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Memorandum for the President
October 4, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Air Cargo—India to China.1
1. With reference to your comments Tuesday afternoon regarding the unsatisfactory state of air transport over the hump into China,2 the following data is submitted:
a. The following tonnages were carried by the India-China Army Air Transport Command and China National Airways [Aviation] Corporation as indicated below:
MonthOn HandTonsOn HandTons
1-21 Sept.2303,99923 784
While the number of ICATC planes on hand is comparatively large, the planes actually in operation averaged only about 50% of the planes on hand. This was due to a number of factors, the principal ones being unanticipated serious mechanical difficulties in the C-46 type aircraft (which difficulties are in the process of being ironed out), lack of spare parts, maintenance difficulties due to lack of experienced maintenance personnel and unfavorable working conditions, inexperienced flight personnel and weather. CNAC tonnage is proportionately larger because of long-experienced and highly paid maintenance personnel and flight crews. Also CNAC did not have the problem of breaking in a new type (C-46) plane.
b. A total of 8,505 officers and enlisted men are presently assigned to the India-China Wing of the Air Transport Command. CNAC is operating under contract to General Wheeler.3
c. Despite the difficulties of the monsoon season, 154 hard-standings have been constructed. 117 additional are required. On 3 airdromes the runways have been extended to 6,000 feet. The work now should go ahead much more rapidly before the termination of the rains, though we are in difficulties over General Auchinleck’s proposed removal of some of the British engineers in supposed conformity with Quadrant priorities. This is being negotiated by the Combined Chiefs of Staff.4
d. The British control every rail movement between Calcutta and Assam and they make the final decision as to what will and what will not move. This undoubtedly has affected the movement of necessary supplies to improve airports and will continue to affect movements over the hump in the future.5
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. This document was originally drafted for the chief of staff by the Army Air Forces staff, but Marshall returned it to Arnold with suggestions for extensive changes. Marshall concluded: “It is important that this memorandum be very carefully prepared in the simplest possible language and covering all the main points in such a manner that the President can follow what we are talking about.” (Marshall Memorandum for General Arnold, September 30, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. On Tuesday, September 28, Marshall had lunch at the White House with Harry Hopkins, followed by a meeting with President Roosevelt.
3. Major General Raymond A. Wheeler was commanding general of Army Service Forces in the China-Burma-India theater.
4. On September 27 Stilwell had received a copy of the message from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the British Chiefs of Staff regarding the need for “a clarification” of General Auchinleck’s decision to move certain British engineer units and the potential impact of this on the U.S. effort to supply China by air from India. See Sunderland and Romanus, eds., Stilwell’s Personal File, 3: 959-60.
5. Roosevelt replied by directing Marshall to contact Lieutenant General Somervell, who was then in India, “to give this whole business his special consideration and attention. Almost everything seems to have gone wrong with our program for supporting Chennault. I am sure that Somervell, when he puts his mind on it, can put a real punch behind it.” Somervell replied with a list of ten problems that the India-China air route managers were working to overcome. (Roosevelt to Marshall, October 15, 1943, and Somervell to Marshall, Radio No. GW-994 TIGAR, October 23, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Along with his directive to Marshall, Roosevelt sent a copy of an October 16 message he was sending to London expressing disappointment with the amount of supplies delivered to Chennault’s air forces, noting that the British controlled the flow of supplies by rail to the air bases in Assam, and requesting that Prime Minister Churchill “take a personal part in this business because I am a bit apprehensive that with our new project in Burma our air force in China will be forgotten and I think that is a great mistake.” (Churchill and Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence, 2: 537.)
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. 140-142.