4-088 To Colonel Arthur S. Champeny, August 26, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 26, 1943

Subject: World War II

To Colonel Arthur S. Champeny1

August 26, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Colonel Champeny:

The performance of your regiment in carrying out a 62-mile foot march over difficult terrain in 42 hours during the July maneuvers in Louisiana has been brought to my attention by General McNair as a demonstration of what our soldiers can do with proper training and leadership. I congratulate you on the showing of your command which indicates a high state of discipline and training.

After one experience in battle every man in the ranks of the regiment will be grateful to you for this rigorous training, if not already aware of the stern requirements of modern war.2

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Champeny was commanding officer of the Eighty-eighth Division’s 351st Infantry Regiment. This letter was sent via the division’s commander, Major General John E. Sloan.

2. Marshall knew that despite the objections of many would-be soldiers, their parents, and consequently some politicians, rigorous training was essential for battlefield survival. He once encouraged his wife, who was preparing a speech to a women’s group, to warn mothers not to desire for their sons an easy-going—and thus popular—commander. “Chances are nine out of ten he’s going to get licked.” (Marshall Interviews, p. 371. Marshall also sought other ways to spread this message; see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-288 [3: 313].)

Marshall observed in 1956: “The greatest problem of wartime training. . . was to continue long enough with the basic training, of which they were all impatient. And it is dull, and it is long, and it is very strenuous, and unless it is well done, thoroughly done, the troops are going to be lacking in discipline and performance from that time on. And yet it is very hard to have them see the reason for it,” The chief of staff assigned what he called “special professional fact-gatherers” to interview men in training and the same men after some combat experience. “They found almost everything the man objected to in this country, over there, after a brief experience, he said there was not enough of. The men can never understand how intense this [training] must be in order to register in long drawn-out engagements and over the severities of a battlefield experience ” (Marshall Interviews, p. 468.)

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. 98-99.

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