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Memorandum for the British Chiefs of Staff
August 6, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
The matter of the secrecy precautions, and their possible violations in connection with the sailing of unescorted “monsters” from the Army Base in Brooklyn has been investigated by The Inspector General of the Army and by other officials. The various factors relating to the matter have been most carefully considered and the following statement is submitted regarding what has already happened and instructions for the future.1
Bands did play during the embarkation of troops and the American Red Cross did serve refreshments to embarking troops. The bands were stationed at the end of piers out of sight and practically out of sound of civilians beyond Army installations at the pier. Red Cross personnel had been very carefully selected, photographed, fingerprinted, investigated by the Army and personally vouched for by responsible heads of each Red Cross chapter. Their instructions as to secrecy are repeated each time and these particularly emphasize the requirement for secrecy after the work has been completed. Notice in advance was conveyed to but a few of the key workers. In this connection very little if any information of military value is available to Red Cross workers that is not also available to all interested civilians who work in the port and who work or live at various locations near the shoreline of the harbor, and other places such as ferry boats, trains and activities connected with the immediate embarkation of troops.
The presence of members of the press referred to was a visit July 24-25 to a staging area, port installations and a transport during the embarkation of troops which was carried out at the request of the Acting Secretary of War and was checked by the senior member of the Joint Security Control group, a representative of which accompanied the party. This group was guided in the tour of different installations by officers on duty with the Port. The press releases were held until the vessel had arrived at its destination. The action was taken in order to reassure parents as to the care with which their men were being dispatched abroad (there had been antagonistic reactions due to the fact that for security reasons we do not give any furloughs prior to departure from this country).
The group of generals referred to consisted of a special board headed by Major General McCoy2 with four generals, a colonel, and two representatives from the Office of the Under Secretary of War. They are charged with a survey of Army activities and Army plans in general with a view to checking on the correlation of all requirements in production and in personnel with the strategical plans. They are a highly responsible group which has been created at the direction of the President.
No further visit by representatives of the press to observe embarkation activities will be authorized in the near future.
The carefully supervised Red Cross services will be continued, and the use of the band, on a carefully restricted basis, will also be continued.
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. At the Combined Chiefs of Staff meeting on July 9, the British had presented a paper (C.C.S, 273) pointing out their anxiety over possible breaches of security in connection with troop embarkations on fast, but virtually defenseless, converted passenger liners (i.e., “monsters”) like Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, Marshall ordered the Inspector General’s Department to conduct an investigation. The document printed here was the chief of staff’s report to the C.C.S. at the August 6 meeting. (Minutes of the Combined Chiefs of Staff Meetings, July 9, July 30, and August 6,1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, CCS Minutes].)
2. Frank R. McCoy, who had retired from the army in 1938 and was president of the Foreign Policy Association, was frequently called upon for special assignments for the War Department. See Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-273 [3: 294-96].
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. 81-82.