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Notes for Secretary of War’s Press Conference1
December 21, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
(Possible answer of the Secretary of War to any inquiry regarding the use of Army engineers to clear away debris and construct temporary shelters for the British homeless in London)2
Inquiries have been made of the War Department, rather critical in tone, of General Eisenhower’s action in authorizing American Army engineers to assist in clearing away the debris in the London area caused by the rocket bombs and in erecting temporary shelters for those rendered homeless.
It is incomprehensible to me that any American would question the wisdom and decency of General Eisenhower’s action in employing these men, who otherwise would stand idle while awaiting transportation to France, to succor the injured and homeless British citizens who have borne in such a Stoic manner the heavy losses of life and destruction of their property. It is not conceivable to me that the American people would permit their Army authorities to stand idle in such circumstances. It would not be in keeping with the instincts of the American people. Furthermore, the morale and the good order of the London area is a matter of great importance to operations on the Western Front. London and England are in the battle and their civil population has suffered severely. I should have severely condemned General Eisenhower had he acted other than he did in this matter.3
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed notes.
1. Secretary Stimson was scheduled to hold a press conference at 10:30 A. M. For another note by Marshall for this conference, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-619 [4: 706].
2. Eisenhower had authorized the release of approximately three thousand U.S. Army Engineers with supplies and machinery to tear down bombed houses and assemble temporary, prefabricated, one-family huts in London. A group of a hundred Engineers working in the borough of Lambeth had recently received considerable British press and newsreel coverage and “effusive” thanks. (New York Times, December 17, 1944, p. 23.)
3. Secretary of the General Staff Frank McCarthy wrote across the top of the file copy: “Question was not asked, so S/W did not use this today.”
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), p. 704.