4-248 To Charles Seymour, February 13, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 13, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Charles Seymour

February 13, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

My dear Doctor Seymour:

I have just received your cordial note of February 11th regarding the arrangements for the award of the Howland Prize to Sir John Dill.1

This thought occurs to me, and I must be perfectly frank with you. Mr. Bundy told me that it was your desire, or that of the officials in charge of the ceremony, that I should make a few comments. Whether or not the Secretary of War attends, I understand he is giving his Assistant Secretary, Mr. McCloy, a statement to make. Under these circumstances, wouldn’t it be better if I merely attended and made no comments?

I am inclined to think that the invitation to me to comment was probably inspired more by courtesy than by a consideration of what was appropriate to the occasion. My friendship and admiration for Sir John Dill is well known, my feelings in the matter could, therefore, be easily guessed. Furthermore, most confidentially, it had seemed to me, and I so told Bundy, that the less conspicuous I was in the affair, the more effective it might be.

However, I am preparing a draft for some very brief remarks and will be ready to do my part in the ceremony as now arranged. But I want you to have my point of view. In the event that you agree with me, I would appreciate a telegram.2

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. Seymour, president of Yale University, had written that he was pleased that Marshall would give a brief address following the presentation of the award to Dill on February 16. (Seymour to Marshall, February 11, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Apprehensive that Prime Minister Churchill would recall Sir John Dill from Washington, General Marshall had asked Harvey H. Bundy, special assistant to Secretary Stimson, to see if Yale University would confer an honorary degree on Dill. Since a special convocation could not be arranged at the moment, Seymour instead secured approval for Dill to be awarded the Howland Memorial Prize. Secretary Stimson, who also attended the ceremony, noted: “We had all felt this was a very important proceeding because there is danger that Dill be recalled home for political reasons and his departure from service here on the British Commission would mean a great blow to cooperation between the British and American Staffs. Dill himself has been of the utmost service. He is not only able but very fair-minded and tactful in his dealings with the Staff and he has been a great factor in keeping the unity of Staff operations which has been so remarkable in campaigns thus far. Therefore we are trying to give him a boom in this country to show how important he is and to make the Prime Minister a little bit cautious about removing him. Marshall has been particularly insistent upon the importance of this matter.” (February 16, 1944, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 46: 54].)

The award included a check for $500, which Dill asked Marshall to forward to the West Point Library. The chief of staff sent the check to Superintendent Francis B. Wilby, along with Dill’s instructions that there be no publicity regarding the gift. (Dill to Marshall, February 17, 1944, and Marshall to Wilby, February 18, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. “We should all be deeply disappointed if you did not speak,” Seymour replied on February 15. He insisted that Marshall’s remarks were “essential to the effect of the ceremony.” (Seymour Telegram to Marshall, February 15, 1944, ibid.) See Marshall Remarks at Yale University, February 16, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-256 [4: 304-5].

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. 295-296.

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