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Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of
Staff, OPD [Handy]
May 13, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Canadian troops in Aleutians operations.
General Pope called to see me this afternoon to present an inquiry from his Chief which is explained by the following quotation from his letter to General Pope:1
“Will you explore with General Marshall the possibility of limited participation of Canadian troops. If it is too late for any participation would appreciate authority to send observers from Pacific Command.
“It would be most helpful to us if we could participate even in later stages even to limited extent of one battalion, one or two light AA batteries and perhaps an airdrome defense company.”
General Pope said that the Canadians were embarrassed by the fact that their troops had not gotten into the war anywhere. He knew that one division now was to be included in an operation; but he felt that if they could get action in the Aleutians even to the extent of some garrison troops it would help their situation. He was not aware of the Attu operation which I explained to him.2
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 Maurice A. Pope was chairman of the Canadian Joint Staff in Washington which represented the Canadian Chiefs of Staff. Pope represented Canada before the Combined Chiefs of Staff. (Stetson Conn and Byron Fairchild, The Framework of Hemisphere Defense, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1960], pp. 407-8.)
2. On May 11, 1943, American forces landed on Attu to recapture the island from the Japanese. Confronting foul weather, dense fog, and rough terrain, the Americans gained control of Attu by the end of May but at a high price. Out of a force of over 15,000 men, 549 Americans were killed, 1,148 were wounded, and 2,100 were taken out of action by nonbattle injuries and disease. Most of the nonbattle casualties were victims of the climate and inadequate clothing; trench foot was prevalent. The enemy lost its entire force: 2,350 Japanese dead were counted and twenty-nine were taken prisoner. (Stetson Conn, Rose C. Engelman, and Byron Fairchild, Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1964], pp. 279-95.) For information regarding the relief of the commander of the Attu operation, see note 5, Marshall Memorandum for General McNarney, May 25, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-668 [3: 703-5].
Brigadier General John E. Hull of the Operations Division wrote to Marshall on May 21 that the question of employing Canadian troops in the Aleutian operations was being referred to Lieutenant General John L. De Witt, commanding general of the Western Defense Command. Admiral Ernest J. King was opposed to Canadian participation, which he said would “increase and complicate the manpower and logistic problems for which the ceiling on troops in the area was established. The only benefit would be from possible improved relations in the future.” (King Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, May 19, 1943, and Hull Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, May 21, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 336 Security].) De Witt replied favorably, and he was authorized to confer with Major General George R. Pearkes of the Canadian Pacific Command to work out the details. (Marshall to Pope, May 24, 1943, ibid.) Canadian forces did join with the Americans for the assault on Kiska in mid-August 1943. The Japanese, however, had evacuated the island on July 28. (Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, pp. 295-98; C. P. Stacey, The Canadian Army, 1939-1945: An Official Historical Summary [Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1948], pp. 289-91.)
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. 690-691.