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Draft C.C.S. Message to Eisenhower1
[October 23, 1944] [Washington, D.C.]
We consider that an immediate supreme effort in Western Europe may well result in the collapse of German resistance before the heavy winter weather limits large operations and facilitates defensive strategy. The Combined Chiefs of Staff direct that SCAEF2 conduct operations with the objective of completing the defeat of Germany by 1 January. Nothing will be held back.
This course of action will require such measures as the commitment of reserves, the continuous employment of divisions, the minimum essential development of lines of communications, the employment of hitherto secret weapons and employing strategical air in all-out tactical operations wherever and whenever the advance of the ground troops can be thus facilitated. All this to be done with the single purpose of achieving the foregoing objective and all on the basis that the effort will succeed.
We will give maximum support for this all-out effort. In so far as humanly possible all requirements will be met. Nothing will be withheld which is available and can be of assistance now.
The Strategic Air Forces will operate under the policy set forth in this directive and in accordance with SCAEF’s directions.
SCAEF and SACMED3 will consult and together make recommendations without delay as to the course of action in the Mediterranean Theater which will best contribute to defeating Germany by 1 January 1945.
Plans and preparations for carrying on the battle against Germany beyond 1 January will be continued on the basis that they do not interfere with the all-out effort to crush German resistance by 1 January.4
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), 381, Case 538, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed draft.
1. The origins of this message are described in Marshall Memorandum for General Handy, General Hull, October 20, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-551 [4: 634-35]. While originally drafted in the Operations Division, Marshall extensively edited the first two paragraphs.
2. Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force (i.e., Eisenhower).
3. Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater (i.e., Wilson).
4. Colonel Charles K. Galley, Jr., Operations Division executive officer, wrote on the draft’s cover letter: “Approved by JCS. Not published as a JCS paper but passed to the British by Gen. MacFarland. They’re still sitting on it (28 Oct 44).” British leaders, who supported Montgomery’s views on the necessity of concentrating Allied power in northwest Europe under his command for a thrust into the Ruhr (see the editorial note regarding Marshall’s October 8 visit with Montgomery, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-542 [4: 624]), were not favorably impressed by Marshall’s draft. Field Marshal Brooke wrote the following in his diary about the October 26 meeting of the British Chiefs of Staff: “We had the Planners in this morning and discussed with them the wonderful telegram from Marshall in which he seems to consider that if we really set our hearts on it and bank on its happening, irrespective of what happens in the future should we fail to do so, we ought to be able to finish the war before the end of the year!” (Bryant, Triumph in the West, pp. 240-41.) In an undated note on the cover letter (just below his aforementioned note), Gailey wrote: “Answered by British. C/S directs ‘Keep Poker Face.’”
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 636-637.