3-573 Memorandum for the Assistant Secretary of War, March 27, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 27, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Assistant Secretary of War

March 27, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear McCloy:

Attached is a memorandum from me to the President which is self-explanatory. It followed from an oral direction from the President, through Colonel McCarthy, to the effect that the La Guardia matter had been “cleared” with Eisenhower and that he, the President, now desired La Guardia to be physically examined and prepared for a commission, the rank to be determined later.1

Yesterday at the tail end of an overtime interview, I brought up the La Guardia question, but failed in the brief time available to get a satisfactory decision. I felt that under present circumstances La Guardia would provide nothing much but confusion to the situation in Africa. In the first place, he cannot touch propaganda because that is definitely under OWI by a recent Executive Order. In the next place, we are in a discussion now with the British in which the President takes the stand that when we go into Sicily all matters of a civil nature will be handled by a Joint British-American group without chairmanship, but merely under Eisenhower. The British feel that this is, by the President’s own proposal, a British sphere of influence, at least of military responsibility. The exception in the North African set-up was made for the purpose of reducing the probability of French resistance to the landing and to the establishment of control in Morocco and Algiers. In the forthcoming affair there is no question involved of reducing resistance. The matter under discussion is the method of organization after we take over.

The President feels that matters are being handled satisfactorily at the present time by a Joint Committee headed by Murphy and Macmillan. I told him that it was not a Joint Committee in that sense; that Murphy headed the organization and was responsible for the administration. Macmillan was merely there to discuss matters of policy which would govern the Committee.2 Under the President’s conception we would have for HUSKY a Committee or group actually headed by two men, one British, one American, with no chairmanship.

Meanwhile, La Guardia has had his physical examination and the matter of his rank and assignment, time of departure for Africa, etc., will have to be determined. He has evidently pressed the President for speedy action which the President desires to give to the matter.

Will you please advise me in the matter?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. Drafted by a member of Marshall’s staff, the March 22 memorandum informed the president that Fiorello H. La Guardia was to receive a physical examination in New York City as a part of the commissioning process. Eisenhower had been consulted in December 1942 regarding the possibility of employing Mayor La Guardia as a member of his staff to coordinate propaganda, psychological warfare, and the activities of other civilian agencies in Eisenhower’s command. The memorandum informed Roosevelt that on December 24, 1942, La Guardia had submitted the following objectives of his proposed staff organization to the intelligence department (G-2): create an effective propaganda campaign directed initially at Sicily, Italy, and the Balkans; advise the military on the control of civilian populations during initial invasion and occupation of enemy territory; assist in the creation of more permanent military governments of occupied areas; and formulate plans for the creation of provisional governments following military occupation. The president was told that as the entrance of Allied forces into the European mainland entailed the consideration of civilian issues and as the commissioning and sending of La Guardia to North Africa seemed intimately connected with Department of State policy, the chief of staff’s office hesitated to make any concrete promises to La Guardia regarding his military status. (Marshall Memorandum for the President, March 22, 1943, GCML/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. In December 1942 Prime Minister Churchill arranged with President Roosevelt to send Harold Macmillan to Algiers to be Churchill’s personal representative at Allied Force Headquarters, a relationship similar to that between the president and Robert D. Murphy. A member of Parliament since 1924, Macmillan was parliamentary under secretary of state for colonies when assigned to Algiers with the title of minister resident. (Murphy, Diplomat Among Warriors, pp. 163-64.)

3. John J. McCloy informed Marshall on March 30 that La Guardia had been told that his military rank would be that of colonel, that he would be brought to Washington for brief orientation and then ordered to the School of Military Government at Charlottesville, Virginia. La Guardia had asked when he could go to Africa and had been told that he was not to be sent to Africa immediately. La Guardia had not seemed “to be at all taken back by the rank” but he was interested in leaving the United States as soon as possible. (McCloy Memorandum for General Marshall, March 30, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

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. 610-612.

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