4-079 Memorandum for the President, August 11, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 11, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

August 11, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Divisions for OVERLORD on May 1, 1944.

With reference to the discussion yesterday afternoon and your instructions to have a preponderance of U.S. divisions available in the United Kingdom on the target date for OVERLORD, the following is submitted:

At the TRIDENT Conference it was agreed that the British would provide a minimum of 14 divisions with a possibility of an increase to 18, if it did not prove necessary to cannibalize these 4 divisions in order to provide replacements and supporting units for the minimum number of 14. (This British contribution of between 14 to 18 divisions would include 4 or 5 Canadian divisions.)

The U.S. agreed to provide a total of 18_ divisions on the target date. 6_ of these would not be completely equipped and ready for combat until a later period of from two to eight weeks but they would be in England. (I will see that the 18_ figure is lifted to 19 without any further discussion.)

Note: In discussions regarding U.S. troop strengths in the United Kingdom on the target date, the British have presented the problem of limiting our divisional strength in England on that date to the 18_ referred to because of transportation, depot, and cantonment complications. As troops cross the Channel additional divisions can be moved into Great Britain, though it is desired that the bulk of the flow of reinforcements should be transported direct from the U.S. into France.

Computations indicate that when the OVERLORD build-up in France had reached 60 divisions the composition of the forces would be about as follows:

United States42 divisions

British13 divisions

Canadian5 divisions

This represents the total possible contribution of British troops unless transfers are made from the Mediterranean or elsewhere.

The TRIDENT decisions provided that on May 1, 1944, there would be 7,302 U.S. combat planes and 4,075 British.

Present tonnage figures indicate the possibility of increasing shipments to England between now and May 1st up to 100,000 men, of course providing we do not divert this shipping to send additional men to the Mediterranean. General Devers is pressing us to increase the number of technical units to support the Air Forces and the special anti-tank, artillery, and other separate units to support the Ground Forces, by a total of 100,000, which would absorb this tonnage if it materializes.

It appears to me that rather than base the American preponderance on the number of divisions alone it would be more effective to base it on the strength of the forces involved. We will have 3200 more combat planes, from 1 to 4 more combat divisions, and apparently a considerably greater number of Corps and Army supporting troops. We have not the detailed British figures on the last factor mentioned but their shortages in supporting troops along with those in manpower would indicate that our Corps and Army organization will be much stronger than theirs.

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

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. 87-88.

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