April 14, 2017

Marshall and Easter

During the first Easter celebrated after the United States’ entrance into the second world war, Marshall found himself in Bermuda after engine failure delayed his flight to London.

He recalls the event in a letter to Brigadier General Miller:

    I have a very vivid recollection of that Easter Service a year ago. It was most impressive on the one hand and, confidentially, there was an amusing twist on this other.

    What actually happened was, Harry Hopkins and I were delayed in Bermuda by the failure of an engine on our plane. Therefore our attendance at the service at Dr. Strong’s church. I slept late that morning, the first opportunity for a couple of years, and when I turned out at ten o’clock General Wedemeyer told me the Governor had telephoned at nine, requesting that I read the Second Lesson. Wedemeyer had accepted for me. He had a Bible, the only one in the hotel, which had been obtained from the cook, and informed me that I was to read from the 4th to the 8th verse of the 1st Chapter of Revelations. He thought it wise for me to glance through these verses, against the possibility of some difficult words, however he said Alpha and Omega were the only two at all out of the ordinary.

    As a result, I only read about two verses when Hopkins came in and interrupted, and I went to the church with that degree of preparation. When the Governor, Lord Knollys, read the First Lesson and returned to the pew, he gave me a pencilled slip giving the Second Lesson, which was from the 4th to the 18th verse instead of the 4th to the 8th. I have never taken the time to glance through the chapter since, but the reaction of my first glance was that the 9th to the 18th verses were heavily salted with the names of tribes, which made a difficult reading for a novice. I found support in the last tribe mentioned—the Philadelphians! At any event, on my arrival in England and first conference with the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, he immediately referred to the report he had heard of my impressive reading of the Second Lesson at the Easter Service in Bermuda.

Once in London, Marshall presented to Prime Minister Churchill and the British Chiefs of Staff the cross-Channel attack plan approved by President Roosevelt.