3-325 Memorandum for Higher Commanders, September 11, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 11, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Higher Commanders1

September 11, 1942 Washington, D.C.


Indiscretions of officers in official and unofficial conversations have been productive of serious consequences. Because of the subjects involved in these indiscretions the issuance of general instructions is inadvisable, as it would be most unfortunate and seriously harmful to have any press, radio, or political publicity. Therefore it is desired that the higher commanders of the Army, by their example and through personal conversations with their principal subordinates, shall exert a sufficient influence to provide a remedy in these matters.

There are listed below specific references to the character of indiscretions referred to above.


We have positive evidence of German propaganda directed towards the building up of antagonism and distrust between the British and ourselves. Enemy agents have invariably utilized as the text for a particular piece of propaganda something that has actually been said by a political leader or officer, or that has appeared in the press. This dangerous procedure has been facilitated to a marked degree by the indiscretions of high-ranking Army officers in the expression of their personal views. Political speeches, the newspapers and the radio have been a fertile field for the exploitation of such propaganda. We have positive and numerous evidences of the effect on the soldiers who in some instances have developed a marked hostility or contempt for the British.

Considering the fact that we must operate as a team if we are to meet the Germans and the Japanese on reasonably equal grounds, this state of affairs is extremely critical and must be remedied. The success of the enemy propaganda along these lines makes us appear incredibly naive if not plainly stupid in permitting ourselves to be made effective puppets in a cleverly directed campaign.


We have frequently been embarrassed and have suffered serious results flowing from the indiscreet talk of high-ranking officers of the Army, as well as the younger men, with members of Congress on tours of investigation and other officials of the Government similarly engaged. Bad blood is being stirred up between the Army and the Navy which is, to put it mildly, a tragic misfortune and presents a constantly increasing embarrassment to Admiral King and myself. The pressure and deep feelings regarding publicity as to air actions, etc., are not only unjustified but smack more of the reactions of schoolboys than of commissioned officers. Again, such action defeats teamwork which is the vital essential of any joint operation. Short tempers under the circumstances are inexcusable.


Reference has been made above to this matter but it is apparent that vigorous action must be taken to suppress service jealousies and suspicions. We cannot afford such weakness in the present grave situation. It is the clear duty of commissioned officers of the Army to do everything in their power to promote harmonious relations and teamwork, avoiding ill-advised comments or attitudes.


Commanders, by the exercise of leadership, must prevent ill feeling developing on the part of soldiers against other groups such as the Merchant Marine or civilian laborers for contractors, etc., because of differences of pay. There have been numerous incidents of extremely bitter feeling developing against Merchant Marine crews, provoking fights and general discord where there are gatherings of these men. Whatever merit there may be in a feeling that one group has an advantage over another, this is a matter for coordination and control at Washington, and troop commanders should see that their men do not become involved in these discords. The officer personnel of the Army would be equally justified in loss of morale because they do not work on an eight-hour day or a three-shift basis. All these matters are seized upon by enemy propaganda and the results are not merely confined to our disadvantage here at home but are spread throughout Latin America.

The foregoing is brought to your attention in this direct and rather informal manner in order that you may be made fully aware of the dangers of the present situation, and particularly because the offenders in these matters have been more frequently officers of high rank and because a similar reaction of the men, following such examples, is inevitable.2

G. C. Marshall

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. This document was sent to the War Department assistant chiefs of staff, the commanding generals of the Army Air Forces, Army Ground Forces, and Services of Supply, and all commanders of armies, corps, divisions, air forces, service commands, theaters, task forces, and Coast Artillery sectors.

2. Eisenhower’s response to this document was included in a letter to the chief of staff a few weeks later: “Incidentally, upon receipt of your letter discussing the necessity of avoiding friction between ourselves and the British, and between the Army and Navy, I had my senior commanders together for a conference. In the past, I have frequently emphasized your points in strong and emphatic language—every man in this theater should know, certainly all of the seniors know—that any violation along this line will be cause for instant relief.” (Papers of DDE, 1: 591.)

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. 354-356.

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