3-065 Memorandum for General Gerow, January 20, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 20, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Gerow

January 20, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


I want you to check up on the system in vogue as to the instructions given to commanders, particularly overseas commanders, over the signature of The Adjutant General.

In my hearing before the Pearl Harbor investigating committee, it developed that an alert message of November 27th, transmitted to The Adjutant General over your signature, and its acknowledgment by General Short, were confused by him with the message of November 28th submitted to The Adjutant General to be dispatched over his signature, by General Miles. The latter message was assumed by General Short to approve in effect his acknowledgment of the alert of November 27th which reported the sabotage precautions, and actually referred to one of a series of alerts, of third or fourth priority.1

What I wish to get at is the correlation of dispatches from the War Department over the signature of The Adjutant General.2

This morning I find a message from Fort Mills relating to casualty reports and press releases. I have not yet had an opportunity to inform myself as to how the issue was raised, but it certainly should have been passed on by General Eisenhower or by me.

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 Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. 507-9.

2. In a memorandum for Marshall this same day, Colonel Walter Bedell (“Beetle”) Smith, secretary of the General Staff, replied that official messages containing orders and instructions were sent over the signature of The Adjutant General (Major General Emory S. Adams), except for a few signed “Marshall” for extreme emphasis. Important messages were cleared through Smith’s office, but division chiefs could send messages they considered relatively unimportant directly to the adjutant general’s office for transmission. Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2) Sherman Miles habitually sent certain intelligence messages over his own signature “and these The Adjutant General accepted to avoid an argument.” General Surles had sent a few messages to public relations officers overseas, and General Somervell wanted to be able to send informal messages over his own signature. “Written orders have been issued that no radios or telegrams will be sent to overseas commanders unless cleared by the Secretary, General Staff, whose job it is to prevent trivial radios from going out and to see that others are OK’d by interested Staff Divisions.” (Smith Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, January 20, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, Chronological, Miscellaneous].)

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), p. 75.

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