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To General Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 27, 1943 Radio No. 6800 Washington, D.C.
From Marshall for Eisenhower’s eyes only.
BIGOT HUSKY. My views regarding future missions of the Allied Forces in the Mediterranean Theater under the assumptions for HUSKY outlined in your 5231 , 19 April 1943,1 are as follows:
Should HUSKY prove to be too hazardous an operation our strategy in the European Theater must be reconsidered. Without control of the shipping lanes through the Central Mediterranean, we cannot conduct extensive operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Decision would have to be made either further to build up our landing craft and combat loader strength in North Africa to the extent necessary to insure success or to shift the weight of our effort to United Kingdom and Western Europe.
Plans should be available for immediate future action in case the HUSKY offensive goes according to plan or especially if the defense suddenly collapses. Plans for the seizure of Sardinia or Corsica or both, and of the heel of the Italian boot should be available. As your message indicates, an all out invasion of Italy inevitably presents very serious consequences in the way of shipping, practically creating a vacuum which would put a stop to serious offensive operations elsewhere. Nevertheless we must include such an operation in our planning. You should also envisage the eastward shift of our offensive effort in the direction of Crete and the Dodecanese with the object of bringing Turkey into the war.
You will understand that the operations outlined above are not in keeping with my ideas of what our strategy should be. The decisive effort must be made against the continent from the United Kingdom sooner or later. You should therefore have in mind the possible movement of a large part of your forces to the United Kingdom. Until the decision is made on the highest level as to whether we shall reconcentrate our main strength in the United Kingdom or continue to make our main effort in the Mediterranean, we shall have to plan for any of the foregoing lines of action. The entire problem is now being considered here by our planners.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 10, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. In an April 19 message, General Eisenhower had requested General Marshall’s views regarding future Allied troop commitments in the Mediterranean in the event that operation HUSKY proved difficult, or if HUSKY went forward according to plan, or if the German-Italian forces collapsed prematurely in North Africa. Eisenhower suggested that follow-up forces intended for Sicily could be profitably deployed, following an unexpected early German-Italian surrender in Tunisia, against further targets in the Mediterranean. He mentioned Sardinia and Corsica as possibilities.
In addition Eisenhower suggested that the ultimate objective in the Mediterranean should be the invasion of the Italian mainland, although he saw difficulties in feeding and supplying the Italian population. Eisenhower believed the Italian coast to be weakly defended, and he saw the possession of Italian airfields as useful to the strategic bombing campaign in his theater. He also mentioned the possibility of extending the Mediterranean campaign toward Turkey. Although he reiterated his commitment to an eventual Allied return to the mainland of Europe, Eisenhower suggested that Allied resources were not extensive enough to provide a buildup in England necessary for a cross-Channel invasion simultaneously with a continued major effort in the Mediterranean. Eisenhower requested Marshall’s views on these subjects as future possibilities needed to be considered by his Mediterranean planning staff. (Papers of DDE, 2: 1096.)
2. “My views agree completely with yours,” Eisenhower replied on April 30. “HUSKY planning is developing some unforeseen difficulties, but we will be ready to do the job on time. In this connection, the Tunisian fight appears to offer a good indication of what we can always expect when we meet the German in defensive positions, especially where the terrain is favorable to him.” (Ibid., p. 1104.) See Marshall to Eisenhower, April 30, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-632 [3: 670-71].
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. 664-665.