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To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower
June 8, 1945 [Radio No. WAR-13700]. [Washington, D.C.]
TOPSEC from Marshall to Eisenhower.
The instructions to you to cease issues of military equipment and munitions to French troops immediately remain in effect.1 (Reference Smith’s message FDW 23981 of 8 June.) Regarding gasoline restricted issues sufficient for the normal life of troops and for such movements as you direct may be authorized until further instructions are received. Also are included French liberated manpower units supplied from U.S. resources.
In anticipation of acceptable answer from de Gaulle to the President, you should be prepared to resume the issuance of supplies to the French but only upon specific instructions from here.2
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), 336, Item 117, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. Rumors of French plans to annex certain areas of Italy along the frontier defined in 1860 had begun reaching Allied Force Headquarters in Italy and the Italian government during the winter of 1944-45. In early May 1945, the United States requested that the French government return its troops to their side of the prewar frontier, because U.S. troops were available to carry out the occupation agreements concerning Italy. The French rejected this and the potential for an armed clash escalated, as U.S. and French troops were intermingled at many places in the disputed area.
Secretary of War Stimson found, for “almost the first time in my experience with him,” that Marshall “seemed to be rather inclined towards the belligerent side” on the issue. Moreover, “Marshall was very much troubled over the possibility of a clash with France interfering with the redeployment of our armies in the Pacific. Our nearest communications run right across France and it would be extremely difficult to change them and go up through the North Sea, and our plans involve the utmost speed and cooperation with the French in the use of the French railroads.” (June 5 and 6, 1945, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 51: 156, 157].)
Stimson had Marshall and John J. McCloy draft a letter from President Truman to French President Charles de Gaulle. Sent on June 6, it protested what appeared to be threats by the local French commander to take military action against U.S. troops, who were supporting Italian local government in the area. Consequently, the United States would cease supplying military equipment and munitions (but not rations) to French forces everywhere “while this threat by the French Government is outstanding against American soldiers.” (Foreign Relations, 1945, 4: 735; June 6, 1945, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 51: 161]. See also C. R. S. Harris, Allied Military Administration of Italy, 1943-1945, a volume in The History of the Second World War [London: HMSO, 1957], pp. 317- 28, and the map of the disputed area on p. 322.)
2. On June 8, General de Gaulle sent Alphonse Juin, chief of staff of the French Ministry of National Defense, to Italy to talk with the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean, Field Marshal Alexander. Juin assured United States and United Kingdom representatives that the French would withdraw—just not publicly and immediately. On June 11 an agreement settling the occupation dispute was signed, and over the next month French forces left the disputed regions. (Foreign Relations, 1945, 4: 736-40.)
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), pp. 216-217.