3-427 Memorandum for Admiral King, November 30, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 30, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Admiral King

November 30, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


I have given some thought to your memorandum of November 17th proposing the matter of “full” Admirals and Generals, with particular reference to the cases of Halsey and Eisenhower; also to your suggestion for higher rank.1

Since receipt of your note Halsey has been promoted so the only immediate question is General Eisenhower’s case.2 I do not wish to take action regarding him until the Tunisian situation has been cleared up. He has had an unusually severe test, without precedent I believe, in organizing and planning a large and extremely complicated operation, and also in demonstrating his ability to handle combined forces, international as well as inter-service. But his battle test of leadership is just developing.

As to the higher rank, for which you suggest some such titles as Arch-Admiral and Arch-General, I do not think it would be wise for us to submit such a proposal. In the first place, it would involve the immediate implication that we were proposing something for our own personal advancement. Also, I believe that neither our legislators nor the American people would react at all favorably to the creation of what to them would be exalted military rank. After a long battle, which required numerous prolonged hearings by me and months of time, I succeeded in getting the grade of Lieutenant General for the four field Armies and Panama and Hawaii. Later I obtained the authority for temporary promotions without reference to grades, but this last developed an antagonism on the part of the Military Committee that lasted for almost six months.

In view of the foregoing I should be opposed to an effort by the War Department to obtain authorization for a higher rank than General.

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

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. King had written: “the time has come to take up the matter of more ‘full’ Admirals and more ‘full’ Generals, e.g.—the cases of Halsey and Eisenhower—with more to follow, in due course. I therefore suggest that we consider the matter and make appropriate recommendations to the President. We should also recognize the fact that there is need to prepare for ranks higher than that of Admiral and General. As to such ranks, I suggest Arch-Admiral and Arch-General, rather than Admiral of the Fleet and Field Marshal.” (King Memorandum to General Marshall, November 17, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 210.2].)

2. Halsey was promoted to four-star rank on November 18, 1942. Eisenhower was promoted to general in February 1943; see Marshall Memorandum for the President, February 9, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-507 [3: 539-40].

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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 455-456.

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