Monday, July 30, 2007
The plan for Gymnast, the occupation of French colonies in northwest Africa was quite advanced. The operation would consist of two infantry divisions and one armoured division. They troops and equipment would be sent from Britain. They could be sent between 23 and 32 days after the decision was made. General Sir Harold Alexander would command the operation. All this was planned before the night of 7 to 8 December 1941. The Japanese attacks in the Far East dashed any hopes of mounting Gymnast anytime soon. A feature of the attack is that the United States actively joined the war on the side of the Allies. However, that involvement centered on operations in the Far East and the Pacific. That same theatre drew off forces either in the Middle East or planned for the Middle East. To coordinate with the Americans, Field-Marshal Sir John Dill was located to Washington. He was succeeded as CIGS by Sir Alan Brooke. Sir John Dill had traveled to Washington with Churchill when he went to meet with President Roosevelt and the Chiefs of Staff. The plan that they decided upon was to hold in the Far East and to make Germany the priority. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.