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4-620 To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, December 22, 1944

   
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 22, 1944

Subject: World War II


To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

December 22, 1944 [Radio No. W-81088.] Washington, D.C.

Top Secret

For Eisenhower’s eyes only from Marshall.

I received your proposal to promote Bradley and Spaatz and am sorry that it does not appear feasible to do this at the moment.1 Congress has adjourned[,] and without some measure of success I doubt if the President would hazard a recess appointment regarding which he has always been reluctant to take action.2 I was glad to get your comment on Bradley but it was exactly what I anticipated, his leadership would be in a crisis.

I gave instructions to the staff that you were not to be bothered with any questions regarding the operations without my express approval though one slipped through yesterday with reference to the Germans shooting prisoners.3 I did this because I want you left entirely free from such irritations during a period that demands your complete concentration. I shall merely say now that you have our complete confidence.

I have been wondering if the vicissitudes of the fighting might not develop a requirement for replacements in division commanders or brigade commanders. At the present time I have in mind General Porter whom I will release if you want him and General A. E. Brown. He was relieved of his division on Attu but McNarney felt this was not altogether fair to him and he, McNarney, and a series of other officers from time to time have urged on me giving Brown another chance as he has displayed so much ability in his training command here in the States which is outstanding. I reserved action until I myself inspected the command. I now propose him as valuable material for division command.4

Another officer who was reduced from major general and division commander during maneuvers and subsequently elevated to brigade command, is performing with conspicuous efficiency, I think, General Paul Ransom. He was a great and level headed fighter in the First Division in my day. He has never asked me for anything. I inspected his command the other day. I think he would make a fine brigade commander.5

For your rear area business you might find Major General Forrest Harding, now in command of the Caribbean arch with headquarters in Puerto Rico, a good man. He lost out during the desperate fighting at Buna, New Guinea, where the troops had little or no equipment and long arduous marches overland. His relief was based on his unwillingness to relieve certain subordinates. He felt that tanks were required rather than changes of command to get the Japanese out of their bunkers. MacArthur recommended him for division command at home for a new trial but we sent him to Panama. He knows nothing of this proposal.6 If there are other men you think of that you want, send me their names and I will see what I can do to help you out.7

I am sorry your Christmas Day must be one of storm and stress.

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. In a December 21 message, Eisenhower asked Marshall to “consider promotion to four star rank” of Bradley and Spaatz. While admitting that there had been an intelligence failure prior to the German Ardennes offensive that had begun on December 16, Eisenhower wrote: “Bradley has kept his head magnificently and has proceeded methodically and energetically to meet the situation. In no quarter is there any tendency to place any blame upon Bradley. I retain all my former confidence in him and believe that his promotion now would be interpreted by all American forces as evidence that their calm determination and courage in the face of trials and difficulties is thoroughly appreciated here and at home. It would have a fine effect generally.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2367-68.)

2. In a message the following day, the two preceding sentences were changed to read: “Congress has adjourned and it would therefore be unwise to promote Bradley without some measure of success as a basis for exceptional action. Under the circumstances I doubt if the President would hazard a recess appointment regarding which, etc.” (Marshall to Eisenhower, Radio, December 23, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) The second session of the Seventy-eighth Congress adjourned sine die on December 19, 1944.

3. Word had spread of several December 17 executions of U.S. prisoners of war by elements of Kampfgruppe Peiper (First SS Panzer Division); the most famous of these was the Malm

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