3-272 Memorandum for General McNarney, August 10, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 10, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General McNarney

August 10, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]

I told the Inspector General1 that I would like his people when engaged in general inspections to examine into the effectiveness of Army chaplains.

What I want is to establish a general understanding of the fact that local commanders and those above them will consider themselves responsible for the effectiveness of the chaplain organization, just as they must in regard to tactical or administrative and supply organizations. Previously I had spoken to Chaplain Arnold2 about this and I explained in some detail to Peterson what I wanted in order to avoid any reactions due to a general misunderstanding.

I think the time has come now to see that chaplains maintain the same level of efficiency that is demanded of all the other arms and services. In the main I understand that matters have been handled in an efficient way but through the years, certainly in my time, the commanding officers have felt no responsibility for the failure of some chaplains to fill the churches and to exercise a beneficial influence on the commands.

I talked to the Executive Officer of the Surgeon General (the latter was out of town) about a number of things.3 Among them I brought up the question of being prepared by detailed planning to greatly enlarge hospital facilities through the use of hotels, public buildings and local agencies, to meet the possible complications of a flu epidemic & battle casualties or some condition of that character. I told him that the doubling up of men in cantonments would create a health hazard if an epidemic started to develop.

We were aware of that but I had no choice in the matter, and that I did not want them to merely call attention to the fact that we had ordered this doubling up. I want them to have plans to meet such an emergency, decentralized plans at that.

Colonel Rogers, the Executive Officer, told me that their principal complication now came out of freezing the number of local personnel permitted, and that in their campaign to secure medical officers, etc., they were having difficulties with their present personnel limitations. I offered no sympathy and pointed out that it was a case of letting necessity be the mother of invention, and of developing, on their part, a more expeditious way of doing business.

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. Major General Virgil L. Peterson.

2. Chief of Chaplains Brigadier General William R. Arnold.

3. Colonel John A. Rogers was executive officer in the Surgeon General’s Office.

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. 293-294.

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