When Roosevelt, Churchill and their military staffs met at Casablanca for a war planning conference (Symbol) in mid-January 1943 they did so believing that a dramatic change had recently taken place in the fortunes of those involved in the global struggle for supremacy. It was not hard to detect that the operational momentum in virtually every theatre of the war had begun swinging from what had been an assertive Axis presence – and in many a dominant position – to one that had the Allies beginning to dictate the pace of the encounters, taking the bold initiatives, or responding far more adequately to Axis interventions than they had been able to do in the past. It was a strange and comforting reality and it led them to think of a time when the Axis threat would not just be contained but actually beaten. At sea and in amphibious operations either ongoing or recently concluded, the sense that the Allies were in the ascendancy could hardly be denied. Their resurgence was one thing, but victory was still a long way off. None of the principal enemy combatants had yet been forced out of the war and enormous problems thrown up by their continued participation in this unremittingly dour conflict still had to be overcome. Casablanca was no more than an opportunity, therefore, for both the American and British leaders and their planning staffs to revise their grand strategy for the year ahead preserving the ‘Europe First’ principle, but not at the risk of ignoring the war in the Pacific; agreeing upon a concerted campaign to beat the U-boats in 1943 in order to safeguard their supply chain; allowing the invasion of Sicily to take place after the conquest of Tunisia and before the launching of any ‘Second Front’ invasion of northern France; and planning for the re-conquest of Burma as a step on the road to the relief of the Chinese. It was apparent to everyone present that all of these plans to wear down their enemies were going to take time to mature. As such, Casablanca represented a compromise between what the American and the British service chiefs wanted. Each gained some, but by no means all, of what they wanted out of the eleven-day conference. A general outline was set for the year and an ultimate goal – the unconditional surrender of Germany – but few, if any, present at this gathering were under any illusions about the enormity of the task still before them. Peace was, therefore, unlikely to return to the world any time soon.1