3-104 Memorandum for the President, February 18, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 18, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

February 18, 1942 Washington, D.C.


The future effort of the Army is dependent upon shipping. More shipping than is now in sight is essential if the national war effort is not to be neutralized to a serious extent. By December 1942, there will be 1,800,000 troops ready for overseas service, and by the end of 1943 about three and a half million. We are now endeavoring to secure from the War Shipping Administration an additional eighteen cargo ships per month for military use, which would permit an overseas force of 750,000 by the end of 1942. This number, however, would be less than half of the troops potentially available.

The present 1943 program for the construction of 10,677,000 dead weight tons will permit an overseas fighting force of about one and a half million men by the end of 1943, again less than half of those to be available. Furthermore, defense aid requirements will not be met in full measure and the war production program will, therefore, be partially ineffective because of lack of ships.

The war effort of the United States, less what can be done by the Navy, will be measured by what can be transported overseas in troops and materiel. The conclusion that the small forces now envisaged are the measure of the capacity of the country and its military might appears unacceptable. Immediate steps are urged to increase the tempo of the ship building program to a much higher figure. The maximum possibilities in this regard should be exploited, in my opinion, and the Army advised accordingly.1

G. C. Marshall

Document Copy Text Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers, President’s Secretary’s File, Safe, Marshall, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. Prior to Pearl Harbor, the goals for new merchant ship construction were five million dead-weight tons for calendar 1942 and eight million tons for 1943; by the time President Roosevelt gave his State of the Union address on January 6, 1942, the goals had been raised to eight million and ten million respectively. After he received Marshall’s memorandum, the president called Rear Admiral Emory S. Land, administrator of the newly established War Shipping Administration, to the White House and directed him to build nine million tons in 1942 and fifteen million tons in 1943. Land was not optimistic that this could be done. (Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1955], pp. 198, 205, 210-11.)

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), p. 106.

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Holding ID: 3-104

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