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To James F. Byrnes
October 31, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am inclosing an aide memoire handed to me personally by Field Marshal Wilson, head of the British Joint Staff Mission here.1 As I understand the situation the British Foreign Office is in complete agreement with the wishes of the British military to move their Headquarters to Rome. I have talked the matter over with General McNarney who has just arrived, and he states that the British have already acquired and are reserving from other use the necessary quarters for their Headquarters. General McNarney who opposed the move when the Headquarters was large now considers it the sound thing to do, as does General Ridgway who has just assumed command in Italy. General McNarney presents the difficulties of communication and coordination, if the British and U.S. Headquarters are separated, and also the morale problem occasioned by the lack of suitable accommodations for U.S. personnel in Caserta for the coming winter. I do not like to see U.S. soldiers under primitive shelter during the winter season while the soldiers of Allies enjoy the advantages of permanent shelter. Only about a thousand U.S. personnel are involved which seems a small number considering the facilities and population of Rome.
I understand that there are certain objections to this move by the State Department. Before replying to the personal request of the British Chiefs of Staff I would appreciate your view as to whether we cannot agree to accompany the British in a move to Rome.2
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. The Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean, requested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff approve moving Allied Forces Headquarters to Rome from its present location at Caserta, an inland town about eighteen miles north of Naples. The British Chiefs of Staff approved, but understood that the U.S. State Department and Italy’s prime minister objected; they hoped that Marshall could persuade the State Department to reverse its attitude. (Wilson Aide Memoire, October 29, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. The State Department refused to alter its stance in the matter, primarily because U.S. policy was to encourage the Italian government to accept greater administrative responsibilities, and the presence in Rome of an Allied commander and his staff would “encourage the Italians to continue to lean on Allied assistance, and to an appreciable extent would negate Allied policy.” The move to Rome would also “lend color to the frequent allegations that the Italian Government is under Allied tutelage.” Moreover, U.S. Ambassador Alexander C. Kirk strongly opposed the move. Marshall informed Wilson that the U.S. Chiefs of Staff could not support the British proposal. Marshall also wrote to Secretary Byrnes to protest the attitude of Ambassador Kirk, who since June 1944 “constantly attempted to avoid the presence of American soldiers in Rome, without giving full consideration to the military factors involved.” (Byrnes to Marshall, November 1, 1945, and Marshall Memorandum for Field Marshal Wilson, November 9, 1945, ibid.; Marshall to Byrnes, November 12, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 091 Italy]. Regarding the Marshall-Kirk relationship, see Marshall Memorandum for Mr. McCloy, August 21, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-214 [5: 284-85].)
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. 346-347.