4-597 Memorandum for General Somervell, November 28, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 28, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Somervell

November 28, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

General Hines of the Veterans Bureau called to see me today.1 He had two items in particular:

One referred to the transfer of Colonel Griffith from General Hershey’s office to the Veterans Bureau in connection with the rehabilitation mission of General Hines, in which General Hines was hopeful that Griffith could be maintained on active duty as he had been in Hershey’s office. He had a letter from the Secretary of War stating this was against the policy. He was not pressing hard in the matter but I wondered if we were leaning over backwards in this case considering the fact that the man was already on active duty while serving in Hershey’s office.2

The second point was in relation to deficiency in nurses. He had a number of different propositions that might help the Veterans Bureau in this matter, but none of them I thought, so far as they applied to the Army, were acceptable—but this one: he said he had been discussing, I presume with the Surgeon General, the possibility of having the Army obtain nurses and loan them to the Veterans Bureau, as it were, much as is now done with Medical officers. He stated that his trouble was, the nurses in the Veterans Bureau were on a Civil Service status and do not profit by the Veteran legislation, as do the WACs and the Army Nurse Corps. He was very desirous of continuing the Veterans Bureau on a purely civil basis but was under such pressure now that unless some arrangement of the nature of that referred to above was adopted, the Veterans Bureau would probably become involved in the establishment of a Corps having the same character of protection as discharged veterans.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. Brigadier General Frank T. Hines was head of the Veterans’ Administration, the Federal Board of Hospitalization, and the Retraining and Reemployment Administration.

2. Colonel Paul H. Griffith was chief of the Veterans Personnel Division of the Selective Service System. Somervell agreed with Marshall that the War Department was perhaps being unduly difficult with regard to Griffith’s transfer. G-1 objected, however, that they had been charged with reducing the number of officers on duty with civilian agencies and making an exception for Griffith would make it more difficult to turn down the many other requests for exceptions. Marshall wrote to Hines: “I find that the pressure is so great from a number of sources that if an exception is made in this case I shall greatly embarrass the Deputy Chief of Staff and the Personnel Division, which I do not feel that I should do. Incidentally, they tell me that they have made exceptions in Medical personnel to the extent of 60 officers and 255 enlisted men, in the month of October alone.” (Somervell Memorandum for General Marshall, November 30, 1944, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected]; Pasco Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, December 4, 1944, and Marshall to Hines, December 6, 1944, ibid., [Pentagon Office, General].)

3. The army was eighty-five hundred nurses short of meeting its own requirements for nurses, Somervell replied, and it was achieving a net gain of only four hundred per month; consequently, he recommended against Hines’s proposal. Marshall returned Somervell’s memorandum with a note at the bottom saying that Hines thought he needed army status to facilitate his own recruiting—”may be older personnel who do not feel up to being involved overseas.” (Somervell Memorandum for General Marshall, November 30, 1944, ibid.) Somervell, however, did not want to lower standards for army nurses or to create different standards for the home front versus overseas. Moreover, as members of the Army Nurse Corps were counted against the army’s authorized strength ceiling, he did not wish to give up part of the army’s quota for the Veterans’ Administration. (Somervell Memorandum for General Marshall, December 1, 1944, ibid.)

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. 679-680.

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