4-385 To Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, May 16, 1944

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

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers

May 16, 1944 Radio No. WAR-37192 Washington, D.C.

Top Secret

To Devers for his eyes only from Marshall.

White has shown me an extract of a personal letter he has received from Sawbridge with reference to the French replacement situation.1 Apparently a satisfactory solution has not been arrived at and DeGaulle is insisting on not breaking up units for the purpose of providing replacements. I would like to have complete information on this subject in order to know how to deal with the French Mission here. In my opinion we are not justified in providing equipment either original or maintenance for French units for which there is not actually in existence an adequate replacement system and I propose to so inform the French Mission here. Incidentally I personally with complete frankness and also officially informed Giraud reference his pressure on me here in Washington for equipment for additional units that I would oppose any such issues until I was assured by U.S. Army authorities in Algiers that the French had in actual existence an adequate replacement system for existing units.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-37192, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. Brigadier General Ben M. Sawbridge, a member of Devers’s headquarters staff, had written to Major General Miller G. White (assistant chief of staff, G-1) in early May 1944 stating that when General Henri Giraud had been commander in chief of Free French forces, Giraud had agreed to disband Free French units in order to provide necessary replacements, maintaining the French units at combat strength for Allied operations in Italy and the proposed invasion of southern France, ANVIL. When General de Gaulle assumed the position of Free French commander in chief, Sawbridge reported, de Gaulle had “reneged on the agreement to break up French units to provide replacements. . Apparently, General DeGaulle wants to keep his cake and eat it too. In other words, he wants all the units provided by the re-armament program even though they totally exhaust his manpower. How he intends to fight those units without replacements or service units is beyond the knowledge of anyone in this headquarters.” (White Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, May 15, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 9, Book 18].)

2. Devers replied on May 18 that the Free French replacement situation could be handled within the Mediterranean theater without the chief of staff’s participation. In fact, they were holding a conference on May 17 and 18 to discuss the problem. “DeGaulle agrees that he must provide replacements and the matter is primarily one of training them in use of American equipment. I can handle that locally,” replied Devers. “It is difficult to find out where the fault lies but it is probable that the immediate delay is due to change of policy when DeGaulle cancelled Giraud’s arrangements until he could look into the situation. Prompt and energetic action has been taken on the Allied Force level.” (Devers to Marshall, May 18, 1944, In Log, p. 206-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), p. 454.

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