2-213 Memorandum for General Strong, July 3, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: July 3, 1940

Memorandum for General Strong

July 3, 1940 Washington, D.C.


Please fix me a sheet, with the following properly arranged:

First: “Memorandum for Admiral Stark:

Please glance over the following and then talk to me about it. The Canal is a pretty important consideration in our National Defense structure, and any accident there might have calamitous results. We cannot defend it with a debating society.1

General Van Voorhis a short time back circulated the following: . . .2

The Commandant of the 15th Naval District is not under General Van Voorhis, but the whole tone of this procedure awakens my concern as to satisfactory arrangements for the defense of the Canal. We cannot be involved in quibbles over such matters at the present time, and I am deeply concerned over the reaction shown in these communications. Van Voorhis has a long record of getting along with people. He became conspicuous for that quality in the handling of the flood situation in the middle West. I am certain of his qualities.

I think it would be unfortunate to bring this up in an official manner, but I do think you and I will have to arrive at some more satisfactory basis for the defense of the Canal. Germany has given us too good an illustration of the contrast between unity of command and the reverse.”

G. C. M.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the War Plans Division (WPD), 4326, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. This document was revised several times before it was sent. In the final version (July 8, 1940), the last sentence in this paragraph had been deleted.

2. Marshall listed five documents between the Panama Canal Department and the two local naval commanders that he wished to have quoted. This episode is discussed in Mark S. Watson, Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Preparations, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO,1950), pp.458-61.

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. 259.

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