Roosevelt and Hopkins, An Intimate History

By Robert E. Sherwood | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXVI
The Turning Point

Ii is evident that even after Hopkins, Marshall and King returned from London on July 27, there were further attempts to change the President's mind about the North African operation, the name of which had been changed for security reasons from GYMNAST to TORCH. Roosevelt, however, insisted that the decision had been made and must be carried through with expedition and vigor. This was one of the very few major military decisions of the war which Roosevelt made entirely on his own and over the protests of his highest-ranking advisers. Admiral Leahy had just been appointed to the unprecedented position of Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, and subsequently he became in effect Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. At this time, however, he had been out of touch with the progress of strategic planning; his return from Vichy was long delayed by the saddening illness and death of his wife.

On July 31 Churchill sent Roosevelt a cable which has considerable significance in the light of developments of the following year and a half. The Prime Minister pressed for a decision concerning the naming of the commanders for the various operations in prospect in the European theater. He said, "It would be agreeable to us if General Marshall were designated for Supreme Command of ROUNDUP and that in the meantime General Eisenhower should act as his deputy here." This nomination of the most vehement proponent of the Second Front would hardly seem to indicate that Churchill was attempting to relegate the plan completely to the Files of Forgotten Things. Churchill suggested that Eisenhower should superintend the planning and organization of TORCH and that General Sir Harold Alexander should be in command of the task force from the British Isles and an American (who turned out later to be General George S. Patton) in command of the task force from the United States. This suggestion was made, of course,

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