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To Admiral Harold R. Stark
July 11, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Thanks for your letter regarding the generous comments of the British officer concerning the American troops in the Cherbourg peninsula.1 I hope his impression is the general one. As a matter of fact I have taken satisfaction and received considerable assurance from the conduct of our new divisions in their first time engaged with the enemy. What I am even more impressed with is the handling of Corps and Army echelons. These are the hardest to train and the most complicated to manage, and the beachhead conditions accentuated the difficulties. It all goes to indicate that our large maneuvers in this country, which covered as much as an entire state, have been productive of a fine result.
I noticed in France, despite the state of the action, the shallowness of the beachhead, and the narrowness of the country roads, that there was almost no confusion, no traffic blockades, dumps were well arranged and adequately served, in fact all the machinery behind the fighting divisions was moving along in a most businesslike and veteranish manner. Along with this comment goes the handling of the heavy artillery with the Corps and Army, which has I believe been most expertly done.2
Corps and Army echelons are very hard to train and we could not have had a more difficult situation for a first experience than that confronting Bradley’s outfits in Normandy.
I was very sorry not to see more of you, or as a matter of fact, anything of you while I was in England. I had counted on having a meal with you towards the end of our stay, but as matters worked out, I was continually on the move and frequently involved with the Prime Minister; also the Ambassador and General Bethouart cut into my schedule. However even the brief glimpse I had of you was a great pleasure and I was glad to see you looking so well.3
I gave your message to Katherine and she appreciated greatly your remembering her.
With my affectionate regards,
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Stark, commander of United States Naval Forces in Europe, had relayed to Genera1 Marshall the comments of a British Army officer who had been with the U.S. Army in the fighting up the peninsula to Cherbourg. The British officer enthusiastically stated that “he believed the American Army with whom he had been associated to be the best troops in the world. He said they not only fought like tigers and that no troops could have fought harder or longer or taken it better; one thing that was particularly outstanding to him was our troops’ extreme adaptability, the quickness with which they grasped a situation and turned it to good advantage, and the beating of the enemy at his own game,” wrote Stark. (Stark to Marshall, July 4,1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) For information regarding the Cherbourg campaign, see note 1, Marshall to Eisenhower, June 23, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-419 [4: 489-90].
2. For Marshall’s comments regarding his visit to the Normandy beachhead, see Marshall to Roosevelt and Stimson, June 14, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-410 [4: 479-80], and Marshall Statement for the Stars and Stripes, June 16,1944, pp. 485-86.
3. For information on Marshall’s trip to England, see editorial notes #4-407, #4-409, and #4-411 Papers of George Catlett Marshall [4: 476-78, 479, 480-82].
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 514-515.