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To Major General Andrew D. Bruce1
January 30, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear General Bruce:
I arrived in Casablanca from Algiers on Tuesday evening last and shortly before dinner went for a walk. On a hillside I found an encampment of troops who had landed from a convoy the previous night. They were Medical, Artillery, Quartermaster, and a Tank Destroyer battalion, the 899th. The last-named unit was commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel Maxwell A. Tincher, a graduate of West Point in the Class of 1937.
What I want to draw to your personal attention is that this unit displayed a lack of disciplinary leadership and training that was glaring and meant that it was not useable for any battle against the Germans until it had been reconstituted. The men were all right, the training was seriously wrong.
As this is the second time there has come to my attention a deficiency in the ordinary fundamentals of discipline in tank destroyer units I am communicating with you direct to get your comments. Such procedure is unacceptable to me. I know there are many difficulties. However, I find the other units in this instance, even the casual units, displayed a much better disciplinary set-up than this tank destroyer organization of yours.
General Eisenhower tells me that a casual approach to these disciplinary matters instead of absolute exactness of compliance with all orders from saluting and clothing all the way down, is invariably reflected in a most unfortunate manner the minute these organizations get in contact with the enemy.
From a superficial point of view it would appear that you have concentrated too much on tactics and technique in comparison with the attention you are giving the fundamentals of discipline.2
Let me hear from you direct.3
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Categorical Material; [Invitations], George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Bruce was commanding general of the Tank Destroyer Center at Camp Hood, Texas.
2. First Armored Corps commander George S. Patton, Jr., was similarly dismayed with some of the newly arrived troops. He wrote to Operations Division head Thomas T. Handy: “I am firmly of the opinion that the discipline, military bearing, and neatness of the troops trained in America is not up to the standard which you and I believe to be necessary. Every time a new convoy arrives, I am impressed with this fact. The soldiers are sloppily dressed, they do not salute, they do not take care of themselves, and their officers do not insist that they correct these defects. It takes us about a month after they get here to get them up to anywhere [near] the standard of the 2nd Armored Division.” (Patton to Handy, January 31, 1943. NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 8, Book 7].)
3. When Bruce visited the chief of staff’s office on February 2, Marshall told him not to reply to the letter unless he had further data to submit. A representative of the Tank Destroyer Center inspected the unit in early July 1943; he reported that the unit had only arrived in Morocco the day before Marshall’s visit, that it included a large number of temporarily attached personnel, and that it was these men whose discipline and appearance had so displeased Marshall. In November 1943 Bruce, who by this time was commanding general of the Seventy-seventh Infantry Division, asked McNair whether he should submit a written report to Marshall concerning the new information. McNair recommended not doing this. “I am quite sure from experience in other similar cases that he will not change his mind in the matter.” McNair also assured Bruce that Marshall’s January 30 letter had not been made a part of Bruce’s personnel file. (Bruce to McNair, November 25, 1943, and McNair to Bruce, November 29, 1943, NA/RG 337 [Headquarters Commanding General, General Correspondence].)
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. 520-521.