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Memorandum for General Surles
April 1, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
I don’t recall having seen any release on Fredendall’s return and his prospective assignment as Commander of the Second Army. I have seen reflections on him because of Patton’s appearance on the Tunisian front.
I am a little afraid that we are permitting the periodicals to tear Fredendall down to a point where his appointment to the Second Army will not register well.1 Consider this, and a possible draft of a release.
Lear is to go on terminal leave May 1st. His retirement follows at the end of May. He is then to be assigned to active duty with Craig. We are giving him a Distinguished Service Medal. I have asked him when he desires the award but he has not yet replied.2 Confidentially, McNair wanted him to go on leave April 1st and he made a strong appeal not to go on leave until May 30th.
I think possibly the Fredendall assignment and the Lear matter should be covered in the same release, which must give a very strong appreciation of Lear’s services with the active Army.
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 Lloyd R. Fredendall had been featured in the March 20 issue of the Saturday Evening Post‘s series “These are the Generals.” The article praised Fredendall for his work at Oran in November 1942. Although he had the reputation of being a tough disciplinarian, he also understood the “feeling of frustration and defeat.” Tracing his military career, the article pointed out that Fredendall “survived considerable frustration in becoming a soldier.” (Mark Murphy, “These are the Generals—Fredendall,” Saturday Evening Post 215 [March 20, 19431: 22+.)
The April 12 issue of Time magazine noted that Fredendall had experienced both victory and defeat in combat. Referring to the defeat at Kasserine Pass in February, “rightly or wrongly, Fredendall became the goat of the U.S. defeat, although he later turned and with a vastly inferior force drove the enemy from the Pass.” (Time 41 [April 12, 1943]: 66.) For information regarding Fredendall’s change of command, see Marshall Memorandum for the President, March 6, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-544 [3: 580].
2. Lieutenant General Ben Lear received the Distinguished Service Medal in April 1943 for “exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service” as commanding general of the Second Army. “To his excellent judgment, forceful leadership, untiring efforts, and high professional attainments are largely due the success and efficiency of the Second Army.” For information regarding Lear’s change of station, see note 3, Marshall to De Witt, March 17, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-555 [3: 590-2].
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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 625-626.