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Memorandum for General Henry
October 18, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
There are two or three things I wish to talk to you about. I shall list them below so that you can have them in mind.
The clarification of the replacement situation in Italy. I am not interested now in the complicated explanations of what brought about what now exists. My interest focuses on what are we going to do about it and what speed can we make in the process. I noted the sailing dates for three lots of replacements and a message to General Eisenhower which I believe told him it was unnecessary to transfer replacements from his pool to Italy.2
I am interested in the procedure to be followed regarding transfers of officers from the European to the Pacific theater and the partial demobilization resulting from the cessation of hostilities in the former theater. There are several aspects of this that I am concerned about: one is the handling of the professional Regular officers; the other is the handling of high-ranking officers, together with what scheme is to be followed for the demotions involved. Offhand I should assume that we should send in to the Pacific, so far as possible, all Regular officers and thus permit the maximum release (I don’t like the word discharge) of temporary officers. Of course there will have to be many exceptions but the nature of these should be pretty well defined in advance. I am wondering about the best scheme to be followed in demoting officers of high rank. This will have to be done but it must be accomplished in the manner best calculated to avoid hard feelings and possible reflection on a man’s career. Offhand the thought has occurred to me that we should have a list made now (this would have to be on a very secret basis) of the officers in this country who least merit retention, so that their demotion would take place to create vacancies for the highly deserving veterans of the European theater. Also I assume we should have a somewhat similar list of the senior officers in the European theater who should first be demoted.
I think we must also have a very precise idea of the manner of demotion of men returning from overseas. In the last war an acute and wholly unnecessary humiliation was caused by actually demoting Generals aboard ship in the harbor on their arrival. They thus returned to their homes for a first visit with lowered rank. Nothing like this must occur again and we must take special measures to protect the dignity and reputation of each individual.
As I mentioned above, all of this will have to be regarded as on a very secret basis for I don’t want the usual War Department whispering gallery to get to work.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. In the upper left corner was typed, in capitals and underlined: “For General Henry’s Eyes Only.” Major General Stephen G. Henry had been head of the War Department’s personnel division since August 19, 1944.
2. Fifth Army’s manpower shortage was growing increasingly critical as its drive toward Bologna continued. The War Department finally approved the diversion to Italy of three thousand men originally scheduled as replacements in northwestern Europe, but they were unable to arrive before a stalemate developed that lasted through the winter. (Ernest F. Fisher, Jr., Cassino to the Alps, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1977], pp. 361-62, 372-73.)
3. For further consideration of the demotions issue, see Marshall Memorandum for General Handy, December 30, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-631 [4: 719-20].
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. 629-630.