"All my hopes for the future of the world are based upon the friendship and cooperation of the western democracies and Soviet Russia."
BY THE OPENING of 1944--a year after the German disaster at Stalingrad and eighteen months after the decisive Japanese defeats at the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway--the military might of the Axis powers was slowly but steadily receding.
With their first summit conference with Stalin finally behind them, Roosevelt and Churchill began to devote their attention increasingly to the massive preparations for the forthcoming cross-channel invasion of Europe. As originally conceived, Overlord was to have been accompanied by a simultaneous landing in southern France, but the latter operation was subsequently postponed and reduced in size in order to concentrate on the Normandy landing. While Churchill had formally committed himself to both these operations, he remained somewhat uneasy about the risks of the cross-channel attack and was unconvinced of the wisdom of the planned landing in southern France, although he continued, at the same time, to point to the supposed benefits of his own peripheral strategy in the Mediterranean.
In any event, Roosevelt and Churchill now found themselves occupied with a great number of military and political problems elsewhere in Europe and the Far East. In Italy the slow advance up the peninsula against the reinforced German army was costing so much in time and men that General Sir Harold Alexander, now commander of the Fifteenth Army Group, set about establishing a second point of attack. He ordered the U.S. Fifth Army to launch an amphibious assault on the west coast of Italy, in the rear of the enemy. If the gamble suc-