5-018 To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 11, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 11, 1945

Subject: World War II

To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

January 11, 1945 Radio No. W-90175. Washington, D.C.


From Marshall to Eisenhower for his eyes only.

Our first reaction to your S-74461 is agreement in the soundness of your estimate and intentions.1 General Handy and I have been discussing the advisability of showing the message to Admiral Leahy and the President because of your last paragraph which may be taken as indicating a weakening on your part under the heavy pressure of the press and British officialdom to get some high British military official into your general management of the ground forces.2 Frankly, Alexander’s appointment as a deputy would mean two things I think. First, that the British had won a major point in getting control of the ground operations in which their divisions of necessity will play such a minor part and, for the same reason, we are bound to suffer very heavy casualties; and second, the man being who he is and our experience being what it has been, you would have great difficulty in offsetting the direct influence of the PM [Prime Minister].

I have thought all the time that you have lacked qualified individuals to offset your tremendous involvements and have tried to assist you in overcoming this deficiency in your setup. Bradley was my first offer, Bull the second, Bonesteel the third, but in each case we ended with no one to be your eyes and ears and legs for a continuous observation and discussion with top commanders along the front.3 Have you a suitable individual you could use for this? Is there anyone here you would want? Would it not be wise to have also a British officer on this same job?4

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. On January 10 General Eisenhower had sent an outline of future operations; see note 2, Marshall to Eisenhower, January 8, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-015 [5: 23].

2. “Because of the great size of the land forces now engaged on this front, it would be more convenient for me if my deputy supreme commander were an experienced ground officer rather than air. In spite of my personal and official admiration for Tedder he is not repeat not in position to help me by visits and conferences with troop commanders,” Eisenhower concluded his January 10 message. “If I could have a man of fine personality, respected by all and willing to serve as my deputy and not repeat not under independent charter from my superiors, it would be most helpful. As a corollary to such a scheme I would want [Carl] Spaatz named air commander in chief. I am afraid it would be impossible to find such a deputy as I describe. The only one I could think of myself would be Alexander, and manifestly he is not repeat not available.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2420.) Field Marshal Harold Alexander assumed the position as Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean in December 1944.

3. Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley served as commander of the Twelfth Army Group. Major General Harold R. Bull was chief of the Operations Division at S.H.A.E.F. Major General Charles H. Bonesteel was chief of the General Inspectorate Section at S.H.A.E.F., which worked to improve the morale and efficiency of personnel stationed in rear areas of combat zones.

4. “The two disadvantages mentioned by you to my use of Alexander’s name had not occurred to me,” replied Eisenhower on January 12. He objected to any officer named as “deputy for ground operations” and insisted that his deputy “would have to function exclusively without portfolio and in the activities that would be delegated to him by me.” Eisenhower had mentioned Alexander “to illustrate the kind of man that would be acceptable” to him. “Because of the fine relationships I have had with Alexander in the past and because that so far as I know, he never in that association in any slightest way violated the requirements of personal and official loyalty.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2422.)

Eisenhower decided “to make no shift in our present arrangements,” except to request Major General Lowell W. Rooks, who was serving at Allied Force Headquarters, be transferred to his headquarters to work with Major General John F. M. Whiteley in G-3. “This will give me a team of Rooks and Whiteley, who is respected by the British, to stay on the road constantly as my eyes and ears,” replied Eisenhower. (Ibid.)

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. 27-28.

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