3-237 Memorandum for Admiral King, June 29, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: June 29, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Admiral King

June 29, 1942 Washington, D.C.


With reference to our conversation of this morning, I am quoting below a message sent by me to General MacArthur on June 28th, and his reply of June 29th:


“For General MacArthur only from Marshall. Your 254 June 28 received.1 I am engaged in negotiations as to command in the proposed operations and will keep you informed. Regardless of the outcome of these negotiations, which I hope will be as you desire, every available support both army and navy must be given to operations against the enemy. Your plans should be based on that premise.”

“For General Marshall only. Replying your 300 twenty-eighth. You may rest assured that every possible resource under my control will be used to the maximum against the enemy at all times and under any circumstances. Please do not repeat not infer from anything that I have said that I contemplate anything short of the fullest cooperation when basic decisions have been made.

I am gravely concerned about this projected operation. From the Navy despatches which I have seen and transmitted to you I infer that Admirals King and Nimitz contemplate an attack upon Tulagi and possibly immediate adjacent islands as a complete operation. Such action should be taken only as a part of an operation to capture New Britain and New Ireland. If the enemy is thrown back to Truk the captured area can be held, but if the Solomons or parts thereof are taken and the operation is not continued the result will be a dangerous salient against which the enemy can bring overwhelming strength with the support of land based aviation. In such case the continued presence of strong naval forces including carriers would be essential and in their absence our occupying forces would face disaster. I trust that prior to the issuance of orders I will be given the opportunity to express my views as to the operation itself and its relation to the campaign in the Southwest Pacific area.”

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. Having learned that King had directed Nimitz to prepare for offensive operations in the South Pacific, MacArthur expressed his displeasure to Marshall. “It is quite evident in reviewing the whole situation that the Navy contemplates assuming general command control of all operations in the Pacific theatre, the role of the Army being subsidiary and consisting largely of placing its forces at the disposal and under the command of Navy or Marine officers. By using Army troops to garrison the islands of the Pacific under Navy command the Navy retains Marine forces always available giving them inherently an army of their own and serving as the real bases for their plans by virtue of having the most readily available unit for offensive action. This Navy plan came under my observation accidentally as far back as ten years ago when I was Chief of Staff and senior member of the Joint Board. The whole plan envisioned the complete absorption of the national defense function by the Navy, the Army being relegated merely to base training, garrisoning and supply purposes. I cannot tell you how completely destructive this would be to the morale of the Army both air and ground units. I shall take no step or action with reference to any components of my Command except under your direct orders.” (MacArthur to Marshall, Radio No. 254, June 28, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 2, Item 2451].)

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. 255-256.

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Holding ID: 3-237

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