4-593 Memorandum for Admiral Somerville, November 24, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 24, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Admiral Somerville

November 24, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Admiral Somerville:

Your note of 21 November 1944 regarding a proposal to confer certain British awards on United States officers for services in the South and Southwest Pacific crossed with my memorandum to you of the same date on the subject of British awards to Generals Stilwell, Wedemeyer, Stratemeyer, Wheeler and Sultan. I refer to the latter memorandum as it sets forth our policy under which United States theater commanders are authorized to clear operational awards made to members of our forces in the field by any of the British Commonwealth of Nations.1

Of the Army officers listed in the attached file, Generals Harmon, Thompson and Smith have been relieved from duty in the areas indicated and therefore clearance of their awards is a proper War Department function. I assure you that there will be no objection to these awards if they are presented officially. Smith, by the way, was on duty in the Central Pacific rather than the Southwest Pacific.

Since the remaining Army officers listed are still in the Southwest Pacific, I should prefer not to express a view on the proposed awards unless you wish to authorize me to consult General MacArthur.

Faithfully yours,

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. Somerville had been instructed to ascertain from Marshall and King “privately, in advance of official proposals,” whether the service chiefs had any objections to British awards of various degrees to thirty-eight men, including Major Generals Millard F. Harmon, Jr. (commanding general of army forces in the South Pacific Area, July 1942-July 1944, and since August 1944 in Hawaii as commanding general of U.S. Army Air Forces in the Pacific Ocean Areas), Charles F. Thompson (commanding general of Islands Command in Fiji between October 1942 and May 1944, and since September 1944 the commanding general of the Military District of Washington), and Ralph C. Smith (commanding general of the Twenty-seventh Infantry Division in the Central Pacific between November 1942 and June 1944, and since July 1944 in the European Theater of Operations). (Somerville to Marshall, November 21, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Marshall’s memorandum (written in G-1 and revised by Major Pasco) stated that the War Department had no objection to awards to Joseph W. Stilwell, Albert C. Wedemeyer, or George E. Stratemeyer, but Raymond A. Wheeler and Daniel I. Sultan were “precluded from accepting at this time as their duties are intimately connected with Lend-Lease activities. Washington clearance is not necessary for operational awards made to members of our forces in the field by any of the British Commonwealth of Nations[.] United States theater commanders are authorized to give the necessary concurrence provided the recipient is not engaged in Lend-lease activities. In accordance with our agreement, awards will, of course, be limited to personnel in theaters of operation which have forces actively engaged with the enemy and will be restricted to cases of heroism or service directly connected with combat operations. We have been placing a rather strict interpretation on what constitutes ‘service directly connected with combat operations’ and are withholding presentation when the services rendered were of the high level planning type in a senior headquarters, even though in an active theater. While this may appear unduely restrictive, I consider it extremely desirable in order to insure that, at least until Germany falls, decorations go almost entirely to the men who are conducting or participating in combat operations.” (Marshall Memorandum for Admiral Somerville, November 21, 1944, ibid.)

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. 675-676.

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