4-108 To General Douglas MacArthur, September 14, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 14, 1943

Subject: World War II

To General Douglas MacArthur1

September 14, 1943 Radio Washington, D.C.


Personal for MacArthur from Marshall.

Some time ago I directed Colonel William A. Borden, Ordnance Department, to devote his entire time and energies to the development of some means of overcoming protracted Japanese resistance in the jungles which has been costly to us in time and men.2 After an exhaustive series of tests within this country Colonel Borden in conjunction with the Engineers and Chemical Warfare Service has developed certain weapons including mortars and rockets with special fuzes which it is believed improve the effectiveness of our present equipment. Limited orders have been placed for all this new equipment but it is desired to verify their effectiveness on the ground and under the conditions with which you are confronted.

If agreeable I propose to send Colonel Borden and five other officers who have been working with him on this project to the Southwest Pacific by air and with a limited amount of this equipment which will permit a trial in the field. It is contemplated that Colonel Borden and his working group will leave here by air October first and proceed to Brisbane and thence to New Guinea without delay acting as you may direct. From there they should proceed to South Pacific Area. Please Advise.3

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. This message was also sent to Lieutenant General Millard F. Harmon, South Pacific Area army commander.

2. See Marshall Memorandum for the Joint New Weapons Committee, August 27, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-089 [4: 99-100]. Marshall wrote in mid-1945 that as a result of “the fierce fighting in North Africa and in the Papuan campaign in New Guinea, it became clear that our lack of preparedness in research in military instruments in peacetime would have to be overcome by extreme measures.” Marshall selected Borden, a research and development specialist, “and directed him to work under me independently of normal War Department channels in the development and modification of weapons and improved techniques. His first efforts were devoted to increasing the effectiveness of our weapons against the Japanese in jungle fighting. As a result, the 105-mm and 155-mm mortars, flame throwers, ground rockets, improved launching devices, skid pans for towing heavy artillery in mud, improved bazooka ammunition, and colored smoke grenades were developed and the production and shipment to the theaters were expedited.” (War Department, 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], p. 96.)

3. Borden’s group arrived at Sixth Army headquarters in Brisbane on October 5. The most important of the new items they brought with them were the 4.5-inch rocket, which Ordnance had developed primarily as an aircraft-fired weapon in the hope that it would destroy Japanese coconut-log bunkers, and the Chemical Warfare Service’s 4.1-inch mortar, which fired a variety of shells. (Lida Mayo, The Ordnance Department: On Beachhead and Battlefront, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1968], pp. 360-62.)

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. 125-126.

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