3-021 Memorandum for the Assistant Secretary of War for Air [Lovett], December 17, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 17, 1941

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Assistant Secretary of War for Air [Lovett]

December 17, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Interceptor Arrangements.

Replying to your memorandum of December 15th on the above subject, the following steps have been taken:

At the last Joint Board meeting the proposal for establishing smoke screens primarily in the Bremerton Navy Yard and for the protection of the Boeing and Consolidated plants was considered. The weight of opinion (Spaatz, Towers, Turner) was that British experience had indicated more harm than good in most cases.1 However, Bremerton with the “Warspite” and “California” appeared to be the highly favorable place for experimentation, and the Navy is directing the Commander of that Yard, in cooperation with the Air Defense command, to make the experiment. GHQ is being notified to take up with General De Witt an experiment at the Boeing Plant to see if the smoke will interfere too seriously with the automatic weapon set-up, which must be the principal close-in defense against dive bombers.2

Your proposal for fishing boats to cover outlying waters had already been proposed and considered, but I am sending it to General Olmstead with directions for him to go into it as rapidly as possible, particularly from the viewpoint of quickly available materiel.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. Brigadier General Carl Spaatz was chief of staff of the Army Air Forces. Rear Admiral John H. Towers was chief of the navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics. Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner was director of the navy’s War Plans Division. Their comments were expressed at the December 17 Joint Board meeting.

2. The Chemical Warfare Service was given the task of carrying out the experiment. On April 8, 1942, it organized its first three smoke generator companies of black troops to carry out the test of screening the Bremerton Navy Yard and the Seattle aircraft plants in the state of Washington. (Leo P. Brophy and George J. B. Fisher, The Chemical Warfare Service: Organizing for War, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1959], pp. 307-8, 431.)

3. Lovett had proposed using deep-sea fishing boats stationed several hundred miles at sea from sites to be protected from hostile aircraft in order to increase the probability and accuracy of detection. (Extract of a memorandum, n.d., filed with NA/RG 165 [OCS, 9290-8].) Major General Dawson Olmstead (U.S.M.A., 1906) was chief of the Signal Corps.

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. 24-25.

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