3-358 To Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell, October 6, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 6, 1942

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell

October 6, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Stilwell:

Timberman will hand you this letter. He leaves here today. I do not think it will be necessary for me to elaborate on the state of affairs at this end of the line. He is completely familiar with all the circumstances.

My hope in the struggle to reach an immediate decision in the negotiations with the Generalissimo has been that you would be in a position to coordinate if not command the joint action in Burma. Mr. Currie thought that your feeling of bitterness against the Generalissimo for the manner in which the Chinese treated you in Burma, together with his corresponding reactions, had developed an impasse that would block future adjustments towards a more satisfactory situation. The Secretary of War and I feel that while it might be possible to find some officer who would add to the harmony of Chungking affairs he would be wholly inadequate to meet the developments we hope for in Burma.

It would appear that the Chinese certainly will not accept British leadership and that the British will not entertain a proposal for Chinese leadership. It would also seem that the British alone cannot reconquer Burma and that an uncoordinated British-Chinese action would be abortive. The one hope in the matter would seem to be American leadership for the enterprise, however many the restrictions that might have to be imposed on it.

I am hoping that with the successful development of affairs in the Middle East it will be possible to provide a temporary reinforcement of considerable extent from the U.S. air forces in the Middle East to give us complete dominance in the air in Burma, with great destructive power in heavy and medium bombers. Timberman can talk over all these things with you. About all I can say is to develop more of patience and tolerance than is ordinarily expected of a man and much more than is your constitutional portion. You have had an almost overwhelming task to perform, with little aid from us, and we are deeply aware of what you have accomplished and the extreme difficulties of your present position.1

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. When Colonel Timberman returned to the War Department in mid-November, he brought Stilwell’s reply. His relations with high Chinese officials were now “quite cordial,” Stilwell wrote. “I feel now that we are definitely making progress and I hope to demonstrate it to you in the spring. Luckily for me, you know the conditions and do not expect miracles, but if the situation continues to improve as it has recently, we’ll be able to pull our weight in a few months more. . . . I want to thank you especially for your moral support. Without it, I should have been inclined to throw up my hands. But to know you retain some confidence in me, in spite of what must have been discouraging reports from various sources, makes me happy to go on shovelling manure in the hope of some day producing a definite result for you.” (Stilwell to Marshall, November 6, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

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), pp. 387-388.

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