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Once when reminded that he was accused of coddling the fighting man, General Marshall replied that he welcomed the criticism. He added: “I remember my great pleasure when I went into Italy and got up right behind the firing line, and they brought a battalion out to go into the forward position. . . Before the men had . . their pup tents up, one sergeant opened up the post exchange from two barrels which had been delivered to him, and here . . . [were] the various things you want right away, and they sold them right over the barrel . . . I never allowed them to have sales going on in the rear until they had begun up front. . .” He was delighted when parents cited letters from their sons describing the turkey and dressing they had been served at the front at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He glowed when MacArthur reported that some of the men who went into the Philippines had ice cream within twenty-four hours. “Many of our people forget the importance of little things to morale,” he once said. “I insisted when I got to the top that . . . things be set up quickly along this line, since the men think if there is candy up forward, things can’t be so bad.”
Marshall knew that the American soldier did not relish spartan life. He also was keenly aware that the soldier thousands of miles from home lacked the immediate spur that foreign troops felt in defending their homes. In addition he believed that the foot soldier, obliged to endure more than his proper share of cold and hardship, deserved all the comfort it was possible to provide. Others might call it softness; he rated it an essential of morale.
Marshall said after the war:
As to coddling the soldiers, I was responsible for as much of that abroad (not much of it back here) as anybody because I felt that we had to do every-
thing we could to make the men feel that we had the highest solicitude for their condition[s]. . , . They were being taken from home; they were being taken away from [their] plows and their wives and families . . . [and were] in a distant country where the fighting was quite desperate and . . . the reasons were a little bit remote from them. . . . I was for supplying everything we could and then requiring him to fight to the death when the time came. YOU had to put these two things together. If it were all solicitude, then you had no army. But you couldn’t be severe in your demands unless [the soldier] was convinced that you were doing everything you could to make matters well for him. . . .
And I remember when we took over several breweries in France, I thought I would be investigated for that (that’s about the only thing I wasn’t investigated for). . . I suppose now, if this came out, I will [likely] . . . be attacked again. I didn’t go into the production of hard liquor but I did [of] all the beer that we could possibly manage. I was challenged once . . . to have orange juice for these men. Well, we couldn’t have much orange juice-it is bulky and hard to ship-but we got some shipments through just like we did Thanksgiving turkeys to have them feel that we were trying to get them what they craved so much in this touch of home . . . And they responded, I thought, magnificently to that. . . .
Now when they wanted to go home and get a rest and not stay in the fighting, then I was adamant. They couldn’t go home, they had to stay right there. When the time came up when they wanted to be relieved from the line, we probably couldn’t relieve them from the line And I was adamant again so far as that was concerned. And they would respond becadse they felt that [we] were really trying to do for them. . . .
The question of coddling troops went along‘wi th Marshall’s analysis of what made the American soldier tick. “I think the first thing [about him] is that he has to know what it is all about, much more than any other soldier. I think the next thing is there has to be time to get him trained. [And next] we have to have very competent instructors, which we lacked at the opening of the war because they were not available in any number at all. . . .”
Once the American soldier knew “what it is all about,” once he saw the results of his training, he was ready for action. There was always the fact, Marshall noted, that the American soldier was fighting for a cause remote from his own affairs. “You take an Iowa farmer-you can’t get a much stronger character than that man-yet all of this [fighting] was in a distant field from his home, among distant people, and for a cause that couldn’t [be cut] down to something like an Indian shooting at you, or a local army fighting against you.”
These factors made Marshall reluctant to contrast the fighting qualities of the American soldier with those of other warring countries in the World War II conflict. At the author’s insistence he finally agreed, reiterating some of the factors that made the position of the American GI unique:
The fighting quality of the American soldier has to be measured in several ways. In the first place a man’s fighting quality, his stamina, his relentless
purpose, comes most strongly from the association with his home and his family, and any American fighting near his own doorsill will display exactly that same spirit Our great difficulty was that the men were all far from their home they were thousands of miles from home in the Southwest Pacific and Italy, in Africa, in places they had hardly ever heard of. There was none of that tremendous spirit that comes of defending your own home, your own wife and children, such as would fall to the French soldier . . . and to the others in somewhat the same way. . .
That was one of the reasons I thought it was so vitally important to have the Army educated as to what we were fighting about. Because it was all done so far from home and always will be-so far as we are able to carry out our policy of keeping the fighting out of continental United States. That imposes a very great difficulty, that imposes a great problem of morale because a little detachment up in the Pribilof Islands or in the Himalaya Mountains, in Burma, in Africa . . has to be handled with a certain spirit.
However in all of this a great deal [of the problem arises] from the monotony of the thing. You know, fighting as a rule is a very monotonous thing unless you are on a grand rush like Patton’s move through France. That seldom is the case And it is the monotony that has very evil effects on morale, and particularly when you are very far from home-when you have been in the affair a long time.
In contrast, Marshall observed, the British soldiers managed to accept the separation from home and families. “I was always struck by the British troops that took the long indeterminate periods in Africa, the way they accepted the very hard life they had to lead and the long time they were away from home and the heavy fighting they had to [endure] and the losses they had to accept.” The British fighters were very stolid, he added, “very determined and accepted discipline without questions as far as I could see.”
The Japanese had quite a different quality. “The Japanese,” he declared, “were a more spiritual fighter, if you accept [their religion] as being a spiritual basis for the fighting. They were all dedicated to the thing. Their lives were involved and they expected to give them up. They could not surrender. They were desperate in defense of their leader. And they were very well trained, as there was plenty of time to train this army, which was . . . a conscript army.”
There was the inevitable contrast between the German and the American doughboy “The Germans are natural fighters, we must accept that, they [were] natural warriors. And they were very highly trained, very ably trained, particularly in their noncommissioned officers. And the basis of their discipline was unbending. The thing you would find most effective with the Germans was that if you left a sergeant with a few men, he fought [as if] he had a lieutenant general in command. . . . Too often our fellows, when they were new at the game, would think that somebody else ought to come right away and reinforce them or take over. And they would tell the press so accordingly.”
But it did not remain always thus. “When the time came, such as the
Battle of the Bulge, when they go going in that – not in the first surprise [attack], which [hit] a new division – [the American soldier] displayed magnificent fighting characteristics. They always would, under proper conditions. But they were far from home and the ordinary military quality is not dominant in the American any more. It is no longer the question of taking the gun off the mantelpiece and fighting against the savage. But the newspapers, he noted, especially in World War I seemed to think that Americans were still natural woodsmen. “Well, many of them had never seen the woods expect in the national park or city park.”
The Russians, he felt, differed from all the others. “I wouldn’t say that [the Russian] was an intelligent soldier in any way but he had the courage to go ahead though he didn’t understand at all why he was going. He accepted the leadership if it was any way decent and took terrific losses and accepted blindly lots of mismanagement…”
The stoical acceptance of orders by the Russians differed markedly from the questioning typical of the American solider. “With us you had to feel that all of your soldiers were readers of Time magazine and editorials from other sources and had listened to all the newspapermen and all those they met in this army of democracy. But it was a magnificent army when it reached its full development. I remember Eisenhower asking me to come over before it began to demobilize in order to see it as it was. And I don’t think you could have found a better, more powerful army in the world than we had in [Europe] in 1945.
But training had gotten off to a slow start: “It takes a long time to make such an army – it is a long way to get the necessary leaders because subordinate leaders are so important. And so few of them were of Regular [Army] origin. But the whole Army … was imbued with a tremendous fighting spirit and was remarkably well led. We had some of the most efficient army commanders and corps and division commanders that we have ever heard of, except may in the last year of the Civil War.”
In 1943 and 1944 Marshall and Stimson increased morale-building efforts extensively. Brigadier General Frederick H. Osborn’s Morale Branch was expanded into the Special Services Division and was instructed among other things to stimulate the United States Organizations further in drawing on the services of entertainers and artists for visits to training camps in the United States and combat theaters abroad. In addition to using the talents of top composers and stars, such as Al Jolson, Joe E. Brown, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Dinah Shore, Marlene Dietrich, Andre Kostelanetz, and Maurice Evans, the Army drew on more youthful entertainers in uniform to form small jeep companies that went to units throughout the world. Remembering the effectiveness of such groups in World War I, the Chief of Staff did everything possible to encourage these activities. He was especially moved by Irving Berlin’s writing of the show This Is the Army, which drew on show people in and out
of uniform, and by Berlin’s donation of some ten million dollars in profits to the USO. He was touched by Al Jolson’s appeal for permission to wear the Seventh Army patch on his jacket. When members of the General’s staff recommended that permission be denied, he reproved them gently: “Aren’t we being a little sticky about this?”
Once USO facilities had been established, they worked fairly well. But providing recreational facilities and entertainment involved Marshall and Stimson in a brand-new field with a brand-new set of thoiny problems. Sometimes there were jurisdictional disputes, but the program for the most part worked and at relatively little cost to the armed forces.
Early in the war Marshall had been convinced by Elmo Roper, one of the pioneer public-opinion pollsters, of the value of public-opinion surveys, and he directed Osborn to employ the most modern polling methods, using professional agencies and Army personnel, to determine soldiers’ likes and dislikes. In addition he had samplings made of soldiers’ mail that passed through censorship in order to get some notion of their complaints. Although there was a tendency for a few of his staff and for commanders in the field to dismiss many of the items as ordinary belly-aching, Marshall insisted that complaints be investigated and reports be made on action taken. Repeatedly he stressed to commanders that citizen soldiers with bitter grievances later became civilian opponents of the Army. When he found soldiers grumbling about uncomfortable leave trains or unpalatable food, he directed that high-ranking officers, even a general or two, ride the train with the troops and see for themselves what the conditions actually were. He was sure that if they shared the discomforts, they would soon correct them.
The General found time to examine suggestions on apparently trivial matters from trainees in Officer Candidate School. Passing on to General McNair his observation that men in the Civilian Conservation Corps had become sleepy after a strenuous morning and a heavy lunch so that during the first class after eating “little or anything of the subject of the lecture penetrates the befogged brain,” he wrote:
I know that the heavy meal at noon is an Army tradition just as the overcooking and too early cooking of the meat is another practice that seems impossible to change. . . . It might be better to give them a light luncheon and the heavy meal at night. I sometimes think it has been the Army cooks who have controlled this situation, because almost all laboring men eat a light luncheon Yet when we got into the CCC we were forced to haul those boys sometimes fifteen or twenty miles in order to eat a heavy noon meal. This I believe was partly caused by the old mess sergeants that we brought in from the Army for the time being while the CCC was being launched.
After large military forces started moving overseas, the task of providing recreational facilities became a much heavier charge on military resources and required a greater degree of control. General Marshall watched this situation carefully because, as his Deputy, General McNar-
ney, wrote, “Our experience in France in 1913 and 1918 convinced us, particularly General Marshall, of the urgent necessity for a carefully devised system of providing some form of normal and healthful outlet for the soldiers’ physical and mental energies. . .
Especially concerned about remote garrisons, Marshall alerted the Special Services Division to the fact that Secretary of War Stimson had found no Army Extension courses available to men at Goose Bay, Labrador, on a recent visit there. “This, like the Pribilof Islands, Ascension Island, and other isolated posts, is exactly the type of station which needs the Army Extension courses.”
A strong supporter of the American Red Cross, General Marshall had announced a few days after the outbreak of war that “The Red Cross is recognized as the sole nonmilitary agency to operate with the expeditionary force during war.” This policy was sharply questioned by Hkrper Sibley, president of the United Service Organizations-which, in addition to its general contributions to entertainment of servicemen, represented the YMCA, the YWCA, the National Catholic Community Service, the Jewish Welfare Board, the Salvation Army, and the Nlational Travelers Aid Association. The Chief of Staff replied that the decision had been reached after careful study by the War and Navy departments. He explained that nonmilitary personnel had to be kept at a minimum in overseas theaters, noting that the Red Cross was especially organized for and accustomed “to rendering to military personnel the particular type of service which it will furnish in theaters of operation.” Its selection, he added, “was primarily influenced by the fact of its established position and international character.”
The Red Cross was soon under heavy attack similar to that sustained by the YMCA in World War I Some of the assaults came about because soldiers in Europe were unaware that the War Department had required that charges be made for refreshments in order to match requirements laid down by the British for their recreational units, and, Marshall recalled heatedly, “The reporters were just vicious . . . and I just pushed them aside and I said, ‘I have seen all this. You sicked [the dogs] on the YMCA in the First War and now you are sicking [them] on these people in this war. Well, I am not going to have it.’ ” He was not always successful in his defense. The organization became so unpopular with many troops that he found in 1950, as head of the American Red Cross, “one of my principal jobs . . . was to compose the press and all favorably to the Red Cross or at least abate this enmity. . . . It was wholly illogical, wholly illogical.”
Although General Osborn worked closely with Secretary Stimson, the Special Services director at times found that he could get active support in certain training centers and overseas theaters only by having the Chief of Staff’s full power behind him. “Sometimes, when things just got too hot for me,” Qsborn recalled, “I would send word I wanted to see General
Marshall, and he would always see me, usually very quickly, and would always listen, and sometimes he would pack me off; sometimes a little parentally he would say, ‘I don’t want to listen to this,’ but he would always listen, find out what it was, then he would tell me very clearly and definitely. Sometimes he would say . . . , ‘This is great, I hope it works, but I can’t back you on it.’ ”
In other matters General Marshall specifically directed Osborn to put into effect projects that he particularly favored. When it came to the organization of the soldiers’ magazine, Yank, the Chief of Staff explained to General Osborn how he wanted it done. Osborn recalled, “It was he who advised us to set it up in such a way that Mr. Stimson would find nothing objectionable in it, and he said, ‘Now you let me handle Mr. Stimson on this, don’t you talk to him about it.’ He told me very carefully who to
work with. I was under General Surles [for press-relations matters] . . . and I was under General Somervell for the rest of my operation. [Knowing] I was a great friend of Bob Patterson’s . . . General Marshall told me once, ‘I want you never to talk to Patterson about your work. It is not in Patterson’s field, and I want him to have nothing to do with it and I don’t want you to talk with him about it. Talk to Jack McCloy about it and Lovett.’ ”
Marshall continually felt that the role of the infantryman was over-looked by the press and by the War Department itself. Too often, he remarked, the pilot who flew airborne troops into action was decorated while the man who jumped from the planes and landed in the rear of the enemy remained unknown. Moreover he wrote in the fall of 1943 to his theater commanders, Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Harmon: “An aggressive skillful infantry is vital to our success and that the individual courage, stamina, pride and relentless purpose of the infantry soldier is essential for the infantry organization.” 10 Consequently he encouraged the efforts of the Infantry Journal (later Army magazine) to play up the infantry and to make available popular-priced books on the foot soldier.
Nearly a half year later he was pursuing the same theme. In one of his frequent reminders to the press-relations chief, he asked that greater efforts be made to improve the morale of infantrymen and to keep their numbers up to strength. Only 11 per cent of the Army (air and ground) were infantrymen, but they suffered 60 per cent of the casualties. “Men will stand almost anything,” he emphasized, “if their work receives public acknowledgment.” He then declared: “I am wondering just how we should go about dignifying the infantry rifleman. . . . It might well be charged that we have made the mistake of having too much of air and tank and other special weapons and units and too little of the rifleman for whom all these other combat arms must concentrate to get him forward with the least punishment and losses. 1 don’t want to discourage the rifleman and yet J want his role made clear and exalted. . . .” Marshall was dismayed in November 1944 when a public-opinion poll
conducted by the J. Walter Thompson Company at the War Department’s request showed that among groups of high-school boys and girls the Air Forces and Navy topped the Army in popularity, and when asked to pick their favorite branch of the ground forces, they put the infantry at the bottom of the list. Danger, discomfort, lack of promotion, lack of glamour were among the i tems stressed as counting against the infantry.’ Marshall continued McNair’s earlier campaign to get better publicity for
infantry actions and make the foot soldiers feel that they were remembered at home. But it was a battle he could never entirely win.
Marshall especially stressed the proper handling of decorations and awards. Since World War I he had insisted that a man’s performance in the field should be promptly commended. On his return from one journey abroad he asked that a kit of medals be assembled for his next trip containing more valuable ones than he had carried previously, so that he could personally recognize outstanding acts of heroism.
Before the United States had been at war a year, the Chief of Staff asked the President to establish special service medals for the American, European, African-Middle East, and Asiatic-Pacific theaters. Since troops had been in contact with the enemy for only a short time, Roosevelt suggested that they wait for six months. The Chief of Staff accepted the ruling but insisted that the work of men overseas be recognized. He wrote the President:
I am personally responsible for presenting the matter at this time. We have isolated garrisons scattered throughout the Pacific from Alaska to Australia. We have them in Labrador, Greenland, Iceland and many other places. Many of the men on this duty have been in position for more than a year and will probably continue in their present positions until the end of the war. We hope there will be no fighting in most of these garrisons but we must be ready for action. Morale is therefore an important factor and the difficulty of maintaining morale increases with the length of stay without active operations.
In the past the War Department has invariably been a year or more late in such matters and therefore lost all the favorable reaction that comes from the wearing of a ribbon. I had hoped that the more isolated the group the more immediate would be the recognition of such service for I know that the right to wear a ribbon, particularly by a wartime soldier, has a profound influence on the individual. It is rather pathetic how much importance they attach to this.
It seems likely that this letter turned the trick. Two months later the President approved the ribbons, and they were handed out to men almost as soon as they stepped ashore in foreign stations. The British, less generous than Marshall in making awards, were amused to find freshly arrived troops in the United Kingdom wearing the ETO ribbon solely for physically being there.
On the importance of Marshall’s arguments Lieutenant General George S. Patton’s testimony is striking. In mid-1943 he wrote Mrs. Marshall: “The medals which General Marshall has insisted on have had a wonderful effect, and I am sure that when we get the Bronze Battle Stars
this effect will be even further enhanced. The result of decorations works two ways. It makes the men who get them proud and determined to get more, and it makes the men who have not received them jealous and determined to get some in order to even up. It is the greatest thing we have for building a fighting heart.”
Desiring to reward members of the ground forces, the Chief of Staff proposed early in 1944 that a Bronze Star Medal be given “for heroic and meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military or naval operations against an enemy of the United States.” The President was uncertain. He feared that the medal might end up being given for normal performance of duty. He cited the case of one young man who, after a few months of service, sported ribbons from the Southwest Pacific, Aleutians, and the North Atlantic. “After five or six months in uniform, he is beginning to look like a Christmas tree.”
Defending the medals, Marshall replied through the service secretaries: “The latter proposal was initiated by me personally after I had obtained the comments of overseas commanders and had observed firsthand the effect of the awards of the Air Medal upon combat personnel of the Air Forces. The prompt award of this medal has been of tremendous value in sustaihing morale and fighting spirit.” Returning to the theme he had emphasized since World War I, he declared that “Decorations and service ribbons are of real value to the war effect only if promptly bestowed.” He granted that some men who were transferred from theater to theater or who served in numerous landings and bombing operations might fill up their chests with ribbons. “But these are a very few people, and I am concerned about the thousands who never see Pennsylvania Avenue and are doing their best in some difficult or dangerous or isolated post overseas.” The argument was persuasive. Roosevelt approved the letter and issued an Executive Order February 4, 1944, establishing the Bronze Star Medal.
In the minds of Marshall and McNair one thing more was still needed to reward the performance of men in the infantry-increased monthly pay-and they made a strong plea for it Ultimately, in mid-1944, they won the fight to issue Expert Infantryman and Combat Infantryman badges with additional monthly pay of five dollars for the first and ten dollars for the second.
The Chief of Staff also saw to it that the soldiers and civilians near the front were not overlooked Hearing that the European Theater ribbon was being awarded to field directors of the American Red Cross in that area, he wrote Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff: “I probably am entirely wrong but this would rather indicate that ribbons are being awarded to high rank rather than to the fellow who lives and works under shell fire Isn’t there some [Red Cross] girl somewhere there who has served under the hardships of an advanced post who might be added to such a list?”
If shortages of men and materiel prevented the Chief of Staff from filling the requests of commanders on various fronts, lie attempted to indicate the War Department’s gratitude for their services by some award. Although he realized that men in the field would have preferred additional men or supplies, he wanted them made aware at least that they were not forgotten. Once at a difficult time for the Southwest Pacific commander, when the bulk of American supplies was being rushed to Britain for the D-day build-up, Marshall asked General Handy: “What do you think of a DSM citation for MacArthur on his birthday?” Normally, he continued, they should wait for the fall of Rabaul or Kavieng, but the “latter is more Halsey’s show and Rabaul is a long way off maybe.”
Men thrive on praise and awards, Marshall realized, but even more they prize advancement for their efforts. I n peacetime, as he knew, able men were not always properly recognized for their services because of the Army’s rigid adherence to claims of seniority. When presidential adviser Marvin McIntyre passed on criticisms lie had heard of the number of general officers in Washington, Marshall seized the opportunity to inform the White House of his views on the importance of promotion to morale in wartime. He explained the proliferation of staff by citing the greatly increased tasks of the War Department ,over World War I. In addition to dealing with the responsibilities that the War Department had overseen in the earlier conflict, plus most of those that Generals Pershing and Harbord had administered in France, the current staff coordinated activities of numerous overseas theaters, handled the colossal program of furnishing military support for the Allies, and supervised the vast and complicated expansion of the Air Forces. The generals were not in Washington from choice, Marshall emphasized; they would prefer to be in more active theaters of action.
His officers were willing to do their duty without promotions, lie continued, but he needed the authority to advance juniors. Otherwise he had to use a senior officer who might be “on the side of mediocrity.” When an officer is charged with responsibility for thousands of men and hundreds of millions of dollars of materiel, he added, “it is only human that the individual should feel that he is receiving very poor treatment when he is denied a promotion-usually that of brigadier general which would give him prestige and therefore assist him in his job, and which literally does not cost the government a nickel.”
The General labored to keep the scales properly balanced in the case of senior officers, carefully explaining to theater commanders his reasons for advancing men in the War Department and asking that promotions of officers in the European and Pacific theaters keep pace. He chafed under the belief that his efforts in these matters were hampered by the President’s desire to appoint an admiral every time the War Department proposed the name of a new general, although the Army was much larger than the Navy. Periodically he insisted that the theater commanders re-
view their lists and include the names of those whose recent feats of arms or special performance deserved recognition.
At the end of 1943, after his’ trip around the world, Marshall directed his chief of personnel to investigate inequities in the promotion system that permitted rapid advancement at home and slow promotion abroad. Everywhere he had found lieutenants in important positions, rendering conspicuous service, who were held back because no vacancy existed in their units, while men at home with less service had been advanced. He declared: “This matter must be corrected and immediately. I am inclined to think that the instructions in the case are so complicated that nobody can figure them all out, but my interest is in ‘effect’ and I am not interested in background.” He noted that one of his stepsons, Clifton Brown, stationed with an antiaircraft unit in the United States, had been moved up automatically from second to first lieutenant in six months and then to captain in another six months. The other stepson, Allen Brown, reporting to an armored unit in North Africa, found four company commanders who were still first lieutenants. All had been in action, three had been wounded, and two had been cited for their actions.21
By constantly hammering at the need to promote fighting men first, Marshall solved some of the inequities in the cases of junior officers, although he was never completely satisfied with the results. When it came to three- and four-star generals, he found that until late in the war each promotion list had to be backed with all the persuasive arguments he and Stimson could muster. Acutely aware of congressional opposition to authorizing too many high-ranking officers, Roosevel t closely examined each proposed list Thus as late as mid-March 1945, Marshall found it necessary to prepare a detailed defense of his proposals to promote from three-star rank a roster comprised of such distinguished names as McNarney, Bradley, Spaatz, Kenney, Clark, Krueger, Devers, Somervell, and Handy. In sending his recommendations to Stimson the Chief of Staff declared: “It is difficult to make 2 or 3 of these promotions without giving serious offense and hurting morale. It is almost a case of all or none.”
Along with rewarding those who served Marshall carefully scrutinized the record of those excused from military service. He made little complaint regarding men exempt because of employment in agriculture or war industries, but insisted that deferment on other grounds be carefully examined. In November 1943 he took time out from the Cairo conference to instruct his Deputy Chief of Staff to inquire into the cases of two prominent athletes who had been turned down by Army doctors and that of a baseball catcher placed on limited duty because he had once broken two fingers. He declared:
I fear a serious scandal in this matter if this action was taken by Army doctors. It is ridiculous from my point of view to place on limited service a man who can catch with his broken fingers a fast ball. If he can’t handle a machine gun, I am no soldier. What I have in mind is to check up on these
particular cases, having the Inspector General go into the matter with the doctors concerned, to see if we are guilty of a serious dereliction. If the rejections were carried out by local boards, that is another matter, but if an Army officer on active duty is a participant, then we are responsible and I don’t want any damn nonsense about this thing. I have seen dozens of men with half a dozen serious complaints in addition to their years passed by their Army doctors-and now to find great athletes, football and baseball, exempted is not to be tolerated.
Early in January 1945 he told his chief deputy that “The physical-exemption business [has] reached the point in some cases of almost a racket,” adding that he frequently saw soldiers well up in years doing their jobs in the Army while others who engaged in strenuous sports at home were turned down for military service. He had already ordered that all exemptions of celebrities be reviewed; was it not possible also to examine the recommendations of doctors exempting athletes.
Similarly he asked General McNarney to look into the fact that a well-known musician had been deferred because of a punctured eardrum. Since ears were “vital to a musician, vocal or instrumental,” he could not understand the ruling. To make his intent plain he declared: “If an Army doctor deferred him I want to know just why.” When Marshall received a full report on the doctor’s action, he accepted it but continued to grumble about widespread deferments.
Along with the special decorations, articles and books on fighting units, and booklets on branches of the Army, General Marshall also sponsored the famous documentary movie series “Why We Fight,” made by Frank Capra. Designed to demonstrate the background of the war, the films showed simply but graphically the stories of the rise to power of Germany, Italy, and Japan; their attacks on France, the Soviet Union, China, and Great Britain: and the Allied efforts to fight back. Accompanied by lectures and lists of related readings, the films mixed solid history with pro-Allied propaganda aimed at strengthening the soldier’s will to win.
Marshall believed that few of the other Army information projects had as great an impact as the Capra series. But the role of a movie producer was not without its trials, as his account makes plain:
I [insisted] that the soldier be informed of what he was fighting for. At first they prepared pamphlets-very well prepared by experts from colleges and the like-but I found as a rule that they were presented after lunch and the man was tired and he went to sleep and the company commander who was explaining the thing was a very poor actor or performer. So I called Frank Capra, the leading motion-picture director at that time, and had him prepare the films, which were a complete education, I think, on the’war to civilians as well as to recruits in the Army. And I had to do it, you might say, on the q.t. I never allowed the Secretary of War to see it or the White House to see it until we had it [an individual film] finished.
The President was thrilled by it, and he still had a great many ideas. We got [one] over to the White House . . . and I didn’t get it away for months. I had
to get it out to the troops in two weeks I was raising an Army and I required that every soldier see [the film] before he left the United States. I remember the reports they gave me of the millions that [later] saw it. Mr. Churchill got hold of them and showed them all over England and even prepared and delivered an introduction to the films. I think they are one of the best educational set-ups that I have ever seen, and they are very interesting and they were done very expertly. They were amusing, they were serious, they were tremendous in their scope.
I remember I took Mrs. Churchill over to see one that had not been released. And I remember I would only do it on the basis that she would not mention it to anyone at the White House Field Marshal Dill [brought] her . . . and we went to the little War Department projection room in the Pentagon. . . . She cried, she laughed, and she was just thrilled to the last and begged me to let the Prime Minister see it. I said . . . “I don’t want him to speak to the President because I am not ready for the President to see it yet. . . .” Frankly, I wanted to get it on the road, because I knew . . we would fool around for a month or two trying to get the thing fixed up. And time was golden with me. . . .
Well, she promised me, and then she went [back to the White House] and got to talking with Harry Wopkins. Hopkins got [me] on the phone and said the Prime Minister wanted to see it. (Mr. Roosevelt was away at the time.) Mr. Churchill came to the telephone and said he wanted to see it right away. “Well,” I said, “I’m sorry, Mr Churchill, because I don’t want that’ to get out until it’s ready because I will have all sorts of trouble with it if it does.” . . . “Well,” he said, “I’m asking you, I’m asking you.” And I said, “I know you are, Mr. Churchill, and I know you are the Prime Minister . . . and you are the guest of the President, but he hasn’t seen it yet and you are not going to see it ahead of him.” “Well,” he said, “when are you going to show it to him?” I said, “When it is finished. It isn’t finished.” . . .
[At last] I sent it over and Churchill . . . immediately sent back word [that he] wanted to take it to England. “Well,” I said, “you can’t do that until the President sees it.” “Well,” he said, “I’m going to hurry it up.” “Well,” I said, “it’s the last damn thing you are going to get from me if you try to hurry it up. I’m doing a job and you are interfering. . . .” “Well,” he said, “you certainly are stubborn.” I said, “I am not half as stubborn as you are. But I’m not going to get this out.” I said, “I am very, very fond of Mrs. Churchill, but I will never forgive her for telling you, because I might have known this would happen.”
I didn’t send it over to Mr. Roosevelt for quite a long time. And they kept it for four months. Meanwhile three million troops had seen it. I wouldn’t let it go until three million men had seen it. . . . And every moving-picture house in England showed it. And the English people got this education and were very crazy about it. And I always thought it was very tragic that our people didn’t get the chance to see the pictures.
Marshall also gave his strong support to the development of soldier publications. Since the early days of his service he had recognized the value of unit ‘newspapers throughout the Army, and he was therefore pleased when Major General James E. Ghaney, commanding general of U.S. Army Forces in the British Isles, requested permission to resurrect Stars and Strtpes, the soldiers’ newspaper of World War I, for distribution to his forces. In London in midApril, Marshall welcomed the reborn journal. Asked to comment for the first edition of the newspaper, which
had originally appeared in Paris from February 8, 1918, to June 13, 1919, he declared:
Like any other veteran of the A E F. in France, I am delighted to welcome the new version of The Stars and Strtpes. By a fortunate coincidence I happen to be in England as it comes off the press.
“I do not believe that any one factor could have done more to sustain the morale of the A.E.F. than The Stars and Stripes,” wrote General Pershing of this soldier newspaper. We have his authority for the statement that no official control was ever exercised over the matter which went into The Stars and Stripes. “It always was entirely for and by the soldier,” he said. This policy is to govern the conduct of the new publication.
From the start The Stars and Stripes existed primarily to furnish our officers and men with news about themselves, their comrades and the homes they had left behind across the sea. A soldiers’ newspaper, in these grave times, is more than a morale venture It is a symbol of the things we are fighting to preserve and spread in this threatened world. It represents the free thought and free expression of a free people.
I wish the staff every success in this important venture. Their responsibility includes much more than the publication of a successful paper. The morale, in fact the military efficiency of the American soldiers in these Islands, will be directly affected by the character of The Stars and Stripes of 1942.
A few weeks later the Chief 01 Staff gave his blessings to the publication of a weekly soldiers’ magazine, Yank, to be sold at five cents a copy. The first issue, which appeared on June 17, 1942, created a furor by an unfortunate juxtaposition on the cover. The headline “WHY WE FIGHT: F.D.R.” (pertaining to an inspirational statement inside) was accompanied by a picture showing a soldier with a handful of’money-referring to the new pay raise that increased a private’s pay from $21 to $50 a month. Other protests arose because of the photographs of pin-up girls-relatively unclad for the 1940s-which proved to be the favorite feature of the magazine. Yet Marshall continued to back Yank as an aid to soldier morale. He particularly stressed the importance of iis distribution to isolated posts. I n the fall of 1943, he wrote General Eisenhower: “Your theater [is] the only one in which the weekly newspaper-Yank-was not on [sale]. , . . It is exceedingly well done. . . .” Eisenhower attributed the absence of Yank to lack of shipping space for printer’s ink but said that would soon be remedied.
At times Marshall must have had to restrain himself when he saw the degree to which the new citizen soldier would go in his statements to and in the press. He sometimes longed for the oldtime soldier who would carry out orders without appealing the Army’s decisions to the press or to members of Congress. In his own day, however, he went considerably further to condone dissent than the old Army would have. He understood General Patton’s frustrations with cartoonists and writers of The Stars and
Stripes, but he approved General Eisenhower’s moderate approach. On censorship he said:
I think in a democratic army a paper such as [Stars and Stripes] is quite essential as long as you don’t find some individuals who are rather brilliant [who] take particular joy in [taking] cracks at the officer corps or a particular commander. I t is very difficult to control that because if you begin to restrain it, the paper loses its caste as the voice of the enlisted man. In an army of democracy that is pretty nearly a necessity, and for that reason I was in favor of the paper though it was very provoking to commanders and all who had responsibility for [it]. . I had seen it in the First World War. I knew General Pershing’s problems with it. Some very famous writers came out of the [first] Stars and Stripes. And he had to uphold them against the strictures of the troop commanders who were violent over what Stars and Stripes used to write. . . .
Marshall’s constant interest in winning the confidence of the citizen soldier was demonstrated especially in his determination to prevent bitterness and confusion in the handling of demobilization at the close of the war. As early as the summer of 1943 he directed a special staff in the War Department to make certain that the redeployment and demobilization phases ‘would proceed with as little friction and discomfort as possible and that every attempt be made to reduce inequities. Point systems for discharge, well-organized redeployment centers, special instruction centers, and leave centers were all on the drawing boards months before they were needed. He also looked beyond the war’s end to the return home and to such matters as Reserve training after the war. Reminding his colleagues that they would then have to proceed differently with civilian soldiers, he warned them not to try to cram too much into the program of candidates for commissions. Remember “the peacetime state of mind,’’ he urged.
Informing his colleagues in the Joint Chiefs of Staff of his special task force on demobilization, General Marshall at the end of July 1943 declared that the time was swiftly approaching when the armed forces would have to integrate their programs with those of twenty-three civilian agencies, such as Selective Service and the War Manpower Commission. He noted that planning was proceeding on the assumptions that (1) the war in Europe would be terminated one year before the end of the war in the Pacific; (2) partial demobilization would begin with V-E Day; and (8) the United States would furnish a share of the interim emergency forces to keep order. T h e postwar force to be left in Europe was estimated at 400,000, and it was assumed that at the moment of victory in Europe the forces in the Pacific would total 2,200,000. Possible delay of demobilization to avoid economic dislocations in the United States would not be included in the assumptions but would be considered later. The General personally assumed the task of arranging suitable receptions for officers and men after the war. Top generals and highly decorated enlisted men were to be sent to key cities across the country, preferably near their home towns, so that the whole country could have a share in the tribute. All that would have to wait until V-E Day for fruition, but
the effort was part of a grand design to which the Chief of Staff was committed. The basis of his thinking was a point that he made to General Eisenhower near the close of the war in Europe. Writing of the postwar period, Marshall remarked that men liked to get away from the regimentation and narrow confines of a system that gave them little initiative and would welcome a short holiday where they could arrange something for themselves. Was it not possible, he asked, that two or three men be allowed to take a jeep and some rations and go out on their own for a two-day trip. Naturally the plan could not be implemented fully in the period immediately after the war ended because it would involve hundreds of thousands of men at a time when transportation would be at a premium and food difficult to supply. The fact that Marshall thought of it and that Eisenhower undertook the experiment on even a small scale showed something of the humanness of the two generals.
Marshall, Eisenhower, and Bradley, accused at times of pampering soldiers, all believed that the individuality of the American soldier, however difficult it made his training, was a priceless element that must be preserved. Marshall could not understand Churchill’s atti tude toward the common soldier. In an interview in 1957 Marshall referred with evident disapproval to the fact that the Prime Minister sometimes spoke of privates as “the dull mass.”
Few men valued more than did Marshall, who had dealt with the militia, National Guard, and Reservists most of his adult life-after attending a military school whose graduates with few exceptions were intended to enter civilian life-the maintenance of individual spirit and the need for the individual soldier to know his job and its importance to the nation. He insisted on discipline and respect for leadership, but he never ceased to demand that the soldier be treated as a thinking human being.
As he would show in his final report as Chief of Staff near the end of 1945 and in his tour of duty as Secretary of Defense, in 1950 and 1951, lie was opposed to a large standing army in time of peace and strongly in favor of universal military training to produce a citizen army, which he believed firmly was the safeguard of a democratic system. He had favored the Selective Service System as the fairest and most effective method of raising millions of men quickly for the task of fighting World War II.
Marshall accepted dissent and fiisagreement as an element of a democratic society and slowness in preparation for defense as a part of the American attitude toward war. He recognized the advantages that dictatorships enjoy in being able to control men and materiel and to choose the suitable time to strike. And yet he believed that in the long run fortune favored the democracies. He said further in 1957:
As to dictatorships, I think they have a very easy time of it at the start. They
very easily can get ahead of us-way ahead of democracies. I think that when
they start to break down, they go to pieces completely. And then democracy
gradually gets stronger as it goes along. . . . You can take our battle in the last
war, when time after time there would be threats against the strength of the Army, and these various groups in this country would fight successfully against it. And of course we have to remember that if we carry out our main policy of keeping the war out of the United States, we are always up against a very expensive proposition of transport overseas, which runs the costs into billions and billions, and the management of the Army and the character of the Army has to be very, very carefully considered because you are not at home-you are not guarding your own fireside.
Among the serious soldier problems Marshall had to deal with was the question of the place the Negro should occupy in the armed forces, an issue that was not settled then, despite his efforts to gain equal treatment for all men in the Army. One must not claim too much for him. More than a decade before the first Supreme Court decision on segregation in schools, he did not expect to break down the powerful social barriers that existed in American society between whites and blacks. Like Stimson, Eisenhower, and most other military leaders of that era, Marshall did not propose-even if he had been able to do so-to use the Army to impose social reforms. As an instructor of the’ Illinois National Guard and as chief of instruction at the Infantry School, he demanded fair treatment for Negro officers. As Chief of Staff, he worked on the problem with his Chief of Personnel, Major General John H. Hilldring, who had been specifically directed by Secretary Stiinson to assure equal opportunity for Negroes eligible for commissions.
Marshall agreed with General Hilldring that equality of opportunity did not require commissioning a number of Negro officers proportionate to the ratio of Negroes to white men and officers in the Army-if that involved giving officer rank to men unqualified for it. He asked his Chief of Personnel, before drawing up a statement of policy, to talk with Judge William R Hastie, special adviser on Negro affairs to Secretary Stimson, and three or four black leaders outside the government.
Hilldring found Negro leaders willing to accept this position provided that true equality of opportunity for commissions existed for qualified Negroes. He believed that they were convinced of the Chief of Staff’s fairness in this matter. “General Marshall’s advocacy of this policy was eloquent and persuasive, magnificent. . . . We adopted the policy. Mr. Stimson watched it, McCloy watched it like an eagle for a year or so, and I think the remaining days I was in G-1, I worked harder on that than . . . anything else, to get the word across to every commanding general in the
field that this was the law and that regardless of their attitude about it the colored man would be given an equal opportunity. Of course, the policy worked well, and probably nothing we did in the war helped the colored man more than this policy We commissioned thousands and thousands of officers, colored officers, . . . they did very good jobs because they were qualified before they were commissioned.”
In recalling this period, Marshall particularly praised Eisenhower’s use
of Negro soldiers in the battle of the Ardennes: “In [this] fighting . . with a special percentage – I believe it was about fifteen per cent – of Negroes in the company, they put up a very splendid show. All along it was quite evident that what they lacked was leadership. I know that was so clear in the Meuse-Argonne battle [in World War I]. And I had personally to deal with this, with the troops-in the reorganization and their movement-of the colored units that were on the left of the First Army in that fighting. It was lack of leadership-lack of confidence of the men in their noncommissioned officers and particularly in their officers-that they had not developed that far.’’
Impressed by the work of Dr. F. D. Patterson, President of Tuskegee Institute, General Marshall made an effort to give full backing to a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program there. Later he added a preflight training course, of which both he and Patterson were especially proud. In 1942, in acknowledging Patterson’s letter of appreciation for the War Department’s policy on training Negro troops, General Marshall replied: “The War Department is doing its utmost, consistent with military interests, to treat all races, communities and states evenly and fairly in the assignment and training of troops. Your response is a refreshing indication that our efforts are meeting with public approval.”
A year later, in thanking Marshall for a personal cash contribution to Tuskegee’s fund drive, Patterson wrote: ‘‘I am almost embarrassed by your generous contribution to Tuskegee Institute for I regard you as already one of our benefactors. I am constantly grateful for what you have done to make it possible for Tuskegee Institute to render a large measure of service to the war effort through its ROTC and its aviation programs, which now include preflight training. This further contribution to our work makes me more grateful than I can tell you. . . ”
Marshall’s interest in the programs at Tuskegee continued after the war’s end. A few weeks before he left office, he discussed with Patterson the future training programs at the institute. Marshall treasured the letter in which Patterson expressed his appreciation:
I am most grateful to you for the conference granted me in connection with the future plans for aviation and military training at Tuskegee Institute. I appreciate the interest shown not only by yourself but by other members of the Army to whom you directed me. I left with a feeling that the Army has done a superb job in the war effort in spite of numerous difficulties and the necessity for harmonizing the opinions and actions of every race and creed in America.
Your sympathetic interest in Tuskegee Institute and your overall awareness of problems faced by Negroes in America and your desire to see practical constructive steps taken for a solution of these problems leave me profoundly grateful for your interest and friendship.
Not only did Marshall push efforts to secure equality of treatment, but he personally advanced outstanding Negro leaders, such as the elder Benjamin O. Davis, the first blackofficer to gain a star and the father of an
airman who would rise rapidly in the Air Force and retire as a lieutenant general. By current standards, Marshall’s acts would be judged paternalistic, favoring so-called Uncle Tomism rather than black self-assertion. He later described some of the opposition he received from militant black leaders:
It was a very trying thing to me with the political pressures-the political attitude generally in regard to a question of this kind-and the very unfortunate statements on the other side of the question by men who should have known better than to talk as they did. We had very splendid men, of course, just as we have now-men like Bunche and others. The President at Tuskegee
Institute was quite a friend of mine. And yet he was very much criticized by his own [people]-criticized because in a sense he was what I would call an evolutionist while they were revolutionists. In order to give him status, I would turn over my plane as Chief of Staff so that he could move from place to place in connection with his duties to help us in these matters.
But it was a very difficult thing to do and he probably was more criticized than almost any of the people concerned with this business. Yet he was the one that was supporting me in trying in every way to do what he could in the way that Booker T. Washington would have done.
But there were militant black leaders who also found it possible to praise the Chief of Staff. Judge Hastie, a vigorous supporter of equal treatment for Negro officers and men, made this clear in 1943 when resigning his position as special adviser to Stimson. He wrote Marshall: “While I have avoided imposing upon you personally the details of various specific problems with which this office has been concerned, I have been aware at all times of your concern that the Negro be equitably treated in the armed services. Although I have come to the conclusion that the greater good is to be accomplished by my withdrawal from the War Department at this time, I am keenly aware that your good will has been an all important factor in those things which this office has been able to accomplish during the past two years.”
All this was the beginning of a slow process that was not to change sharply until after World War II. As Secretary of Defense, Marshall would help apply a policy of integration by which the Army made more effective use of the Negro soldier in combat than in the past. Several years later in reflecting on the handling of Negro troops in World War II, the General concluded that many Negroes had suffered by being sent to the South for training. He explained: “I wanted the camps kept largely in the South because they didn’t have to have as much construction as they
would in a northern climate, and in addition . . . they could train outdoors for more days in the year. . . . I completely overlooked the fact [of], the tragic part of having these Northern Negroes in a Southern community. We couldn’t change the bus arrangement, we couldn’t change any of the things of that nature, and they found themselves very much circumscribed-to them outrageously so-because they were in there to train to fight for their country and put their lives ostensibly on the line,
and they were being denied . . . things that the white troops accepted as a matter of course. . . . ”
Aware of particular problems that the Negro divisions and special units had faced, Marshall was watchful of their first performance in battle. In early 1944 he wrote Major General Millard F. Harmon in the Pacific that he wished him to take special notice of the first commitment of the predominantly black 93d Division in action. “The Secretary of War and I both feel it essential that it not, repeat not, be committed prior to adequate preparation.” The first reports, he added, would undoubtedly be headlined, and it was important that the news releases be “strictly factual.” “The War Department has been under constant pressure for alleged failure to utilize Negro soldiers in a combat capacity.” He wanted a report on their activity after they had gone into battle. What he learned was disappointing. Despite excellent work by some of the units, particularly the artillery, the division’s combat activity was rated below that of other units in the area. In the end the division spent much of its time in mopping-up areas, handling thousands of prisoners and relieving units that went on to other combat assignments. Representatives of Negro organizations felt that, despite Marshall’s statement that the men would be used when feasible and MacArthur’s assurances that race would not affect future combat assignments, the division would not be used in battle to the extent white divisions would be.
Like many of his colleagues, General Marshall believed that the chaplain plays a tremendously important role in maintaining soldier morale. Not only does the chaplain minister to religious needs, but his office provides a place to which a soldier can bring his personal problems without being considered a malingerer or troublemaker. Realizing that the chaplain might be at a disadvantage if he was regarded as an appendage to the command, General Marshall upgraded the Chief of Chaplains to the rank of major general and made him an officer of the line, while insisting that members of the corps be addressed as “chaplain” rather than as “lieutenant” or “colonel” or “major,” an arrangement that kept the chaplain in the field from measuring rank with his superiors or with the men seeking his advice. To make certain that commanders recognized the importance of the chaplain, Marshall insisted that maintenance of proper chaplain service in units be regarded as a responsibility of command.
The Chief of Staff believed that he was singularly fortunate in having as Chief of Chaplains an experienced officer, Monsignor (later Bishop) William Arnold. Near the end of December 1944 a prominent attorney who was an old friend of Secretary Stimson’s wrote the Secretary that some of the top men in the Regular Army chaplaincy were not as strong as the men they supervised and that some critics believed that under Arnold, the Catholic influence in the Chaplains’ Corps had become too strong. He proposed that Arnold be replaced at the end of his tour of duty by a
Methodist, Colonel Milton O. Beebe, Chief Chaplain of the Mediterra-
nean Theater of Operations, or an Episcopalian, Colonel Luther Miller, Chief Chaplain of the Sixth Army in the Pacific.
General Marshall accepted the first charge but reacted sharply against the second. He agreed that there was mediocrity in some of the senior chaplain ranks, which he had been unable to counter “in quite the same drastic fashion I followed with the troop commands. Chaplain Arnold is well aware of this and has been, I am quite certain, embarrassed by the fact that certain of his assistants were not up to the desired standard.” But he would hear no criticism of Arnold. “He himself, in my opinion, has been splendid. I doubt if many realize the terrific pressures under which he has been forced to operate and the successful manner in which he has met these pressures and preserved a unified front in the Chaplain[s’] Corps. He is an excellent administrator and, in my opinion, a strong character, therefore I place great dependence on him.”
Aware that a Protestant bishop had prompted Stimson’s friend to complain, Marshall wrote scathingly that if Arnold leaned on Catholic chaplains in his office, it was because he could not get the proper men from Protestant ranks. ‘‘In my opinion, and speaking very frankly, the great weakness in the matter has been that of the Protestant churches in the selection of their ministry. The Catholic system [of assigning able young priests to the Chaplains’ Corps] provides a much higher average of leadership, judging by my own experiences, and the Protestant churches are too
kindhearted in their admission of lame ducks.”
As to the successor, Marshall admitted that he had not known that Arnold was nearing the end of his tour. If there was to be a change, he would select Chaplain Luther Miller, who had been “rather a protege of mine” in Tientsin in the 1920s, where “we ran the church [attendance] up from an attendance of eight men to standing room only.” Meanwhile, he asked the head of G-1, Major General S. G. Henry, to look into the complaints discreetly, avoiding anything that “smacks of an investigation.”
The Chief of Personnel’s inquiry upheld Marshall’s contentions concerning Chaplain Arnold. He reported that there was no even flow of chaplains by denomination and that proper distribution among religions could not be made in wartime. He denied that Catholics predominated in Arnold’s office and emphasized that supervisory jobs were assigned on the basis of experience rather than denomination. He found that Arnold had done an outstanding job but, unlike Marshall, saw no evidence that any one denominational group was considered stronger in intellect, character,
and general effectiveness than any other gr0up.
Recognizing that criticism such as he had received could prove harmful to Arnold’s efforts, Marshall took a way out that kept the Monsignor’s strong leadership for the Army and at the same time removed the office of the Chief of Chaplains from attack. Instead of extending Arnold’s tour of duty when it expired, as he had intended, he called Luther Miller back to
Washington. But on the day of the Chief of Chaplains’ retirement, Marshall announced that Arnold would remain on active duty as a member of the Inspector General’s Office with special authority to ensure that the chaplains throughout the world functioned properly.
To all bereaved parents and wives General Marshall sought to offer a sign of personal condolence. Very early in the war he himself wrote each individual, but as casualties rose sharply, he was forced to rely on an engraved card, which followed the official telegram from the Adjutant General, Many recipients did not reply, but some were obviously deeply moved. A letter from one father, which brought a grateful reply from the Chief of Staff, said:
My son was killed in action in Italy on February 21st I have received the chaplain’s letter, the letter confirming the telegram, the card from your office. It is astonishing to me that a procedure, which must of necessity be a matter of routine, can be handled with such tact, dignified simplicity, and, above all, with such a personal touch I am told that you are the man who has breathed the spirit into this procedure, and I am deeply grateful to you.
It has helped me to write this letter I hope that you may see it and derive some gratification from the knowledge that you have achieved your purpose in conveying a very human spirit when that is the thing that is most needed.
In cases where two or three members of the same family met death, Marshall promptly sent personally signed letter. One such read.
I have just learned that it has been determined that your twin sons Carl and Clarence were killed in action last December. Please accept my deep sympathy in your overwhelming loss While few American families have been completely spared from the tragic consequences of this terrible struggle, you have been called upon for a much greater sacrifice than most and I pray that you will find the faith and strength to endure your loss.
In addition he sought, where possible, to shift other members of a bereaved family to safe assignments. At times members of his staff would point out that the serviceman involved had not asked for special treatment or that the arrangement was not in accord with regulations. Usually his reply was a curt demand that the man be given noncombatant duty if he so desired.
Never the cold and unemotional man he was reputed to be, Marshall revealed intense feeling in his letters and conversations as the casualty lists grew. He had been personally hit hard early in the war as he read the rosters of dead, wounded, and missing in the Philippines and at Pearl Harbor, because they included old friends and children of old friends. Guadalcanal extended the lists, and then North Africa and the battles that followed flooded his office with reminders of the war’s staggering cost. The General was no Patton who could scream imprecations at a soldier one moment and sob brokenly over a fallen rifleman the next. But he was touched by bills of death regularly presented.
He was proud of the sons of high-placed officers who had served bravely
and sought no special treatment. To Major General Willis D. Crittenberger, then a corps commander in Italy, whose young son, a corporal, was killed in tank action in Germany, he wrote: ‘‘I have just learned that your boy was killed in action. . . . You have my full sympathy. I am grateful for the large contribution which you and your sons have made to the Allied victory over Germany. It is most distressing to me that Townsend was called upon for the highest sacrifice. I hope that your pride in his great service will be an eternal solace to you.”
Marshall was moved by the concluding paragraphs of General Crittenberger’s reply: “As an eighteen year old boy [Corporal Townsend W. Crittenberger] saw his duty very clearly, and chose to do it all on his own, asking no favors. Because of this and the fact that he went out shooting, my pride knows no bounds.”
As the tempo of battle increased, Marshall had a growing number of personal letters to sign. Colonel Hines, son of General J. L. Hines, Pershing’s successor as Chief of Staff, was blinded in action; Colonel William Draper of Stimson’s staff lost a son; the son of General McNair followed his father in death within a matter of days, two oceans away. Marshall’s note of sympathy to Harry Hopkins on the death of his son drew the reply: “The blow was hard and biting but I am overwhelmingly proud of Stephen. Then too I am sure he died as gallantly as he lived through a
short but happy life. As for Robert, I hope you will not send for him. The last time I saw him in Tunis he told me he wanted to stay until we got to Berlin-in fact we have both agreed to meet there.”
For some the sense of loss was too great to be assuaged by card or letter. One anguished father wrote of the death of his son, graduate of two universities, married for several years, father of a young daughter. “Your card of sympathy, received yesterday, to the widow,” he said, “was about the last straw.” He blamed the death on inadequate training. “In exactly six months from the date of his enlistment, he was landed in France, ill pre-pared and was immediately sent across France into Belgium and I presume with Hodges’ First Army and no doubt ordered to take some position with his machine gun and was mowed down like rats. My family feels that he was actually murdered for lack of sufficient training.”
In 1944, several months after the death of Mrs. Marshall’s younger son, the grieving mother of an infantry soldier killed in action wrote Secretary Stimson, who had sent her a letter of condolence. The last paragraph particularly struck the Chief of Staff: “I hope this letter is read by some one more in authority than a teen age secretary. And I do thank you for the wording of your letter. The reaction to it was better than to General Marshall’s engraved card. If I were he I would save the Government’s funds.”
Marshall promptly drafted a letter explaining the impossibility of writing a personal letter to relatives of all men killed in action. Members of his staff urged that he not send it. McCarthy pointed out that most people
who wrote had expressed appreciation for the card. General Handy, aware of his Chief’s solicitude, put it even more bluntly: ‘‘I doubt the advisability of any reply. No explanation or apology for the cards is called for, many people do appreciate them. If [the writer] does not realize that you cannot take personal cognizance of the death of each soldier, if she believes you have no real feeling of distress at these tragedies, the letter will not change her. I see your feeling in this matter, but it is another burden you will have to bear.” [Italics supplied.]
Marshall desisted for a few days until an even more bitter letter prompted by the card arrived: “I have received word today that my husband . . . was killed in action. I hope that those who are responsible for his return to active duty are satisfied that four small children are left without their good father and I without my husband. God’s curses on all of them.”
This time no one attempted to stop the General. The burden was something he could not bear alone in silence. The earlier draft was amended to drop any defense of the sympathy card, since its use had not been called into question, and sent as initially penned:
Your [recent] letter . . . expressing resentment over the death of your husband . . . has been brought to my attention. I much regret the bitterness you express toward the War Department and I wish to indicate to you something of the situation confronting the Army.
The tragedy of the war has struck homes all over America. It has reached my family, Mrs. Marshall’s younger son having been killed in a tank battle in Italy. Her other son and her son-in-law are fighting in Germany. The sons and husbands of many of our friends have been added to the casualty lists, and the losses suffered by the families of Regular Army officers have been exceptionally heavy. So I can well appreciate the depth of the blow that has struck at your happiness and your future, and I therefore regret all the more your present feeling of bitterness.
I witnessed the same tragic aftermath of the battles in the last war and because of my position the daily casualty lists bring to me the full impact of the tragedy of war I deplore the unfortunate policies this country has followed which [have] led us into unpreparedness and, I think, possibly have failed to avoid wars with their fearful cost to young Americans and to the progress and peaceful prosperity of the country.
He had made his defense. But it brought no peace of mind. Casualty lists were one daily event to which he never became accustomed.
Determined to utilize the nation’s resources to the fullest in waging the war, Marshall vigorously supported the long-unsuccessful efforts to authorize women to participate in the Army. His energetic efforts on behalf of this somewhat controversial policy went, of course, far beyond publicity, but he made shrewd use of that instrument on occasion-and demonstrated his pervading sense of fairness.
During the Tunisian fighting, the Chief of Staff sent a sharp note to his
Director of Public Relations on the handling of news pertaining to one of his favorite organizations, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. “It seems to me,” he wrote, “that very poor use is being made of the best publicity possibilities in the WAAC organization.” He pointed out that the first group of WAAC officers sent to North Africa in December 1942 had been on a ship that had been torpedoed and that they had been picked up by a destroyer after losing most of their personal belongings. (He did not mention that he himself, at his own expense, obtained replacement clothing for them.) During the Casablanca conference they had been entertained at dinner by the President and the Prime Minister. They had been traveling in fairly high circles, he observed dryly, but apparently there had been no public comment.
Much more was involved in Marshall’s memorandum than a lesson in public relations. The General was keenly interested in proclaiming the value of the Women’s Corps that he had fought so hard to establish and to have accepted by the Army. His message was one of many steps he took to ensure proper recognition of women’s role in wartime activities.
An attempt had been made in World War I to get Army status for women when General Pershing asked for women assistants, especially telephone operators who spoke French, for overseas service. Some women employees were sent but without military status. Toward the end of the war the commanding general of the Services of Supply asked for 5000 women clerks, but he was informed that limited-service males could do the work and that there was no necessity for “a radical departure” at that time. Less conservative in this respect, the Navy actually enlisted some 13,000 women in the Navy and Marine Corps, but the Army only talked about the idea.
In 1920 Secretary of War Newton D. Baker recognized the changing status of women in public affairs to the extent of appointing a Director of Women’s Relations in the War Department with the task of selling women’s organizations in the United States on the value of the United States military establishment. In a period when the Army was shrinking in size and interest in military affairs was becoming vestigial, the lady in charge of this office was virtually ignored. In 1931 the Chief of Staff, General MacArthur, informed the Secretary of War that the office was of no military value.
Between 1920 and 1939 little real effort was made to plan for the use of women in the Army in future emergencies A proposal to raise a force of 170,000 in time of war was rejected in 1926. In 1928 a more detailed plan was set forth by Major Everett S Hughes of the C-1 Division, but it was buried so deeply that it did not resurface until more than a decade later, after the WAAC had been in existence for six months. When a friendly chief of G-1, Brigadier General Albert J Bowley, appeared on the scene in 1930, he got so little encouragement for the proposed use of women in
the Army that he concluded that we “may as well suspend; no one seems willing to do anything about it ”
In October 1939, a month after General Marshall became Chief of Staff, a serious study was made on the value of a women’s corps in case of war. The growing use of women in war work in the United Kingdom spurred this planning, General Marshall’s views were first expressed publicly in the spring of 1941 when he wrote an inquirer that while the United States did not have Britain’s acute manpower shortage, “we must plan for every possible contingency, and certainly must provide some outlet for the patriotic desires of our women,” A short time afterward Mrs. Edith Nourse Rogers, Republican representative from Massachusetts, who had served in the American Red Cross in France in World War I and who had been active in veterans’ affairs after succeeding her husband in Congress in 1925, informed General Marshall that the time had come for legislation to permit the use of women in Army activities. The Chief of Staff asked for a short time-and then an extension-to help prepare legislation that would meet the Army’s needs. The view of some Army officials was reflected in the statement of the Chief of Personnel in April 1941 that Mrs. Rogers had a bill and Mrs. Roosevelt had a plan and that the purpose of the G-1 study was to organize a women’s force along the lines that met with War Department approval “so that when it is forced upon us, as it undoubtedly will be, we shall be able to run it our way.”
With White House encouragement and assistance from the War Department, Mrs. Rogers introduced her bill at the end of May 1941. Almost alone among ,War Department officials, General Marshall greeted the plan with enthusiasm rather than apprehension. Colonel Hilldring, soon to be G-1 of the War Department, said later that the Chief of Staff “was intensely interested” by the summer of 1941. Because Marshall foresaw that the great bottleneck of the future would be manpower, he pushed the legislation. War had become a complicated business requiring many civilian techniques, he told Hilldring, and many of these were in the hands of women. He saw no reason, for example, to train men as telephone operators or typists when most of those jobs in civilian life were handled by women. There was another point. Hilldring recalled: “The Chief of Staff was also influenced by the fact that the ladies wanted in; he literally has a passionate regard for democratic ideals.” Several snags slowed passage of the legislation through Congress. One of the most serious developed in the Bureau of the Budget, whose director informed Secretary Stimson on October 7, 1941, that he did not believe that “the enactment of the proposed legislation, at least at the present time, should be considered as being in accord with the program of the
President.” General Marshall asked that the report on the measure be rewritten for reconsideration by the Bureau of the Budget-but not submitted before he was personally notified. Meanwhile he set to work to
reduce opposition to the measure. In addition to making a personal call to the Bureau of the Budget and helping to rewrite the report, he made use of all the allies he could find at hand. In one case he was more successful than he could have foreseen.
Earlier in the year the Bureau of Public Relations of the War Department had proposed the establishment of a Women’s Interests Section in its Planning and Liaison Branch to help answer questions of wives and mothers of men in the service. As its chief the department had obtained Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby, a Texan involved in various women’s activities, who agreed to serve for a limited time. Mrs. Hobby, then only thirty-six, was the wife of a former governor of the state. In her twenties she had served as a parliamentarian of the Texas legislature. Shortly after she took on her new duties, she asked the Chief of Staff to stimulate interest in the new program by speaking at a meeting of the national presidents of the twenty-one largest women’s organizations to be held in Washington in mid-October. It was at that meeting that the General met Mrs. Hobby for the first time. She subsequently sent him a cordial letter thanking him for his contribution, which “was of exceptional interest to the visiting national club leaders and certainly played-a large part in making the meeting valuable, both to the Women’s Section and to members of the Advisory Council.”
Although Mrs. Hobby’s section had not been established as a headquarters to lobby for the Women’s Corps bill, her knowledge of women’s problems and her relations with women’s organizations made her help invaluable to the bill’s progress. In mid-November she attracted General Marshall’s attention with a report of a conversation she had recently had with Mrs. Roosevelt, who wished to know if the bill was broad enough to permit the War Department to use women “in anti-air barrage activities and similar fields of endeavor in which women are now being used in England.” Mrs. Hobby added in the report that she thought that all useful ways of using women were anticipated and included in the bill. Sensing that he had a skillful advocate, Marshall directed the GI : ‘‘Please utilize Mrs. Hobby as your agent to smooth the way in this matter with Mrs. R[oosevelt], G. C. M.” Soon he was to make further demands on her services.
The Chief of Staff continued to prod his representatives for action. Shortly before leaving for a long Thanksgiving weekend, he called in Colonel Milldring and checked on legislation he wanted passed. Hilldring later reported: “General Marshall shook his finger at me and said, ‘I want a Women’s Corps right away and I don’t want any excuses!’ ” Before he left, he also approved a draft of a letter to the Bureau of the Budget, which noted that an organization similar to the one proposed was then operating in Great Britain with great success and that experience in World War I showed that “such an Auxiliary Force will be needed in the event active military operations a large scale by the Army of the
United States are again required.” Although Marshall did not know how close war was, he added with the temperate firmness that was his hallmark: “In view of the obvious advantages to be gained by the organization and training of a small Women’s Auxiliary Corps in an orderly and efficient manner for use under present conditions and to provide a going concern capable of rapid expansion if needed in. the near future, and with the thought that perhaps the matter was not previously explained in sufficient detail, the War Department requests reconsideration of the proposed legislation.”
These arguments and preparations would probably have been enough to produce a favorable reaction. But in less than two weeks the Japanese ensured it. Four days after Pearl Harbor the director of the Bureau of the Budget saw “no objection to the submission of this revised draft to the Congress for its consideration.”
Having won the first round, Marshall made certain that no steps were omitted in the dealings with Congress. Mrs. Rogers reintroduced the bill to include War Department amendments assuring the Civil Service Commission that the measure could not be used to displace civilians from their jobs. When the committees of Congress began hearings on the bill in January and early February, Mrs. Hobby was selected to testify as one of the War Department representatives. Since she was the sole female representative of the department, General Marshall took special pains to coach her for the ordeal. Mrs. Hobby’s account of that encounter illustrates graphically the thoroughness of the Chief of Staff’s preparations:
When the committee set the bill for a hearing, General Marshall asked me if I would testify and represent the War Department and express the War Department’s views of course, I said I would and worked closely with G-1 and the Assistant Secretary of War, McCloy, . . . and General Marshall’s liaison to the Hill. The testimony had all been prepared, and we had done a dry run, so to speak. T h e morning that I was supposed to go u p General Marshall called for me. He sat down and we talked about a number of things H e asked me if I had ever testified before a congressional committee, and I told him I had not. He said, “Do you know what you are going to say?” and I said, “Yes” I told him all about the presentation of the testimony and the dry run. I had it [my statement] folded in my purse and I handed it to him
He looked it over, took it over to the wastebasket and tore it up, then sat down and said, “Now I want to give you a piece of advice. When you go to testify before a congressional committee, you say what you have to say.” I said, “General, there are many questions they will ask me [concerning which] I do not know the attitude of the War Department. I am about as unmilitary a
person as ever existed He said, “When you do not know what the attitude is, that’s what you have a staff for . . ” Well, he kept talking and the hour kept getting near, and I was very embarrassed for fear that I would be late for the committee, but [I knew] that I could not excuse myself from the Office of the Chief of Staff. The interview was finally terminated, and I got into the car . . [where] a, G-1 officer was waiting for me. I told him what had happened, that General Marshall had torn up my testimony and told me to make a
statement. I said, “What does he expect me to do, throw the mantle of the Chief of Staff around my shoulders when I testify?” He said, “That’s exactly what he means for you to do and you had better do it.”
In telling of this briefing in later years, General Marshall laughed at his worry about Mrs. Hobby’s ability to present an effective case before politicians. “That woman listened to me telling her how to behave before a group of legislators and never said a word to me about acting as a parliamentarian of the Texas legislature!”
Marshall recalled that she not only presented the testimony ably but was aided by the fact that the second-ranking Democrat on the committee, Representative R. Ewing Thomason of Texas, was a personal friend of her father’s. But, he noted, this did not persuade Thomason to favor the rank of colonel for Mrs. Hobby when it was later proposed. Southern congressmen, he remarked, offered great opposition to him in this regard. They “would kiss a woman’s hand and give her an orchid but not consent to military rank.”
Although the reception of the bill in the committee indicated likely passage by Congress, normal legislative routine delayed progress for a number of weeks. The General decided to proceed on the assumption that the measure would be approved and started the machinery moving for establishing a training center, recruitment, obtaining uniforms, and the like.
Most important he chose a director for the Women’s Corps. First he asked Mrs. Hobby for her recommendations of women qualified to head it. For about two weeks after she had submitted her list, he made no response. One day he sent for her and announced: “Thank you for this list, but we want you to head the corps.” Mrs. Hobby said: “General, I have no military knowledge, none.” Neither did any other woman, he replied. “I told him I would talk to my husband about it and I did,” Mrs. Hobby recalled. “My husband was the one who thought I should go [earlier] as a consultant, because he felt that war was inevitable and that no one should refuse to do anything. So I did agree to do it.” Marshall wrote Stimson of his choice: “In all of these duties [in the Bureau of Public Relations], she displayed sound judgment and carried out her mission in a manner to be expected of a highly trained staff officer. She has won the complete confidence of the members of the War Department staff with whom she has come into contact and she made a most favorable impression before the committee of Congress.” Without waiting for final approval of the bill, Marshall removed her from the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Public Relations and started her on Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps preplanning programs.
As plans were outlined, Marshall urged action on Congress, writing to House Majority Leader John McCormack, who carried the measure through the House of Representatives in March by the lopsided vote of 249-86. The Senate worked more leisurely and talked of the need of
women at home and the necessity of sparing the gentler sex the hardships of military life. Not until May 14, 1942, a year after the first bill had been introduced and five months after the beginning of war, did the Senate approve the measure, by a vote of 38-27.
Once it was clear that the Senate would act favorably, Marshall moved swiftly. To prevent any political pressure for the selection of someone other than Mrs. Hobby, he had papers drawn up for her appointment. On the evening of May 14 he sent Colonel Robert N. Young of his staff to the Secretary of War’s home to get Stimson’s signature. Two days later this slender, quietly pretty, very feminine woman, a Southern lady with an aura of breeding and gentility, wearing a straw sailor hat and a stylishly plain suit, became the first head of the U.S. Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. The new director raised her hand as Major General Myron C. Cramer administered the oath while Marshall and Stimson, her sponsors, beamed approvingly. Stimson recorded: “At 11 :30 Mrs. Hobby took the oath of office as director of the WAAC. There was such a crowd anxious to see her that the meeting took place in the General Counsel room where I held press conferences and all the photographers were there and representatives of all the women. General Marshall and General Surles were there and the Judge Advocate General swore in Mrs. Hobby and photographs were taken of [both of us] shaking hands with her. The photographers generally had a field day. Afterwards she brought her husband in to [my office] . . . a former governor . . . older than me.”
Mrs. Hobby, for whom the whole affair was overpowering and a bit frightening, gratefully remembered General Marshall’s “understanding . . . of other people and of other people’s problems.” “My husband came up for the swearing-in ceremony and when it was over, General Marshall stepped over to where my husband was sitting and said, . . .‘Could you come into my office?’ We all went in, and he said, ‘I know that any man must have great trepidation about his wife’s taking such an assignment, but I want to tell you this: that the Secretary of War and I mean to give her added support in doing what we know will be a very difficult job.’ My husband said, ‘General Marshall, I had intended to seek an appointment with you to discuss this very thing because I know that it will be a very difficult thing to form a Women’s Corps and to make it acceptable to the Army and to the population not accustomed to the idea.’ ”
The Chief of Staff kept his promise “General Marshall,” Mrs. Hobby said, “had uncanny intelligence. He always seemed to know when people had problems and needed help. Someone may have told him, but often I would go down [to his office] and he would say, ’I want to see you at lunch today, come home and eat lunch with Katherine and me’ And we would have lunch and he would say, ‘Well are there any problems?’ This always happened at a time when I had problems! So I have always considered that either his intuition or his intelligence was very good. . . .
Many people in the War Department, to use the old expression, always believed that I made end runs to accomplish some objective. I am not saying that I wouldn’t have if a principle had been involved. Actually, I never had to.” She concluded that without his continued strong backing the women’s group “would have been at best a very limited and crippled organization.”
In June, Mrs. Hobby’s uniform arrived. Properly dressed, she reported to General Marshall, who pinned on her the silver eagles of a colonel. Although Congress had authorized pay equal only to that of a major, he made it clear that she was the top commander in the WAAC organization, which included male full colonels.
Marshall found that he and the new director agreed on many points, notably the matter of commissions. He had always believed that an officer should have had some previous experience-either
as a cadet or an enlisted man-before receiving a commission. He insisted that WAAC officers come out of the enlisted corps. “The Chief of Staff was a great democrat,” his wartime G-1, General Hilldring, said, ‘‘I told Mrs. Hobby how at his direction, I had made a fight to get more officers from the ranks of enlisted men. I told her that he might not object to appointing a few civilian women for the top jobs, but the rest of the officers must come from the ranks. They must be the best women in the ranks, even if . . . [they were not] necessarily the best in the nation.”
Once the battle to organize the WAAC had been won, various branches of the Army demanded more women auxiliaries than could be trained for many months. As requests flowed in, General Marshall reported on June 13 that Army Ground Forces were short more than 160,000 men and that he wanted the WAAC to’ drive ahead on organizing and training. Four days later a plan was presented for increasing the Corps from 12,000 to 63,000. Three months later a greater expansion was asked. Eisenhower was soon stressing the need for increased numbers abroad. By September, G-3 had suggested training a million WAACs-a program that could not readily be implemented.
Not that everyone wanted women in uniform. The difficulties of finding proper training centers multiplied; the disagreements over uniforms and supplies increased. Assured that Marshall was in her corner, Mrs. Hobby attacked her problems vigorously. When she arrived at the WAAC Training Center at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, in cold weather and found the women still in summer uniforms-while men on the post were in winter coats and jackets-she went at once to her quarters and changed to summer wear. A short time later she was asking the Office of the Quartermaster General in Washington for overcoats for her charges. When told that the clothing was unavailable, she asked for men’s apparel-and with Marshall’s aid she got it. Looking rather like children dressed in their papas’ overcoats, her WAACs drilled in overlong outerwear, not smartly but warmly until something more fashionable could be provided.
Marshall nearly always backed her up. In retrospect the outstanding feature of their relationship was that he let no opportunity pass to show his high regard for her efforts. Unable to attend the first WAAC commissioning ceremonies at Fort Des Moines, he sent a strong statement of approval to be read to the group.
On another occasion, however, Marshall made his disapproval plain as well as his sympathy. In Mrs. Hobby’s words: “General Marshall, in my years in the Army, overruled me once. It is one of the dearest stories that I can imagine.” General Eisenhower and Bedell Smith had asked her to make WAACs available for the invasion of North Africa, where French-speaking telephone operators would be needed. Mrs. Hobby recalled that she retorted:
“I cannot agree to send them in submarine-infested waters, in battle conditions, as long as they are not members of the Army.” H e [Smith] said, “Well, of course, you know I am going to take this to the Old Man.” . . . So I went up to talk to General Marshall . . . He looked at me and said, “Hitler won’t wait.” . . . He called Frank [McCarthy] and said, “Get my plane ready. Mrs. Hobby is going to [the WAAC Training Center at] Daytona Beach.” H e said, “Are you unhappy?” I said, “No, sir, I am not unhappy, I have an order and I will carry it out.” He said, “I know it troubles you to send these people over there and I want to tell you something. You call the officers and women together and [while] you cannot tell them where, they are going you can tell them that they are going over submarine-infested waters into hazardous conditions, and then you ask for volunteers, and tell them that the roster will be in the office in the morning, that you are not going to take them all, that you will have to pick, and that no one will know who didn’t volunteer. They may have reasons, family reasons, or otherwise.”
I went off to Daytona Beach that afternoon and called them together that night . . . and told them the roster would be ready for them to sign, and as I walked out of that room, people were pulling tablets and pencils out, signing their names and giving them to the commanding officer, and before they left that room, every woman had volunteered . . It is something I will never forget. . . He knew how I felt, he knew he was absolutely right, this should have been done, but he made it easy for me .That way I felt right about it.
The problem of sending auxiliaries into war zones soon prompted a change in the women’s organization. General Marshall concluded that the WAAC would not be fully accepted or completely effective until it was a full-fledged part of the Army. Several bills were introduced to create a Women’s Army Corps-a move that stimulated attacks on the existing auxiliary corps.
The General felt that some ot the unfavorable reactions of soldiers to the WAACs were in a class with similar criticism of women in the Red Cross. Much of the trouble, he believed, came from disgruntled soldiers who could not get dates with the WAACs. At the beginning, he noted, every girl had about a thousand suitors, “and all except one got sore.” He was delighted one day with Mrs. Hobby’s spirited defense of her group and chuckled as he recalled the story: “I was talking to an officer . . .
one of those Gradgrinds who not only gets at the things he is supposed to do but includes everything else that he can criticize at the same time. He was not . . . connected with the WAACs but when Mrs. Hobby was waiting there to talk with me, he came in and said, ‘Do you know what I saw? I saw a WAAC and a soldier going down the road hand in hand,’ and he turned to Mrs Hobby and said, ‘What do you think of that? Mrs. Hobby said, ‘Well, they have been doing that for about a thousand years, haven’t they?’ Which I thought was a complete retort. . . . ”
Slanderous tales started to plague the corps almost as soon as recruiting began. The official WAC historian, Mattie Treadwell, compiled the following list of prime talebearers: resentful officers and enlisted men, some officers’ wives, jealous civilian women, male and female gossips, disgruntled WAACs and fanatics-a number of whom hated anything favored by the Roosevelt administration. Some of their “reports” were the adolescent variety of off-color stories and lavatory graffiti that produce uneasy tittering. More repugnant were the innuendoes of widespread immorality among the WAACs, as if their willingness to serve their country was merely a cover for rampant sexuality. Unfortunately publication of statistics showing that misbehavior in service differed little from that at home and that the venereal-disease rate was almost zero among women in the WAAC seemed, paradoxically, to suggest to certain readers that something was wrong with women who tried to serve their country. No wartime criticism infuriated Marshall more than these attacks.
One of Roosevelt’s old enemies and targets, a columnist in the Washington Times-Herdd, suggested in one of his more venomous musings that the Army was encouraging promiscuity among the WAACs by handing out contraceptives. It was a victory for New Deal thinking, the writer suggested. “Mrs. Roosevelt wants all the young ladies to have the same overseas rights as their brothers and fathers”-a neat, double-barreled smear. It was the kind of vicious campaign that Marshall and Stimson, with their Victorian notion that one did not discuss a woman’s good name in public, were ill equipped to fight. But they finally struck back, Stimson in an effective press conference and Marshall in a letter of confidence to Mrs. Hobby. “I wish you would reassure your subordinates,” the Chief of Staff wrote her, “of the confidence and high respect in which they are held by the Army.”
At the end of June 1943 Congress took the step Marshall had long favored: making the WAAC organization an integral part of the Army as the Women’s Army Corps. The next move was to improve Mrs. Hobby’s position vis-i-vis the Chief of Staff. Initially her office had been placed under Army Service Forces, where she had continual difficulty in getting the officers at pick-and-shovel level to carry out the policies that General Marshall had approved. Reluctant to appeal over the head of her supe-
riors, she struggled with red tape until someone at last informed General Marshall. He ordered G-3 to study the situation and then acted upon its suggestion that the Director of the WAC be moved to G-1, where she would have direct access to the Chief of Staff.
Even under extreme burdens the Chief of Staff was always ready to consider the needs of the Women’s Army Corps. When Mrs. Hobby was criticized for failure to provide a uniform for the corps as attractive as that supplied for female Navy and Marine Corps personnel, her suggested changes got close attention from Marshall. He found time to approve chamois-colored scarves and gloves. After the Office of the Quartermaster General stated that it could not procure a tropical-worsted WAAC uniform in time for the summer, he personally intervened to change this
In a few matters General Marshall failed to go along with Mrs. Hobby. Realizing that many enlisted women would like officer status, she opposed direct commissions in overseas theaters for foreign-born civilian workers. Three Australian women were commissioned in MacArtliur’s headquarters before Washington had a chance to intervene. When General Eisenhower asked that his British chauffeur and secretary, Kay Summersby, be commissioned as a WAC lieutenant, Mrs. Hobby and G-1 officials objected. In this case Marshall ordered that Eisenhower’s wishes be
carried out. This action, which unfriendly columnists later distorted-alleging that Marshall rebuked Eisenhower for commissioning his subordinate-had the Chief of Staff’s specific approval. Not only did Marshall in his own handwriting overrule the opposition of his subordinates, but he spelled out his reasons. “He said,” Mrs. Hobby, who was present, recalled, “he never felt like telling a man who was responsible for winning a war not to do little things that he thought would help him win the war.”
To Marshall the importance of the WACS was summed up in the work of Lieutenant Florence T. Newsome, who was to end her Army career as a lieutenant colonel in the Chief of Staff’s office: “She was used to replace an officer in the anteoffice to meet people. Her work proved so valuable that she was gradually moved from job to job until now she is my personal secretary for all matters pertaining to the U.S. Chiefs of Staff and Combined Chiefs of Staff, briefing the papers, making contact with the interested parties, who include General Arnold, General Somervell, and General Handy, and apprising me of the pros and cons of all the various issues. That is certainly an important job. . . .”
Marshall’s praise of his personal WAC assistants, such as Colonel Newsome and his driver, Sergeant Payne, typified the esteem he had for the members of the WAC organization. No wartime project for whose existence and growth he took a great personal responsibility gave him keener pleasure. His admiration was reciprocated. Speaking later about Marshall and the Women’s Army Corps, Mrs. Hobby pointed out that the General
made his farewell in his last important government post, Secretary of Defense, in a review of a WAC group. She summed up his role simply: “He was one of the greatest friends we ever had.”
He would certainly have treasured the compliment. But with his customary disparagement of praise, he would probably have replied, “Support of one’s own is what a commander’s for.”
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