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To Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell
April 29, 1942 Radio No. 570. Washington, D.C.
Secret and Personal
Personal from Marshall to Stilwell.
We do so little for your immediate assistance that I feel the more deeply appreciative of the truly magnificent fight you are putting up.1 Your leadership especially under the peculiar conditions and difficulties of your authority and in a desperately critical situation is a model for our army.2 It will eventually lead I am sure to a complete triumph over seemingly impossible conditions and to great decisions. I hope you feel that we appreciate the difficulties of your position climatically, geographically and racially, heavily outnumbered as you are on the ground and at the mercy of the enemy’s air forces. We are doing everything we can to get assistance to you and to keep the enemy from cutting in behind you in the Bay of Bengal.3
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 10, Item 21, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. By April 1 British and Chinese forces in Burma had withdrawn from the Toungoo-Prome line under a concerted Japanese air and ground assault. Sir Harold Alexander reconstructed his line at Pyinmana, south of Mandalay and the strategic Burmese oil fields. Stilwell, unaware that the Japanese were heavily reinforced and advancing on a broader front, thought that a counteroffensive could be launched from Pyinmana. But in mid-April, the Japanese pierced the eastern flank of the Allied line, destroying the Chinese Fifty-fifth Division. On April 25 Alexander and Stilwell called for a general retreat across the Irrawaddy River and out of central Burma. After he conferred with Stilwell on April 29, Alexander decided to withdraw British troops to India, barring a successful defense of western Burma. Stilwell decided to concentrate Chinese troops at the Myitkyina railhead to defend northern Burma. That same day the Japanese reached Lashio, cutting the Burma Road. (Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell’s Mission to China, pp. 118-38.)
2. Regarding the command problems encountered by Stilwell as Chiang Kai-shek’s chief of staff, see ibid., pp. 118-20.
3. Marshall sent a draft of this message to Eisenhower with the following instructions: “If you think this OK send it with such modifications or additions as may seem desirable. GCM.” The Operations Division chief sent it without modification.
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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), p. 179.