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Memorandum for General Somervell
November 22, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Yesterday at the JCS luncheon with representatives of the principal civil sections (Land, Justice Byrnes, Harry Hopkins, a representative for Krug, etc.) there was a detailed discussion regarding the ocean tonnage shortage and specifically the tie-up of ships awaiting unloading in the European theater—200 odd I believe. Land gave the unloading rates per month in the European theater, and as I recall the highest figure was 90.1 The feeling was that something ought to be done to control shipments from this side when there was no prospect of unloading on that side. This has been the subject of a great deal of continuous discussion of course for a long time and I am at the moment not familiar with all the detailed complications. However, when Clay and his party arrive here will you go into this very carefully and have in mind Clay talking to Justice Byrnes about it as he, Byrnes, has great confidence in Clay and is deeply concerned over the present situation.2
One of the considerations at the moment is the pressure being exerted by Kaiser to tell his people at some early date what the demobilization dates will be in the shipyards.3 On the other hand there is the question of just what additional ship construction we should authorize—particularly as to propelling engines—for the first six months of 1945, and for the second. This factor is involved with the unloading tie-up in shipping.
You are familiar with all these affairs and what I am asking you now is to see that Clay gives us specifically his view as to the troubles abroad and their relationship to our problem here.
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. The minutes of this meeting have Vice Admiral Emory S. Land stating that there were some 350 ships being held idle in all theaters awaiting discharge and 400 more being held in theaters for various uses by theater commanders. Mr. Byrnes noted that unloading rates were: August, 79; September, 90; October, 67; November (up to the twentieth), 50. (Minutes of Meeting Held by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Heads of Civilian War Agencies, November 21, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, JCS Minutes].)
2. On December 6, Byrnes announced that Major General Lucius D. Clay, who had been in charge of procurement for the Army Service Forces since March 1942, would become the deputy director for war programs and general administration of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, which had been created in March 1944 out of the Office of War Mobilization. Clay had been in the European theater during the autumn improving cargo unloading at Cherbourg and later touring the front and investigating the artillery ammunition shortage.
3. Henry J. Kaiser’s shipyards built about one-fifth of the Maritime Commission’s ships. He was, a leading business magazine noted in late 1943, “indisputably the No. 1 businessman of the hour.” Furthermore, “day and night he thinks and talks postwar planning.” (“Henry J. Kaiser,” Fortune 28 [October 1943]: 147, 258.)
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. 673-674.