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Memorandum for General Osborn
March 4, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
With reference to the letter of Mr. Norman Davis, President of the Red Cross, dated January 22d, regarding a kit for soldiers, and the reply of the Secretary of War of February 5th, I would like further consideration given the matter.1
The Red Cross proposal came to my attention accidentally, in connection with pressures brought to bear on me to endorse various “bundles” campaigns. These are being proposed by well-meaning and very energetic people who want to be doing something to aid in the war. The Red Cross, I understand, is losing workers because with the cessation of knitting they find their people drifting away to some outside organization which undertakes to do things whether or not the War Department is in accord.
There is also the factor of the personal touch, which makes a great impression on soldiers. If this can be managed without blocking matters, I think it is a good thing.
I had the Red Cross send me their sample kit, which I am sending to you with this memorandum. I understand this particular kit was devised on the basis that it would be expended during the voyage, except for the container; that there would be different books in each kit which would provide very convenient reading matter for men tiered up in bunks below decks; that the container would be a convenience to the soldier which he could continue to utilize after the voyage. My comment on the kit is that the container is much too elaborate. It includes rubber, which is taboo I understand. It is too stiff and heavy for the soldier to be likely to bother with later on when it would have to be carried in his pack. I think the container should be a draw-string bag of very simple design, which the soldier could utilize later for carrying his toilet articles to and from the showers, etc. and which would take up practically no space in his pack after the contents had been disposed of. Also, such a container would furnish a substitute for the knitting work of the Red Cross women.
As to the articles in the container, I think the selections are in general excellent. However, the soapbox is pretty large; the same comment would apply to the shoe polish.
Please have someone look into this, and if you feel it advisable, take it up with the Red Cross people. Then let me have your decision.
[P.S.] Incidentally such a kit would be very acceptable to the enlisted men being rushed off in big bombers for the long flights overseas.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. Norman H. Davis was chairman of the American Red Cross and the sixty-one-nation League of Red Cross Societies’ Board of Governors. The editors have not found either document.
2. On the subject of troop kits, see Marshall Memorandum for General Somervell, July 28, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-260 [3: 281-82].
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. 121-122.