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Memorandum for Field Marshal Sir John Dill
March 24, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Under present stipulations from London Budapest and Ploesti are not to be bombed.
I wish you would examine a railroad map of the main lines which connect up the Lwow (Limburgh)-Bucharest front. Two things would seem to be apparent, one is the vast importance to the Germans of the railroad center at Budapest and the other is the almost equal importance to the Germans of the oil supply at Ploesti to provide for that part of the front from Odessa to Lwow, particularly if the Budapest rail center is put out of action.
I should be interested to learn why the present instructions regarding Budapest and Ploesti were given. If it is merely political it would seem that the political considerations should be weighed most carefully against the tremendous military importance of the two factors I have mentioned above.1
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 March 28 Dill sent to Marshall and to General Henry H. Arnold a message that he had received from British Chief of the Air Staff Sir Charles Portal. “Ban on bombing Hungary was imposed on 20th March by War Cabinet from desire that anti-German elements then in communication with Foreign Office should have every chance to stage resistance to occupation,” Portal informed Dill. “It was therefore largely a political decision. In view of present situation I am seeking immediate removal of ban and thereafter Wilson’s attention will be drawn to the importance attached to Budapest railway centre.” Opposition to the bombing of Ploesti had been decided on military grounds. According to Portal, destruction of the refineries which were widely dispersed precision targets would require better weather than anticipated and would take away more effort than could be spared from Italy and POINTBLANK. Secondly, attack of Bucharest would most likely have more effect on the passage of oil from Rumanian fields than an effort aimed at the refineries, and it would politically damage German interests. (Portal to Dill, March 25, 1944, attached to Dill to Marshall, March 28, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 371.