Noted for May 31, 2013
L'Esprit de l'Escalier: May 31, 2013

Liveblogging World War II: May 31, 1943

Winston Churchill:

His Majesty’s Government feel most strongly that this great force, which comprises their best and most experienced divisions and the main part of their army, should not in any circumstances remain idle. Such an attitude could not be justified to the British nation or to our Russian allies.

We hold it our duty to engage the enemy as continuously and intensely as possible, and to draw off as many hostile divisions as possible from the front of our Russian allies. In this way, among others, the most favourable conditions will be established for the launching of our cross-Channel expedition in 1944.

Compelling or inducing Italy to quit the war is the only objective in the Mediterranean worthy of the famous campaign already begun and adequate to the Allied forces available and already in the Mediterranean basin.

For this purpose the taking of Sicily is an indispensable preliminary, and the invasion of the mainland of Italy and the capture of Rome are the evident steps. In this way the greatest service can be rendered to the Allied cause and the general progress of the war, both here and in the Channel theatre.

Harry C. Butcher:

Algiers, Monday, May 31st 1943

The Prime Minister came to our house for dinner tonight. The guests numbered thirteen, so I became fourteen in deference to the British superstition.

Ike and General Marshall were cohosts. Present were none less than the British Foreign Minister, Mr. Anthony Eden, General Brooke, and General Ismay.

Sometime during the dinner-table conversation, the question of diaries came up. The Prime Minister said that it was foolish to keep a day-by-day diary because it would simply reflect the change of opinion or decision of the writer, which, when and if published, makes one appear indecisive and foolish.

He cited the diary of a British general who had written in his diary one day, “There will be no war.” On the next day war was declared. The diary was published posthumously and, consequently, the general was made to appear foolish.

For his part, the Prime Minister Said, he would much prefer to wait until the war is over and then write impressions, so that, if necessary, he could correct or bury his mistakes.