4-534 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, September 29, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 29, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Secretary of War

September 29, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


Colonel Frank Capra has just completed a film explaining the demobilization process. The purpose of the film was to translate into a movie the decisions that have been made as to the method of partial demobilization at the conclusion of hostilities in Europe with relation to the transfer of military forces to the Pacific. Capra and Walt Disney struggled with this difficult proposition and have prepared a film which those who have seen it feel will make the picture as clear as it is practicable to do so to the enlisted men.

The purpose is to have copies of the film placed in confidential reserve in France, in Italy, in England, in Africa, and also in Alaska, and in the principal depots in the Pacific, including Australia. Then the moment hostilities terminate in Europe, a telegram will be sent releasing these films so that the displays will begin immediately to the men before a series of unfortunate rumors builds up regarding the inequities or the complete misunderstandings of the demobilization process. We consider it most important to have the men in the isolated garrisons see this film within a very few days of the termination of European hostilities. Otherwise we shall have an extremely serious morale reaction.

I hope you can arrange to see the film as soon as possible in order that they can go ahead immediately with the production of duplicates which will require about two months’ time and an additional time to accomplish the distribution to the various theaters.1

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. Stimson saw the motion picture Two Down and One to Go on October 2. “It was a very able and strong film. The expository mechanical features of it had been done by Walter Disney and, in spite of the intricate mechanics of the plans, the film made it quick and interesting to see and it was interwoven by enough general features to prevent the ordinary watcher from being tired.” (October 2, 1944, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 48: 112].)

Determined to insure that it was shown as widely and as soon as possible after release to all army personnel, Marshall closely monitored the film’s distribution. He demanded safeguards against premature or delayed showings. On an October 17 memorandum concerning the film’s distribution, he wrote: “I think it most important that copies of the film in sealed containers ‘to be opened and display only after official announcement of cessation of hostilities in Europe’, be placed in isolated garrisons—Canton, Fiji, Ascension Island, Accra, Natal, Cairo, Teheran, Karachi, Iceland, Goose, etc.” (Note on Pasco Memorandum for General Marshall, October 17, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 062.2].) War Department Circular No. 428, November 2, 1944, governed the handling of the film in the field. For further developments, see Marshall to Davis, November 24, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-592 [4: 675].

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. 614-615.

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