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To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower
January 6, 1945 [Radio No. W-87829.] Washington, D.C.
For Eisenhower’s eyes only from Marshall.
I dislike taking your attention from the battle for even a moment but have decided that one matter is so important that I must do so.
Somervell is on his way to see you in relation to Lee’s command. The particular matter I shall now bring up is only one phase of Somervell’s immediate interest. Barker and his people got a very clear idea of the replacement situation and its necessities while they were here and he assured me that a great improvement could be made in reconversions in ETO. However with your attention centered on the battle, with Barker the G-1 of an Allied force and not a pugnacious character and with Lee in command of affairs in England and many in France I am fearful that too much of delay will occur in bringing about the changes that appear imperative.1
It seems absolutely clear to me that little has been done in Lee’s command or in the Eighth Air Force command for that matter, vaguely approximating the drastic measures we have taken back here to obtain infantry replacements. Matchett I know and undoubtedly he is a good man for training but he is not a pugnacious character and he is under Lee.2 In brief what I want to do unless you interpose strong objections is to send General Gasser with several assistants to England immediately to survey the situation in the light of the experience he has had over the past two years. We must get immediate action since we can no longer bleed ourselves much more on this side of the Atlantic to meet deficiencies on yours.3
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. Lieutenant General Brehon B. Somervell served as chief of Army Service Forces. Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee, chief of the Services of Supply in the European Theater of Operations, served as deputy theater commander with responsibilities for administration and supply. Lee’s duties included commanding Communications Zone in the European theater, and he was in a position to control the flow of reinforcements and supplies. (Forrest C. Pogue, The Supreme Command, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1954], pp. 267-68, 322-23.) Major General Ray W. Barker served as chief of the G-1 (Personnel) Division of S.H.A.E.F.
2. Brigadier General Henry J. Matchett served as commander of the Replacement System.
3. “I believe that Gasser’s work will do much toward getting us right down to bedrock in reaching definite and accurate conclusions,” replied Eisenhower the next day. “Due to comparatively low scale of effort that the enemy is compelled to make on other fronts, an extremely high proportion of his personnel and material replacements is pouring into the Western Front. Enemy units that have been badly cut up in the salient and at other places are persistently and quickly built up.” Eisenhower was convinced that “we cannot resort to cannibalization of U.S. divisions because of the strength needed on this long front. The enemy enjoys the advantage of short communications, fortified defense zones and total mobilization and our only answer is sufficient divisional strength, fully maintained.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2408-9.)
Major General Lorenzo D. Gasser, head of the War Department Manpower Board, and his staff found duplication of services and made recommendations for substantial savings in manpower. (For further information, see Roland G. Ruppenthal, Logistical Support of the Armies, volume 2, September 1944-May 1945, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1959], pp. 326, 384.) See Marshall to Eisenhower, January 8, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-014 [5: 20-22].
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. 17-18.