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To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower
March 14, 1945 Radio No. WAR-52767. [Washington, D.C.]
TOPSEC eyes only Marshall to Eisenhower.
It would be asking a good deal to take one of Clark’s six dependable American divisions at this particular moment, your FWD 17807, especially when he knows you have nearly 90 already available and when you have now closed to the Rhine over a good deal of its length, making it relatively easy for you to rest your divisions.1 Before expressing my own views, I would like to know the whereabouts of the proposed operation, etcetera. The date you give seems quite distant considering your present prospects. If it comes to transferring a U.S. division from Italy, would the Tenth Mountain be of any use to you? (You might get Bull’s views on this.)2
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), 370.5 Top Secret, Case 34, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. “On the most highly secret basis we are considering, as a feature of our whole campaign, an airborne operation on a scale of seven to ten divisions. Our tentative target date is May 1 but this looks rather optimistic from viewpoint of weather and unit readiness,” wrote Eisenhower on March 12. “What would you think of my taking up with SACMED and McNarney the possibility of their sparing one American division from that front to be sent as quickly as possible?” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2524-25.) General Joseph T. McNarney served as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean theater. General Mark W. Clark had commanded the Fifteenth Army Group since mid-December 1944.
2. “I withdraw my suggestion,” Eisenhower replied on March 15. “So long as plans and the current situation in Italy make undesirable any further weakening of our forces there, it would be unwise to transfer a division here to prepare for an operation that of course may never eventuate.” (Ibid., p. 2529.) On March 27 Eisenhower explained to Marshall that he had asked for the additional division while considering deploying an airborne operation in the Kassel area. “The only thing we must guard against is the possibility that the German may still find enough strength to oppose our penetrations along some line fairly deep in his own country where our stretched maintenance might allow him to stalemate us for a period of time. When I requested you some time ago to give me the possibilities of moving another division here I was looking forward to an airborne operation in the Kassel area which would have made it impossible for the German to do this.” (Ibid., pp. 2547-48.)
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. 87.