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To General Dwight D. Eisenhower
September 5, 1944 Radio No. WAR-25528 Washington, D.C.
For Eisenhower’s Eyes only from Marshall.
In your FWD 13792 you state that your greatest difficulty is maintenance and that the closer you get to the Siegfried line the greater you will be stretched administratively and eventually a period of relative inaction will be imposed upon you.
In your FWD 13784 you state that you are disposed to release 100 transport aircraft for an operation in Greece although this will reduce your supply to ground troops by a definite amount.1
I suppose you are under heavy pressure from the PM in the matter and are embarrassed by the fact that all British transport planes have been placed under your control. About two weeks ago we scraped everything available in the U.S. to give you 100 more transport planes. There are no more that we can give you and yet the push on the west wall is of major importance in the conduct of global war at the moment. Can you not handle this matter through Cannon?2 I should be much more disposed to bring pressure from here on the Mediterranean than to see you weaken your supply capabilities at such a vital moment in the great European battle.3
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-255281, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. These two messages from Eisenhower are printed in Papers of DDE, 4:2113-14, 2118-19. On September 3, Marshall had asked Eisenhower for his views on a proposal from the British Chiefs of Staff to dispatch one hundred British transports to the Mediterranean for a week to support an operation in Greece. In his FWD-13784 of September 4, Eisenhower said: “Our immediate need for transport aircraft is not so intense as formerly because of cancellation of airborne operation in Pas de Calais area.” (Ibid., p. 2114.)
2. Major General John K. Cannon, commanding general of the Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force and the U.S. Twelfth Air Force, was at Eisenhower’s headquarters and had stated that in an emergency he could help the British in Greece without assistance from Eisenhower. (Ibid.)
3. Walter Bedell Smith, replying for Eisenhower, said that Prime Minister Churchill had not pressed the matter and that S.H.A.E.F. could afford to lend the planes since loading and landing fields were the bottlenecks, not aircraft. (Ibid., p. 2115.) Ultimately, the British operation was not executed until mid-October, at which time the Mediterranean-based U.S. Fifty-first Troop Carrier Wing assisted. (Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., Europe: ARGUMENT to V-E Day, January 1944 to May 1945, a volume in The Army Air Forces in World War II [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951], pp. 474-75.)
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. 572-573.