4-370 Memorandum for General Somervell, April 26, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 26, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Somervell

April 26, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Subject: Retention in service in useful employment

of officers and enlisted men who have been

wounded, injured or exhausted in campaign.

I had a memorandum from General Peterson this morning regarding the action that has been taken in this matter, in which he stated that General Styer informed him that conferences were held with Service Commanders in New York last week and instructions given to designate officers to contact hospitals in order that prompt action will be taken in the matter. He also understood that written instructions would shortly be issued.1

As we discussed the matter very hurriedly and I was more or less thinking out loud I wish to put into writing at this time my superficial views of the matter:

It seems to me we should have officers or maybe old sergeants like Sergeant Powder here in my office,2 or maybe WAC’s, or a combination of all, working on two fronts as it were, correlating one with the other.

Whoever the agent in this matter, I think he should go through the hospitals with a view to interviewing the men called to his attention by the hospital authorities, who might find satisfaction in continuing to carry on in the military service, and then establish a temporary office where any man could call on him to state his case towards future employment in or out of the Army. This agent should gradually become quite familiar with the opportunities or the needs in the various commands or headquarters in his region as well as the War Department, Ports of Embarkation and some of the large installations generally. He should in effect try to sell his people to these agencies, suggest their use, show where they might be employed to replace ablebodied men.

As the agent gradually develops his plot he would be looked to by the officers concerned in the various installations as a source of help in finding men to replace those other individuals who were to be sent overseas or to combat troops.

If the right people are selected and given a good idea and considerable liberty of action, I should think great good might come of this both in bolstering up morale on the one side and providing useful and much needed services on the other.3

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. On April 25 Major General Virgil L. Peterson, the acting inspector general, outlined the steps he had taken to meet General Marshall’s suggestion that a procedure be created for the retention in military service of officers and enlisted men recovering from service-related wounds. Major General Wilhelm D. Styer, deputy commanding general and chief of staff, Army Service Forces, had just notified Peterson that the matter had been discussed at the Service Commanders conference held in New York, that officers would be designated to contact hospitals for appropriate personnel, and that Army Service Forces headquarters would issue written instructions concerning the correct procedures to be followed. (Peterson Memorandum for the Secretary, General Staff, April 25, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. Sergeant James W. Powder (born in June 1898) was General Marshall’s personal orderly and junior aide. Powder had worked for Marshall since 1938.

3. Lieutenant General Brehon B. Somervell, commanding general for Army Service Forces, replied on April 26 that written instructions concerning the retention of wounded officers and enlisted men had been issued, and he attached Army Service Forces Circular No. 114, which referred to enlisted men. Dated April 25, 1944, Circular No. 114 indicated that while wounded personnel might still receive a discharge, it was expected that maximum effort would be made to retain such men possessing usable skills in military service. Hospitalized personnel were to be interviewed, their qualifications assessed, and the nature of the assignment explained to them at the hospital facility where they were currently held. Army Air Forces personnel were not subject to this directive. The next day Somervell sent to Marshall the War Department Circular No. 161 (dated April 25, 1944), which concerned officer personnel (except the Army Air Forces). (Somervell Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, April 26, 1944, and Somervell Memorandum for General Marshall, April 27, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office. Selected].) A July 4 memorandum to Somervell indicated that fourteen general hospitals had been visited and that 36 percent of the officers interviewed and 20 percent of the enlisted personnel interviewed had expressed their desire to remain on active duty. Not included in the report were the hospitals that were already making use of officer and enlisted patients on assignments such as War Bond drives, W.A.C. recruiting, and reconditioning activities. Additionally, thirty-nine officers, who still received some medical treatment, had been assigned to temporary duty at headquarters near the hospitals. (J. N. D. [Major General Joseph N. Dalton] Memorandum for General Somervell, July 4, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 201.601].)

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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 434-436.

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