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Memorandum to the Secretary to the President
October 23, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Request the following message be transmitted to The President this evening:
“General Marshall to The President:
“Admiral King gave Admiral Leahy and me your message regarding air reinforcements to the South Pacific. Message has been sent to Hawaii to divert one squadron of B-24s, now leaving there for Australia, to New Caledonia.
“As to P-38s, we find none are today actually en route either to South Pacific or Southwest Pacific. MacArthur has two squadrons, about fifty-odd, of these planes in Moresby and none in Australia. They are a vital part of MacArthur’s defense of his concentration of Fortresses at Moresby to operate against Rabaul and Bougainville Island region. He had previously been unwilling to hazard Fortresses at Moresby.
“The U. S. Chiefs of Staff question advisability of this transfer of P-38s under existing conditions. South Pacific now has 15 of these planes drawn from MacArthur and a total of 149 P-39s, with one squadron of 25 P-40s en route from Hawaii.”1
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), Project Decimal File 1941-43, 452.1 South Pacific Area, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Leahy and Arnold approved this message, but when King was later contacted, he desired a slightly different version which added the following final paragraph: “In view of the capability of the enemy to switch his attack to New Guinea and the necessity to be able to continue operations for Fortresses from Moresby for effective attacks on Rabaul and Bougainville, it seems to us inadvisable for MacArthur to have to transfer more than 15 more P-38s to the South Pacific at this time.” (Undated and unaddressed memorandum marked “Adm King’s version” in NA/RG 165 [OCS, Project Decimal File 1941-43, 452.1 South Pacific Area].) The next day the president replied: “My anxiety about the Southwest Pacific is to make sure that every possible weapon gets into that area to hold Guadalcanal, and that having held it in this crisis that munitions and planes and crews are on the way to take advantage of our success. We will soon find ourselves engaged on two active fronts and we must have adequate air support in both places even though it means delay in our other commitments, particularly to England. Our long range plans could be set back for months if we fail to throw our full strength in our immediate and impending conflicts. I wish therefore, you would canvass over the week-end every possible temporary diversion of munitions which you will require for our active fronts and let me know what they are. Please also review the number and use of all combat planes now in the continental United States.” ([Roosevelt Memorandum] for Leahy, King, Marshall and Arnold only, October 24, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) The air reinforcements for Guadalcanal during late October and November are discussed in Miller, Guadalcanal, pp. 173-74.
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. 409-410.