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Memorandum for the President
October 10, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: China – India – Stilwell.
I am deeply concerned over Stilwell’s situation in China. Apparently in the last few weeks he has succeeded in getting agreements from the Generalissimo that are of vast importance. The opening of the Burma Road is of immense importance to the support of China. I do not believe this is a remote possibility without efficient Chinese action in cooperation with a British effort out of India—all with American air coverage, that is, unless the situation in the Pacific should develop so favorably that we could threaten or cut the Japanese ocean supply line through the Malay Barrier.
On September 22 Stilwell succeeded in overcoming the Generalissimo’s resistance to the increase in the Chinese force at Ramgarh in India to Corps strength (see message attached). On October 5 he reports his fears regarding General Wavell’s acceptance of the proposition to increase the Chinese force being trained by our people in India (see message attached).1
On October 8 he reports that the Generalissimo has committed himself to a start of the bitterly opposed 30-Division plan which means the reorganization of the Chinese forces on a real fighting basis (see message attached).
In the message dated October 9 which was received this morning he again reports his fears regarding British action on the increase in the Ramgarh Garrison and its effect on the Generalissimo (see message attached).
I understand that you have not accepted the draft proposed for a reply to the Generalissimo and that therefore no message has yet been sent by you to him. However I had the matter of Wavell’s action up with Dill and he understands thoroughly what our reasons are, and I think he wholeheartedly accepts them. I am having another talk with him this morning in the light of Stilwell’s message of October 9, and as Admiral Cunningham is paying me a farewell visit this morning before joining Eisenhower, I purpose having him present when I talk to Dill.2
What worries me most in this matter is that Stilwell apparently is securing the important agreements with the Generalissimo that it was supposed he would never accede to, and a British refusal to agree to the plan in India might well produce a vigorous reaction on the part of the Generalissimo. I am hopeful that through Dill I can manage the matter but I wished you to know what is going on.3
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. Marshall has succinctly summarized the four Stilwell messages, three of which (September 22, October 5 and 9) have been printed in Sunderland and Romanus, Stilwell’s Personal File, 1: 268-69, 274, 275. The last paragraph of Stilwell’s October 9 message to Marshall read: “Your immediate help is needed to prevent the British from repeating a mistake that has already cost us considerable grief and that may seriously affect the Allied effort in this theater. I am taking stand that my original instructions were approved by British and included right to use bases in India.”
2. Beside this paragraph the secretary indicated that Marshall had added a handwritten comment: “Note. Dill and Cunningham agree with me, and latter will press point with London.” Admiral Sir Andrew B. Cunningham had been head of the British Admiralty Delegation to Washington since late June. He was leaving to take the post as head of Allied naval forces for TORCH.
3. In his message to Chiang Kai-shek of October 12 (see note 2, Marshall Memorandum for the President, October 6, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-357 [3: 386-87]), Roosevelt included praise of the generalissimo’s “understanding and spirit of cooperation in our joint effort” in agreeing to increase the Chinese troops to be sent to Ramgarh. (Sunderland and Romanus, Stilwell’s Personal File, 1: 280.) Concerning the British response to the Ramgarh plans, see Marshall Memorandum for Field Marshal Sir John Dill, October 16, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-373 [3: 403].
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. 393-394.