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4-312 To Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, March 23, 1944

1944
   
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 23, 1944

Subject: World War II


To Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten

March 23, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Secret

My dear Mountbatten:

Your further expression in your letter of January thirty-first of appreciation of the work of Wheeler and Wedemeyer was gratifying to me. Wheeler’s promotion, on your recommendation, was effected shortly after his arrival here.1

Wedemeyer has made a fine contribution in the higher staff levels of our joint and combined organizations. The rotation of capable top staff officers to command duties is a constant problem. Wedemeyer should receive a command assignment in due course, but I am always confronted with the necessity to disregard personal considerations because of the great importance of having outstanding men, with a full background, in the important staff positions.

Conferences here with your people have been most informative and helpful. Their statements concerning your problems have clarified the situation and have given us a much better appreciation of your proposals. Support from Asia for our Pacific operations towards their first major objective in the Luzon-Formosa-China coast area, calls for exercise of imaginative and forceful action in your theater.

We have recently received copies of the final agreements covering the establishment of a single controller over the Port of Calcutta and the establishment of better control and unification of the Calcutta-Assam Lines of Communications. Those steps should help materially in solving a most difficult problem.

Dill and I have almost daily consultations on matters pertaining to your theater. Incidentally, he showed me the fine commendation you issued regarding operations on the Ledo Road.2 While I appreciate very much your doing this, what I was after was a release to the press of a statement by you on the Ledo success to offset the previous U.S. press statements regarding you and Stilwell.3

With my best wishes and hopes for you in your current operations,

Faithfully yours,

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. Raymond A. Wheeler had delivered Admiral Mountbatten’s January 31 letter to the War Department when he arrived in Washington in early February. Departing from Washington on March 25 or 26 for his return trip to Southeast Asia, Wheeler delivered General Marshall’s March 23 reply. Mountbatten praised Wheeler’s “splendid job” and recommended his promotion to lieutenant general, which was granted effective February 21. He also praised the work of Major General Albert C. Wedemeyer, his deputy chief of staff, and recommended that Wedemeyer eventually be assigned to an active command. “Thanks to Wedemeyer and Wheeler I can honestly say there can be no happier or more efficient Anglo-American Staff in the world to-day. I am confident that they are capable of directing the largest scale operations successfully if given the chance.” (Mountbatten to Marshall, January 31, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) For Mountbatten’s previous praise of Wheeler and Wedemeyer in his January 16 letter, see note 1, Marshall to Mountbatten, January 26, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-214 [4: 250].

2. On March 18 Sir John Dill had sent to Marshall a message from Mountbatten which included Mountbatten’s order of the day that praised the efforts of American and Chinese forces on the Ledo front, whose “successes in a series of encounters with the enemy are gaining you much honour and renown. . . . You (*who are*) fighting on the LEDO front, pushing forward the LEDO road, are playing a magnificent part in assuring our joint victory. During my recent visit I have seen for myself the courage and spirit you displayed under the gallant leadership of GENERAL STILWELL and I shall remember with pride the days that I spent with you.” Dill sent the handwritten note: “Dickie Mountbatten has certainly let himself go!” (Dill to Marshall, March 18, [1944], and attached Mountbatten to Dill, March 18, [1944], GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

3. Negative publicity concerning a lack of harmony between Stilwell and Mountbatten with regard to future strategy for the Southeast Asia Command had appeared in the press, particularly in the February 14 and 28 issues of Time magazine. (See Marshall to Stilwell, March 1, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-273 [4: 321-23].) “I am at a loss to understand the penultimate paragraph,” Mountbatten replied on April 24. He informed Marshall that his order of the day to the Ledo forces had been released on March 20 by public relations to all correspondents in Delhi. “Enquiries have confirmed that it was despatched in full on the same day by Reuters and United Press which I believe is the second largest of the U S News Agencies. It also appeared in the C.B.I. paper ‘Round up'[,] the Press of INDIA and was broadcast by the B.B.C. [British Broadcasting corporation]. It was NOT filed by the Associated Press although their Representative, PRESTON GRAVER [Grover], was present in DELHI. As the statement was filed by the United Press I cannot understand why it should NOT have appeared in the U S papers, nor why the Associated Press, the largest of the U S Agencies should NOT have filed it.” (Mountbatten to Marshall, Radio No. SAC 1835, April 24, [1944], NA/RG 165 [ODD, 384 CTO].)

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. 365-367.

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