3-313 Memorandum for the President, September 3, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 3, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President1

September 3, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Civil Administrative Section for General Eisenhower’s Staff.

The success of the Torch operation is critically dependent upon the reactions of the authorities, inhabitants and troops of North Africa. With this in mind, General Eisenhower has on his staff a Civil Administrative Section to coordinate the civil and political matters in immediate relation to the operation. He urgently requests that men from the State Department be released to serve on this body.2 Mr. Stimson, Mr. McCloy and I are of the opinion that Mr. Robert D. Murphy, Mr. Edmund C. Wilson, and Mr. Sam Reber are especially well qualified for this duty. Mr. Murphy we think should head the section,3 but as it would be necessary for him to return to Africa in order to carry on necessary work there and avoid any suspicion, Mr. Wilson might be his deputy in England and Eisenhower’s immediate adviser during the planning stage. Mr. Reber would serve as assistant to the political adviser, Mr. Mack, appointed by the British Government.

In all these matters it is understood that you will take personal direction of this phase of the Torch operation, but it will be necessary for General Eisenhower to be in immediate control and fully aware of the details. The men referred to in their relation to General Eisenhower will be in a position somewhat analogous to that of a Military Attache to an Ambassador. They would exercise their functions under General Eisenhower, but as State Department officials they would be in a position to act when desirable through our diplomatic agencies and representatives in the area.

I believe it is your desire that the War Department should undertake to carry out this operation in all respects, but the political and civil phase of the plan could be facilitated by the aid of the State Department. The Civil Administrative Section was created to insure the complete co-ordination of military and civil preparations in connection with the operation and to effect the civil administration of that area.

Specifically, prior to occupation, the Civil Administrative Section will develop plans, in accordance with your intentions, for the civil administration to be adopted upon occupation, and will implement the policies to be carried out in the area prior to occupation. Upon the commencement of our operations, this body will be at hand to serve the Theater Commander regarding all matters pertaining to civil government.

I recommend that Mr. Murphy, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Reber be made immediately available to the War Department for the assignments indicated.4

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 54, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. This document was originally drafted in the Operations Division but was heavily edited by Marshall.

2. On August 21 Eisenhower informed the War Department that it was immediately “necessary to organize a civil administration section” in his headquarters to complement the existing political section. The person selected, and his assistants, “should be well acquainted with North Africa” and would be members of Eisenhower’s staff—i.e., would not have an “independent avenue of official communication to any individual or office in the U.S.” The political section was directed by William H. B. Mack, a career British Foreign Office employee, who desired that the State Department send a man to London to act as his chief assistant. (Papers of DDE, 1: 485-86.)

3. Robert D. Murphy had been in France as United States consul (1930-36) and counselor of embassy (1940) before becoming the president’s personal representative in French North Africa (1940-42). He arrived in Washington at the end of August 1942; on September 4 he was told by the president of the TORCH invasion plans and of his new assignment. Murphy briefly visited Eisenhower in Britain in mid-September and returned to his Algiers headquarters in mid-October. His assignment was to seek the assistance—or at least the neutrality—of important French officials for the TORCH landings. (Robert D. Murphy, Diplomat Among Warriors [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1964], pp. 82, 99-104.)

4. Reber and Wilson were career Foreign Service officers; President Roosevelt did not approve their release for the London assignments. Instead, H. Freeman Matthews, counselor of embassy in London, was appointed acting chief of the Civil Affairs Section of Eisenhower’s staff. (Marshall to Eisenhower, Radio R-553, September 9, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OPD, TS Message File (CM-OUT-3033)].)

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. 342-344.

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