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Memorandum for Admiral King
September 1, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Diversion of the LURLINE.1
I have asked Somervell to see Admiral Horne2 regarding the diversion of the LURLINE from the carriage of Army3 replacements for the South and Southwest Pacific to the transportation of 3,000 volunteers for Brigadier Wingate’s deep penetration forces. In order that there may be a reasonable time for the training of the Wingate outfit it is imperative that the troops concerned be landed in India at the earliest possible moment.
The proposal is that the LURLINE be diverted to one trip to India to carry the 3,000 men above referred to. This would reduce the lift to the South and Southwest Pacific theater by a total of 7,900—almost entirely soldiers—spaces in September and October. To make up this loss it is proposed:
a. To divert 1500 spaces from the Caribbean to the Pacific.
b. To divert 1000 spaces from Alaska to other Pacific theaters.
c. To divert the East Coast sailing of a vessel now scheduled with 5300 spaces for India, to the South and Southwest Pacific.
These three steps will return the spaces lost by the diversion of the LURLINE, in early October.
5300 troops who would be deferred by the diversion of the vessel from the East Coast about to leave for India will be sent to Africa on freighters and transshipped by the British for India.4
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. Before the United States entered the war, the Lurline had been a Matson Line passenger ship.
2. Vice Admiral Frederick J. Home was vice-chief of naval operations.
3. The word “Army” had been lined through.
4. The Burma volunteers from the Caribbean Defense Command flew to Miami, crossed the continent by rail, and assembled in San Francisco with the battalion recruited from the United States. They, and as much of their equipment as could be loaded aboard, sailed on the Lurline on September 21. Marshall was enthusiastic about the quality of men volunteering for the project; he told Sir John Dill that he had received reports that “the morale and appearance of the units were so splendid that many of the port personnel wished to join the expedition.” The Lurline picked up in New Caledonia and Brisbane, Australia, the men who were to form the third battalion; then it steamed to Bombay, India, where the three battalions disembarked by October 31. The organization (called the 5307th Composite Unit [Provisional]—later popularly known as “Merrill’s Marauders,” after their leader, Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill) trained in India from November 1943 through January 1944 in preparation for an invasion of north Burma. (Marshall [Sexton] Memorandum for Field Marshal Sir John Dill, September 26, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected]; War Department, Military Intelligence Division, Merrill’s Marauders (February-May 1944), American Forces in Action Series [Washington: GPO, 1945], pp. 8-11.)
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. 112-113.