4-187 To General Dwight D. Eisenhower, December 29, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 29, 1943

Subject: World War II

To General Dwight D. Eisenhower

December 29, 1943 Radio No. 5898 Washington, D.C.


From Marshall to Eisenhower for his eyes only.

Have just read your W-8792 of December 29th.1

I have three comments to make.

1. With reference to your E—had you considered the possibility of having Hodges go to the 5th Army? The UK assignment seems better but this is at least a thought.2

2. With reference to your G3—one of the principal objections of Portal to US overall command of strategic bombing force was that it involved the building up of another large headquarters. Arnold and I thought and assured him that this was not the case, that the overall commander did not need a large headquarters, quite the contrary in fact.4 So I am disturbed if Spaatz is going to aggrandize his job in an administrative manner, it would defeat our purpose in placing the strategic air forces under one command. Tell him to follow Foch’s method which is admirably suited to his job and oppose this usual human reaction to build up a heavy overhead. I cannot see it in his case though he probably can give you some very good diagrams of requirements but is [it] would still be unconvincing to me.5

3. With reference to your H—I agree fully with the necessity for reorganization to promote efficiency and economy particularly in personnel.6 However I believe that the method by which it is accomplished should be a matter for the theater commander to determine in each case.

Finally with reference to your last paragraph I think you made a mistake by not coming home first.7 Things have been going ahead in the UK for a long time and under a wise and aggressive man and Smith has already been there. You will be under terrific strain from now on. I am interested that you are fully prepared to bear the strain and I am not interested in the usual rejoinder that you can take it. It is of vast importance that you be fresh mentally and you certainly will not be if you go straight from one great problem to another. Now come on home and see your wife and trust somebody else for 20 minutes in England.8

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 17, Item 28, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. This was the second of a two-part reply to Marshall to Eisenhower, December 28, 1943, pp. 210-11; it is printed in Papers of DDE, 3: 1631-32. Eisenhower listed—(a) through (h)—his “understanding of our tentative agreements” regarding command arrangements.

2. Eisenhower had written: “(e) You will send Hodges to me in England when I call for him with eventual assignment to be either an army or alternate to Bradley as army group commander.” See the following document (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-188 [4: 216]).

3. “(g) Doolittle goes to command Eighth Air Force,” Eisenhower wrote, “which, incidentally will be cut down in overhead to provide Spaatz overall headquarters.”

4. This discussion occurred during the Combined Chiefs of Staff meeting at Cairo on December 4. Minutes are printed in Foreign Relations, Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, pp. 682-86.

5. Eisenhower quoted this paragraph to Walter Bedell Smith and directed that Smith call Marshall’s words to Spaatz’s attention. (Papers of DDE, 3: 1642-43.)

6. Eisenhower had stated that “(h) U.S. theater and SOS organization in both theaters will be consolidated in interests of efficiency and economy.”

7. “With regard to my visit home,” the new Supreme Allied Commander had stated, “I feel that for the moment it is an impossibility. I truly hope that February or early March will afford me such an opportunity.”

8. Eisenhower replied on December 30 that Marshall was “mistaken in thinking that I fail to realize the desirability of a good rest. Moreover I realize that there has been a very fine man [Devers] operating in England. It happens that it is that particular man who has been urging me to arrive there as quickly as possible.” Eisenhower also feared that a hurried, busy trip to the United States, with long travel times each way, would not be restful. But he said that he would start for home within the next twenty-four to thirty-six hours. (Papers of DDE, 3: 1641-42.) For Marshall’s response to this, see Marshall to Eisenhower, December 30,1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-192 [4: 220-21].

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. 215-216.

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