4-496 To General Joseph W. Stilwell, September 4, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 4, 1944

Subject: World War II

To General Joseph W. Stilwell

September 4, 1944 Radio No. WAR-25105 Washington, D.C.


For Stilwell’s EYES ONLY from Marshall.

In the new position you are expected to assume we feel that it is very important that you be relieved of the many complicated relationships connected with the India-Burma area in order that you will not only be free to devote your energy to the employment of the American and Chinese forces in China, but that you will be freed from the unfortunate effect of the inevitable squabbles that arise in the solution of the vexing problems concerned.1

As regards command on the India-Burma side here are my views. As I see it you will want Sultan in command of the U.S. forces in the India-Burma area. What is your reaction to Wedemeyer as DSAC?2 I feel sure he would be acceptable to the British. MacArthur may be unwilling to release Griswold who has an important independent command. However, if available, Griswold could then be used as field commander NCAC3 under Sultan who would be responsible to Mountbatten for NCAC operations. Have you any other candidate if Griswold cannot be made available?4

As regards Lend Lease there are 2 major questions to be settled. First, how is it to be administered. Second, what commitments are we to make. The administration as regards assignment of equipment could be handled much as it is handled for the French in North Africa. China could have representation on a committee in Chungking with a U.S. chairman who could be responsible direct to the MAB [Munitions Assignments Board] in Washington. Delivery of military Lend Lease materials to China to be through U.S. supply channels regulated by MAB in accordance with priorities established by the JCS. Such a procedure would meet the request of CKS [Chiang Kai-shek] that China be placed on the same basis as other countries without loss of control on our part. In the matter of commitments the U.S. position was explained in our 11706, 31st December.5 If Germany goes under and it can be delivered, all the equipment the Chinese can use effectively against the Jap will undoubtedly be provided. However the timing is at present unpredictable. What is your reaction to possible use of captured German equipment for this purpose?6

U.S. military role in China is primarily air. The ground operations must of course be carried out by the Chinese with first priority for security of the L of C [line of communications] and air bases.

Your further comment is desired. Our only purpose is to make it possible for you to function effectively as commander in China without the irritating effects for you there and for us here which are now involved in your numerous and delicate relationships. What you want in every instance so far as I can see we can get for you but the disagreeable work will be here or in Burma-India and not laid at your door.

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-25105, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. For previous communications on this subject, see Marshall to Stilwell, August 31, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-492 [4: 563-66]. Regarding lend-lease, Stilwell replied: “I appreciate your motives in making the suggested changes. They will of course free me of many worries. The lend lease setup you have in mind should help materially.” (Stilwell to Marshall, Radio No. CFB-22236, September 8, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. Concerning Marshall’s suggestion that Major General Albert C. Wedemeyer, Lord Louis Mountbatten’s deputy chief of staff, replace Stilwell as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Southeast Asia Command, Stilwell replied: “My reaction . . . is no. I think Wedemeyer is very properly placed where he is. I believe his talents run to staff work and not command.” Stilwell listed five other candidates for the post; for the chief of staff’s reaction to these, see Marshall to Stilwell, September 9, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-504 [4: 578-79].

3. The Northern Combat Area Command (NCAC) was established on February 1, 1944, to control the Allied combat, supply, and communications personnel involved in the Ledo Road campaign. (Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell’s Command Problems, pp. 138-39.)

4. Major General Oscar W. Griswold continued to command the Fourteenth Army Corps through the end of the war. In lieu of Griswold, Stilwell suggested the names of six major generals. In the end Marshall selected none of them, preferring to leave the choice to Daniel I. Sultan. Sultan was promoted to lieutenant general (effective September 2), and in late October he was named commander of U.S. Forces, India-Burma Theater, and commander of Chinese armies in India.

5. On December 31, 1943, the War Department’s new military supplies representative in Chungking took up his duties. His job was to relieve Stilwell’s headquarters of the duty of commenting on Chinese lend-lease requisitions and to deal directly with the War Department. Approval of lend-lease requests, in accord with the directives of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, was the duty of the Munitions Assignments Board, whose chairman was Harry L. Hopkins. Stilwell’s headquarters continued to control the time and place of delivery of Chinese lend-lease supplies. (Ibid., pp. 281-84.)

6. “The use of captured German equipment would complicate types of weapons and ammunition and create a new problem of spare parts, but as a stopgap it would be acceptable. Rifles are the principal critical item.” (Stilwell to Marshall, Radio No. CFB22236, September 8, 1944, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

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. 570-572.

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