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Memorandum for Field Marshal Sir John Dill
October 6, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Stilwell is having an extremely difficult time in China as you can well imagine. He has been endeavoring to force the Generalissimo to reorganize his Army on the basis of reducing the number of divisions to afford a better distribution of materiel and get rid of ineffective leadership. He has put particular pressure on to secure the organization of an efficient force of 30,000 to 40,000 men in Yunnan for operations on the Burma frontier. At the same time he has with great difficulty succeeded in getting the acquiescence of the Generalissimo to the increase of the force at Ramgarh to a Corps, for cooperation in the reconquest of Burma. This latter force is being trained by our people and being equipped with materiel we already have in India.1
It has been difficult to get the Generalissimo to agree to the increase as he was quite hostile over the original infiltration into India of some 9,000 men. All of which hostility Stilwell has had to bear personally.
The situation is exceedingly difficult and I want you to read the following message with that in mind.
“After sanctioning increase of Ramgarh Garrison, Wavell NCB [now] making conditions. Viceroy has to be consulted. British Ambassador tells me London has not finally acted. I made official request through Sibertson-Wavell [Sibert on Wavell], and he concurred. Now he wants further official request, asking for reasons for the increase. My answer was to help our British Allies retake Burma. If the British obstruct this plan the consequences here will be serious. There is now a possibility that we will get some action on the 30 division plan and any lack of cooperation in India may prejudice our chances.2 As I understand my instructions, British originally agreed to make available to me bases in India for operations in Burma. This matter may smooth out, but want you to know what is going on at present.
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. In April 1942 Chiang Kai-shek had accepted Stilwell’s proposal that Chinese troops be sent to India for resupply and training in preparation for retaking Burma. In June a former prisoner of war camp at Ramgarh, India (approximately two hundred miles northwest of Calcutta), was designated as the training site for the nine thousand troops to be trained as artillerists and heavy-weapons specialists; the Ramgarh Training Center was formally activated on August 26. When China-United States relations improved following Lauchlin Currie’s visit (see editorial note #3-306, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [3: 333-34), Stilwell proposed a substantial increase in the number of Chinese troops at Ramgarh. On September 27 Sir Archibald Wavell, the British commander in chief in India, approved, but two days later he raised such a number of objections and administrative questions as to place the Ramgarh project in doubt. (Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell’s Mission to China, pp. 212-14.)
2. Major General Franklin C. Sibert (U.S.M.A., 1912) was in charge of Stilwell’s Branch Office, New Delhi. The Thirty Division Program originated in late 1940 as a Chinese request for lend-lease materiel to equip the equivalent of thirty divisions, but it soon became associated with United States efforts to reform and reorganize the Chinese army. By September 1942 Stilwell considered progress on the program to be the test of Chinese military intentions. (Ibid., pp. 11, 14, 25-26, 42-43, 184, 187.) A reproduction of Stilwell’s October 5 radio message to Marshall is in Sunderland and Romanus, Stilwell’s Personal File, 1: 274.
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. 384-385.