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Draft Message from the President to the Generalissimo1
[October 16, 1944] [Washington, D.C.]
Your message of 9 October 1944 was transmitted to me through General Hurley.2 I must say at once that I disagree completely with your statement that General Stilwell lacks the essential qualifications for the command which I hoped you would give him. Otherwise I would not have urged it. I am most emphatically not in accord with your views on General Stilwell as expressed in your aide memoire to General Hurley dated 9 October 1944, and certainly do not accept the charge that he had any responsibility for the loss of east China. Quite the contrary. Furthermore, General Stilwell was not responsible for the decisions with respect to attacking in north instead of south Burma. Decisions of the Prime Minister and myself led to this choice. And I will add that our conclusions, which were inescapable and which I would repeat today, were reached only after the most serious consideration of all the pertinent facts.
In view of your message, however, I am issuing instructions to recall General Stilwell from the theater. It is with the utmost regret that I take this step but your attitude toward General Stilwell leaves me no alternative. Nothing could be accomplished if he remained.
A full and open explanation of the reasons for General Stilwell’s recall will of course have to be made. The American people will be shocked and confused by this action and I regret the harm that it will inevitably do to the sympathetic attitude of the American public toward China.
The recall of Stilwell will necessitate other changes of which I will outline the most important.
No replacement will be sent for him. What has heretofore been the U.S. China-Burma-India Theater will be separated into two theaters of which China will be one and the remainder of the present theater under General Sultan will constitute the other. The 14th Air Force will remain in the China Theater under General Chennault who will be in command of U. S. military activities there. General Sultan will have a limited Liaison Group in China. I am sure you will agree that the Ramgarh training and the supply and command of the X Force should be continued. It is hoped that you will give full assurance that necessary replacements will be furnished to enable this force to complete its mission. I trust you will agree that Sultan should be in command of all Chinese forces in India, and that you will authorize him to appoint a U. S. field commander over these Chinese forces. Hump activities and operations to establish a land line of communications will continue.
In this connection the offensive operations of the Y forces will be most important and I should like your assurance that they will advance in conjunction with the offensive operations in Burma of Admiral Mountbatten.
New Lend-Lease arrangements under which bids will be submitted by the Chinese Mission to the War Department in Washington will go into effect. Since the flow of Lend-Lease supplies must be through U. S. channels they will remain under the control of Sultan in India and of Chennault in China until they are released to your representatives.
I am hopeful that all of these disrupting steps will not reduce our planned flow of supplies to China. Regardless of our disagreement on the subject of General Stilwell, I want you to know that it is my keenest desire, as it always has been, that all practicable assistance continue to be given to China in her long struggle against our common enemy.3
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 10, Item 60, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed draft.
1. Marshall created this draft by editing a preliminary version produced in the Operations Division. Marshall met with President Roosevelt on October 16. In his diary, Secretary Stimson noted that he saw Marshall “and he told me of his interview with the President where he evidently had put the President somewhat on the defensive in regard to Stilwell and China. Marshall is evidently preparing for a battle on the latter subject.” (October 16, 1944, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 48: 152].)
2. This message (a telegram and attached aide-m