4-454 To Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, July 16, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: July 16, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers

July 16, 1944 Radio No. WARX-66124 Washington, D.C.

Top Secret

TOPSEC from Marshall to Devers for his eyes only, information copy to Eisenhower for his eyes only.

After considering all factors, I agree that we should set up an Army group for ANVIL and am glad that General Wilson wants you to command it. Eisenhower agrees with this.1 While the details of the formation of an Army group are up to Wilson and you, its task indicates it should probably be primarily an American headquarters, with a carefully chosen French representation. Logistical support will remain primarily an American responsibility. Eisenhower favors the Army group idea so as to keep control over all Civil Affairs matters as well as troop and supply priorities and major tactical decisions. All of these matters will require increasing coordination with Eisenhower as the ANVIL operation progresses.2

You should do your best to keep the headquarters small, Probably most of the personnel required can be found in your theater. We will do our best to give you such top personnel as required. Time is short and you will need to press the formation of your new headquarters.

I believe that your theater is now functioning so that you will not be burdened with a great amount of administrative routine. You should, however, take any necessary additional steps to insure that you can give your time and energy to commanding the troops fighting under you, while still carrying your responsibility as the American Theater Commander.

The decision as to additional American divisions for ANVIL, beyond the 3 in the assault, must await developments. We must push into OVERLORD everything which can be accepted and used. If we can move additional divisions and Eisenhower agrees to their use in the Mediterranean, I hope that they can go directly into ANVIL through ports you have opened. Developments in Italy must determine the timing and way in which we move U. S. Forces from there to ANVIL. If the forces in Italy bog down on the Pisa-Rimini Line, we should not long delay putting 5th Army divisions into the fight in southern France. I hope that Alexander will quickly get into the Po Valley. Then the 5th Army, or portions thereof, could be moved into France, possibly some of it moving overland. This, however, must be a CCS decision.

The important thing is that we push ANVIL to the utmost as the main effort in the Mediterranean. The large forces we will still have in Italy should enable us to maintain strong and unrelenting pressure on the enemy. While satisfying OVERLORD, we will do our utmost to support Wilson in the two battles he has to fight in southern France and in Italy.

There should be no waiting for a perfection of arrangements or for the optimum in supplies and equipment. I believe we are approaching the point in Europe where carefully planned bold and rapid action in the application of our forces may reap successes which will shorten the war.

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. Devers had informed General Marshall on July 13 that General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson wished to establish an army group headquarters for ANVIL and that Wilson wanted Devers for the command. He stated that Allied intentions in Italy concerned forcing the Po River and Apennines lines by August 15; eventually the American Fifth Army might alter its advance to the west, clearing the Alps, and perhaps linking up with ANVIL forces, depending upon actions of the Germans. (Devers to Marshall, Radio No. B-13658, July 13, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 10, 1tem 524) On July 12 General Eisenhower had written to Marshall that he had no objection to Devers taking personal command of the ANVIL operation. “I understand that Devers has been on the battle front a lot and that he has demonstrated a happy faculty of inspiring troops,” stated Eisenhower. “That is enough for me, and if you want to arrange the American affairs in the Mediterranean so that he can be free to command ANVIL while someone else takes over the administrative burden, I would accept the decision cheerfully and willingly.” (Papers of DDE, 3: 2000.)

2. Concerning the Allied command arrangements for ANVIL, General Eisenhower told the chief of staff on July 15: “If the expedition is to be French-American and the French are to have an army of their own I would definitely favor the army group idea so as to keep overall civil affairs control as well as troop and supply priorities and major tactical decisions in American hands.” He continued, “The big thing is that within the Mediterranean ANVIL must be recognized as the main effort. . . . This means that the commander of ANVIL must be a strong and positive character.” The Sixth Army Group (with Devers commanding), controlling the First French Army and the Seventh U.S. Army, was organized the first of August and became operational on September 15. (Ibid., pp. 2009-10.)

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. 523-525.

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