5-037 To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, February 17, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 17, 1945

Subject: World War II

To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

February 17, 1945 [Radio No. W-39014.] Washington, D.C.


Personal for Eisenhower from Marshall.

I am deeply concerned over apparent action and attitude regarding loss of truck in 28th Division containing codes.1 After reading messages and particularly a telephone conversation to your Signal code representative I was struck with the low level on which this affair was being handled. The mere relief of a divisional Signal officer is not a cure for such a serious matter. Please place this affair under investigation by an officer of high rank.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. A truck containing cryptographic material for the Twenty-eighth Division had been missing in the vicinity of Colmar since the night of February 5-6. (Devers to Eisenhower, February 19, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. General Eisenhower replied on February 18 that once the loss was reported to Sixth Army Group on February 6, the matter was “placed definitely and specifically in the hands of General Devers” and the entire theater had been alerted. “The relief of the divisional signal officer was brought about merely because of failure in local guarding. It is a preliminary step only pending findings and fixing of responsibility that will permit appropriate action.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2483.)

Major General Fay B. Prickett (U.S.M.A., 1916), who had commanded the Seventy-fifth Division until he became deputy commanding general of the Twenty-first Corps in January 1945, conducted the investigation. Prickett submitted his report to Devers on March 7, two days before the cryptographic materials were located, concluding that security measures for cryptographic equipment of the Twenty-eighth Division were inadequate and did not comply with regulations and instructions issued by the Signal officer. “The lack of inspections, guards for vehicles, and specific instructions for security measures reflect unfavorably on the efficiency of the 28th Infantry Division.” Prickett recommended that the division’s commanding general as well as his chief of staff and assistant chief of staff, G-2, be relieved of their commands. On March 9 the cryptographic equipment and material were located, apparently uncompromised. All but four documents were accounted for, and “while direct evidence cannot be produced, all known facts indicate that the cryptographic devices and material have not been examined by unauthorized personnel.” Devers recommended that the officers be reprimanded rather than relieved, and Eisenhower concurred. (Eisenhower to Marshall, March 28, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected]; Pasco Memorandum for General Marshall, April 4, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OCS, SGS]; Papers of DDE, 4: 2483-84.)

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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), p. 52.

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Holding ID: 5-037

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