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Memorandum for General Eisenhower
June 4, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
With reference to my comments today as to the organization of transport for troops participating in BOLERO:1
I think it is urgent that we arrive at an approximate agreement as to the divisional transportation required in the first phase of emergency BOLERO. There is no doubt in my mind that the normal divisional transport is not only exceedingly generous but quite unnecessary in the limited objective operation under consideration. What is more important it is the great stumbling block to that operation.
There is another phase of this matter to be considered. The present divisional transport is, largely, large rather cumbersome vehicles that require very special measures for their water transport. Also they are more or less confined to the roads, which means they are highly vulnerable targets for dive bombing and machine gun. On the contrary, the little jeep with a trailer or two is far easier to transport over water, and in bombing attacks can take to the woods with greater rapidity than foot troops or even cavalry. This last would be of great importance in an operation of the character we visualize because it would avoid road blocks, heavy transportation losses, and the general confusion and shortages resulting from a heavy destruction of transport. Undoubtedly the Germans would make a desperate effort to slash into the road transport as well as the water transport.
The small cars with a trailer or two could cross the beach much more easily than the heavy vehicles and could account for tonnage out of all proportion to their size because of the rapidity with which they could be gotten ashore and to work, the greater ease of moving through traffic, and the fact that the short distances would permit a considerable shuttle service.2
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 1, Item 4, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Operations Division chief Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower had attended the noon meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at which time General Marshall had remarked that part of the expected deficiency in landing craft resulted from the planners’ assumption that all the motor vehicles assigned to divisions in the operation would have to be brought ashore in landing craft. He observed that the landings would not require heavy motor transport, and light vehicles such as the jeep could be floated ashore if necessary. (Minutes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, June 4, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, JCS Minutes].)
2. Eisenhower replied on June 19: “The SOS reports that there will be no difficulty in shipping overseas normal divisional equipment and that office recommends that the stripping down of divisions take place in England. Excess equipment will pass into a Theater pool or be held ready for return to divisions when the general advance can begin in Europe. This applies particularly to the first divisions to cross the ocean.” He was requesting the Services of Supply to send several hundred jeeps and light trailers to England as soon as possible so that upon arrival of the First Division they could “reorganize its transportation and equipment and devise a transport system adapted to the particular problem. This method will have the advantage of placing the responsibility squarely up to the Corps Commander who will have charge of the assault. It will enable me to give personal supervision to this matter.” (The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, ed. Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., et al. [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970- ], 1: 344-45.)
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. 221-222.