3-386 To Colonel John A. Cutchins, October 29, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 29, 1942

Subject: World War II

To Colonel John A. Cutchins

October 29, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Cutchins:

I have just this moment read your note of October twenty-eighth regarding loss of confidence in Army statements.1 I only have a sketchy recollection of the recent statements in the case, but I am inclined to think the trouble is that there has not been a definition between the loss of planes and the loss of crews.2

Confidentially, the fact is that all our planes except the one into the Russian zone reached China, but they arrived in the middle of the night during a heavy storm and were unable in most instances to locate the airfields, which had the most meager of facilities; therefore crews elected to parachute and those planes crashed. Naturally we did not inform the Japanese that the planes had crashed. One of these planes, from Chinese reports, landed a few miles outside Chinese-controlled territory, but we had no information as to whether or not the Japanese troops in that region had captured the crews. Again, naturally we did not tell the Japanese to go look for them.

I thought in view of the fact that almost all the crew members were lined up at Bolling Field and given decorations, that the public would not be confused.

Sorry I did not see you in Richmond.3

Hastily 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. Cutchins, a Virginia native and National Guard officer, was director of the Internal Security Division, Third Service Command; he had written that “a charming Richmond woman who has a son in the service said she was much perturbed, as were many of her friends, at the apparent lack of complete truth in the report on the Doolittle raid over Tokyo. She said she ‘didn’t expect much from the politicians’ but she, and those with whom she talked, felt that it would be ‘a terrible thing to lose confidence in the reports made by the Army.’ The reaction of the public to the revelation, coming from an enemy source, that instead of all ships getting back except one, which was alleged to have landed in Russia, there were several which didn’t get back, has been distinctly not good.” (Cutchins to Marshall, October 28, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

2. In late October Japanese radio stations began claiming that their army had captured four United States airmen who had participated in the air raid of April 18, 1942. In an October 22 press conference, Secretary Stimson admitted that this could be true, and two days later the army announced the names of three other men who were possible prisoners. Following the air raid, War Department statements had given the impression that all participating aircraft had safely reached their destinations, except for one interned in the Soviet Union. As the October revelation of prisoners of war in Japanese hands came in the midst of an Axis-Allied public controversy regarding the treatment of prisoners, Axis broadcasters naturally sought to exploit the episode. Press and radio commentators in the United States criticized the War Department for withholding the truth. (New York Times, October 25, 1942, pp. 37, VI-3.)

3. Marshall had gone to Richmond, Virginia, on October 24 to see the football game between the Virginia Military Institute and Richmond College, of which Cutchins was an alumnus.

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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), p. 416.

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