5-446 To James V. Forrestal, May 19, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 19, 1946

Subject: China

To James V. Forrestal1

May 19, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 714. [Nanking, China]


Admiral Cooke tells me he has received a citation for Tai Li to be presented posthumously by him shortly.2 This will seriously prejudice my efforts by virtually egging on the Communist propaganda against American support of National Government in present conflict. Importance of naval recognition of Tai Li’s assistance in SACO matter I think is of negligible importance compared with settlement of present crisis.3 Cannot this matter be delayed?4

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Department of State (RG 59), Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, GOLD Messages, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. The routing instructions to Colonel Marshall Carter stated: “Please see Secretary Navy personally immediately and give him the following orally, repeat orally.”

2. Tai Li, the Nationalist government’s spymaster and one of the men most feared by its enemies, had been killed in an air crash that many regarded as suspicious in origin near Nanking on March 17. Since 1942, Tai had had close relations with representatives of the Office of Naval Intelligence. In early 1946, U.S. Navy representatives in China had begun pressing the Navy Department to support Tai’s being named chief of the Chinese navy. (Maochun Yu, OSS in China: Prelude to Cold War [New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1996], pp. 253-54.)

3. In late 1942, Tai Li “decided to impose a legal obligation on the U.S. government to regulate Sino-U.S. intelligence operations and stop any future unauthorized OSS secret intelligence efforts in China.” He proposed an agreement creating a Sino-American Special Technical Cooperative Organization (S.A.C.O.). When the proposal was taken up by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in February 1943, Admiral King was supportive, but Marshall opposed those sections of the draft that sought to control and regulate U.S. intelligence efforts in China and that consequently undermined unity of command under General Stilwell. But when asked to comment on the draft agreement, Stilwell agreed to give up control of intelligence to S.A.C.O. (which was to be headed by Tai Li and to have Navy Commander Milton Miles subordinate to him as the U.S. head). The S.A.C.O. agreement was signed in China on July 4, 1943. Neither the O.S.S. nor U.S. Army intelligence were ever completely subordinated to S.A.C.O. On October 11, 1945, S.A.C.O. was formally dissolved as a result of the dissolution of the O.S.S. (Ibid., pp. 94-100, 252.)

4. According to Miles, Marshall prevented both him and Admiral Cooke, who had a Legion of Merit for Tai, from attending Tai’s funeral and that Cooke was “resentful” of this. Miles attended Tai’s burial in Nanking in 1947. (Milton E. Miles, A Different Kind of War: The Little-Known Story of the Combined Guerrilla Forces Created in China by the U.S. Navy and the Chinese During World War II [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1967), pp. 579, 581-82.) On Miles and Tai Li, see Marshall to Wedemeyer, February 18, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-360 [5: 457-58].

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. 560-561.

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Holding ID: 5-446

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