4-355 Memorandum for the President, April 17, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 17, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

April 17, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


A message from Stilwell dated April sixteenth has just been received in which he reports the receipt by him of a radio from the Generalissimo asking for details on the Imphal situation and stating that since in the Mogaung Valley the terrain is “good for attacking and defending”, he, Stilwell, is to use great caution from now on in handling the operation. Stilwell states that judging from the recent actions of his Chinese division commanders he strongly suspects that they have received orders direct from the Generalissimo either to slow down the advance or to stop it entirely right where they now are.1

The resistance in Wakawng has, in Stilwell’s opinion, been broken and he anticipates little trouble in moving rapidly to Kamaing. For Myitk[y]ina they have set up a surprise attack which has a good chance for success, he feels. If for any reason this attack should be sabotaged Stilwell believes it would cheat us of the opportunity to attain some of the main objectives and would have a very damaging effect on the whole campaign.

Whether the action of the Generalissimo is the result of failure to appreciate the situation or the result of a lack of determination along with an excuse for not using the Yunnan Force, or even a desire to see the British in trouble, he (S) does not know. But he is unable otherwise to explain the increasing peculiar attitudes of his division commanders and must assume that they have received orders from the Generalissimo direct to slow down activities.

Stilwell states he will of course endeavor to handle the situation but he wants us to be prepared for eventualities. He feels that the Generalissimo acts on the basis that he is entirely free to give orders direct to his people without reference to anyone else, including Stilwell, and in effect ignores the fact that exclusive of our important Air Force there are 34,000 Americans involved in the effort and that the U.S. has a big stake in the enterprise.2

Stilwell urges that a message be sent by you to the Generalissimo to the effect that you feel you should be consulted before drastic action is taken regarding Chinese troops which would seriously affect the U.S. forces in that region.

At the moment my recommendation is that you do not, repeat not, send any message to the Generalissimo. It may be that events of the next few days will make other action appear desirable but I am inclined to think in view of the numerous messages you have already sent that further action at the time would weaken somewhat the effect of what you have already done and to a greater extent what you may wish to do later.

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. “Whether it is plain stupidity or lack of determination as an excuse for not using Y Force or a desire to see British in trouble I do not know,” reported Stilwell, “but the petty protests and increasing antics of the Division Commanders I cannot explain any other way than assuming that they have been ordered by the Generalissimo on a sit down strike.” (Stilwell to Marshall, Radio No. CAC-663, April 16, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, TS Message File (CM-IN-11727)].)

2. “The Chinese contribution would be useless without American equipment and supply, transport, medical service and engineering,” stated Stilwell. “I recommend that to his attention this fact be brought and on any such vital matters that the US President insist on being consulted.” (Ibid.)

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. 414-415.

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Holding ID: 4-355

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