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Memorandum for General Handy
August 26, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
Mr. McCloy brought back a rather disturbing account of morale conditions in the Aleutians and there is no doubt but that the absence of a Japanese threat, resulting from the occupation of Kiska, will result in a much more difficult morale problem, particularly as the winter approaches.1
Mr. McCloy tells me that the Navy is able to manage a rotation policy, and that the effect of this alongside our men is bound to be depressing.
I wish you would look into the possibility of swapping units, that is sending up regiments from the States to relieve units that have been a long time in the Alaskan theater. If no equipment is involved it may be that this can be handled without an undue sacrifice of shipping. Furthermore, if the 7th Division is taken out with the combat loaders already up there, we must be achieving a great saving in shipping over and above our previous calculations.2
I think this matter is rather serious and we must get action before the bad weather closes in.
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. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy had recently returned from a visit to the Aleutian Islands; he had landed on Kiska with Seventh Division headquarters on August 19, four days after U.S. and Canadian troops landed to find that the Japanese garrison had secretly withdrawn from their last base in the islands. Marshall said in 1956 that as soon as he had received word that the Kiska operation was complete, he sent for Lieutenant General Somervell and instructed him to send troop transports to the Aleutians immediately to begin removing the troops assembled for the expedition. Somervell was reluctant to upset shipping plans, but Marshall asserted that he had already learned that as soon as the fighting was over in an area there would be immediate demands from the troops to return to the United States, and if the War Department appeared to hesitate, morale would suffer and there would be serious political repercussions. “I had a congressional committee on my hands the fourth day” after the operation ended. Initiating the movement of transports “took off the heat.” (Marshall Interviews, pp. 382.)
2. The Seventh Division was sent to Hawaii in mid-September for jungle and amphibious training.
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. 97-98.