4-302 To Lieutenant General Millard F. Harmon, March 18, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 18, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Millard F. Harmon

March 18, 1944 Radio No. RANE-2031 Washington, D.C.


For Harmon’s Eyes Only from Marshall.

In the use of the 93rd Division or its elements the first time in action, the Secretary of War and I both feel it essential that it not be committed prior to adequate preparation on the part of the unit or units involved. The first reports of its conduct in action undoubtedly will be headlined in this country. It is therefore important that news releases and reports from the theater on the conduct of these troops be strictly factual. The War Department has been under constant pressure for alleged failure to utilize Negro soldiers in a combat capacity. We are very desirous of employing them as soon as practicable and they should have a careful test to determine their battle dependability.

In order that the Secretary of War can be kept fully informed on this question it is desired that you submit a report on the conduct of the troops of this division soon after their initial entry into battle and thereafter from time to time should there be anything in their conduct under fire that warrants comment.1

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-7514, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. Harmon responded on March 23 by stating that “all reasonable measures will be taken to insure proper preparedness.” The Twenty-fifth Regimental Combat Team of the Ninety-third Division would be deployed at Empress Augusta Bay, where the First Battalion of the Twenty-fourth Infantry Regiment (Colored) had already been committed. Harmon added that no amphibious operations were contemplated with these troops. “Plan contemplates employment on limited offensive operations from base within perimeter with view of mopping up beaten Japanese and interrupting communications to the west and north. Also on combat patrols initially in conjunction with Fiji battalions.” (Harmon to Marshall, March 23, 1944, In Log, p. 216, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Message Log].)

A week later Harmon described operations on Bougainville in detail; the Twenty-fifth Regimental Combat Team, possibly supplemented by the Twenty-fourth Infantry Regiment, “should be given ample opportunity for patrolling under experienced leadership before going on their own” and “should be used with increasing tempo in offensive operations of a limited scope and distance from the perimeter.” (Harmon to Marshall, March 30, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) For more information about the Twenty-fifth Regimental Combat Team and the First Battalion of the Twenty-fourth Infantry Regiment on Bougainville, see Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 500-515.

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. 355-356.

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Holding ID: 4-302

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