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To General Douglas MacArthur
September 1, 1944 Radio No. WAR-23629 Washington, D.C.
Personal to General MacArthur from General Marshall.
I have discussed with Generals Giles, Hull and Bissell your service troop problem.1 If we can secure Chinese labor at a possible rate of twenty or thirty thousand a month, to be shipped direct from Calcutta to the Southwest Pacific other than Australia, there to be organized in improvised units, would you care to have such a force? If your opinion is favorable I will take it up immediately with the Generalissimo.
We have a large capacity for carrying people from China to Calcutta. There would be the problem of securing shipping space from Calcutta but under the urgency of the situation I think we could find a solution to that. Please let me have your view as soon as possible.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. The effects on future operations of the approximately 148,000 service troops the United States was short in the Pacific had been discussed at the J.C.S. meeting that afternoon. Lieutenant General Barney M. Giles had been deputy commander of the Army Air Forces since May 1944. Major General John E. Hull was acting deputy of the Operations Division. Major General Clayton L. Bissell was head of the Personnel Division.
2. On September 2, a message was sent to Stilwell saying that “an acute service troop shortage in Southwest Pacific is jeopardizing General MacArthur’s future operations” and that MacArthur strongly favored the idea of obtaining fifty thousand Chinese laborers. (Marshall [OPD] to Stilwell, Radio No. WAR-24 174, September 2, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, TS Message File (CM-OUT-24174)].) Stilwell replied on September 8 that “such numbers could not be spared permanently from the basic industry of the country,” although this was primarily because of “wastage from stupid administration” not a shortage of manpower. He recommended against making such a request of the Chinese government. (Riley Sunderland and Charles F. Romanus, eds., Stilwell’s Personal File: China-Burma-India, 1942-1944, 5 vols. [Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1976], 5:2448.) Marshall told Stilwell that he had discussed the issue with the president, who was “very much interested,” and that the Operations Division had drafted a message from Roosevelt to Chiang on the subject. (Marshall [OPD] to Stilwell, September 9, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Nothing ever came of the idea, however.
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. 566-567.