5-036 Memorandum for the Press, February 15, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 15, 1945

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Press

February 15, 1945 [Montecatini, Italy]

The following is the text of the statement made today by General of the Army George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army, at Headquarters, 15th Army Group, Italy:1

At the time of my last visit to Italy, the troops of the Fifth Army were just north of Grosseto in the final stages of the great pursuit of Kesselring’s forces north of Rome.2

For the past three days, I have visited various portions of the Fifth Army front, met the senior commanders and inspected and talked to many of the troops. What I have seen and what I have learned has been very reassuring.

The difficulties of the mountainous country, with few roads and winter conditions are very real. The strength of the enemy’s defensive positions in such country is equally apparent.

Under these conditions, our U.S. troops and those of our Allies have done a splendid job and made a great contribution to the war. A large German force has been held in Italy and prevented from bolstering the enemy’s hard-pressed troops on the Eastern and Western fronts.

The Infantry has borne the greatest burden of the struggle, but it has been strongly supported by perfect cooperation of air, artillery and other arms and services. The supply of the troops has been made possible by the really magnificent work of the Engineers in the mountains.

The Strategical Air Force in Italy has struck an unending series of blows against the enemy production centers and communications despite the usual inclemency of the weather.

Probably the most impressive phase of the operations in Italy is the degree of cooperation of the forces. The Ground [Guard] of Honor which met me at General Mark Clark’s Headquarters was composed of the military representatives of 12 nationalities from the 5th and 8th Armies, paraded in one body and commanded by one officer. Such a spirit of common purpose, such teamwork, makes certain the destruction of the German military power.3

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

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. General Marshall wrote the draft of this statement on February 13, after his visit at General Mark W. Clark’s headquarters on February 12.

2. For information regarding General Marshall’s tour in the Grosseto area of Italy in June 1944, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-418 [4: 487-89], 514 (photos #31 and 32).

3. From Yalta, Colonel Frank McCarthy notified Lieutenant General Joseph T. McNarney of General Marshall’s impending arrival at Allied Force Headquarters in Caserta, Italy. “Chief says he wishes no conferences or formalities of any kind at Caserta, since his sole purpose is to visit Fifth Army. Suggest you have a proposed itinerary ready upon arrival,” wrote McCarthy. “Usual form holds good for Chief; that is, no aides, no orderlies, no flags, no auto plates, no escort, no fanfare of any kind. He has no objection to being photographed for morale purposes with eye to release at later date to be set by him, but is unwilling to commit himself to a press conference and wishes no advance heralding of visit.” (McCarthy to McNarney, Radio No. ARGONAUT 95, February 9, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 5, Item 18].)

Although General Marshall had requested no honors, a large honor guard met the chief of staff at General Clark’s Fifteenth Army Group headquarters near Florence. “There were men and women from a score of units standing stiffly at attention,” Clark recalled. “Marshall paused and the frown vanished from his face. Nothing could have spoken more eloquently than this honor guard of the melding of units from all over the world into the 15th Army Group. In a single glance, he could see the problem of supply, the problem of different languages, the problem of different religions, the whole complex and tangled problem of making it possible for a dozen nationalities to live and fight as one team.” (Mark W. Clark, Calculated Risk [New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950], pp. 423-25.)

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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 50-52.

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