4-482 Draft Message, August 18, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 18, 1944

Subject: World War II

Draft Message1

August 18, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


The view concerning General DeWitt expressed in my earlier cable is concurred in by General Marshall and Mr. McCloy, both of whom, with high regard for his qualifications as a commander, feel that he is too rigid or unbending in his personal views to permit of a reasonable basis for negotiation. McCloy derived this opinion from his intimate relations with DeWitt in connection with the Japanese complications on the West Coast and in Hawaii; General Marshall has had his own experiences along the same line. These views do not relate to his abilities as a commander, which is quite another thing.2

It might well be possible to secure the services of General Richardson for this position in the event that he would be the head of the mission.* Richardson speaks French fluently, is familiar with affairs in Europe, and has plenty of backbone. It may save time if meanwhile you can let us know General Eisenhower’s attitude regarding the selection of Richardson.3

* European country mission, AMG [Allied Military Government]

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed draft.

1. At the bottom of the file carbon copy, Mona K. Nason, Marshall’s secretary, had typed: “Original to Gen. J. Hilldring, Civil Affairs, to insert in mes. he is sending. dictated by CS 8/18/44.” Major General John H. Hilldring was chief of the Civil Affairs Division.

2. Eisenhower was seeking a chief for the new S.H.A.E.F. Mission to France which his headquarters was in the process of establishing. The mission was intended to provide liaison between General de Gaulle’s provisional government and S.H.A.E.F., particularly concerning such matters as French rearmament, the status of the Allies in France, and assistance in dealing with civil affairs in liberated areas. (Pogue, Supreme Command, pp. 320-21; Vigneras, Rearming the French, p. 324.)

Lieutenant General John L. De Witt, commandant of the Army and Navy Staff College since September 1943, had arrived in England on August 6 and assumed the late Lieutenant General McNair’s role as commanding general of the phantom First U.S. Army Group. After Pearl Harbor, as commanding general of the Western Defense Command, De Witt had presided over the internment of the Japanese Americans on the West Coast.

3. At this time Lieutenant General Robert C. Richardson, Jr., army commander in the Pacific Ocean Area, was embroiled in a conflict with Admiral Nimitz over the extent of navy authority. “The tendency is growing at CinCPOA’s headquarters,” Richardson wrote to Marshall, “to pass from unified command to single command authority, beyond the scope of current Joint Chiefs of Staff directives.” Marshall thought that Richardson was “quibbling over details.” (Richardson to Marshall, August 16, 1944, and Marshall note for Handy, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Marshall’s draft was not used, although on August 22 Hilldring noted in a message to Eisenhower that “there is strong feeling back here in important places that General De Witt is not ideally suited temperamentally as a negotiator for General Eisenhower with General De Gaulle and other members of the Comite.” Hilldring suggested that S.H.A.E.F. take either Major General Ray E. Porter, then head of War Department G-3, or Major General John T. Lewis, commanding general of the Military District of Washington. (Hilldring to Eisenhower, Radio No. WAR-84909, NA/RG 165 [OPD, TS Message File (CM-OUT-84909)].) Eisenhower ultimately chose Lewis.

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), p. 553.

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