3-454 Memorandum for Admiral Leahy, December 17, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 17, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Admiral Leahy

December 17, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Propaganda relating to Darlan and North African campaign.

The propaganda service is under Mr. Elmer Davis and the Office of War Information.

Yesterday Mr. McCloy, Assistant Secretary of War, told me that he learned from members of the State Department that a tremendous propaganda campaign, relating to the above subject, was being carried on out of the New York office of the OWI, and that what little was known of it excited the concern of these State Department officials regarding the matter pertaining to Darlan.1

So far as I know no policy in this matter has been put forward by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and it is a fact that the OWI is not subject to direction from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Therefore it seems to me we are possibly proceeding in a dangerously uncoordinated manner regarding these very delicate questions relating to the French—all of which has a heavy bearing on Eisenhower’s position in North Africa.

I suggest that you talk to Mr. Davis about this to learn just what policy they are following and if it is in accord with that which has been jointly determined through you, for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mr. Hull.2

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. The Office of War Information’s largest subdivision was the Overseas Branch, which had offices in New York and San Francisco and was headed by Robert Sherwood. The branch’s top officials were outspokenly critical of the State Department’s friendly policy toward Vichy France and were reluctant to concede to the department the role of spokesman for United States foreign policy. (Bureau of the Budget, The United States at War: Development and Administration of the War Program by the Federal Government [Washington: GPO, 1946], pp. 228-31.)

2. On December 23 the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued directive 155/4/D delineating the role of the Office of Strategic Services and making it the key agency on the new Board of Strategy on Military Psychological Warfare. But this displeased O.W.I. officials, who believed that their charter gave them a clear mandate to control all information activities aimed at the enemy. (Ibid., p. 230.) Elmer Davis protested to President Roosevelt, who issued Executive Order 9312 on March 9, 1943, giving the O.W.I. full responsibility for “foreign propaganda activities involving the dissemination of information,” subject to J.C.S. approval “in areas of actual or projected military operations.”

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. 485-486.

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Holding ID: 3-454

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