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Memorandum for General J. L. Devers
February 25, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
I am inclosing a secret radio which has just come to me this morning from General Eisenhower. While it is self-explanatory, to me the remarkable reaction is that even two divisions like the 1st Armored and the 1st Infantry Divisions, having had a preliminary battle experience in the landing and a later opportunity to be somewhat seasoned to the front, should still have been characterized in any way as having “a certain softness or complacent attitude”.1
I don’t know how we are going to get over to these unit commanders the sternness of the proposition with which they are faced. A mimeographed document gets us nowhere. You have a real problem on your hands.2
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. Most of Eisenhower’s message of February 24 commented on the quality of certain equipment. In closing, however, he noted: “In spite of very heavy losses the troops are in good heart and a change in temper is particularly noticeable. They are now mad and ready to fight. A certain softness or complacent attitude that was characteristic of all units only a few days ago has disappeared.” (Papers of DDE, 2: 984-85.) Marshall used Eisenhower’s message to convey a warning to other combat commanders; see Marshall to Burress, February 27, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-537 [3: 568-70].
2. Devers replied that he found Eisenhower’s report “disturbing,” particularly since he had inspected the First Armored Division in North Africa in December 1942 and had “found no softness nor complacency,” although he did note some “over-confidence and signs of lack of thorough training among the units at the front.” (Devers to Marshall, March 1, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 250].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 564-565.