This letter to General Sir Harold Alexander was dated 23 April 1943.
I am taking advantage of sending you a personal letter by hand of one of Mountbatten's officers, to give you the inside history of our recent exchange of cables about Mediterranean operations and the attendant cover plans. You may have felt our decisions were somewhat arbitrary, but I can assure you in fact that the C.O.S. Committee gave the most careful consideration both to your recommendations and also to Jumbo's.
We have had recent information that the Boche have been reinforcing and strengthening their defences in Greece and Crete and C.I.C.S. felt that our forces for the assault were insufficient. It was agreed by the Chiefs of Staff that the 5th Division should be reinforced by one Brigade Group for the assault on the beach south of Cape Araxos and that a similar reinforcement should be made for the 56th Division at Kalamata. We are earmarking the necessary forces and shipping.
Jumbo Wilson had proposed to select Sicily as cover target for "HUSKY"; but we have already chosen it as cover for "BRIMSTONE." The C.O.S. Committee went into the whole question exhaustively again and came to the conclusion that in view of the preparations in Algeria, the amphibious training which will be taking place on the Tunisian coast and the heavy air bombardment which will be put down to neutralise the Sicilian airfields, we should stick to our plan of making it cover for "BRIMSTONE" - indeed, we stand a very good chance of making him think we will go for Sicily - it is an obvious objective and one about which he should be nervous. On the other hand, they felt there wasn't much hope of persuading the Boche that the extensive preparations in the eastern Mediterannean were also directed at Sicily. For this reason they have told Wilson his cover plan should be something nearer the spot, e.g. the Dodecanese. Since our relations with Turkey are now so obviously closer the Italians must be pretty apprehensive about these islands.
I imagine you will agree with these arguments. I know you will have your hands more than full at the moment and you haven't had much chance of discussing future operations with Eisenhower. But if by any chance you do want to support Wilson's proposal, I hope you will let us know soon, because we can't delay much longer.
I am very sorry we weren't able to meet your wishes about the new commander of the Guards Brigade. Your own nominee was down with a bad attack of 'flu and not likely to really fir for another few weeks. No doubt, however, you know Forster personally; he has done extremely well in command of a brigade at home, and is, I think, the best fellow available.
You must be about as fed up as we are with the whole question of war medals and "Purple Hearts." We all agree with you that we don't want to offend our American friends, but there is a good deal more to it than that. If our troops who happen to be serving in one particular theatre are to get extra decorations merely because the Americans happen to be serving there too, we will be faced with a good deal of discontent among those troops fighting elsewhere perhaps just as bitterly - or more so. My own feeling is that we should thank the Americans for their kind offer, but say firmly that it would cause too many anomalies and we are sorry we can't accept. But it is on the agenda for the next Military Members Meeting and I hope you will have a decision very soon.