Combined Production and Resources Board

Last updated

The Combined Production and Resources Board was a temporary World War II government agency that allocated the combined economic resources of the United States and Britain. It was set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill on June 9, 1942. [1] Canada, after insisting on its economic importance, was given a place on the board in November, 1942. [2] The Board closed down at the end of December 1945. [3]



The mission of the Board set out by Roosevelt and Churchill was twofold: [4]


The Board was charged by the Combined Chiefs of Staff to take all relevant production factors into account, for the maximum utilization of the productive resources available to the United States, Britain and its Commonwealth, and the United Nations at war. It was disbanded at the end of the war. The Board fought jurisdictional battles with a comparable agency, the Combined Munitions Assignment Board, which was part of the Combined Chiefs of Staff (which had its British and American branches). [5] The American side was chaired by Roosevelt's top aide Harry Hopkins. The British usually favored the Board, while the Americans favored the Agency. [6]


The need for the Combined Production and Resources Board was underscored in 1942 when it called on the War Department for details on the material requirements of the Army (including the Air Force) for the next 18 months. Each unit in the War Department had been accustomed to ordering directly from industry, giving out high priorities based on rough estimates, with no coordination or overall picture. Some 28,000 man-hours of work analyzed 17,000 items of procurement, and discovered what would be needed and when. The result was revolutionary, as haphazard methods gave way to systematic statistical results, broken down quarterly, that showed what the Army would purchase in terms of production, construction, and maintenance. [7]

It coordinated activity with two similar combined boards, the Combined Food Board and the Combined Raw Materials Board.

Political scientists who have studied the Board say that on the whole it was ineffective. The official history of the War Production Board says the CPRB "never realized" its opportunity: [8]

Despite early efforts, CPRB did not engage in comprehensive production planning or in the long-term strategic planning of economic resources. The American and British production programs for 1943 were not combined into a single integrated program, adjusted to the strategic requirements of the war. CPRB's isolation from the sources of decision regarding production objectives, its failure to develop an effective organization, its deference to other agencies and its tardiness in asserting its jurisdiction, the inadequacy of program planning by the agencies upon whom CPRB relied for forecasts of requirements, the delay of the Combined Chiefs of Staff in formulating strategic objectives for 1943—all these contributed to a result that saw adjustments in the American and British production programs for 1943 made by the appropriate national authorities in each case, rather than through combined machinery.


See also


  1. "Combined Production and Resources Board" in The New International Year Book: 1942 (1943) p 163
  2. John Herd Thompson; Stephen J. Randall (2010). Canada and the United States: Ambivalent Allies. University of Georgia Press. p. 155.
  3. Keesing's Contemporary Archives Volume V, December, 1945 Page 7595
  4. Keesing's Contemporary Archives Volume IV, June, 1942 Page 5211
  5. Organisation & Equipment for War. CUP Archive. p. 17.
  6. Jean Edward Smith (2014). Lucius D. Clay: An American Life. Henry Holt. pp. 154–55.
  7. R. Elberton Smith, The Army and Economic Mobilization (1959) pp 580-82
  8. Bureau of Demobilization, United States. Civilian Production Administration. Industrial mobilization for war: history of the War Industrial Mobilization for War: History of the War Production Board and Predecessor Agencies: 1940-1945 (1947) p 225

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Total war is warfare that includes any and all civilian-associated resources and infrastructure as legitimate military targets, mobilizes all of the resources of society to fight the war, and gives priority to warfare over non-combatant needs.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Body of senior uniformed leaders in the U. S. Department of Defense which advises the President on military matters

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is the body of the most senior uniformed leaders within the United States Department of Defense, that advises the president of the United States, the secretary of defense, the Homeland Security Council and the National Security Council on military matters. The composition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is defined by statute and consists of a chairman (CJCS), a vice chairman (VJCS), the service chiefs of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Each of the individual service chiefs, outside their JCS obligations, work directly under the secretaries of their respective military departments, e.g. the secretary of the Army, the secretary of the Navy, and the secretary of the Air Force.

Europe first, also known as Germany first, was the key element of the grand strategy agreed upon by the United States and the United Kingdom during World War II. According to this policy, the United States and the United Kingdom would use the preponderance of their resources to subdue Nazi Germany in Europe first. Simultaneously, they would fight a holding action against Japan in the Pacific, using fewer resources. After the defeat of Germany—considered the greatest threat to the UK and the Soviet Union—all Allied forces could be concentrated against Japan.

Combined Chiefs of Staff Supreme military staff for the United States and Britain during World War II

The Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) was the supreme military staff for the United States and Britain during World War II. It set all the major policy decisions for the two nations, subject to the approvals of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The United States maintained its Constitutional Republic government structure throughout World War II. Certain expediencies were taken within the existing structure of the Federal government, such as conscription and other violations of civil liberties, and the internment and later dispersal of Japanese-Americans. Still, elections were held as scheduled in 1944.

War Shipping Administration

The War Shipping Administration (WSA) was a World War II emergency war agency of the US government, tasked to purchase and operate the civilian shipping tonnage the US needed for fighting the war. Both shipbuilding under the Maritime Commission and ship allocation under the WSA to Army, Navy or civilian needs were closely coordinated though Vice Admiral Emory S. Land who continued as head of the Maritime Commission while also heading the WSA.

War Production Board

The War Production Board (WPB) was an agency of the United States government that supervised war production during World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established it in January 1942, with Executive Order 9024. The WPB replaced the Supply Priorities and Allocation Board and the Office of Production Management.

The First Washington Conference, also known as the Arcadia Conference, was held in Washington, D.C., from December 22, 1941, to January 14, 1942.

The National Security Resources Board was a United States government agency created by the National Security Act of 1947 whose purpose was to advise the President, in times of war, on how to mobilize natural resources, manpower, and the scientific establishment to meet the demands of the Department of Defense.

Donald Nelson

Donald Marr Nelson (1888–1959) was an American business executive and public servant, serving as the executive vice president of Sears Roebuck before accepting the position of director of priorities of the United States Office of Production Management (1941–1942). In 1942 Nelson became chairman of the War Production Board (1942–1944) when it replaced the OPM. He later served for two years (1945–1947) as president of the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers.

Oil campaign of World War II

The Allied oil campaign of World War II pitted the RAF and the USAAF against facilities supplying Nazi Germany with petroleum, oil, and lubrication (POL) products. It formed part of the immense Allied strategic bombing effort during the war. The targets in Germany and in Axis Europe included refineries, synthetic fuel factories, storage depots and other POL-infrastructure.

United States Army Air Forces aerial warfare branch of the United States Army from 1941 to 1947

The United States Army Air Forces was the major land-based aerial warfare service component of the United States Army and de facto aerial warfare service branch of the United States during and immediately after World War II (1939/41–1945). It was created on 20 June 1941 as successor to the previous United States Army Air Corps and is the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force, today one of the six armed forces of the United States. The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which on 2 March 1942 was divided functionally by executive order into three autonomous forces: the Army Ground Forces, the Services of Supply, and the Army Air Forces. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the Army Chief of Staff.

Air War Plans Division

The Air War Plans Division (AWPD) was an American military organization established to make long-term plans for war. Headed by Harold L. George, the unit was tasked in July 1941 to provide President Franklin D. Roosevelt with "overall production requirements required to defeat our potential enemies." The plans that were made at the AWPD eventually proved significant in the defeat of Nazi Germany.

War Food Administration

The War Food Administration was a United States Government agency that existed from 1943 to 1945. The War Food Administration was responsible for the production and distribution of food to meet war and essential civilian needs during World War II. It was a predecessor of the Farm Service Agency.

The Combined Food Board was a temporary World War II government agency that allocated the combined economic resources of the United States and the United Kingdom. It was set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill on June 9, 1942. Canada, after insisting on its economic importance, was given a place on the board in November, 1942. At first the Board was a pawn in a battle between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. War Food Administration. After that was resolved, the Board ran smoothly, and effectiveness increased. Its major achievement was the multi-nation commodity committees that it set up in 1945, which became the International Emergency Food Council. It tried to organize responses to a massive shortage of food in war-torn areas. It closed in 1946.

The Combined Raw Materials Board was a temporary World War II government agency that allocated the combined economic resources of the United States and Britain. It was set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill on January 26, 1942. Later Canada participated as an associated member in many of the Board's decisions.

Combined Munitions Assignments Board

The Combined Munitions Assignments Board was a major government agency for the U.S. and Britain in World War II. With Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt's top advisor in charge, it took control of the allocation of war supplies and Lend lease aid to the Allies, especially Britain and the Soviet Union.

The Combined Shipping Adjustment Board or Combined Shipping Board was a joint American-British war agency 1942-45 nominally in charge of commercial shipping. It proved ineffective as much more powerful boards, such as the Combined Munitions Assignments Board, ignored it. The U.S. Army and Navy controlled most shipping and refused to share responsibility with the Board as did the powerful War Shipping Administration. For practical purposes the agency was inactive by spring 1943.

The third and fourth terms of the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt began on January 20, 1941, the date of Roosevelt's third inauguration, and ended with Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945. Roosevelt won a third term by defeating Republican nominee Wendell Willkie in the 1940 United States presidential election. He remains the only president to serve for more than two terms. Unlike his first two terms in office, Roosevelt's third and fourth terms were dominated by foreign policy concerns, as the United States became a belligerent in World War II in December 1941.

United States war plans (1945–1950) Plans for a conflict with the Soviet Union

United States war plans for a conflict with the Soviet Union were formulated on a regular basis between 1945 and 1950. Although most were discarded as impractical, they nonetheless would have served as the basis for action had a conflict occurred. At no point was it considered likely that the Soviet Union or United States would resort to war, only that one could potentially occur as a result of a terrible miscalculation. Planning was conducted by agencies of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in collaboration with planners from the United Kingdom and Canada.