Allies (1995)

Allies (1995) by Lawrence Holofcener, a sculptural group depicting Franklin D. Roosevelt and Churchill in New Bond Street, London.

(May 19, 2023) Today, 80 years ago, British Prime Minister Sir Winston S. Churchill addressed the United States Congress for the second time. He told the congressmen, “I do not intend to be responsible for any suggestion that the war is won or will soon be over.”

He reminded the Americans that, “no one, after Gettysburg, doubted which way the dread balance of war would incline. Yet far more blood was shed after the Union victory at Gettysburg than all the fighting which went before.”

He ended his address by saying, “By singleness of purpose, by steadfastness of conduct, by tenacity and endurance, such as we have so far displayed, by these, and only by these, can we discharge our duty to the future of the world and the destiny of man.”

That evening he and President Franklin D. Roosevelt met in the White House, with Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King.

The British prime minister was in the American capital for the Third Washington Conference. The First Washington Conference was held shortly after America’s entry into the war, with the second occurring in June 1942. All involved the American president and the British prime minister. The Third Washington Conference is often referred to as the Trident Conference.

Churchill, and the United Kingdom’s military leaders, boarded the Queen Mary on May 4, 1943. On Tuesday morning, May 11, the Queen Mary arrived in New York City.

Among the 100 people accompanying Churchill on that voyage was W. Averell Harriman, who would shortly be named U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, and would later marry Churchill’s daughter-in-law, Pamela; Gen. Sir Hastings (“Pug”) Ismay, Churchill’s chief military advisor; Gen. Sir Alan Brooke, chief of the Imperial General Staff; Sir Dudley Pound, First Lord of the Admiralty; Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, chief of the Air Staff; Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell, commander-in-chief, India; Air Marshal Sir Richard Peirse, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RAF, India; Adm. Sir James Somerville, commander-in-chief, Eastern Fleet; Lord Frederick Leathers, Minister of War Transport; Frederick Alexander Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell, special advisor to Churchill; Lord Beaverbrook, head of the Anglo-American Combined Raw Materials Board.

In addition to Harriman and the British dignitaries, the ship had transported 5,000 German POWs, who had been captured in Tunisia.

General Ismay later described the Queen Mary as:

“...a most convenient and comfortable workshop. We were all under one roof, and each had our own offices. There were ample conference rooms, and the reproduction and circulation of papers went forward with the same methodical precision as in London. We received the usual stream of telegrams and the prime minister’s map room, under the charge of the indefatigable [Capt. Richard] Pim, was kept as up-to-date as its counterpart in Great George Street.”

Upon arrival in New York, the delegation was met by Harry Hopkins, the president’s closest confidant. From New York City, the British brass, Harriman and Hopkins traveled to Washington by special train. Upon the train’s arrival at Union Station, it was met by the president, and he and the prime minister repaired to the White House for a luncheon meeting, followed at 2:30 p.m., by a meeting of the two with the combined chiefs of staff.

The prime minister, at the president’s insistence, stayed at the White House. The next morning, the two leaders met with Edvard Beneš, the once and future president of Czechoslovakia. The military staffs met almost daily in the Board of Governors Room at the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Building, located in the block bordered by 20th, 21st, C Streets and Constitution Avenue, Northwest. The president and the PM met every other day in the White House.

In addition to those British who had arrived aboard the Queen Mary, the following Washington-based officers were in attendance: Field Marshal Sir John Dill, chief of the British Joint Staff Mission; Adm. Sir Percy Lockhart Harnam Noble, head of the British Naval Delegation in Washington, D.C.; Air Marshal Sir William Lawrie Welsh, head of the RAF Delegation in Washington, D.C.; Lt. Gen. Sir Gordon Nevil Macready, head of the British Army mission in Washington D. C.

American interests were represented by the following: Adm. William D. Leahy, chief of staff to FDR; Gen. George C. Marshall, Army chief-of-staff; Adm. Ernest J. King, chief of Naval Operations; Brig. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, advisor to Gen. Marshall; presidential advisor Harry Hopkins; Lt. Gen. Joseph T. McNarney, Army deputy chief-of-staff; Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, commander of all U.S. forces in China, Burma, and India; Lt. Gen. Stanley D. Embick, chief of the Joint Strategic Survey Committee; Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell, commander Services of Supply; Vice Adm. Frederick J. Horne, vice chief of Naval Operations; Vice Adm. Russell Willson, deputy commander-in-chief, U.S. Fleet; Maj. Gen. Claire L. Chennault, commander Fourteenth Air Force; Maj. Gen. Muir S. Fairchild, member of the Joint Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Maj. Gen. Walter Beedle Smith, chief-of-staff at Allied Forces Headquarters; Maj. Gen. St. Clair Streett, chief of the Theater Group of the Operations Division in the Office of the Chief-of-Staff; Rear Adm. Charles M. Cooke Jr., principal planning officer for commander-in-chief, U.S. Fleet.

Also in attendance was T.V. Soong, China’s foreign minister, and brother-in-law to Nationalist Chinese leader, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Mr. Soong was the brother of Madam Chiang. Mr. Soong met with the president, Adm. Leahy, and Gen. McNarney.

The conference resulted in the two nations agreeing to the following: the invasion of Italy; “unconditional surrender” from the Axis; to seek the assistance of the USSR in the war against Japan; to set the cross-channel invasion for spring 1944.

At 4 p.m., May 25, Churchill walked into the Oval Office for a last joint press conference with the president. The next morning, he left Washington on a seaplane, from the Potomac River, accompanied by Gen. Marshall. Their ultimate destination was Gen. Eisenhower’s headquarters in Algiers, Algeria. They stopped first in Nova Scotia. From there the plane flew to Gibraltar.

Next week: Battle OF Exi

Mr. Wimbrow writes from Ocean City, Maryland, where he practices law representing those accused of criminal and traffic offenses, and those who have suffered a personal injury through no fault of their own. He can be contacted at:

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