3-471 To Lewis W. Douglas, December 31, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 31, 1942

Subject: World War II

To Lewis W. Douglas

December 31, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Mr. Douglas:

Thanks for your note of the 29th which I just received yesterday.1

It is evident that I expressed myself rather poorly Monday morning.2 The point I was trying to make was this; that the portions of the communication you and Admiral Land sent to the President regarding combat loaders, particularly the reference to the use of any of these ships for training purposes as “a profligate waste of shipping”, to which I referred, indicated to me that an agency with a tremendous responsibility such as yours is bound to differ seriously in point of view with the Chiefs of Staff, however great the desire to cooperate. I suppose you could reply that we on our side cannot properly appreciate the point of view of Admiral Land and you regarding shipping requirements other than military.

However, the difficulty is, we are out to win this war and while practically every agency of the Government is involved as well as the people back home, and the shipping agency is a crucial factor, nevertheless the military point of view must dominate, in my opinion, to the extent that it is not kept constantly on the defensive with the Chief Executive due to direct representations to him by other agencies, affecting fundamentals of military operations.

We all agree in principle; the trouble develops in administration or execution. And the President as Commander-in-Chief has not the opportunity to analyze all the pros and cons in these complicated matters. Therefore when Admiral Land and you proceed direct to him in matters of such major importance to the military conduct of the war as this recent directive, without giving the Chiefs of Staff an opportunity to discuss the issue, I feel that we merely are going from one irritating complication to another. Meanwhile, what we are trying to concentrate on is fighting the enemy and not our friends.

I am conscious of the strong desire on your part, particularly as demonstrated the other day in relation to Burma, to do your utmost to support the military necessities; but the manner in which matters are developing indicates so many complications, so many consultations, so many necessities for obtaining approvals from this or that official, that we would almost be stymied in the business of progressing with the war.

Undoubtedly, we must have further discussions of this matter and I can talk to you then at greater length. Meanwhile I appreciate very much the generous spirit in which your note was written.3

Faithfully yours,

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 editors have not found Douglas’s note.

2. On December 28 the Joint Chiefs of Staff had met with leaders of the War Shipping Administration. The military leaders were displeased that the W.S.A. had bypassed the J.C.S. and had convinced President Roosevelt to issue a directive on December 18 that apparently gave the W.S.A. control over loading military cargoes. (Minutes of a Meeting at Admiral Leahy’s Office, December 28, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, JCS Minutes].)

3. On the same morning that Marshall wrote the letter printed here, Douglas called on Admiral Leahy and left a memorandum which, Leahy told Marshall and King, “if put into effect, should eliminate causes of controversy between the Military Transportation Services and the War Shipping Administration.” (Leahy Memorandum for General Marshall, Admiral King, December 31, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 570].) For further comment on this issue, see Marshall to Douglas, January 8, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-481 [3: 510-11].

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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 498-499.

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