5-059 Memorandum for Field Marshal Wilson, March 8, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 8, 1945

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Field Marshal Wilson

March 8, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]


I am attaching a memorandum to me from General Persons, my liaison officer with Congress. As you will see, it relates to the travel of members of Congress abroad.1

I am also inclosing the President’s memorandum to the leaders in Congress regarding the visits by Congressmen to active theaters and the directive of the Joint Chiefs of Staff upon whom has been placed the responsibility for determining whether or not such visits are justified.2

I am giving you this information in connection with the increasing embarrassment that we suffer from the travel of individual members of Congress on the invitation of the British Government. As you will see from General Persons’ memorandum, the War Department will probably be attacked by the Republican Floor Leader of the House tomorrow on this subject, due to the fact that Congressman Dirksen was denied by the War Department, in accordance with policy and instructions, a permit to enter the Italian Theater and at the same time the press announces that Congresswoman Clare Luce will proceed to Italy. She, I understand, was given this invitation by Field Marshal Alexander.3

I can talk to you about this later but I thought that at the moment the complications and embarrassments in the matter would be better understood if I sent you the inclosed.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. Major General Wilton B. Persons, chief of the Legislative and Liaison Division, wrote that Republican leader Joseph W. Martin, Jr., was upset because Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce was permitted to go to Italy, while Everett M. Dirksen (Republican from Illinois) had been refused a military permit to Italy and China. Congresswoman Luce was traveling at the invitation of the British, and the War Department had nothing to do with her trip. Congressman Dirksen had been refused a military permit by the Joint Chiefs of Staff because he was not eligible to tour active theaters; however, he had been appointed a subcommittee of one by Clarence Cannon, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, to report on Federal activities within the committee’s jurisdiction. Persons believed that Martin’s motives in raising the question were political, as a means “to get at the Administration through us.” Colonel Frank McCarthy added a handwritten note to General Marshall at the bottom of Persons’s memorandum: “This may involve an attack on you personally. I pointed out to Mr. Martin that the matter was for JCS action—not your action alone. He said `Come on, now, everybody knows who runs the JCS.’ F. McC.” (Persons Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, March 8, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected]. Cannon to Dirksen, February 19, 1945, and Marshall [staff-drafted] to Martin, February 27, 1945, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) Secretary of War Stimson had met with Congressman Dirksen on February 10, and wrote, “I don’t see any way of allowing him to go without making a precedent which will give us eternal trouble. The ban against single Congressmen going has been carefully fabricated between the President and the Congress and has held tight thus far except in three cases where personal representatives of the President were sent.” (February 10, 1945, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 50: 102].)

2. In March 1943, General Marshall recommended that congressional visits to overseas military establishments be limited to one committee (restricted to four members) from each house. President Roosevelt concurred and notified the leaders in Congress. (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-559 [3: 595-96].) In November 1943 President Roosevelt issued a directive that the Joint Chiefs of Staff be authorized to approve travel by civilians into or through areas of active operations. (Roosevelt Memorandum for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, November 20, 1943, NA/RG 407 [AGO, 230].)

3. Clare Boothe Luce, who had recently returned from a visit to the Italian theater with members of the House Military Affairs Committee, was now in England, en route to the Italian front at the invitation of Field Marshal Harold Alexander, supreme commander in the Mediterranean theater. (New York Times, March 7, 1945, p. 9. For Mrs. Luce’s previous trip, see Marshall Memorandum for Colonel Pasco, January 9, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-017 [5: 25-27].)

4. As part of his world trip, Congressman Everett M. Dirksen toured the United States Fifth Army front in early May 1945. (New York Times, February 27, 1945, p. 4, and May 5, 1945, p. 11.) On March 11, Major General Wilton Persons notified General Marshall that Speaker Sam Rayburn recommended that the War Department permit Congressman Dirksen to tour Italy or face a damaging attack by Minority Leader Joe Martin or even pressure from the White House. Persons recommended that Field Marshal Alexander arrange for Dirksen to be invited by the British to enter Italy as Congresswoman Luce was invited. (Persons Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, March 11, 1945, 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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 84-85.

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