4-518 To Field Marshal Sir John Dill, September 21, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 21, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Field Marshal Sir John Dill

September 21, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Dill,

We have the problem of proposing a new Deputy Supreme Commander for the Mediterranean theater to replace Devers who now is becoming wholly engaged in the control of the Army Group in Central France. I wonder if you could obtain for me without the knowledge of any other parties but yourself and Wilson, his view in the matter so far as pertains to individuals now in the Mediterranean theater.

For your very personal information and not for Wilson I shall give you my slant on the matter: Clark will be the senior U.S. officer in that region. Eaker is junior to him. There is the possibility that Wilson would not prefer Clark because of past British feeling, I understand, inimical to him. At the same time I feel rather certain that Wilson would feel that Eaker would be very easy and pleasant to get along with. From my own point of view that is the principal trouble with Eaker. He is not a strong enough character and I was very much shocked at his attitude regarding the unavailability of air in the Mediterranean theater to do anything for Alexander if we undertook ANVIL. To me such a stand was preposterous. At the time Eaker made this statement in the presence of Wilson and Slessor (who I think had influenced Eaker) there had not been a German plane in the air for thirteen days and there were over 5500 U.S. and British planes in Italy and adjacent islands.

Later on, and again for your information only, I was told most indirectly that Eaker felt compelled to take the stand he did because of General Wilson’s and Alexander’s views or pressure. Therefore my statement that Eaker gets along too well and does not represent U.S. interests sufficiently. I must have people who stand on their own feet, therefore I am embarrassed in the matter of a Deputy Supreme Commander in the Mediterranean because I anticipate that Wilson will propose Eaker.

I think probably Wilson and Devers have talked over the matter for Devers proposes Eaker but, again frankly, Devers has been rather jealous of Clark and Clark has not helped matters by his somewhat Montgomery-esque habit of permitting his people to give over-prominence to his name rather than to subordinates.

I think the foregoing gives you at least my point of view.

Now before committing myself, I should like to find out something of Wilson’s views and desires on a frank and personal basis rather than official.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. Marshall’s secretary had typed “For Field Marshal Dill’s Eyes Only” in the upper left corner of the letter.

2. This document was delivered to Dill’s office by special courier. Dill visited Marshall’s office at 10:45 A.M. this same day. Marshall soon decided to name Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph T. McNarney to the post effective October 22. On that day also, Operations Division chief Thomas T. Handy became deputy chief of staff and John E. Hull became head of O.P.D. On October 23, Eisenhower wrote to Wilson concerning McNarney. “I can tell you that he is a thorough-going, intelligent and selfless soldier. Any views he may ever present to you will be his honest convictions and without any thought of their effect upon himself. I regard him as one of our finest and I know that you will have a very pleasant association with him. He is tough but most sensible.” (Papers of DDE, 4:2243.) Shortly after arriving at his new post, McNarney sent Marshall a summary of his initial actions and impressions. “Clark’s mental attitude is a curious mixture,” he noted. “He has the highest admiration for himself, his staff, his commanders and troops. He is consumed with bitterness against the British and Devers.” (McNarney to Marshall, October 27, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

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. 596-597.

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