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Memorandum for Mr. McCloy1
August 21, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Steel Plate
Something may come up at the Cabinet meeting this afternoon regarding priorities for steel plate. A Special Committee of the Munitions Assignment Board and the Combined Chiefs of Staff submitted a report day before yesterday on steel plate allocation. Yesterday I had a memorandum from the President to the effect that the recommendations really meant a reduction in cargo ships because the Army and Navy would have the controlling authority, and he further directed that the Combined Chiefs of Staff reconsider the matter.2
I have had no time to go into the thing in detail but we are going ahead with a study to see, in keeping with the President’s suggestion, whether or not certain military or naval major requirements may not be modified in favor of more cargo ships.
I find, at the moment, the facts to be about as follows:
Some time back, in a readjustment of steel plate priorities, the Army took a reduction on its calculated requirements of 30%, the Navy 14%, the Maritime Commission 0%, and civilian requirements 30%.
The recent report proposed an Army reduction for the remainder of this year of 24%, the Navy a reduction of 5%, the Maritime Commission a reduction of 10%, and civilian reduction of about 40%.
In considering the original reduction of 30% in Army requirements, we have to consider the fact that at the time our priority was so low that we were far below the Navy and the Maritime Commission in steel plate and we have just gotten to the point of large production requirements. Furthermore, we have already cut severely into our tank and self-propelled vehicle requirements. Another factor is that the Special Committee found that the existing allocations were not on a balanced basis which would permit the frame work in some instances to be provided on which the steel plate was to go. General Clay tells me that the proposed allocations, to which the President takes exception, would have a very minor effect on the Maritime Commission as it represents 81 out of 2300 vessels, and it may not impose that much of a reduction.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. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy.
2. “The one and only sure effect of the recommendation is to decrease the number of merchant ships,” wrote the president. “It may be that certain other munitions of war could more properly be curtailed than merchant ships.” Roosevelt then requested a report of “how this cut in steel plate will effect certain munitions and whether or not there are less important munitions of war than merchant ships that could be more drastically curtailed.” (Roosevelt Memorandum for General Marshall for the Combined Chiefs of Staff, August 19, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 334.8].)
3. Brigadier General Lucius D. Clay (U.S.M.A., June 1918), assigned to Services of Supply Headquarters, had met with Marshall at noon.
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. 309-310.