and American staff began to make practical preparations for the attack on North Africa.
In addition to determining the commander of the “Torch” operation and mobilizing a large number of troops, air squadrons, equipment and supplies, Churchill also visited North Africa and rectified the command system of the Middle East theater.
General Harold Alexander was appointed the commander-in-chief of the British forces in the Middle East, General Bernard served as the commander of the eighth group army of the British army and instructed the eighth group army to make all preparations, cooperate with the “Torch” battle in autumn, launch a large-scale attack on the enemy of aRaman first, and then work with the British and American Coalition forces that landed to completely wipe out the German and Italian African group army.
Since then, Churchill flew to Moscow to meet with Stalin and exchange views with Stalin on the “Torch” plan to replace the opening of the second battlefield in Europe.
In order to persuade Stalin, Churchill listed various reasons and benefits of adopting the “Torch” plan, and drew a famous crocodile figure, which shows that Britain’s intention is to attack the crocodile’s soft lower abdomen, the Mediterranean, when hitting the crocodile’s hard nose, that is, northern France.
Stalin finally agreed to the British and American strategic plan.
“Attacking the enemy’s soft belly” is a typical “indirect strategy” that Britain has always adopted, that is, avoiding the important and neglecting the actual, fighting on the edge, sweeping away the peripheral enemies, using the opportunity to fight in the secondary direction to accumulate strength, and then advancing to the main battlefield in the final stage of the war.