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Memorandum for the President
September 6, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Organization of the first Army contingent for Iceland.
You may be interested in the following details incident to the removal and replacement of selectees and Reserve officers who were legally debarred from serving in the first contingent being sent to Iceland. For the entire force, eighty-two per cent of the Reserve officers volunteered, while only twenty-two per cent of the selectees did so.1
The 10th Infantry regiment, less one of its three battalions, (93 officers and 2200 men) required the replacement of one-fourth of its officers and over one-third of its enlisted men, this in addition to volunteers obtained from the battalion left behind. The Field Artillery Battalion (30 officers and 520 men) required the replacement of only three of its thirty officers, but the turnover of enlisted men was in the same proportion as in the Infantry. To obtain replacements for those who would not volunteer it was necessary to comb another Infantry regiment, the Medical Battalion and remaining Artillery organizations of the Division, and a near-by General Hospital.
The specialized Services offered an even more difficult problem. One company of three officers and one hundred and fifty men necessitated transfers from nineteen different organizations. Even key instructors from special schools had to be drafted into the ranks.
As the units in the first contingent are in general parts of larger organizations of the 5th Division, the portions of the larger organizations which were left behind were drained of experienced three-year men; also they have had to absorb those men who declined to volunteer.
The organization of additional forces of this nature will require the disruption of approximately three regiments for every one sent and, even so, with small probability of securing volunteers of certain specialists essential to forces of this type. I am instructing the Staff to see that a special effort is made between now and next spring to bring units destined for Iceland to full strength with three-year men. The difficulty in this matter is that we are only able to secure a limited number of volunteer enlistments and the high priority for these as well as the desire of the volunteers themselves is for the Air Corps, and to a lesser extent, the armored force—neither of which are involved in the problem of providing the additional garrison for Iceland.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), 21224-39, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Draftees and members of the Officers’ Reserve Corps and the National Guard could not be required to serve outside the Western Hemisphere, except in United States possessions. See editorial note #2-507, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [2: 565-66].
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 600-601.