When you arrived at work today, what was on your to-do list? On 6 February 1944, this landed on the desk of General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, a request from General Dwight D Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe: 'Count up all the divisions that will be in the Mediterranean, including two newly arrived U.S. divisions, consider the requirements in Italy in view of the mountain masses north of Rome, and then consider what influence on your problem a sizable number of divisions, heavily engaged or advancing rapidly in southern France, will have on OVERLORD.'
It puts that late delivery or forgotten invoice into perspective. Eyes Only is not a history of the campaigns that swept across Europe between June 1944 and May 1945 - it is military command at its rawest, in real time and with no benefit of hindsight. It follows the planning, execution and aftermath of the campaigns through the highest security level day-to-day correspondence between the two Generals; the `Eyes Only' cables. These candid words passed over their desks between December 1943 and December 1945, here fully annotated with background information.
The cables start with the fraught six-month planning period for D-Day, followed by the establishment of the beachhead and the exhilarating advance across France. A difficult winter followed, culminating in attack and counterattack in the Ardennes. As Germany's collapse became imminent, attention focused on how to conclude the war without coming into conflict with the Soviet Army. After V-E Day, the problems of occupying Germany, de-Nazification, redeployment and humanitarian efforts are all on the agenda.
Messages from the key politicians - Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin - are included. The two Generals have to deal with differences between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the British Chiefs of Staff, the effect of the Mediterranean battles on the Western Front campaign - and of course `man management' of figures such as Patton, Montgomery and de Gaulle. Judge for yourself how two of the United States' greatest military leaders dealt with the burden of command in the eye of the storm of history.