3-496 Memorandum for Mr. McCloy, February 4, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 4, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Mr. McCloy

February 4, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


The following is an outline of my meeting with General Bethouart yesterday afternoon. He opened the discussion by handing me the attached Memorandum A, which as you will see in the first paragraph indicates an agreement between the President and General Giraud regarding the items and other proposals mentioned.1

I told General Bethouart that the President had not advised me as to specific agreements with General Giraud other than the confirmation of what I had already assured General Giraud—that we would proceed with the greatest possible speed to equip his troops, and that the matter of cargo space, character of equipment as to priorities of shipment, etc., would be determined later.

I also told General Bethouart that the paper he had handed me was so far as I could see a copy of the list of equipment that General Giraud had handed me, without modification.2 I then discussed the pros and cons of several matters as an illustration of the decisions yet to be made. For example, I pointed out that whether or not three of the divisions should be armored divisions would depend on the cargo space required for this purpose and the accumulation of armored divisions in North Africa, British, American, and French, with relation to future strategy—having in mind the length of time required to perfect a divisional organization of the French in the handling of the new equipment and in the lessons of the past two years in armored fighting.

I made a clear differentiation between the involvements in building up an armored division and in providing tanks for separate tank battalions to operate with infantry. The last I thought certainly should be provided but did not believe three armored divisions was a practical proposition or a desirable one. Whether or not it would be one division only or no divisions and a number of tank battalions is something we shall have to work out. I imagine that we shall have to concede one armored division. However, I told him that there was a further consideration in this matter which would depend on strategical developments. It might possibly be that we would move certain of our armored divisions (we now have two and soon will have three in North Africa) out of Africa, leaving their equipment behind for the French and picking up new equipment in England.

To all of the foregoing General Bethouart seemed to acquiesce as being a reasonable and logical point of view. I explained to him that I had gone carefully into the matter of the rapidity with which French units could be made highly effective for battle and had gotten the opinions of General Eisenhower, General Clark and General Patton. All of these agreed that with the officer and noncommissioned officer talent available, the units could be made very effective with the provision of modern equipment. Therefore we had reached the conclusion that we were justified in delaying the organization of U.S. divisions now on our program in favor of equipping French divisions overseas. We shall have to work out these delays in our program with relation to the availability of tonnage for the shipment of the equipment. In any event we undertake to have equipment ready to fill available cargo space.

There was under consideration yesterday by the Board for the Allocation of Materiel a long list of prototypes for shipment to Africa. General Bethouart is familiar with our recommendations on his proposals. Neither he nor I had received the final report of the Board.

You will find that there are some misunderstandings as to cargo space in process of being cleared up between Algiers and SOS here.

General Bethouart, in referring to the new French tonnage to be placed in the pool, wished to know whether or not he would have to deal with the War Shipping Administration regarding this tonnage. He preferred that the dealing should be through the present channels, that is, General Eisenhower and the War Department.

At the close of our discussion General Bethouart handed me another agreement between General Giraud and the President which is attached and marked Memorandum B. The notes on the margin are supposed to be those of the President. The President’s OK to the second paragraph “Yes, in principle.” would indicate more of my understanding of the agreements than is implied in the first paragraph of the preceding paper, Memorandum A.

General Bethouart also handed me a further memorandum of agreement among the President, Mr. Churchill and General Giraud dated Anfa, January 14, 1943, a copy of which was sent to you yesterday.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. Memorandum A was B

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