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Draft Message from the President to the Prime Minister1
[June 28? 1943] [Washington, D.C.]
The circumstances of our peaceful occupation of the AZORES and the attitude of cooperation and common endeavor of the Government of PORTUGAL in my opinion, place an obligation upon us to furnish military assistance to PORTUGAL. Under these circumstances, I believe that Salazar should be assured that military forces will be sent to PORTUGAL.2
The AXIS thus far has avoided commitment in the IBERIAN PENINSULA under very favorable circumstances, and even though the movement of UNITED NATIONS’ forces into PORTUGAL might precipitate an AXIS invasion of SPAIN, that action appears unlikely. However, we must expect GERMANY to launch concentrated air and submarine attacks upon PORTUGAL as retaliation and in order to impress neutral nations. It is inevitable that grave consequences would result if adequate provision were not made by the UNITED NATIONS to meet this contingency.
A defensive force capable of providing the necessary initial assistance might include one infantry division, plus strong air defense elements consisting of 26 anti-aircraft battalions, ten day and two night fighter squadrons, two anti-submarine squadrons, together with supporting and service troops. Combat elements (less anti-aircraft troops) and possibly, though not probably, a part of the service units for this force could be obtained from the MEDITERRANEAN area with, however, a limiting effect on the scope of PRICELESS. The anti-aircraft and the remainder of the service troops must be secured elsewhere, with a resulting effect on OVERLORD.3
A preliminary examination indicates that the provision of shipping for this force would limit the scope of PRICELESS and would cost OVERLORD from two to four divisions.
My proposed action in these circumstances will cause certain delays in operations agreed to in TRIDENT. However, I believe that we must accept this interference.
I should appreciate having your views on the foregoing.4
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 1, Item 26, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
1. This document was Appendix A to a memorandum addressed to the president concerning “Operations to Assist Portugal ” The memorandum and attachments had been written in the Operations Division, but Marshall redrafted Appendix A. Appendix B was a brief of a strategic plan for an Allied campaign in the Iberian Peninsula in the event of a German invasion. The memorandum was sent to Admiral Leahy on June 30. (NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 1, Item 26].)
2. Acquiring bases in the Azores to further the Allies’ antisubmarine campaign was discussed frequently during the mid-May TRIDENT Conference in Washington. Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to seek a diplomatic agreement concerning bases with the Portuguese government, which was headed by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, but they were prepared to occupy the islands by force if necessary. Negotiations and planning were left to the British, who had a long-standing treaty of alliance with Portugal. (Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: The Conferences at Washington and Quebec, 1943 [Washington: GPO, 1970], pp. 304-12.)
3. Operations in the Mediterranean subsequent to the capture of Sicily were designated PRICELESS. OVERLORD had recently been designated the code name for the Allied cross-Channel invasion projected for mid-1944.
4. The president added a final sentence: “I think there is something to be said for the thought that a peninsular campaign would be very difficult for the Axis and that secure landing places for us are not to be laughed off,” This message was sent on June 30, 1943. The British successfully concluded their negotiations on August 17, and the Portugese agreed to permit them to begin landing forces in the islands on October 8 for the purpose of preparing military bases. (Foreign Relations of the United States, 1943, 2: 534-35, 543.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 37-38.