By Gordon A Harrison
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14 Jul 42. C/S file 15 Jul 42. C/S file ATTACK sion of North Africa, in his view, would not achieve the necessary diversion to save the Russian armies from collapse. 92 It was with these convictions as to the desperate urgency of SLEDGEHAMMER that General Marshall on 16 July left for London. With King and Hopkins, he went as a personal representative of the President with iarge powers to settle strategy. The President’s instructions required that SLEDGEHAMMER be strongly urged as the most important and perhaps imperative task for 1942.
The most that General Marshall would say was that a second front was in preparation, that the Western Allies were trying to create a situation in which a second front would be possible. The President, however, significantly extended Marshall’s answer and sent word through Molotov to Stalin to expect a second front in 1942. 73 Precisely what weight this promise carried in subsequent discussion is difficult to assess. Probably the promise was of more significance as a symptom than as a contributing cause of Roosevelt’s eagerness 71 Memo, Roosevelt for Secy of War, CofS, Gen Arnold, Secy of Navy, Adm King, and Hopkins, 6 May 42.
72 In Washington he tried to pin the Americans down to a more definite commitment. What the Soviets wanted was an operation in 1942 on a large enough scale to force the Germans to withdraw forty divisions from the Russian front. Such an operation evidently could not be promised. The most that General Marshall would say was that a second front was in preparation, that the Western Allies were trying to create a situation in which a second front would be possible. The President, however, significantly extended Marshall’s answer and sent word through Molotov to Stalin to expect a second front in 1942.
Cross-channel attack by Gordon A Harrison