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To Lieutenant General Frank M. Andrews1
October 14, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
I have been intending for some days to get off a letter to you regarding your new responsibilities. However, I have been so pushed and pulled with Congressional hearings and trips back and forth to maneuvers, that I had to leave the details to the various sections of the War Department.
Your new job involves, first of all under present circumstances, the security of the Canal against sabotage, which involves our relationship with the Government and people of Panama. Tactically, the defense of the Canal itself is largely one of guarding against a surprise or trick attack from the air, and this involves what it seems to me is one of your most difficult problems—the maintenance of a more or less continuous alert by a considerable portion of the anti-aircraft artillery. Just how you will maintain their morale against the monotony of service in isolated stations is going to be a difficult proposition. Apropos of this, I proposed on my last visit to Panama that we ought to look into the question of hiring San Blas indians, for attachment to the anti-aircraft artillery, to do the heavy and the dirty work at gun positions; which would also permit a reduction in personnel at these isolated stations.2
Your shelter and racial problems in the Canal Zone are exacting in their requirements. I think you can lean heavily on the advice of Stayer in connection with the racial phase of the matter.3
Outside the Canal Zone you have so many problems it is difficult for me to pick out a particular one for comment.
Confidentially, I have been led to feel that possibly Talbot, at Trinidad, has been so deep in the matter of morale and ordinary living conditions that he has not been sufficiently realistic in his defense planning against the possibility of some sudden raid development.4
The problem in British and Dutch Guiana is evident. I think we should do everything possible to help those commanders with facilities to make life bearable. I have a special fund to use at my discretion and if there are things you need to have procured, out of the ordinary or without delays, don’t hesitate to call on me for immediate action.
I have already talked to you about the problem of communications, particularly when it comes to coordinating ours with those of the Navy. I am now in the midst of talks with WPD over unified command in the Caribbean theatre.
We are to send you, I believe, a National Guard regiment to replace the Regular regiment being transferred to Trinidad. I wish you would make a special effort to get these fellows into the harness, and to help them in every way possible to improve their efficiency, especially that of the young lieutenants who, in many instances, lack the basic technical training.
We are in the midst of a development of far-reaching effects in our air reinforcements to the Philippines. This, of course, interferes to a certain extent with the promptness of delivery of new equipment to you.
This is a hasty note but I did not want to delay longer before writing to you.
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. Andrews had been made commanding general of the Caribbean Defense Command and promoted to lieutenant general effective September 19, 1941.
2. Marshall later told members of the Caribbean Defense Command staff that his idea of using the San Blas Indians had not been favorably received. (William T. Sexton Notes of Conference in the Office of the Chief of Staff, October 29, 1941, NA/RG 165 [OCS, Chief of Staff Conferences File].)
3. Two major construction projects begun in 1940 (a road and a set of canal locks) created a labor shortage in Panama, causing the United States to import foreign laborers, including blacks from Jamaica. They were but a small portion of the thousands of imported workers, however. (Stetson Conn, Rose C. Engelman, and Byron Fairchild, Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1964], pp. 319-22.) Brigadier General Morrison C. Stayer had been charged with handling the racial aspects of the labor problem. (See Memorandum for Mr. Martyn, September 14, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-261 [2: 306-7].)
4. Brigadier General Ralph Talbot, Jr. (U.S.M.A., 1905), was commanding general of the Trinidad Sector of the Caribbean Defense Command. His sector included the bases in Trinidad, St. Lucia, and British Guiana. A force had already been assembled in Trinidad awaiting orders to move into Dutch Guiana (Surinam).
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. 646-647.