5-186 To General Carl Spaatz, August 8, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Subject: World War II

To General Carl Spaatz1

August 8, 1945 Radio No. WAR-45991. Washington, D.C.


Personal Eyes Only for Spaatz from Marshall.

A teletype message, WAR 4542 was sent you yesterday by Surles regarding public statements relative to the atomic bomb. You and General LeMay are being widely quoted in papers all over United States on your remarks regarding results of such a bomb on landings in Normandy, to the effect that our present Army is not necessary for the further prosecution of the war in the Pacific and that an invasion will be unnecessary, and that the future of Armies has been decidedly curtailed.2 I wish you would refrain from any such comments and see that those about you do the same. However good your intentions you can do incalculable harm back here in the excited state of America and in view of the difficulties I am now having in supporting the Army.3

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Top Secret Message File CM-OUT-45991, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. On July 29, 1945, Spaatz had arrived on the island of Guam to assume command of the new U.S. Army Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, which included the Twentieth Air Force under Major General Curtis LeMay. Spaatz immediately made LeMay his chief of staff.

2. The first combat use of an atomic bomb occurred on August 6 at 9:15 A.M. (Tinian time; 7:15 A.M. August 5 in Washington, D.C.) over Hiroshima by B-29 Enola Gay of the 509th Composite Group flying out of Tinian Island in the Marianas. On August 8, after the initial aerial reconnaissance photographs were available detailing the damage, Spaatz and LeMay held a press conference on Guam in which the airmen left no doubt that air forces alone could now defeat Japan. LeMay asserted that if the atomic bomb had been ready in early 1943, there would have been no need for the Normandy invasion. (New York Times, August 8, 1945, p. 3.)

3. In his nearly complete third Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, July 1, 1943, to June 30, 1945, to the Secretary of War [Washington: GPO, 1945], Marshall observed: “This Nation’s destiny clearly lies in a sound permanent security policy. In the War Department’s proposals there are two essentials: (1) Intense scientific research and development; (2) a permanent peacetime citizen army” (p. 6). The key part, in Marshall’s view, of the second essential—universal military training—was receiving heavy fire from certain civilian organizations and consequently in Congress, despite his stout defense of the concept. Furthermore, Congress had already adjourned until the autumn without passing a bill the War Department considered important that would give it authority to commission 250 officers in the three lower grades of the Regular Army as a “trial run” for expanding the size of the permanent establishment. (See the Army and Navy Journal, July 21, 1945, p. 1420.)

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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), p. 259.

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Holding ID: 5-186

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