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To General Dwight D. Eisenhower
March 1, 1943 Radio No. 3072 Washington, D.C.
From Marshall to Eisenhower for his eyes only.
The following is to be treated merely as a suggestion: I have been thinking of your situation regarding a resumption of the offensive with tired troops and the problem of training inexperienced troops for Husky. Would it be practical to commence the relief of reserve combat teams of 1st Infantry or 1st Armored Divisions by similar units from 3rd Infantry or 2nd Armored being flown without any organizational equipment and only hand weapons, under suitable fighter escort to Tebessa for example. In this way you would have fresh units for the battle and experienced units resting up and training for Husky. Release by one organization at a time would only result in very small and temporary reductions in strength of Patton’s Force.
If such procedure is considered a probability we will undertake to find 40 transport planes from the Accra-Marrakech run and possibly 50 transport planes from Brereton in Cairo but we would not wish to query Brereton until we knew whether or not you thought such procedure justified further investigation.
MacArthur transported an entire division by bomber plane with equipment though a large portion of the heavy guns followed by boat, but he transported these large forces, even tanks and 105 guns, and supplied 2 and 1/2 divisions entirely by air and mostly by bomber, so there is a great deal can be done particularly if all but personal equipment is eliminated.1
It is also possible that economy of air transport could be realized by some movements by rail of personnel only from the Casablanca region to the vicinity of Oran, and there picked up by air transport.
I offer this in a purely personal manner and wish you to feel no necessity for explanation of why you do not consider it practical.2
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 3, Item 12, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. For George C. Kenney’s account of the air transport of elements of the Thirty-second Division from Brisbane to Port Moresby, New Guinea, and the further airborne movement of troops to the north coast of New Guinea and supplying troops in the area by air, see Kenney, General Kenney Reports, pp. 97-122, 128, 136-48.
2. “Not practicable at this time,” Eisenhower replied on March 5, “due to impending offensive by American troops of the Second Corps. However, the concentration of American troops in the region has thrown such a burden upon lines of communication that any additional transports would be a godsend to us. This consideration is entirely separate from the larger demands that will develop as result of Husky planning.” (Eisenhower to Marshall, Radio No. 4573, March 5, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 3, Item 13].)
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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 574-575.