4-548 Memorandum for Field Marshal Sir John Dill, October 20, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 20, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Field Marshal Sir John Dill

October 20, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Top Secret

On 12 August 1944 the Generalissimo agreed in principle to designate General Stilwell as the commander of all Chinese Army Forces in China, to meet the desperate situation then developing. There followed a usual delay over details until finally the Generalissimo reversed himself for several reasons, among which was his irritation over receiving at the hands of General Stilwell the message from the President read to the British Chiefs of Staff at Quebec.1 Another apparent reason was the Japanese broadcast to the effect that Stilwell was plotting to make himself Czar of China,2 and finally that Stilwell’s responsibility for the failure to carry out the amphibious campaign in lower Burma demonstrated his incapacity for the great responsibility involved in the new command. General Stilwell has been ordered home.

The above has necessitated a number of rearrangements. As far as United States forces are concerned, the China-Burma-India area will be divided into two theaters, one China and the other India-Burma. General Sultan will be placed in command of the India-Burma theater. We have requested the Generalissimo to delegate control of the Chinese Ledo (X) force to General Sultan. At the present time it is very important that Sultan himself be completely free to handle the Ledo situation, particularly as concerns the Chinese troops, and his other responsibilities should be reduced to a minimum.

Heretofore one of the objections advanced by the British to General Stilwell as Deputy Commander, Southeast Asia Command, was that he was actively conducting a fight in North Burma and not present with the Supreme Commander. Accordingly Sultan should not be designated as Deputy Supreme Commander to Admiral Mountbatten. Considering all circumstances and personnel involved, the best solution, in our opinion, is to make Wheeler Deputy Supreme Commander, Southeast Asia Command, while retaining his present staff assignment.

The Generalissimo has requested the detail of General Wedemeyer to command the Chinese forces. The President has expressed his unwillingness at this late date to charge an American officer with such responsibility but has expressed to the Generalissimo his willingness to have General Wedemeyer occupy the post of Chief of Staff to the Generalissimo. It is a matter of regret that this will take Wedemeyer away from his duties on the staff of Admiral Mountbatten. However, under the circumstances no other arrangement appears possible at this time.3 If there are any suggestions you wish to advance as to General Wedemeyer’s successor, they will receive most sympathetic consideration and we will do our best to provide a satisfactory substitute.

As to the matter of coordination of operations of the Chinese Ledo (X) force and the Salween (Y) forces with each other and with Mountbatten’s forces, we cannot say exactly how it will be accomplished. However, it has been proposed to the Generalissimo that it could be effected by Wedemeyer as the Generalissimo’s Chief of Staff in communication with Sultan and Mountbatten.4

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. See Proposed Message from the President to the Generalissimo, September 16, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-510 [4: 584-86].

2. On September 26, Stilwell had sent a message to Marshall concerning a Japanese broadcast. “The broadcast referred to claimed that I was plotting to seize power from CKS and make myself Czar of China. In view of the character of CKS, such stuff, silly as it is, is dangerous. It may possibly be at the bottom of present impasse. Also, it may possibly have been manufactured here” [in Chungking]. (Sunderland and Romanus, eds., Stilwell’s Personal File, 5: 2492.)

3. A telegram dated October 24 from the War Department informed Major General Albert C. Wedemeyer that he had been selected to succeed Stilwell. He arrived in Chungking on October 31 and immediately assumed his duties as commanding general U.S. Forces, China Theater, and chief of staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. He was promoted to lieutenant general effective January 1, 1945.

4. Mountbatten had been pressing the Combined Chiefs of Staff to create a new agency—Headquarters, Allied Land Forces, Southeast Asia (ALFSEA)—under Lieutenant General Sir Oliver Leese, who had commanded the British Eighth Army in Italy since January 1944. The British Joint Staff Mission replied on October 26 to Marshall’s memorandum by urging that Sultan’s forces and the Chinese Y-Force (when it crossed into Burma) come under Leese’s command. Marshall gave informal approval to the new arrangement on October 30. Leese’s new headquarters was activated on November 12. Concerning these command arrangements, see Charles F. Romanus and Riley Sunderland, Time Runs Out in CBI, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1959), pp. 87-88.

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. 631-633.

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