4-329 Memorandum for General Eisenhower, April 1, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 1, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Eisenhower

April 1, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Secret Personal

Herewith are six copies of a detailed report on amphibious landings and actions in the Pacific. Other copies will be sent in the routine fashion to your headquarters but I wish to be certain that these actually reach you personally because I would suggest not only that you read the report, but that you see that Montgomery, Bradley, Patton, and your planners get copies.

That you may understand a little better the importance I attach to this report, I will explain what led to it. Last April I became convinced that we must make a more direct approach in the search for methods to put the Japanese out of those islands and particularly throw them back in the jungles without either long delays or heavy losses. I first called on Dr. Vannevar Bush and his scientists,1 gave them a rough of what might be the general approach to the problem, particularly the requirement that what we wanted done must be developed in a few weeks and must not involve loads too heavy for infantry to transport. After a week or ten days the scientists had given me their best and Colonel Borden, of the Ordnance, was given the authority to proceed in this matter direct, cutting across all bureaucratic delay on the basis of developing within a period of three weeks the improvements that could be made in our technique, at least the sample materiel to be assembled on the West Coast by the end of three weeks and Colonel Borden and his group to go into the Pacific to demonstrate it. Everything assembled must be for immediate shipment; in other words, if it was not then in production so that modifications could be quickly made, I was not interested. He and his party left for the Pacific, carried their demonstrations up to the front lines for the benefit of commanders and noncommissioned officers.2 Wherever materiel was desired, a radio was immediately sent to San Francisco, where materiel had accumulated and could be shipped that or the next day.

The reception of this mission was so gratifying that we continued its operation here in the War Department as a regular business, addressing its work to longer time developments.

On my return from Cairo through the Pacific I went into the details of the recent Tarawa operation, where it was evident that a better technique would have made a material saving in lives. I despatched a radio to have Colonel Borden and his people return to Hawaii and go over the technique proposed for the Kwajalein operation. This was done, again with gratifying results and a great deal was developed of major importance in the timing of bombs and fusing of naval shells. Also the related importance of emplaced artillery was made clearly apparent and the operation procedure was predicated on preliminary landings of artillery, etc.

The operation itself was not only successful in general, but a remarkable demonstration of a perfect technique.

As will be seen by this report, we had a group of Colonel, now General, Borden’s men go into the Marshall Islands on the heels of the operation and make a detailed study. This report is the result, and while the defenses in France are of a different character, the principles involved are much the same. The point is, that here we were able to employ practically laboratory methods before the operation and immediately thereafter. Therefore I believe your people will find much of value in the report.3

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. Bush was director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development in Washington, D.C., which worked closely with the U.S. Army in the development of new weapons. (Marshall to Bush, April 16, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. For information regarding Borden’s missions to the Pacific in 1943, see Marshall to MacArthur, September 14, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-108 [4: 125-26].

3. This report is not in the Marshall papers. Brigadier General William A. Borden had been working on special projects for General Marshall directly, which involved demonstrating and supplying new equipment. In early 1944 Colonel Claudius H. M. Roberts led an Ordnance group in the Central, South, and Southwest Pacific areas, and Colonel George G. Eddy (U.S.M.A., 1918) was in charge of a group assigned to the North African and European theaters. From early February until late June 1944, a mission headed by Colonel Roberts studied the effectiveness of beach assault equipment and weapons for overcoming mines and beach obstructions. In March 1944 Colonel Roberts submitted a report on the Marshall Islands operation. In late July 1944 Roberts and his group submitted their “Report of Mission to Pacific Theaters, 31 January to 30 June 1944.” (Borden Memorandums for Colonel Frank McCarthy, January 31 and July 3, 1944, and Borden Memorandums for the Chief of Staff, February 5 and August 26, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected]. Lida Mayo, The Ordnance Department: On Beachhead and Battlefront, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1968], pp. 451-52.)

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. 383-385.

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