4-631 Memorandum for General Handy, December 30, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 30, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Handy

December 30, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


I sent you in today General Henry’s adverse opinion on the question of additional permanent promotions.1 Probably he is right. However, there are these considerations:

I agreed to MacArthur’s proposal, at the time the nominations were submitted for you and others, to include Sutherland on the next list. I did not do it with Bradley but I did have a feeling of the obligation to do it at some time or other. There is also the question of Palmer Swift, close to retirement age and still a Colonel. It would seem too bad to let him come up to that point if he is successful in the next operation and still only holding a temporary general officer’s grade.2

Of course there are others whose work has been outstanding and the great problem is one of differentiation along the fighting front as well as between staff and continental U.S. jobs and those in active theaters.

I told Henry to consider another matter and let me hear from him. That is the possibility of creating a certain number of four-star generals. This is going to be a very difficult proposition because once you start it involves a great spread or otherwise creates a decided bitterness, and with some justification. I should like you to be turning this over in your mind.

I hope we will soon be faced with the necessity of handling the business of demotions involved in partial demobilization. This will also be a very difficult problem. I told Henry to study this but I should like you to be thinking of it and talk to me about it. I have had in mind that we should appoint a board—the difficulty is to find the appropriate officers for the board—to consider carefully all the interests involved and to propose a list for our guidance either of officers to be demoted or of priorities for those to be maintained in their present rank. We must have some definite policy in this matter and we cannot afford to wait until the last moment, because at best it will be a very trying thing to manage and will have definite effect on morale one way or another in the higher commands in the Pacific. Please be thinking about this.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. The memorandum from the head of G-1 (Stephen G. Henry) is not in the Marshall papers.

2. Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland was a lieutenant colonel in the permanent establishment; he was promoted to colonel effective October 1, 1945. Another of Mac-Arthur’s subordinates, Major General Innis Palmer Swift (U.S.M.A., 1904), had commanded the First Cavalry Division from mid-April 1941 to mid-August 1944, when he became commanding general of the First Army Corps; he was not promoted prior to his retirement.

3. Handy replied that G-1 thought it “inadvisable now to process nominations for permanent promotion” because of “the difficulties of getting nominations through Congress.” He recommended that a board be constituted from the active-list permanent major generals in the United States to draw up an eligible list for promotions to permanent brigadier general. For any contemplated promotions to full general, Handy noted, a delicate balance had to be maintained between air and ground, Europe and the Pacific. He proposed that the list of potential four-star generals be: Somervell, Spaatz, Bradley, and Kenney. Marshall’s idea of creating a board to handle the demotion of officers from their temporary to their permanent ranks seemed to be the best idea, according to Handy; he suggested that Marshall consider sitting on the board himself. (Handy Memorandum for General Marshall, January 5, 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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 719-720.

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Holding ID: 4-631

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