2-269 To Lieutenant General John L. De Witt, September 25, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 25, 1940

To Lieutenant General John L. De Witt

September 25, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear De Witt:

I was very much interested in your lengthy letter to General Moore, and in particular with relation to the apparent confusion regarding coordination of movements and control of matters in Alaska. I will look into this right away.1

Yesterday the President approved a long list of temporary promotions in the grade of general.2 Please explain to Peek that he was not down for a major generalcy as Corps Area commander as we were forced to limit the list at this time to what seemed the pressing of necessities.3 I hope a few weeks later to move into the field of Corps Area commanders, along with the announcement of the new set-up involved in the separation of Corps Area from Army command and the organization of tactical corps, to make them major generals.

These makes [promotions] of course are a terrific headache to me and more so here in Washington than anywhere else for it has been necessary to jump over some of my outstanding assistants, notably George Strong, Andrews, and Miles. I hope to rectify these matters a little later, but the problem at the moment was to get this list by the President and accepted by Congress.

Also included in the list for promotion are John C. H. Lee and Groninger, one contemplated for the Army base in San Francisco and one for the Army base in Brooklyn.4 I had assumed Lee for San Francisco because of his intimate knowledge of Alaskan matters. If you have a different idea radio me.

Faithfully yours,

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. The letter from the Fourth Army commander to Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Richard C. Moore is not in the Marshall papers.

2. Concerning Marshall’s efforts to secure authority to make temporary promotions, see his Memorandum for the President, July 18, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-224 [2: 270-71]. Six men had been given temporary promotions to major general and two to brigadier general effective September 25. On September 24, the president approved without change a new, longer list of temporary promotions (including twenty-three to major general and seventy-two to brigadier general). Secretary Stimson noted in his diary that this represented “an unusual case of exhibition of confidence on the part of the President.” (September 24, 1940, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 30:18].) Marshall wrote to Frank R. McCoy: “I learned indirectly from Mr. Stimson that you had done a great deal in securing his full acceptance of the list of `makes’ submitted the other day. It might interest you to know that my own people have been pressing me this morning to scratch off Terry Allen’s name because of the depressing effect on other officers of such an advancement. I have left his name on the list.” (Marshall to McCoy, September 25, 1940, LC/ F. R. McCoy Papers.) At this time over nine hundred men stood ahead of Lieutenant Colonel Terry de la M. Allen of the Seventh Cavalry on the promotion list.

3. Brigadier General Ernest D. Peek (U.S.M.A., 1901) was chief of staff of the Ninth Corps Area; he was scheduled to become Corps Area commander in early November, when De Witt relinquished that command. In late October, Peek and five others were promoted to major general, and another twenty brigadier generals were appointed.

4. Both Colonel John C. H. Lee (U.S.M.A., 1909) and Colonel Homer McL. Groninger (U.S.M.A., 1908) were members of De Witt’s command at this time. Lee was named commanding general of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation; Groninger was named commanding general of the New York Port of Embarkation.

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. 316-317.

Digital Downloads




Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 2-269

Rights: Public Information