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Memorandum for Admiral Stark
April 29, 1941 [Washington, D. C.]
In our studies and efforts to develop the situation in Greenland we have a great many difficulties. We are in the process of constructing a suitable landing field on the west coast of Greenland for the staging of aircraft via Newfoundland and Iceland to England. It should make possible the ferrying of medium and light bombardment aircraft, and it is possible that this route may be in operation before the end of the summer.1
We are initiating a survey of the east coast of Greenland and the northeast coast of Labrador to locate possible fields for the purpose of staging pursuit aircraft on trans-Atlantic flights. The construction and supply of fields in this area presents so many difficult problems that there is little chance of completing a field on the east coast before the end of the summer of 1942. In fact it is rather probable that this route may be found impracticable.
Our Air people feel that more emphasis should be placed on the possibilities of utilizing sea-borne carriers for the purpose of ferrying pursuit planes. Such carriers might be improvised or of primary construction for this particular purpose. However, this is entirely a Naval slant to the development, and I would appreciate very much your reactions on the subject.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. On April 9, 1941, the United States and Denmark signed an agreement regarding Greenland. It clarified the United States role in the defense of that island, granting rights to construct, maintain, and operate landing fields and other facilities. Army and navy surveying teams sailed from the United States on March 18 to explore the south of Greenland for possible airbase sites. (Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, Plans and Early Operations: January 1939 to August 1942, a volume in The Army Air Forces in World War II [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948-58], p. 122.) Continuing on its own construction program in Greenland, the army opened its first airfield in October 1941. (Watson, Chief of Staff p. 486.)
2. The chief of naval operations requested that two army transport ships, the Manhattan and the Washington, be turned over to the navy for conversion to aircraft carriers. These could be used to ferry planes across the Atlantic Ocean. The army rejected the proposal; in a May 14, 1941, memorandum to Stark drafted by the Supply Division, G-4—Marshall noted that the army needed all its usable transports. New ships or those badly in need of repair could be converted. (This correspondence is in NA/RG 165 [G4, 29717-65].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 488-489.