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To Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell
June 7, 1944 Radio No. WARX-47296 Washington, D.C.
From Marshall for Stilwell’s and Sultan’s eyes only.
With reference to your 18238 of 6 June regarding VLR stocks in China:1 These are not to be released to the 14th Air Force without express approval from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is our view that the early bombing of Japan will have a far more beneficial effect on the situation in China than the long delay in such an operation which would be caused by the transfer of these stocks to Chennault. Furthermore, we have positive evidence in Italy of the limiting delaying effect of a purely air resistance where the odds were nearly 7,000 planes on our side to 200 on the German. Furthermore, the 20th Bomber Group represents a powerful agency which must not be localized under any circumstances any more than we would so localize the Pacific Fleet. Please keep this in mind.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-47296, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. Stilwell had met with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek on June 5, at which time they discussed the situation in north Burma and east China. The Generalissimo was satisfied with the campaign in north Burma, but he was concerned over the Japanese advances in east China and asked that the entire air effort be utilized to stop the Japanese. Stilwell said that he was diverting 1,500 tons from the June allotment of the Twentieth Bomber Command to the Fourteenth Air Force. The Generalissimo asked that the B-29 supplies at Chengtu be given to Chennault, to which Stilwell replied “not until situation is so serious as to justify its use.” Stilwell continued: “However, as an ace in the hole, request that I be granted authority to make use of these very long range stocks. Be assured very long range stocks will not be touched except as a last resort.” (Stilwell to Marshall, June 6, 1944, In Log, p. 96-A, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Message Log]; Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell’s Command Problems, pp. 367-69.) Stilwell commented in his diary regarding his meeting with the Generalissimo: “As expected, chiseling gasoline for the Fourteenth Air Force. All he wants is the world and nothing in return.” (Stilwell Papers, p. 302.)
2. “Instructions understood and are exactly what I had hoped for,” Stilwell replied. “As you know, I have few illusions about power of air against ground troops. Pressure from Generalissimo forced the communication.” (Stilwell to Marshall, June 8, 1944, In Log, p. 126-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. 472-473.