3-417 To Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower Radio No, R-3345, November 20, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 20, 1942

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower

November 20, 1942 Radio No, R-3345 Washington, D.C.


Urgent from General Marshall to General Eisenhower for his eye only.

I am endeavoring to rush Protocol through to approval this morning by the President, Combined Chiefs of Staff and with the accord of the Secretary of State.1

I have just read your number 940 of November 19th and I am in thorough agreement with your point of view and I am doing my utmost to support you by meetings with the press, with members of Congress, with State Department and with the President.2 The Secretary of War is equally aggressive in his support of your position and the importance of leaving you undisturbed to pursue your campaign.

Your number 940 is going to the President immediately and your frank message of yesterday number 837 was sent to him to read.3 Do not worry about this, leave the worries to us and go ahead with your campaign.

Another subject: I was disappointed in the release on General Clark’s perilous mission because of the cheap details included and the failure to make clear the hazardous effort to board the submarine. There was more about the loss of his pants and of his money than there was of the serious phase of the matter. I quote 2 paragraphs of a letter just received by the Secretary of War from Walter Lippmann who has endeavored to help us in the Darlan affairs. “The other matter falls within the province of the War Department directly. I am referring to the dispatches from North Africa which told about General Clark’s secret mission and disclosed the fact that he had a very large sum of money with him. Only one interpretation will be put upon this news by our enemies, which is that we are bribing French officers and officials. I do not object to bribery if that is what it was but I feel sure that our enemies can use this disclosure to cast suspicion on any Frenchman who joins us, by the simple device of claiming that he was bribed with General Clark’s money.

This disclosure alarms me, not only in itself but as evidence of a dangerous naivete. I wonder if it does not indicate that some very shrewd person should be sent to General Eisenhower’s headquarters to advise on censorship. I cannot believe that the censor should have passed a story of that kind.”

The Secretary of War was previously much disturbed over the type of publicity released on Clark which he thought was unfortunate considering that we were putting Clark forward as a Lieutenant General.

In other matters the handling of publicity by your people has been excellent but don’t let them cheapen you or your leaders. They have quoted you several times to bad effect considering your high position. Have your Chief of Staff check up on them. Have them play up your leading subordinates on sound lines and I think it best to avoid quotations from them. Make it rather descriptions regarding them.4

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-6368, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. The draft agreement between Major General Mark W. Clark and Admiral Jean Darlan was tentatively titled “Protocol Number One.” The president and the Combined Chiefs of Staff approved the draft on November 20, but the president told Eisenhower that he wanted to avoid using the word “protocol” if possible. The version that was signed in Algiers on November 22 is printed in Foreign Relations, 1942, 2: 453-57.

2. Eisenhower had written that he appreciated “the prompt and effective steps you took to save us embarrassment” regarding the Darlan affair. “We entered this theater with a knowledge that we would have to deal with North African civil affairs through the existing civil organization. Prior to our entry there was no centralized governmental organization covering all North Africa. We did not repeat not set up any official. We merely required the existing officials to agree upon a form of central commission through which we could deal. I attempted to force Giraud upon them as head but he collapsed under me. . . As a result of the agreements we have made we have secured an opportunity to press our concentration toward the east for battle in Tunisia without worrying about the rear. . . . I have conferred incessantly with many individuals at various points in the theater, and every British and American officer that I have seen is convinced that any early attempt to upset the present arrangement will result disastrously for us.” (Papers of DDE, 2: 737-38.)

3. Eisenhower’s Radio No. 837 to Marshall stated: “Many messages from London indicate great concern and anxiety of our governments because we have had to deal here with a skunk. There seems to be a fear that we will make indiscreet comments or are attempting to deal with questions that have nothing to do with this operation. I should like for you, personally, to be assured that we are not committing ourselves and certainly are not repeat not attempting to commit our governments as to future political action, nor are we touching upon any questions that extend beyond the scope of our own tasks. We have worked desperately to establish an internal situation that would permit us to go after the great objective of Tunis. It has been a time consuming burden to keep Smith in London fully informed on these matters so that he could allay anxieties, at the same time that we are trying to win a battle. I want to thank you personally and the American high command for the confidence implied in me and my principal subordinates by your patience in giving us time and opportunity to work out these most difficult matters. I know you understand that the necessity for dealing with turncoats and crooks is as distasteful to me as to anyone else, and I am grateful indeed that you have taken such an understanding attitude on the situation.” (Eisenhower to Marshall, Radio No. 837, November 18, 1942, DDEL/D. D. Eisenhower Papers [Pre-Presidential].)

4. Eisenhower replied the next day describing the errors in the press reports of Clark’s Algerian mission and requesting that the War Department send to his headquarters a thoroughly briefed and experienced public relations officer. (Papers of DDE, 2: 747-49.) He told Clark that he had “just caught the devil from G.C.M.” and that he was “going to give stricter orders to the censors here, and if anything goes out direct from Advanced Headquarters in Algiers to London or elsewhere, make sure that the censor passes nothing that can be twisted into harmful propaganda. . . I’ve been pounded all week from the rear. Sometimes it seems that none of us in the field can do anything to the satisfaction of Washington and London.” (Ibid., pp. 749-50.)

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. 444-446.

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Holding ID: 3-417

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