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Anglo-American Strategy in Europe

  • Correlli Barnett

Abstract

The outline of Anglo-American strategy against Germany in 1944–45 was sketched as early as December 1941 at the first Washington conference, held in the aftermath of the naval disaster at Pearl Harbor, which kicked the United States into the war. The conference took place during the fleeting moment when Britain’s naval and military power, now nearing its apogee of expansion, broadly matched that of the United States, which had as yet hardly begun to muster its overwhelmingly greater human and industrial resources, and when the British could speak with the authority of hard-won expertise to Americans new to the game. Moreover, the British Chiefs of Staff [COS] and the Prime Minister came to the conference comprehensively prepared for debate; the American Chiefs of Staff and the President, their minds busy with the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, were not so. Thus the statement of global strategy finally agreed by the conference, ‘WW1’, was an amended version of a draft tabled by the British COS. In turn this professional staff paper owed much to the three papers on grand strategy written by Winston Churchill as minutes to the COS while crossing the Atlantic in HMS Duke of York. Since Churchill has come in for criticism by revisionist historians who have failed to think through the political and strategic realities of the predicament with which he, as British Prime Minister, had to cope,1 it is worth noting that these three state papers still stand as a masterly overview of the war in all its complexities, coupled with a far-sighted vision of how the allies would eventually win it.2

Keywords

Prime Minister Pearl Harbor Grand Strategy American Leadership Western Front 
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Reference

  1. 5.
    Cf. David Fraser, Alanbrooke ( London: Collins, 1982 ), pp. 358–60.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    F. H. Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War; Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, Vol. III, Part I (London: HMSO, 1984 ), p. 29.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    John Ehrman, Grand Strategy, Vol. V, August 1943-September 1944 ( London: HMSO, 1956 ), p. 166.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Alfred D. Chandler (ed.), The Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, The War Years, Vol. IV (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Press, 1970), letter from Eisenhower to Churchill, 11 August 1944; Gilbert, op. cit., Vol. VII, pp. 863–80.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    W. K. Hancock and M. M. Gowing, British War Economy ( London: HMSO and Longmans, Green, 1949 ), p. 366.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Corelli Barnett 1995

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  • Correlli Barnett

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