4-202 To Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz, January 18, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 18, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz

January 18, 1944 [Radio No. 5522] Washington, D.C.


Personal for Spaatz from Marshall.

I was absent from Washington at the time of your great offensive of January 11th and have only now been informed of the details.1

Please give the leaders and their pilots and crews my thanks and warmest congratulations on a splendid demonstration of skill and courage with devastating results to the enemy. The great air war they are offensively waging over Europe is approaching a decision which will have a determining effect on the collapse of German resistance.

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

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. General and Mrs. Marshall had left Washington in the afternoon of Friday, January 7, for a trip to Miami, Florida, and they returned on Sunday, January 16. “Following my return from abroad I was deeply involved for a week or ten days in catching up with affairs,” the chief of staff wrote to a friend. “Tired both from the trip and from the heavy pressures on my return home, I took Katherine and slipped off to Miami Beach where we had a cottage and a private bathing beach, and were completely cut off from outside contacts. We had a fine rest without our presence being known.” (Marshall to Mrs. E. T. Corner, January 28, [1944], GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) Marshall describes his trip to Miami in Marshall to Singer, January 19, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-207 [4: 243].

On January 11, 1944, the Eighth Air Force attacked targets in the vital German aircraft industry. A force of 663 B-17s and B-24s took off to bomb aircraft parts and assembly plants at Oschersleben, Halberstadt, and in the Brunswick area. The Allies encountered stiff German fighter opposition and lost sixty bombers that day. (Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., Europe: ARGUMENT to V-E Day, January 1944 to May 1945, a volume in The Army Air Forces in World War II [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951], pp. 21-24.) Spaatz, commander of U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe, reported on January 12 that “fighter-bomber coordination was excellent,” particularly given the extremely bad weather conditions. Initial reports and German claims magnified bomber losses and minimized bomb damage, but as data came in from dispersed forces, Spaatz told Arnold on January 16, the mission’s appearance “changed from complete failure to highly successful.” (Spaatz to War Department, January 12, 1944, In Log, pp. 111-12, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Message Log]; Spaatz to Arnold, Radio No. K-3141, January 16, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 237.

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