3-008 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, December 9, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 9, 1941

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Secretary of War

December 9, 1941 Washington, D.C.


Subject: Redistribution of Troops and Planes.1

Antiaircraft—Commencing Sunday afternoon plans were gotten under way for the antiaircraft gun defense of the West Coast. The five and a half regiments in that region were distributed

(1) to guard the Boeing Plant and the Bremerton Navy Yard

(2) one to guard the San Francisco Bay District

(3) three and a half in the Los Angeles-San Diego District.

These regiments lacked approximately two-thirds of their guns. The additional guns to bring them to full strength were drawn from various sources, largely in the East, and are now being rushed by fast freight, special shipments, to the Pacific Coast.

Six additional regiments with approximately 50% as to guns and 70% as to 50 caliber weapons, are en route to the West Coast; 2_ more regiments are being equipped to leave immediately for California.

Left in the East are 7 regiments, completely equipped. 2 at Boston, 4 to New York, 1 now there, one at Hartford, one en route to Mitchel Field, one enroute to Wilmington, Delaware; one at Glenn Martin Plant, 2 to Norfolk (one there and one en route). At Philadelphia, one en route. One more being equipped for the Newport News Shipping Plant.

A careful redistribution of anti-aircraft ammunition is being carried out.

Aircraft: Two Eastern pursuit groups of about 55 planes each, ordered Sunday night to the Northwest and Southwest areas were held up by bad weather in the Mississippi Valley but should reach their designations this afternoon.

A group of 40 P-43s (less effective than the P-40s) planes near Portland, Oregon, were dispatched yesterday to cover the Bremerton Navy Yard and the Boeing Plant.

A group of 50-odd medium bombers (B-26s) flew to the Northwest yesterday.

A squadron of 9 B-17s which had been ready to leave for Hawaii, were employed Sunday evening and Monday protecting four troop ships ordered back to San Francisco. These planes leave tomorrow for Hawaii.

A squadron of 9 B-17s will leave for Hawaii Friday.

A squadron of B-17s will leave for Panama Saturday or Sunday.

Miscellaneous Items:

A convoy of six ships is putting in to Suva, Fiji Islands to water, and are awaiting instructions for the next destination. Aboard this convoy is a group of 52 dive bombers. Decision as to their destination will have to be made in the light of the circumstances of the next 24 hours.

The Transport Ludington with certain material for Canton Island has been directed to Samoa.

The troop ships returning to San Francisco today are to be unloaded pending a decision as to their later employment. The airplane detector equipment aboard with the Signal troops to serve it, will be turned over to the West Coast Commander for permanent installation, to supplement his present means.

A ship is being loaded in San Francisco with pursuit planes, 50 caliber ammunition and other special necessities to leave as quickly as possible for Hawaii unescorted. The Navy is considering landing the planes from a carrier in Hawaii and rushing it to San Pedro to pick up Army pursuit planes. The planes will be available.

General Arnold by stripping advanced Aviation Schools is completing the organization of all but two groups of the 54 group program in pursuit planes.2

G. C. M.

Document Copy Text Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers, President’s Secretary’s File, Departmental [War], Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. Secretary Stimson met with President Roosevelt on December 9. “I told him that the defense of the Pacific coast had been originally based on the reconnaissance and the security protection by Hawaii and the fleet, and that the present attack had left the west coast unprotected. Consequently we have been hurrying all air forces now to protect San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bremerton, and Seattle, except that we were also protecting in the east the Pratt & Whitney and the Wright factories of our airplane engines. I handed him the report made by the Chief of Staff showing the details of this movement which he read carefully.” (Stimson Memorandum to the Chief of Staff, December 9, 1941, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [General Correspondence].)

2. Major General (Lieutenant General after December 15) Henry H. Arnold was chief of the Army Air Forces and deputy chief of staff for air. The fifty-four-group program (also called the “First Aviation Objective”) was a plan formulated in July 1940 aimed at providing (by April 1, 1942) an air force of four thousand tactical planes plus appropriate training planes, enlisted men, aviation cadets, and officers. A fighter (pursuit) group consisted of three squadrons of twenty-five planes each; it corresponded roughly to an infantry regiment. (Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations: January 1939 to August 1942, a volume in The Army Air Forces in World War II [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948], pp. 105, 129, 747.)

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. 10-12.

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