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To Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers
February 10, 1944 Radio No. 9431 Washington, D.C.
Personal for eyes of Devers only from Marshall.
Re Message W-2061 of February 6 signed Wilson regarding article by Cyrus Sulzberger cabled to New York Times that date,1 prefixed unpublishable without consent of War Department as to references to inferiority American weapons and morale.
After describing defects of terrain, weather, etc., this follows:
“Another pair of obstacles arises whereof American public should know more. Because of excessively strict censorship prevailing it is impossible to give many details along these lines.
First the question of weapons. Any American civilian probably assumes from political speeches and advertisements that his army is fighting with finest weapons existent. This is sheer boloney.
Weakest portion of armor on German Tiger tanks equals strongest armor plating on Sherman. Either German Mark 4 or Mark 6 outguns Sherman. New German antitank gun has at least double muzzle velocity of best American weapon. There isn’t a single American gun in this theater which can equal the range of the German 170 by thousands of yards. In other words our tanks and guns must close with the enemy before they are able to deal a blow. Even if we are numerically superior that does not equalize the situation. No American Mortar equals Nebelwerfer and we have no weapon of the caliber of enemy’s machine pistol.
Additionally these troops are tired. One division has been in line more than 110 days. Casualties along entire Anglo American French Front have been stiff and many fine Platoon and Company leaders lost especially in Rifle Companies. When tank is knocked out its crew is much harder to replace than the vehicle itself.
Just yesterday night writer sat up in tent with 2 tank Colonels gloomily discussing their particular mission. ‘Send out the photographers’ they said. `There will be plenty of flamers. Germans have been able to make this sector regular trap and we haven’t got guns to stand up against them. But we have got to get in action. As our General says “A tank doesn’t make very good mantelpiece.’”
As soon as time permits many of these troops need replacements but correspondents talked over this subject with many officers including principal Commanders in Italy and they complain that fault does not lie in this theater but in the draft policy in the United States which does not produce enough units.
This dispatch may sound gloomy. It is meant to. It is necessary to realize what these soldiers are up against and although they are advancing, why it is such a slow and costly process against tough obstacles and a determined skillful enemy.”
What is the purpose of the theater passing this on to the War Department? Does it partake of a form of alibi? If not why is it passed on here for us to censor, particularly at this time? Does the theater desire this to be published? Please reply to me immediately.2
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-4268, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. Cyrus L. Sulzberger was a war correspondent for the New York Times.
2. “The theater had no purpose in passing the article of Sulzberger on to the War Department,” Devers replied on February 11. “It was done through sheer stupidity. Drastic action is being taken to see that articles of this type are handled here and not passed on to Washington. The theater does not desire the article to be published.” (Devers to Marshall, February 11, 1944, In Log, p. 123-A, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Message Log].)
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. 290-291.