2-089 To Kaufman T. Keller, December 18, 1939

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 18, 1939

To Kaufman T. Keller1

December 18, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]


My dear Mr. Keller:

General Gibbins, The Quartermaster General,2 mentioned on Saturday that he had had a very satisfactory talk with you regarding the delivery of the motor vehicles recently ordered for the Army from the Chrysler Company. I am very glad to learn that you were most generous in your attitude in the matter and that we may have some hope that the dates of delivery can be expedited. In view of the importance of the matter to the Army, I am taking the opportunity of outlining the situation.

For the first time in the peace-time history of the Army we have been permitted to concentrate and complete the organization of divisions and corps troops of the Regular establishment, and to look forward to a practical experience in the technique of leadership of these large groups. Heretofore we have had to proceed on a basis which was largely theoretical, so the present concentration is of extreme importance to the Army and will have a tremendous effect on its efficiency and standards of training, as well as the teaching in all the Army schools and development of policy generally.

Unfortunately, though the divisions are now concentrated and the corps troops are being organized, we can make no headway until the motor transportation is received; and more unfortunately, we are under heavy pressure to return the troops to their home stations at as early a date as possible. Also, there is the necessity for their employment in the training of the civilian components, which is a heavy yearly task. We are, therefore, anxious to get under way with the corps maneuvers at as early a date as possible, and we are even forced to the conclusion that we must start these maneuvers before we have received the full complement of motor vehicles.

Under the circumstances, I hope that your people can work one of those industrial miracles for which American industry has become famous, and give us deliveries at a much earlier date than we now anticipate.

I am writing very frankly and somewhat confidentially, but the matter is so important and your attitude with General Gibbins was so encouraging that I am moved to communicate with you personally and directly.3

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Keller had been president and general manager of the Chrysler Corporation since 1935.

2. Major General Henry Gibbins had been the quartermaster general since April 1, 1936.

3. Keller replied that if the samples the army was testing were approved, production of all contract items would be completed “at least by the 13th of May . . . and we hope to beat these figures. . . . We have been so conscious of your desire to get these jobs at the earliest possible moment that we are doing everything physically possible to get them to you at the earliest possible date.” He declared that Chrysler’s interest in production for the army made them work even more efficiently. In spite of the 1939 strike, he believed his company could deliver their trucks almost a month ahead of schedule. In fact, Keller noted, the strike had freed management to concentrate on the army’s orders. (Keller to Marshall, December 22, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

Marshall wrote similar letters to Robert F. Black, president of the White Motor Company, and to Irving B. Babcock, president of the Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company, urging them to speed truck production. (Marshall to Black, January 16, 1940; Marshall to Babcock, January 23, 1940, ibid.) Both companies replied that they would try to do so. Transportation shortages delayed the completion of maneuvers in the southeastern United States. Marshall, under fire from Congress because of the expense of these exercises, sought to secure trucks as early in the spring of 1940 as possible. (See Marshall to James F. Byrnes, January 25, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-112 [2: 147-48].)

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. 117-118.

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