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Memorandum for General McNair
November 28, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
I have just been listening to an account by Major James Y. Adams on the operation at Safi.1 One or two of the points he made concern me greatly.
I was shocked to learn that replacements joined the regiment for Safi without ever having fired a rifle; they had been trained on the fantail of the boat. I suppose this is a matter entirely beyond your control. Nevertheless I want to get your reactions to the administrative set-up that produces such a result.
I was concerned over the reactions of troops first under fire considering that this was a division that was assumed to be more dependable and better trained than others that we had in mind for possible assignment to the operation. I am aware that troop commanders have felt that the quality of their men has deteriorated in recent months due to the over-age and poor physical specimen inductions, also due to the frequent emasculation of units in order to furnish cadres. But I did not realize a division such as the Third would have so much uncertainty in its ranks, even considering the difficulties of the debarkation, when stout resistance was not being made.2
Another point fixed my attention, and that was the issue of rocket guns to the troops without anybody knowing how to use them or even what they were for. This seems unbelievable.
I have not had an opportunity to talk to Somervell or to G-1 or G-3 about any of these matters, the assignment of replacements, the issue of rocket guns, etc., but I should like to have you present when I do talk to them, with one or two of your staff. I am dictating this memorandum so that you can check up with Major Adams and be prepared for such a discussion.
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. Adams (U.S.M.A., 1935) was one of a group of observers from Army Ground Forces headquarters to participate in the various TORCH landing operations. The small Moroccan port of Safi was 140 miles south of Casablanca. It was chosen as the best spot to land Patton’s Western Task Force tanks, as a frontal attack on well-defended Casablanca was considered to be too costly. A sub-task force of 6,428 men and 779 vehicles—the Second Armored and First Infantry divisions—encountered only light opposition in taking Safi on November 8. (Howe, Northwest Africa, pp. 40-41, 97-109.)
2. The Third Division landed at Fedala, a few miles up the coast from Casablanca. The problems encountered in this operation are described ibid., pp. 123-27.
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. 454-455.