3-278 To Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower Radio No. 3318, August 14, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 14, 1942

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower

August 14, 1942 Radio No. 3318 Washington, D.C.


For General Eisenhower’s eyes only.

Reference your urgent message August 13th without a number:1 flash estimates are as follows:

(A) Navy thinks they can provide escorts for Oran Force including CV Ranger and probably though not certainly 1 newly commissioned converted C-3 CV capable of carrying 30 fighters,2 for expedition sailing from here October 1st and that escort for 2nd convoy to follow up Forces you desire can be provided in time to have it at sea as initial landing is being made. 2 more converted C-3 CV’s, without fighters, will probably be available to sail from here by end of October.

(B) Your request for troops can be met with possible exception of some antiaircraft for 2nd convoy or follow up Force and part of the Ground Echelons for Air Force.

(C) There is a unanimity of opinion of Army officials here that proposed operation appears hazardous to extent of less than 50% chance for success. This is an immediate and therefore somewhat superficial view as we do not know details of British carrier support proposed, etc. Also, to what extent you would be prepared to meet possible German air assaults launched from Spain and Spanish Morocco, etc. Give me your completely frank view without regard to directives and quote me similar frank expression from Patton.3

(D) We have not yet met formally with Navy, have merely gotten their first hasty estimates in answer to your questions.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Top Secret Message File [CM-OUT-4272], National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. Eisenhower had requested information regarding the shipping of forces from the United States. (Papers of DDE, 1: 461-64.)

2. CV was a U.S. Navy designation for aircraft carrier. The Ranger could accommodate about eighty aircraft. C-3 was a cargo vessel of the U.S. Maritime Commission standardized design and about 490 feet in length.

3. Eisenhower’s August 15 reply—concurred in by Major Generals Patton and Clark—concluded: “We consider that the operation has more than fair chances of success provided Spain stays absolutely neutral and the French forces either offer only token resistance or are so badly divided by internal dissension and by Allied political maneuvering that effective resistance will be negligible.” They believed that Spain would remain neutral, at least initially, but also believed that “we will encounter very considerable resistance from certain sections of the French forces. . . . We believe that the chances of effecting initial landings are better than even but that the chances of overall success in the operation, including the capture of Tunis before it can be reinforced by the Axis, are considerably less than 50 per cent.” (Ibid., pp. 469-71.)

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), p. 301.

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