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Memorandum for General Richardson1
March 13, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
The attached clippings and what I read last night in TIME would indicate that the War Department’s statement to the effect that we were not planning to request an extension of the tour of the National Guard had been given little publicity. This has produced a very embarrassing situation for me and for the War Department. The matter is serious. It has reopened a battle of last fall.
Please see that it is understood that there was no basis of authority for the statement that was made, which was given such publicity in the New York Times.
The matter is important.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. Major General Robert C. Richardson, Jr., (U.S.M.A., 1904) was director of the War Department’s Bureau of Public Relations.
2. The War Department had released the following statement on March 7 to counter reports in both the New York Times and the Washington Post of an extension of National Guard service: “The War Department announces that there is no authority whatever for the statement which appeared in The Washington Post March 7, which quoted an authorized Army spokesman as stating that the War Department will request legislation to extend by six to twelve months the active duty training of the National Guard.” (New York Times, March 8, 1941, p. 6.) Time magazine (March 17, 1941, p. 22) repeated the newspaper reports. Interviewed on March 20, after his inspection trip, the chief of staff told reporters that the retention of the National Guard was being considered as an option, but the decision would be made in June. “If the situation is critical then,” said Marshall, “they probably will have to stay on, which will mean a simple administrative matter of getting the money for them. But if the Lord is good to us and they can be sent back home, it will involve some complex administrative problems.” (New York Times, March 21, 1941, p. 11.)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 444,