4-298 Memorandum for the Under Secretary of War, March 17, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 17, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Under Secretary of War [Patterson]

March 17, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

I read the other day from some notes given me, on top of which I had added a great many pencil additions to the data. Therefore I will have to give you a new resume of that data in a form that will be understandable to you.1 I might say first, something that I did not make a point of the other day and should have, only the drastic economies we have effected over the past six months have enabled the Army to meet its program. What has actually happened has been a constantly increasing deficiency on the part of Selective Service which would have left us in a tragic position had we not been making tremendous economies ourselves, all of which have been eaten up in overcoming the deficiencies in meeting new demands for operations which were not on the books or conceived six months ago.

I quoted the following on Selective Service allotments to the Army:

No Army call has been completely filled in the past six months. The following are typical:

November —175,000called


December —165,000called


January —160,000called


February —160,000called

110,000(approximately) received

We anticipated receiving 35,000 in the first week of March. First reports indicate that only 18,000 were received.

The percentage of inductees over 35 years of age has steadily increased, from 8.3% in October to 9.3% in November and 10% in December. This is the least desirable group and one that has the highest discharge rate.

However quickly the Selective Service makes up the shortages they are powerless to make up our present deficiencies in trained men and we are confronted with definite operations requiring the employment of these men.2

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. Major General Miller G. White had submitted the following manpower statistics to Marshall. (White Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, March 13, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. “The failure of Selective Service to give us the required quantity and the required quality is due chiefly to the over-liberal deferments given to young men (men from 18 to 26) in agriculture, in industry and in college. The deferments in agriculture have been extremely lax,” replied Patterson. He recognized the need of war industry for men but pointed out that it could be filled by those unfit for military service, those beyond military age, and women. There were relatively few positions held by young men of special skills for whom replacements could not be trained within a reasonable time. “The war morale of the nation must also be taken into account. Public feeling is offended by the sight of numerous young men in civilian pursuits, while older and less fit men are inducted into the armed forces.” (Patterson Memorandum for General Marshall, March 22, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 9, Book 16].) For more information regarding the manpower shortage, see the following document (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-299 [4: 352-53]).

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. 351-352.

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Holding ID: 4-298

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