4-537 Memorandum for Admiral Leahy, October 4, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 4, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Admiral Leahy

October 4, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Top Secret

Attached is a draft, hurriedly revised by me this morning, of a memorandum to the President in the event that he is unwilling to forward the message we proposed insisting on Stilwell’s retention.1

I question the advisability of showing the President this draft prior to our discussion of the entire situation. Incidentally the Secretary of War is very much concerned that the President should have in writing the views of the Chiefs of Staff, not merely what is to be done if General Stilwell is relieved but more particularly the evil result, catastrophic as he phrased it, that will come from Stilwell’s relief. This phase of the matter was to be discussed with the President, as I understood our discussion yesterday, and in the event that he was unwilling to make any further effort to have the Generalissimo retain Stilwell, then we were to present the memorandum of our recommendations to meet the new situation. This memorandum is attached.2

I am now about to undertake the draft of a proposed memorandum for the Chiefs of Staff to be presented first this afternoon regarding the importance of forwarding the message already submitted to the President, remonstrating with the Generalissimo and outlining the serious consequences that are bound to follow the relief of Stilwell.3

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. On September 25, in response to a Marshall-drafted message (see Proposed Message from the President to the Generalissimo, September 16, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-510 [4: 584-86]), Chiang Kai-shek asked for Stilwell’s relief because of Stilwell’s lack of cooperation, his apparent belief that “he was in fact being appointed to command me,” and his lack of fitness for “the vast, complex and delicate duties which the new command will entail.” (Romanus and Sutherland, Stilwell’s Command Problems, p. 453.) Marshall and Stimson discussed the China situation at length on October 3. The secretary of war noted that Marshall “said that if we had to remove Stilwell he would not allow another American general to be placed in the position of Chief of Staff and Commander of the Chinese armies for it was so evident that no American would be loyally supported.” On September 28, “Marshall and the Staff had prepared a sharp rejoinder for the President” declining to relieve Stilwell, but Roosevelt had not only declined to send it but was inclined to side against Stilwell. (October 3, 1944, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 48: 113-15]. A copy of the “sharp rejoinder” is in GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

The attached draft that Marshall mentions had the president say: “I must state my surprise and regret at the reversal of your agreement of some weeks ago to accept Stilwell for command. Further, the ground situation in China has so deteriorated during the past two months that I do not feel that the United States Government should now assume the responsibility involved in placing an American officer in command of the Chinese ground forces.” Stilwell would be relieved and returned to the United States, Chennault would replace him as Chiang’s chief of staff, and China would be separated from the India-Burma theater in the United States command organization. (Draft of Message from the President to the Generalissimo, October 4, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. This memorandum—”Action to be taken in the event that General Stilwell is to be relieved from duty in China”—is very similar in content to the following document (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-538 [4: 619-20].)

3. See the following document (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-538 [4: 619-20]).

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. 618-619.

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