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To General Douglas MacArthur
April 6, 1944 Radio No. WAR-19386 Washington, D.C.
TOPSEC Eyes Only of General MacArthur from General Marshall.
Reference your C 10408 April 6 it is my impression that Nimitz’ desire for the early relief of the First Marine Division is based on its use in the Palau operations.1 To make this possible the Division would have to be released prior to 1 June. This relief is therefore directly involved in the overall picture.
Unless there is assurance that this Division will be available at the time indicated, another Division will have to be set up by them. I believe that an assurance to Nimitz that he would have the Division before June 1 would probably solve the situation.
In meeting the Navy’s queries in this matter we have told them that we were confident that a satisfactory arrangement would be worked out between you and Nimitz and that it would not be appropriate for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to intervene. Incidentally the Army policy here has been to promote mutual arrangements between you and Nimitz rather than to operate by frequent directives regarding details such as this by the JCS.
I am reassured by your message.2
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Top Secret File CM-OUT-19386, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. On April 6 General MacArthur had sent to General Marshall the contents of his Radio No. 030915 to Admiral Nimitz (see note 1, Marshall to MacArthur, April 4, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-333 [4: 388]), and MacArthur stated that he was awaiting Nimitz’s reply. “There is no objection on my part to the transfer of the division,” MacArthur further stated. “The only question is an appropriate time. To relieve it prematurely will unquestionably be detrimental to the overall picture. If this fact is not accepted I will yield to such plans as Nimitz desires.” (MacArthur to Marshall, Radio No. C-10408, April 6, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, TS Message File (CM-IN-3899)].)
2. On April 6 Admiral Nimitz sent a message to MacArthur that Pacific operations would be jeopardized if the First Marine Division was not released soon. “My plans for STALEMATE [operations against Palau] have been predicated on the use of the 1st Marine Division which General Marshall indicated in December was to have been withdrawn from New Britain early this year. .. It is apparent that the timing and success of STALEMATE will both be somewhat jeopardized if it becomes necessary to substitute a less experienced division brought from a distant area under conditions of an acute shortage of overseas troop lift. . . . I therefore request that arrangements be made to initiate the relief of the 1st Marine [Division so] that it may be assembled in the Solomons by the 1st of June and have ample time in which to prepare for participation in a major amphibious assault.” (Nimitz to MacArthur, Radio No. 060333, April 6, 1944, ibid. [CM-IN-4253].)
During the last week of April the first echelons of the First Marine Division departed from Gloucester, and by May 4 the entire division had left New Britain. The First Marine Division was sent to Pavuvu, the largest of the Russell Islands, a part of the Solomon Islands. There the division rested and reorganized for the assault on Peleliu in September 1944. (George McMillan, The Old Breed: A History of the First Marine Division in World War II [Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1949], pp. 226-30, 260-70; George W. Garand and Truman R. Strobridge, Western Pacific Operations, volume 4 in the History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1971], pp. 77-97.)
For a related topic, see Marshall to MacArthur, April 12, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-345 [4: 403-4].
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. 389-390.