3-136 Memorandum for the President, March 19, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 19, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

March 19, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]

I think it important that some such message as the following be dispatched today to General Wainwright:1

The nation is aware of the extreme difficulty of your task and of its vast importance. With confidence in your leadership and the superb gallantry and efficiency of that devoted band of American and Filipino soldiers under your command, I am today submitting your nomination as a Lieutenant General.2

It shall be my constant aim to see that every possible means and method are employed to relieve your situation.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 10, Item 9, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. On February 22 President Roosevelt had ordered MacArthur to Australia. Before his departure he had reorganized the command structure of United States forces in the Philippines into four separate commands—the Visayan and Mindanao forces in the southern islands, the Harbor Defenses, and the Luzon Force under Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright (U.S.M.A., 1906)—reporting directly to MacArthur as commanding general, U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. The U.S.A.F.F.E. Advance Command Post, under Deputy Chief of Staff Colonel (Brigadier General after March 14) Lewis C. Beebe, would be only a supply not a tactical headquarters. Taking advantage of a lull in the fighting, MacArthur left Corregidor on March 12—without apprising the War Department of his reorganization. The War Department assumed that Wainwright, as senior officer in the Philippines, had taken command. Incoming messages to “CG, USAFFE” confused Beebe, who still reported to MacArthur. Obviously intended for Wainwright, this message led to a clarification of the U.S.A.F.F.E. command problem. (Morton, Fall of the Philippines, pp. 359-63.)

2. The president initialed and returned the document to Marshall, who sent it to the Operations Division with the following note added by hand at the bottom: “Gen. Eisenhower: The President approved. Send the message immediately. I will take care of nomination. G.C.M.” The Senate confirmed Wainwright’s advancement that same day. In a message drafted by Eisenhower, Marshall radioed Wainwright the next day informing him that he had become commanding general of United States Forces in the Philippines upon MacArthur’s departure. (Ibid., p. 363; Papers of DDE, 1: 198-99.) On the resolution of the command problem in the Philippines, see Marshall Memorandum for the President, March 22, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-141 [3: 143-45].

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), pp. 139-140.

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Holding ID: 3-136

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