4-232 To General Dwight D. Eisenhower, February 7, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 7, 1944

Subject: World War II

To General Dwight D. Eisenhower

February 7, 1944 Radio No. 78 Washington, D.C.


For Eisenhower’s eyes only from Marshall.

Reur W-10678 of February 6th: Judging from the discussions and differences of opinion at the present time the British and American Chiefs of Staff seem to have completely reversed themselves and we have become Mediterraneanites and they heavily pro-OVERLORD. The following are my personal views:

OVERLORD of course is paramount and it must be launched on a reasonably secure basis of which you are the best judge. Our difficulties in reaching a decision have been complicated by a battle of numbers, that is, a failure to reach a common ground as to what would be the actual facilities. As to this the British and American planners here yesterday afternoon agreed that there is sufficient lift to stage at least a 7-Division OVERLORD and at the same time a 2-Division ANVIL on the basis of May 31st. This is an apparent disagreement with the British planners in London, or Montgomery, I don’t know which.1

As to ANVIL my personal feeling is this: Do you personally consider that of the combined landing craft thought to be available so much must go to OVERLORD that only a 1-Division lift will remain for ANVIL. If you consider this absolutely imperative then it should be done that way. However, the effect will be that approximately 8 or 9 less Divisions will be heavily engaged with the enemy, Divisions which will be available in the Mediterranean. Can you afford to lose this pressure, considering an additional factor, that we are almost certain to get an uprising in southern France to a far greater degree than in the north?

As to the British references to the Italian situation I would say this: If we find ourselves in Italy in early April still unable to establish our lines north of Rome then ANVIL would of necessity be practically abandoned, because we would have a good and sufficient fight on our hands for a considerable number of troops and the use for at least a 1-Divisional lift for end runs. However, if we have established ourselves north of Rome by that time, early April, there will not be a place for all the Divisions available in the Mediterranean unless it is believed that an advance into the Po valley is the profitable enterprise. With this I do not agree because it would inevitably require a heavy amphibious lift in order to get the lines through the mountains and would involve innumerable delays.

Count up all the Divisions that will be in the Mediterranean, including two newly arrived U. S. Divisions, consider the requirements in Italy in view of the mountain masses north of Rome, and then consider what influence on your problem a sizeable number of Divisions heavily engaged or advancing rapidly in southern France, will have on OVERLORD.

I will use my influence here to agree with your desires. I merely wish to be certain that localitis is not developing and that the pressures on you have not warped your judgment.2

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Top Secret Message File CM-OUT-2771, National Archive and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. For further discussion of the differences in the figures calculated by the Washington and London planners, see the following document (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-233 [4: 272-73]).

2. Eisenhower replied on February 8 that a successful ANVIL would “open up a certain channel through which all our forces could be engaged, and would have an earlier effect upon the enemy situation in France than would a continuation of the Italian campaign even on an intensive basis.” He reminded Marshall that he had told Montgomery in December of the need for an expanded assault for OVERLORD, while also emphasizing his desire “to retain ANVIL on at least a two-division basis.” Eisenhower insisted that he had agreed to a later target date than early May in order to permit time to gather additional material to both expand OVERLORD and retain ANVIL. The British were not supportive generally of ANVIL, he informed Marshall, and certain compromises were necessary in the conduct of coalition warfare. “But I assure you that I have never yet failed to give you my own clear personal convictions about every project and plan in prospect,” wrote Eisenhower. “So far as I am aware, no one here has tried to urge me to present any particular view, nor do I believe that I am particularly affected by localitis.” (Papers of DDE, 3: 1713-15.)

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. 271-272.

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