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Memorandum for the President1
October 20, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Two U.S. divisions participated in the airborne operation between Eindhoven and Arnhem, the 82nd and the 101st. They are still in the line.2
Brigadier General James M. Gavin has been in command of the 82nd Division for about three months. His name was to have headed the next promotion list for advancement to the grade of Major General.
Today a message was received from General Eisenhower stating that the Commander of the Airborne Forces, Lieutenant General Brereton, recommends the immediate promotion of General Gavin while on the battlefield as an acknowledgment of his gallant and brilliant leadership from September 17th to date. This action was first recommended by the Commanding General of the British Airborne Corps and also by the Commanding General of the XIII Corps, under both of whom the 82nd had served. General Eisenhower thinks this action would distinguish the airborne operation and would be a stimulant to the continued gallantry of the operations of this and its companion division (which is commanded by a Major General) for the remaining weeks they must remain in line in the hard battle to maintain and broaden the salient.
It is therefore recommended that a recess appointment of General Gavin to the grade of Major General be authorized.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 wrote this for Secretary of War Stimson’s signature.
2. Operation MARKET was an effort to drop three and a half airborne divisions in the vicinity of Grave, Nijmegen, and Arnhem to seize bridges over several canals and the Maas, Waal (Rhine), and Neder Rijn rivers. They were to open a corridor more than fifty miles long leading from Eindhoven northward. A companion piece was Operation GARDEN, wherein ground troops of the Second British Army were to push nearly a hundred miles northeast from the Belgian-Dutch border to link up with the airborne units. The major objective was to get Allied troops across the Rhine River and to capture the Ruhr industrial area of Germany. If accomplished, MARKET-GARDEN would have isolated the German troops remaining in western Holland, outflanked the West Wall defenses, and positioned British ground forces for a drive into the North German Plain.
Operation MARKET was carried out on September 17 with excellent initial success. The 101st Airborne Division, commanded since May 1944 by Major General Maxwell D. Taylor, landed north of Eindhoven. Brigadier General James M. Gavin (U.S.M.A., 1929) became commander of the 82d Airborne Division in August; his troops landed south of Nijmegen. British and Polish units landed west and south of Arnhem, the most distant point from Allied lines. MARKET-GARDEN was essentially over by September 25 when the British were forced to withdraw from Arnhem, but the defense of the salient against serious German attacks continued through October. After suffering 7,136 casualties between them, the 82d Airborne was withdrawn from the line in mid-November and the 101st Airborne in late November. On this operation, see Charles B. MacDonald, The Siegfried Line Campaign, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1963), pp. 119-206.
3. Gavin was promoted to major general effective October 20, 1944.
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. 633-634.