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4-252 Memorandum for the President, February 14, 1944

1944
   
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 14, 1944

Subject: World War II


Memorandum for the President

February 14, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Secret

Subject: Chinese Army Corps on the Ledo Road.

General Boatner,

General Stilwell’s Chief of Staff for the Ledo Corps and who in effect was in command of this Corps during the period Stilwell was at Cairo, is here in the War Department. I think you would be interested in getting a direct report on the character of the Chinese troops that were trained at Ramgarh as well as regarding the situation and progress on the Ledo Road.1

General Wheeler will be in the War Department in a week or ten days and I understood from you the other day that you wished to see him. I shall notify Gen. Watson2 accordingly.

General Wedemeyer, Mountbatten’s Deputy Chief of Staff, will be here from a conference in London about the twenty-first. I shall notify Gen. Watson when he has arrived, in case you desire to see him, which I think would be an excellent thing.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 Haydon L. Boatner met with President Roosevelt on February 18, 1944. Boatner reported to Stilwell, “I was impressed with complete sympathy he displayed with your efforts to advance in Burma.” (Boatner to Stilwell, Radio Nos. 4549 and 6432, February 19, 1944, NA/ RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 9, Book 15].) Boatner discussed with the president the improved quality of Chinese combat troops, and they agreed that the trouble was not the ability of the average Chinese soldier but rather the politicization of higher-ranking Chinese officers. “The Chinese soldier if properly trained and equipped was a first class fighting man,” said Boatner, but “the Chinese Division Commanders and senior officers are very politically conscious.” Boatner reported that the president “evinced no disappointment or ill feeling toward the Generalissimo in any respect and showed no reaction to my remarks that his pressure on the Generalissimo was necessary.”

Boatner discussed progress on the Ledo Road, informing the president that “the worst of construction was already over” and that a pipeline needed to supply the B-29 offensive could be constructed parallel to the Ledo Road. The president asked when the Ledo Road could be expected to reach Myitkyina, and Boatner replied that the question really was when Allied ground troops could take and hold Myitkyina, which hinged on the British failure to advance from Imphal and the Chinese reluctance to advance from Yunnan. He suggested to the president that the British did not put their full energies into the Burma campaign and that they tended to exaggerate the natural difficulties of the country. “The President stated that he was more dissatisfied with the progress of the war in Burma than anywhere else,” related Boatner. “It was very evident throughout the conference that the President had lost patience with the British for not pushing the conquest of Burma stronger. He seemed quite desirous of putting pressure on Mr. Churchill.” (“Report by Brig. Gen. Haydon L. Boatner of Interview with the President on February 18,” ibid.) For further information, see note 1, Marshall Memorandum for Field Marshal Sir John Dill, February 28, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-271 [4: 319].

2. Major General Edwin M. Watson was President Roosevelt’s military aide and secretary.

3. Major General Albert C. Wedemeyer arrived in England in February 1944 to discuss Mountbatten’s plan (CULVERIN). He met with Prime Minister Churchill, King George VI, General Eisenhower, and various senior Allied commanders. Taking his mission to Washington, Wedemeyer met with President Roosevelt; and on March 21 he wrote to Churchill that his talk with the president was “most satisfactory.” Wedemeyer wrote: “I emphasized that we recommend strongly against the construction of the Ledo Road through Upper Burma to China and explained very carefully our reasons. Instead of the unfavorable reaction which I had anticipated, he did not appear to attach importance to this matter—at least not as much as he had on previous occasions.” (Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports! [New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1958], pp. 258-64; quote on p. 262.)

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. 300-301.

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