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Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1 [White]
October 1, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
The following has come to me as a paragraph from a letter of a 2nd Lieutenant who has just joined the First Armored Division in Africa. Apropos of this quotation is the fact that this Lieutenant’s brother has been promoted twice in six months here in the United States, to 1st Lieutenant and then to Captain.1
“One of the things which has struck me as most strange over here is the lack of rank among the officers in most responsible positions. I am referring for the most part to company commanders throughout the regiment. As an example take this battalion. Of the three medium tank companies two of them have 1st Lieutenant commanders. Both of these men have received Silver Stars for bravery and both of them have had over sixteen months’ service, nine of which have been spent overseas. So far as I know neither one of them has a blemish on his record. The TO [Table of Organization] calls for a Captaincy for a company commander and yet they remain 1st Lieutenants with no prospects of immediate promotion.
“The thing that makes it hard to understand is that their classmates who have remained in the States, seen no action nor undergone any real hardships, now rank them for the most part. It doesn’t bother me because I only rank two other 2nd Lieutenants in the outfit and I am convinced that I will still be a 2nd Lieutenant when the war ends; but it is a pretty tough dose for these men who have seen 80% of their fellow officers become casualties in battle and 40% of the men have had anywhere from one to three tanks shot out from under them, when they learn of fast promotions given out in the States. These men have seen tough action, have done their part, lost most of their friends and been given responsible positions without the rank to go with it. It doesn’t make too much sense.”
I have been strongly opposed to rapid promotions and have seen in my own family such an example in the advancement to First Lieutenant and then to Captain in the Antiaircraft Artillery while on staff duty here in the States, all in a very short time. The foregoing puzzles me. What is probably the cause of this slow advancement overseas?
I recall having insisted that they should not be too hasty in moving men into TO vacancies until they had demonstrated their capacity, but the foregoing quotation doesn’t seem to indicate a delay for the purpose I referred to.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. The unnamed second lieutenant and his brother were undoubtedly Marshall’s stepsons Allen Brown, who was with the First Armored Division, and Clifton Brown, who was in the antiaircraft artillery.
2. The editors have not found the reply of October 2 from G-1, but the problem was not soon solved; see Marshall Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, December 24, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-177 [4: 206].
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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 139-140.