3-668 Memorandum for General McNarney, May 25, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 25, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General McNarney

May 25, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


Special Promotion List: (attention: G-1)

I have just read General Eisenhower’s reply to my queries regarding the special promotion list. He eliminates Colonel Lambert and desires to include Colonel Stack, also General Andrus.1

I am inclined to accept his various proposals, but check again with General McNair regarding Andrus in the light of what General Eisenhower tells us in this radio.

The list should be submitted to the President the first of the week with a note that these are the special recommendations from General Eisenhower of the conspicuous leaders in the Tunisian battle, and that we wish to promote them for assignment to new units or vacancies existing in Africa.


I asked General Somervell to talk to you about his view regarding the hearing tomorrow morning. He felt that we should make no intimation of reductions because of its adverse effect on industrial production. I assume you will talk this over with him.

I had in mind telling them that I thought in all probability we would slow up our expansion, carrying it into 1944, to an extent that would amount to between 500,000 and 700,000 enlisted men, of course with a proportionate number of officers; that the decision could not be made until we saw the situation of the Russian Army in August.

General De Witt

This is to confirm the agreement that General De Witt is to be brought to Washington in about ten days for assignment as head of the Army-Navy War College. He should be told immediately over the phone what is going to happen and the announcement should be so arranged as to establish General Emmons’ position.2

We shall have to delay the decision regarding the commander of the new ground Army on the West Coast until I come back,3 unless you have reason to make a proposal to me by radio in the meantime.


I am of the opinion that General Parker should not go to England with the 5th Division, and should be taken out of Iceland. Also, that General Devers’ recommendation for General Keyes to be placed in command of Iceland should be approved. Keyes should spend a couple of weeks with Bonesteel before the latter is returned to the United States.4

I am not clear yet as to what Bonesteel’s assignment shall be but in any event he should be given a leave, an opportunity to recuperate at White Sulphur, etc.

General Brown

I spoke to you about General Brown’s case and this confirms my view that McNair’s recommendations should be followed. Colonel Sexton will give you the papers. I think after Brown has told his tale he should be shown McNair’s proposal.5

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. See Marshall to Eisenhower, May 24, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-666 [3: 700-701].

2. Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph T. McNarney informed Lieutenant General John L. De Witt on May 27 that he was to be assigned as commandant of the proposed Army and Navy Staff College in Washington, D.C. De Witt requested that public announcement of his new assignment be delayed until after June 15, and he asked not to be relieved of command of the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army until after the completion of the attack on Kiska. (De Witt to Marshall, Radio No. CG0502, May 27, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) De Witt followed this message with a letter to Marshall describing his dismay with the timing—”it was a complete surprise to me”—and handling of his change of assignment. He observed that when he returned to his headquarters following a lengthy visit to Alaska, “everybody seemed to know about my proposed relief except myself.” Furthermore, he believed that relations with the navy and the Canadians in the Kiska operation would benefit from his staying “until the Aleutians have been cleared, specifically until October 15, 1943, at least.” (De Witt to Marshall, May 31, 1943, ibid.)

“I am sorry not to accommodate you in this matter but the course is clear in my mind,” Marshall replied. “I want you to come on here to Washington and undertake this new job.” (Marshall to De Witt, June 8, 1943, ibid.) In September 1943 De Witt assumed the position as commandant of the Army and Navy Staff College. Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons, commander of the Hawaiian Department, succeeded De Witt as commanding general of the Western Defense Command in September 1943.

3. Marshall left for Algiers with Prime Minister Churchill the morning of May 26.

4. Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, commanding general of the European Theater of Operations since May 9, 1943, had stopped in Iceland on his way to London. Devers reported that Major General Charles H. Bonesteel, commander of the Iceland Base Command, was doing splendid work but that he should be returned to the United States for another assignment, and he recommended Major General William S. Key as Bonesteel’s successor. Devers also recommended that Major General Cortlandt Parker (U.S.M.A., 1906), who was commanding the Fifth Infantry Division, be relieved because the division was “low in morale and training.” (Devers to Marshall, May 18, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 8, Book 9). Parker was assigned to command the Southern California Sector, Western Defense Command, in June 1943, and Major General Stafford L. Irwin (U.S.M.A., 1915) succeeded Parker as commander of the Fifth Infantry Division. Bonesteel remained commander of the Iceland Base Command until June 1943, when he was relieved by Key. Bonesteel returned to the United States, and in September he became commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

5. Major General Albert E. Brown had been relieved of his command of the Attu operation on May 16 for lack of aggressiveness. Lieutenant General John L. De Witt submitted to Marshall his account of why Brown was relieved of his command. Having read De Witt’s account, Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair recommended that Brown be assigned to command the Infantry Replacement Training Center at Camp Wheeler, Georgia. (De Witt to Marshall, May 18, 1943, and McNair Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, May 24, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 201 Brown].) Brown submitted his statement regarding the Attu operation to Marshall, welcoming a formal investigation of the campaign. Brown insisted that had De Witt or the other officers responsible for his relief been able to come to Attu and see the tactical situation, he would have been commended rather than relieved. (Brown to Marshall, May 22, 1943, ibid.) For information regarding the Attu operation, see note 2, Marshall Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of Staff, OPD, May 13, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-654 [3: 690-91].

On June 1 Brown presented his case to McNair. McNair reported that “the situation as it was on and before May 16, including General Brown’s plans and orders, were not known and understood thoroughly” by the officers responsible for Brown’s relief. “It is not so clear that [Brown] fought with sufficient vigor or with sound tactics, although such may well have been the case if all factors were weighed properly.” McNair concluded: “It seems impossible for us here to attempt to decide as to the merits of General Brown’s contention. Nor do I feel that a protracted and detailed investigation would yield conclusive returns.” As the record stood, McNair believed that Brown should not be assigned to a combat unit. (McNair Memorandum for the Deputy Chief of Staff, June 2, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 201 Brown].)

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. 703-705.

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