3-580 Memorandum for General Handy, March 30, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 30, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Handy

March 30, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


The President just talked to me about BOLERO versus ANAKIM. He thinks it is more important to build up BOLERO even at the expense of ANAKIM.1 I told him that I would look into the matter, and particularly the factor of hazards involved in passive resistance. I explained to him that if we stood pat it was quite possible, as a matter of fact highly probable, that the Japanese would move in on our airfields and disrupt the air transport route into China. If Chennault’s bombing was punishing to the Japanese they certainly would react in this manner. Therefore we would have to have some form of an offensive to prevent them from easy operations against a passive defense, and Chinese troops would have to bear the burden as regards most of the airfields concerned.

Please have someone look into a modification of ANAKIM somewhat along the lines indicated above. I am not committing myself to the abandonment of ANAKIM but I undertake this new phase of the matter for the President.2

As to BOLERO, I told him that I thought it was highly important for us to have at least a strong Army Corps in England because if events did suddenly culminate in an abrupt weakness of German resistance it was very important that there be a sizeable American representation on the ground wherever a landing on the continent of Europe was made. I also gave him as my personal opinion the fear that if we were involved at the last in Western France and the Russian Army was approaching German soil, there would be a most unfortunate diplomatic situation immediately involved, with the possibility of a chaotic condition quickly following. He told me, incidentally, that Anthony Eden was more concerned about getting Allied troops into the Balkans so far as the Russian problem is involved—than into France. But I imagine that this is with the reservation that the movement into France must be done in any event.

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. General Marshall attended a meeting with the president at the White House on March 30 at 10:45 A.M. Prime Minister Churchill had written to Roosevelt on March 24 that “the British Chiefs of Staff see little prospect of ANAKIM, much less BOLERO, unless from now onwards a good deal more shipping than is now in sight can be provided for Indian and United Kingdom theatres. . . . I need not go into details of all this as I have asked Eden to explain the situation and its extreme gravity more fully.” (Churchill and Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence, 2: 167.) On March 29 Anthony Eden, Lewis W. Douglas of the War Shipping Administration, and Harry Hopkins had met with Roosevelt at the White House. At Douglas’s urging, the president agreed at the meeting to fulfill British import commitments, even at the expense of the buildup for ANAKIM. (For more information about this meeting, see Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1955], pp. 698-701; Michael Howard, Grand Strategy, volume 4, August 1942-September 1943, a volume in the History of the Second World War [London: HMSO, 1972], pp. 296-98.)

2. Major General Thomas T. Handy replied that Allied strategy in the Pacific called for continued pressure on the Japanese and the retention of the initiative. He believed that the total abandonment of offensive operations in Burma would release Japanese forces for deployment to the Solomons and the New Guinea area, and would encourage Japanese offensive operations directed at Australia, Burma, China, or at Allied Pacific shipping lanes and Allied commercial and industrial centers in eastern India. The ANAKIM offensive in Burma was designed to prevent these contingencies, demonstrate an Allied willingness to assist the Chinese war effort, and open a land supply route to China. Handy believed that if the formal ANAKIM operation was beyond Allied resources, then a limited offensive designed to occupy northern Burma could be substituted with the objectives of securing Allied air bases in India and in Yunnan province, and opening a land supply route to China through Ledo, Myitkyina, Bhamo, and Lashio. Handy suggested that completion of this supply road would, in conjunction with air transport, increase the Allied supply flow to China to thirty thousand tons a month. (Handy Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, March 31, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 381 (3-30-43)].)

General Marshall used Handy’s memorandum as a basis.for part of his April 3, 1943, Memorandum for the President printed on pp. 627-29.

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. 620-621.

Digital Downloads




Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 3-580

Rights: Public Information