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To Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers
April 22, 1944 Radio No. WAR-26520 Washington, D.C.
For Devers’ eyes only from Marshall.
Clark left yesterday after good rest in seclusion and only one part day conference here and an afternoon with President. His presence here remained a secret.1
Have just read your letter of April 15th.2 I like its tone and I have great confidence in what you are doing. I fear, in fact I feel certain that my radios regarding certain details have given you the idea of lack of confidence on my part and in effect thrown you on the defensive. Disregard such ideas because they are wholly incorrect.
I grow as exasperated with portions of the War Dept staff as I do with yours, Eisenhower’s and MacArthur’s yet the WD staff is in general magnificent. What I do try to do or actually do do is break through the congenital resistance that is normal to all staffs when we have a continuing trouble. In your case I still am in doubt because I am not convinced that Sawbridge is a fully capable driving executive or organizer. There has been much to indicate the contrary and by that I mean that a stronger man in his place would have broken through the organizational and staff difficulties and gotten much farther ahead. Radio me your very frank view on this.3
But be assured that I have great confidence in you and Clark and in your Corps and Division Commanders as they have been interpreted to me.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 1, Item 27, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. For information on Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark’s visit to the United States in April, see Marshall to Clark, April 11, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-342 [4: 400-401].
2. Devers had written to General Marshall on April 15 in response to Marshall’s message of April 13 in which the chief of staff expressed his concerns about the general deficiencies of the replacement system. (See Marshall to Eisenhower, April 13, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-348 [4: 406-7].) “I am sure the reports which you have received with reference to the personnel and replacement situation are due to an unhealthy organization and situation which existed in this theater when I arrived in January,” replied Devers. “There are many good things in this theater in spite of the many adverse reports which seem to be brought to your attention. I can assure you that we are correcting the many bad situations.” Devers indicated that the various nationalities in his theater—French, Poles, Indians, Americans, British—made supply and replacement problems particularly difficult, but his staff had these matters under control. (Brigadier General Ben M. Sawbridge of Devers’s staff had recently been in Washington, D.C., attempting to straighten out supply and replacement difficulties for the Mediterranean theater.) Devers reported that malaria was a problem for his command but measures were being taken to minimize the disease. He added that he was cleaning up discipline around airfields and that although problems persisted in relations with the French, their operational units were “excellent.” In his opinion morale was the critical thing, there was too much talk of the superior fighting abilities of some German units—particularly the First and Fourth Paratroop divisions. Devers concluded that the troops in his theater were far better than they had been two months previously. (Devers to Marshall, April 15, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
3. On May 9 Devers informed the chief of staff: “Conditions in my command here are greatly improved. This includes ground, air and SOS.” (Devers to Marshall, May 9, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) For further information regarding Devers’s command in the Mediterranean theater and the French replacement situation, see editorial note #4-384, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [4: 451-53] and Marshall to Devers, May 16, 1944, #4-385 [4: 454].
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. 430-431.