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To General Sir John Dill
September 9, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Sir John:
This morning I received your note of August 20th, together with General Spears’s book, which I am taking home to read at the completion of the day’s chores. I appreciate your remembering our conversations about Spears and this book; but I much more appreciate the generous phrasing of your note.1
There has been some discussion of my going to London for the meeting preparatory to the Joint Mission to Moscow. However, it was not arrangeable at this particular time. Most of my decisions could be taken here, as they related to the decision regarding the maximum limit of materiel we could spare during the next few months.2 I am in the midst of a maneuver of some 500,000 troops, a legislative battle over a separate Air Corps,3 the instructions from the White House to make a strong presentation before the Congressional Committees on the new Lease-loan appropriation about to be launched, and several other almost as important matters. A little later I hope things will clear up so I will have more liberty of action.
I felt greatly reassured by my conversations with you, and I propose writing to you personally and very frankly whenever any matters arise which I think merit such attention. I am depending on you to treat me with similar frankness, and I am quite sure you will do so.
Since my return from Newfoundland I have been inspecting in the Middle West, in Colorado, during the maneuvers of the Fourth Army in the Northwest, many of our air installations in California, and some of our large training centers at Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Nebraska. I returned last night from another air trip, intensive as to mileage but very brief as to time.4 Meanwhile, between and during these activities I have been involved in reaching a decision regarding allocations of materiel. However when I think of your responsibilities, my obligations and troubles seem quite trivial.
With very warm regards,
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. In a handwritten note to Marshall, Dill had said: “This is just a line with the book I promised to send you to let you know how greatly I appreciated the opportunity of meeting you. I had heard so much about you before and now that I know you I feel immensely pleased. I wish you every possible success in the great task upon which you are engaged “I sincerely hope that we shall meet again before long. In the meantime we must keep each other in touch in the frank manner upon which we agreed.” (Dill to Marshall, August 20, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Dill had most likely sent to Marshall a copy of Brigadier-General Edward L. Spears’s Prelude to Victory (London: Jonathan Cape, 1939). Spears described and analyzed the great offensive of 1917, a period in which “the relations between the British and French Armies were put to their greatest strain.” Spears concluded the Preface with a hope that the volume would “contribute to a better understanding of days when it seemed as if the only constant factor, the one thing that could be relied upon absolutely, was the unfailing endurance and courage of both French and British soldiers.” (Prelude to Victory, p. 15.)
2. At their Placentia Bay conference, Churchill and Roosevelt had decided to send a joint mission to the Soviet Union to ascertain what Russian materiel needs the United States and Great Britain could supply. To head the mission Churchill appointed Lord Beaverbrook, minister of supply, and Roosevelt named W. Averell Harriman, who had been in London as the president’s lend-lease expediter since March 1941. At the time Marshall wrote this letter, Harriman was in Washington, D.C., assembling the personnel for his mission and working out the details of the United States position. Discussions in London were scheduled to begin on September 15 to prepare a combined British-American aid list for the mission. (Foreign Relations, 1941, 1: 825, 829 30.) On September 12 Churchill was notified that Lieutenant General Stanley D. Embick was “being sent to London to represent the Chief of Staff in the discussion.” (Churchill and Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence, 1: 241.)
3. For Marshall’s views on a separate Air Force, see Speech to the American Legion, September 15, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-548 [2: 606-612].
4. During August 20-28, Marshall and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson had made a combination relaxation-inspection tour of the Northwest. Marshall inspected the bombsight school at Lowry Field, Colorado (August 22); and the Boeing plant at Seattle, Washington (August 25); witnessed the take-off of the Twentieth Pursuit Group at Hamilton Field, California (August 27); and inspected the Quartermaster Replacement Center at Fort Francis E. Warren, Wyoming (August 27). He arrived in Washington, D.C., on August 28. (Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 35: 42-49].)
On September 8 Marshall had flown to New York City and back. He attended a conference at First Army Headquarters at Governors Island that was attended by the army corps and division commanders, corps area commanders, and the Coast Artillery district commanders for the purpose of discussing the upcoming maneuvers. Lieutenant General Hugh A. Drum thanked Marshall for attending. “The officers appreciated the time you took to journey here and back, and especially your fine explanation of the problems that you have to solve. You cleared the atmosphere greatly in connection with the ammunition and it will help them in their problems of esprit de corps, etc.” (Drum to Marshall, September 9, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 602-604.