Winston S. Churchill: Triumph and Tragedy:
Prime Minister to Marshal Stalin 14 June 44:
I visited the British sector of the front on Monday, as you may have seen from the newspapers. The fighting is continuous, and at that time we had fourteen divisions operating on a front of about seventy miles. Against this the enemy have thirteen divisions, not nearly so strong as ours. Reinforcements are hurrying up from their rear, but we think we can pour them in much quicker from the sea.
It is a wonderful sight to see this city of ships stretching along the coast for nearly fifty miles and apparently secure from the air and the U-boats which are so near. We hope to encircle Caen, and perhaps to make a capture there of prisoners. Two days ago the number of prisoners was 13,000, which is more than all the killed and wounded we had lost up to that time. Therefore it may be said that the enemy have lost nearly double what we have, although we have been continuously on the offensive.
During yesterday the advances were quite good, though the enemy resistance is stiffening as his strategic reserves are thrown into the battle. I should think it quite likely that we should work up to a battle of about a million a side, lasting through June and July. We plan to have about two million there by mid-August.
Every good wish for your successes in Karelia.
To the President I wrote on the same day about various questions, including the visit of de Gaulle to France, which I had arranged without consulting Roosevelt beforehand. I added:
I had a jolly day on Monday on the beaches and inland. There is a great mass of shipping extended more than fifty miles along the coast. It is being increasingly protected against weather by the artificial harbours, nearly every element of which has been a success, and will soon have effective shelter against bad weather. The power of our air and of our anti-U-boat forces seems to ensure it a very great measure of protection. After doing much laborious duty we went and had a plug at the Hun from our destroyer, but although the range was 6,000 yards he did not honour us with a reply.
Marshall and King came back in my train. They were greatly reassured by all they saw on the American side, and Marshall wrote out a charming telegram to Mountbatten, saying how many of these new craft had been produced under his organisation and what a help they had been. You used the word “stupendous” in one of your early telegrams to me. I must admit that what I saw could only be described by that word, and I think your officers would agree as well. The marvellous efficiency of the transportation exceeds anything that has ever been known in war. A great deal more has to be done, and I think more troops are needed. We are working up to a battle which may well be a million a side.
The Chiefs of Staff are searching about for the best solution of these problems as between the Mediterranean and “Overlord”. How I wish you were here!