4-100 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, September 3, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 3, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Secretary of War

September 3, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


Distinguished Service Medal for General Drum

Attached is proposed citation of DSM for General Drum.1 He arrived in Washington a few days ago to head the Inter-American Defense Board.2 His retirement becomes effective the end of the month but he is to be continued on active duty as head of this board. He leaves for South America shortly, with certain members of the board, regarding airfields.

I would like to arrange for a presentation of the DSM by you, to him, Tuesday morning next. It would probably require only ten or fifteen minutes, including the picture men. I am putting this request to you now so that Wright3 can let me know and Drum can be notified so far in advance as possible.4

Reorganization of Army Service Forces

As I told you on the phone a few days ago, I think it very important that you allow an hour Tuesday morning for General Somervell and General McNarney to present to you the plan for reorganization of the Army Service Forces. The three of us are in complete accord in the matter. It requires a series of steps, the first of which should be taken immediately as Somervell leaves for the Pacific Tuesday night. I am particularly anxious that you should hear the outline from him personally and it would be unfortunate to delay his departure because of arranged meetings with his staff officers coming from the opposite direction in the Pacific. I do not think you will find it difficult to appreciate the desirabilities of the proposed scheme. Incidentally, it has been pressed on Somervell for some time by General McNarney.5

I have seen the President and the Prime Minister several times in the last two days, in each case I was the only other person present. The issues referred to Stalin, Italian terms, and matters of that sort.6 As you will have seen by the papers, the movement into the toe of Italy has started. AVALANCHE is due as scheduled and may have a rather difficult time of it, but that must be accepted as one of the inescapable hazards.7

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. Lieutenant General Hugh Drum had previously received the Distinguished Service Medal for his work as chief of staff of First Army in World War I. This award would be an Oak Leaf Cluster to the D.S.M. The proposed citation praised Drum’s work as commander of the First Army and Eastern Defense Command, specifically mentioning his direction of “large scale maneuvers, conspicuous for their reality and well conceived execution.”

2. See Marshall to Drum, July 20, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-058 [4: 67-68].

3. Lieutenant Colonel William H. S. Wright (U.S.M.A., 1930) had been Secretary Stimson’s aide since September 1942.

4. Drum resigned from the Inter-American Defense Board in mid-October, asserting that the problems of hemisphere defense and solidarity with which the board was supposed to be concerned were being handled as “routine procedures” by the Departments of War, Navy, and State. On October 18 he was appointed to head the State Guard of New York by Governor Thomas E. Dewey. (New York Times, October 19, 1943, p. 12.)

5. Somervell presented his Army Service Forces reorganization plan to the secretary of war on September 6. Stimson noted in his diary: “It was a radical change involving the grouping together into three groups of first, all the work of procurement including all manufacturing and purchasing by such former units as the Ordnance, the Quartermaster, the Signal Corps and everybody else; this work was to be placed under a chief called ‘Director of Procurement’ and who was to be at the outset General Campbell [Major General Levin H. Campbell, Jr., (U.S.N.A., 1909)], the Chief of Ordnance; second, there was a similar grouping of all the work of distribution of materiel of every kind under a Director of Supply who in fact would be the present Quartermaster [Major General Edmund B. Gregory]; third, all work of construction of buildings, cantonments, etc. was to be placed under a Director of Construction who would be the Chief of Engineers [Major General Eugene Reybold]. This same distribution was to be carried out through the local Service Commands as geographical units, the present regional units of Ordnance or other branches being modified to conform with the Service Command boundaries, which in turn were slightly enlarged in number.” Stimson directed Somervell to explain the proposed changes to Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson. (September 6, 1943, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 44: 100-101].)

Stimson’s experiences as secretary of war during the 1911-12 struggle over army reorganization between then Chief of Staff Leonard Wood and The Adjutant General, Fred C. Ainsworth, gave him “considerable doubt as to the wisdom of taking on such a reorganization just now. It sweeps out a lot of time-honored traditions contained in the names and insignia of a number of famous branches of the Army. . . . It will inevitably arouse regret and opposition on the part of the men to whom those matters are dear, and I am in considerable doubt as to whether the beneficial results to be obtained are worth the fight just now.” (Ibid., pp. 124 [quote], 139-42.) Despite Marshall’s being “strongly for it,” Patterson and Assistant Secretary John J. McCloy shared Stimson’s doubts about the project’s wisdom, and on October 5 Stimson rejected Somervell’s plans. (Ibid., pp. 130, 172.)

6. Two of these meetings are noted in Foreign Relations, Conferences at Washington and Quebec, 1943, pp. 1198-99. Telegrams resulting from these meetings to Eisenhower—approving his plans to launch an assault landing at Salerno (Operation AVALANCHE, scheduled for September 9)—and to Stalin—informing him of the coming surrender of the Italian government, German reinforcements, and British-American landings—are on pp. 1261-63.

7. The Allied invasion of southern Italy was to be a three-pronged attack. The British Eighth Army began crossing the Strait of Messina and landing in Calabria on September 3 (Operation BAYTOWN). Another British operation (SLAPSTICK) was to be launched simultaneously with AVALANCHE and was aimed at securing the heel of the Italian boot. In addition to the problems of managing a massive operation like AVALANCHE (hundreds of aircraft, 450 ships, twenty thousand vehicles, and one hundred thousand British and nearly seventy thousand American troops), there were a number of geographical difficulties in the proposed landing areas which would divide the invading forces and expose them to enemy observation, fire, and attack from higher ground. Moreover, the Germans had successfully evacuated sixty thousand men and their individual equipment from Sicily in mid-July to add to the seventy-five thousand they already had in central and southern Italy. (Blumenson, Salerno to Cassino, pp. 26, 28, 67.)

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. 114-116.

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