4-328 Editorial Note on Marshall’s Execution of Duties, Spring 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Subject: World War II

Editorial Note on Marshall’s Execution of Duties

Spring 1944

Colonel Frank McCarthy, secretary of the General Staff and among the individuals closest to General Marshall, remarked in early spring 1944 that Marshall’s tremendous responsibilities continued to increase. “I would not have thought it possible for General Marshall to be busier and more involved in daily decisions of the highest importance than he was six months ago, but his burden increases steadily. His ability to shoulder the ever heavier load is a wonder to us all,” McCarthy wrote to Douglas S. Freeman. “He remains the great American brought forth by this war, and I think he is the only individual I have ever known who could discharge his present duties without a departure from high purpose and noble principle. It will take history a long time to find out how much he has done and is doing because of his continuing modesty.” McCarthy noted that General Marshall “never worries about his own decisions with respect to the war. He makes them quickly and puts them into that very large portion of his brain which is reserved for finished business.” (McCarthy to Freeman, April 1, 1944, GCMRL/ F. McCarthy Papers [U.S. Army 1941-45].)

During the spring of 1944, preparation for the invasion of France was among the top business of the chief of staff in charge of a global war. Bringing the cross-Channel invasion to a realization was now General Eisenhower’s responsibility, but Marshall was there to provide him support and guidance when needed. Usually a good judge of abilities and character, General Marshall had a policy of delegating authority and then not interfering unless the subordinate hesitated or faltered. “After once having assigned an officer to his job,” Omar Bradley recalled, “General Marshall seldom intervened.” (Omar N. Bradley, A Soldier’s Story [New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1951], p. 19.)

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. 383.

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