4-182 To General Dwight D. Eisenhower, December 28, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 28, 1943

Subject: World War II

To General Dwight D. Eisenhower

December 28, 1943 [Radio No. 5810] Washington, D.C.


For General Eisenhower’s eyes only from General Marshall.

Reference your W-8678: It appears that we have gotten into complete confusion regarding future assignments between OVERLORD, FREEDOM, and ANVIL.1 The following is to clarify the situation.

In the first place, after report to Washington of conversation between Ferenbaugh2 and Smith, Hull radioed Handy with me of your desire to have Seventh Army proceed with ANVIL. No mention was made of Clark though such mention was made between Smith and Ferenbaugh. From this point onwards I followed a confused trail while traveling in the Pacific.

I was not and am not opposed to Patton with OVERLORD, or with Patton or Clark in ANVIL, etc. But my message suggesting names of McNair and Hodges3 was based on assumption that you wanted Patton to command ANVIL.

I am agreeable to Devers with FREEDOM, Patton with OVERLORD, Clark with ANVIL, Lucas to replace Clark, if his later services justify such advancement.4 I am also agreeable to Eaker to the Mediterranean in view of my understanding of yesterday that the principal reason of Tedder and Spaatz was to facilitate later control of Metropolitan Air Force. In other words you list your final desires and so far as I see now they will be approved.

In considering McNair, he has serious disability of deafness and great advantages of extreme firmness, expert knowledge of artillery and infantry combined action, perfect loyalty and dependability. Hodges is exactly same class of man as Bradley in practically every respect. Wonderful shot, great hunter, quiet, self-effacing. Thorough understanding of ground fighting, DSC, etc. etc. Smith must know both these men. Whether or not you wish to use either of them is your affair.

I think the foregoing should clarify things and leave you free to proceed. I suggest that you either come straight to the U.S. from Africa or if you go to England report here shortly thereafter to make the necessary contacts with the War Department, to see your family, and to get at least a brief rest.5

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. Eisenhower’s December 27 message No. W-8678 was in response to a message from Marshall on December 21 (No. 5363) and a follow-up on December 27 (No. 5756). On the twenty-first, Marshall suggested certain combinations of commanders. “McNair to command the Army Group with Bradley and Devers as Army Commanders, or Devers to command Army Group with Bradley and Hodges. Possibly you had Clark in mind for a place in U. K. operation. In case Truscott is not to be proposed for Army Corps Command in the ANVIL Operation, I believe he should be given an Army Corps in England.” (Marshall to Eisenhower, Radio No. 5363, December 21, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 17, Item 28].) Eisenhower apparently did not see this message prior to responding on December 25 to Marshall’s No. 5585. (See Marshall to Eisenhower, December 23, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-172 [4: 202-4].) Consequently, Marshall sent a message on December 27 requesting a reply to No. 5363. (Marshall to Eisenhower, Radio No. 5756, December 27, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 17, Item 28].)

In his W-8678, Eisenhower said that of the combinations Marshall mentioned, he preferred the one of McNair, Devers, and Bradley. But “to be perfectly frank I feel that as long as we have Bradley in the U.K. we have the proper man to command the first U.S. army to enter the battle and that final selection of the other two need not be rushed. . . . I am not repeat not as well acquainted with McNair, Devers and Hodges as are you.

Since you see no place for Patton in OVERLORD I assume you intend leaving him here [in Italy] as one of the army commanders. In any event I feel very strongly that Clark must be left with a tactical command. Therefore an officer, preferably senior to Clark, should arrive here at once, unless you want Clark to take over the theater. . . . I request your decision as soon as possible on this particular point, and if you should decide Clark must take over the theater then Patton should go to the Fifth Army at once. Under this scheme Patton and Lucas would be the two army commanders here [in Italy].” (Papers of DDE, 3: 1622-23.)

2. Colonel Claude B. Ferenbaugh (U.S.M.A., 1919) was chief of the Operations Division’s North African Section of the Theater Group. He was scheduled to become assistant commander of the Eighty-third Infantry Division in January 1944. Following the Cairo Conference, he stopped at Eisenhower’s headquarters.

3. Lieutenant General Courtney H. Hodges was commander of the Southern Defense Command and Third Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Third Army was to begin moving to England in January 1944.

4. Sixth Corps commander Major General John P. Lucas was preparing his organization for an amphibious assault behind the German Gustav Line at Anzio in late January 1944.

5. Eisenhower replied with two messages on December 29. In No. W-8791, he stated that Marshall’s December 28 message had “cleared up everything and I believe we are in complete mutual understanding of what is needed.” He suggested that Marshall relieve Hodges from Third Army and send him to England to “live by Bradley’s side during the later stages of planning and preparation” for OVERLORD and to “accompany him into the operation. In no repeat no event will I ever advance Patton beyond army command, but the above arrangement will give us a bit of time to determine whether it should be Bradley or Hodges that moves back to the army group once it is necessary to insert this formation into the line.” Concerning McNair, Eisenhower believed that his hearing problem, “in an Allied organization, would be much magnified and would militate against his success.” (Papers of DDE, 3: 1630-31.)

In his second message of December 29 (No. W-8792), Eisenhower summarized his understanding of the tentative command arrangements. See Marshall’s comments on this in Marshall to Eisenhower, December 29, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-187 [4: 215-16].

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. 210-211.

Digital Downloads



, ,

Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 4-182

Rights: Public Information