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4-419 To General Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 23, 1944

1944
   
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: June 23, 1944

Subject: World War II


To General Dwight D. Eisenhower

June 23, 1944 Radio No. WAR-54881 Washington, D.C.

Secret

For Eisenhower’s eyes only from Marshall.

I find that no mention has been made in the press as to the names of any U.S. OVERLORD Commanders below Bradley except for some air men including Quesada. There was a press release some days ago that spoke of certain American Corps being in the line but that is very cold publicity. Would it not be within the bounds of security, particularly since the division numerals in most cases have already been given time after time, to begin the mention by name of some of the commanders. I should suggest for example that Collins’ name might be introduced into the fighting for Cherbourg, Gerow for the original landing, together with the names of the 3 Division Commanders in the lead off on the beaches and particularly the Commanders of the 101 and 82 Airborne Divisions. I also think that the names of the commanders of the leading regiments to arrive on the beaches might be given some publicity. In all of this it would be bad business to break the whole lot at one time, but there should be 3 or 4 each day.1

In such matters I find there is a slow development of resentment over here both in and out of the Army and over the fact that where there has been heavy fighting for a considerable period of time and the units themselves have been identified, so little mention is permitted, if any, of the leaders, with the consequent increased references to a few higher officers. Bradley certainly is not of that type but he is being placed in a false position.

Since dictating the foregoing your S 54398 “Assuming that Cherbourg falls” recommending Oak Leaf Clusters for Bradley, Collins, and Gerow, has been received. Such awards are approved with great satisfaction.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-54881, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. For the names of the commanders during the initial assault, see editorial note #4-407, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [4: 476-77]. Major General J. Lawton Collins’s Seventh Corps had the mission of cutting off German forces in the Cotentin Peninsula and capturing the key French Atlantic port city Cherbourg. Seventh Corps completed the isolation of the German forces in the Cotentin Peninsula by June 18,1944; offensive operations to accomplish this had begun on June 8, with the 4th Infantry Division (Major General Barton) and the 82d Airborne Division (Major General Ridgway) attacking Lieutenant General Erich Marcks’s Eighty-fourth Corps. Major General Troy H. Middleton’s Eighth Corps, which became operational on June 15 and had the mission of holding a defensive position across the Cotentin Peninsula while the Seventh Corps advanced toward Cherbourg, had the 101st Airborne Division (Major General Taylor) under its control and eventually also the 82d Airborne Division. (Harrison, Cross-Channel Attack, pp. 386-416.)

The final assault on the port city itself took place on June 22, preceded by what Collins called “air pulverization” of the German defenses by ground support air attacks launched by Major General Elwood R. Quesada’s Ninth Tactical Air Command. (Ibid., pp. 416-17, 426-29.) The German commanders surrendered to American forces after determined resistance on June 26, although the last German defensive pockets were not eliminated in the city until June 29. The Germans had done everything possible prior to their capitulation to render Cherbourg ineffective as a port for the support of the Allied campaign in northwestern France. Colonel Alvin G. Viney (U.S.M.A., 1929), who made the initial engineer plan for rehabilitation of the port, wrote: “The demolition of the port of Cherbourg is a masterful job, beyond a doubt the most complete, intensive, and best planned demolition in history.” The first Allied cargo landed at Cherbourg on July 16, but it was the end of September before the harbor was cleared of all obstructions. (Ibid., pp. 438-42.) For Marshall’s congratulations to Bradley and his commanders for their superb performance and for Bradley’s comments regarding the campaign, see Marshall to Bradley, July 12, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-447 [4: 517-18]. For further comment regarding the Cherbourg campaign, see Marshall to Stark, July 11, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-444 [4: 514-15].

2. General Eisenhower replied on June 25 that his headquarters was immediately releasing to the press the names of the two American corps commanders in the initial OVERLORD assault, to be followed by the names of the two American Airborne division commanders and the three assault division commanders. The names of other division commanders and the names of smaller formation commanders would be subsequently released to the press as circumstances warranted. (Papers of DDE, 3: 1950.) For further discussion, see Marshall to Eisenhower, July 14,1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-453 [4: 522-23].

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. 489-490.

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