3-063 Memorandum for General Surles, January 20, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 20, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Surles

January 20, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]

This morning on my drive to the office I heard Earl Godwin on the radio. He was referring to Mr. Hertz in his relation to the improvement of mechanized and motor transport operations. The general sense of his talk was that Mr. Hertz was a great expert and it was hoped that his introduction into this affair would result in a great saving to the tax-payer; whether or not Mr. Hertz could overcome the opposition of the “brass hats” Godwin did not know, but it was certainly important to the tax-payers that he be given that authority, and so on and so on.1

I want you to explain to Godwin in words of one syllable the difference between the taxicab operations in a city and that under a field commander who is responsible for victory or defeat. There cannot be a number of separate bosses. There are many applications for Mr. Hertz’s technique, and he has submitted a very valuable report, most of which is of practical application but a material portion of which is based on ignorance of how a military force operates and how responsibility must be centralized.

Godwin is a pretty good fellow as I understand it, but I think a definite effort must be made to educate these commentators, otherwise they will carefully educate the public to think that everything of a military nature is wrong and only civil practice is right.

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. John D. Hertz had founded the Yellow Cab Company in 1925 (and had since sold it) and several other urban transportation companies. In September 1941 he was appointed to advise Under Secretary of War Patterson on motor vehicle problems. According to Time magazine, certain army officers feared: “1) that he will yank MTD [Motor Transport Division of the Office of the Quartermaster General] away from the Army, make it an independent bureau; 2) that he will work too fast, redden the face of many a poky brass hat.” (Time 38[September 22, 1941]: 77.) In March 1942 the M.T.D. became the Transportation Division, Services of Supply; in April it was designated the Transportation Service; and at the end of July it became the Transportation Corps.

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. 73-74.

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