4-468 Editorial Note on Allied Progress, August 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 1, 1944

Subject: World War II

Editorial Note on Allied Progress

August 1944

China seemed to be the only dark spot in an otherwise bright summer of Allied victories. There Japanese ground forces were successfully advancing in the south in an effort to force the evacuation of the laboriously constructed and supplied U.S. air bases. Despite this, on August 3 Chinese and American arms were finally victorious in central Burma when Myitkyina fell, thereby creating the possibility of reestablishing a road from India to China. This simultaneous victory and defeat helped to keep relations between Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and his chief of staff, General Joseph W. Stilwell, subject to swings between extreme tension and putative good will. Marshall’s efforts to defend Stilwell’s role and leadership in China, against not only Chiang but also against President Roosevelt and others in the United States, continued to require considerable effort from him.

After seven bitter weeks of fighting in Normandy, in late July Operation COBRA at last punched a hole in the German front, allowing British and American forces to break out into country better suited to their armored and motorized formations. On August 15, French and American Seventh Army troops landed in southern France, initiating the long-debated ANVIL/DRAGOON operation; they soon captured France’s greatest port, Marseille, and began driving northward to effect a junction with Patton’s Third Army. Allied ground operations in France, heretofore lagging behind predicted achievements, suddenly leapt ahead of preinvasion projections; Paris was liberated on August 25, thirty-one days after COBRA began. On the eastern and southern fronts, Hitler’s forces were likewise in retreat. Germany’s allies began to defect: Romania on August 23, Bulgaria on August 26, Finland on September 2, and Hungary on October 1.

The war appeared to be going so well that plans were under way in Britain for ending the blackout and suspending Home Guard training. Plans for the occupation of Germany were announced on August 18. Military leaders began to predict a total German collapse before winter. Marshall now found himself having to warn Americans against overconfidence and to worry about production shortfalls. With the war in Europe apparently soon to conclude, leaders in Washington and London increasingly turned their attention to likely postwar problems and to the Pacific.

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. 539.

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