3-449 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, December 14, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 14, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Secretary of War

December 14, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Burma operation.

I sent to you this morning a review by Operations of Colonel McHugh’s statements in his letter to the Secretary of the Navy concerning General Chennault and his and Stilwell’s points of view.1

Since then I learn, most confidentially from Sir John Dill, that Colonel McHugh spent two days as a guest of General Wavell and probably talked to him regarding Chungking and Burma matters.

Furthermore, I learn that McHugh’s report, along with a letter from General Chennault prepared at the request of Mr. Willkie, has been read by the President.2

Since McHugh in effect proposes the relief of all of our generals in the Far East except Chennault and is somewhat contemptuous of the Burma plan—thinks it is merely Stilwell’s revenge for being cast out of Burma, and since Wavell has had decided logistical reluctances regarding the campaign, I am greatly concerned over what McHugh may possibly have told General Wavell. If he gave his views to Wavell I fear he has ruined our chances to secure the cooperation of Wavell for a campaign in Burma this spring.

You told me that Colonel Knox’s reference to you of McHugh’s report should be treated as most confidential; therefore I am asking you to ascertain through Colonel Knox or from McHugh directly, exactly what he told Wavell. I hope very much that he was discreet, but the superficial nature of some of his comments to Colonel Knox and his wholesale condemnation of everybody but Chennault, cause me to fear that he has probably greatly complicated my problem in bringing about an accord with the British towards an operation in Burma this coming spring.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. James M. McHugh (U.S.N.A., 1922), a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and the U.S. naval attach

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