2-267 To Major General George Grunert, September 20, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 20, 1940

To Major General George Grunert

September 20, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Grunert:

I have received your several letters including the one of September first, the last one, which is now being carefully gone over by the War Plans Division in the light of all other communications.1 Meanwhile I think a radio has been sent to you with information as to additional ammunition that we are sending over. I am going into the matter of planes very carefully with General Arnold to see whether we might get you some modern pursuit at an earlier date than planned.

I am fully aware of your difficulties and they have been a matter of almost daily discussion between the Secretary of War and myself. The trouble is, as you may not fully appreciate at your distance from Washington: We are involved in a tremendous expansion, new obligations in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and all the recently acquired bases in the Atlantic and Caribbean area—for all of which materiel is required. Meanwhile quantity production has not yet had time to develop and everywhere there are shortages or complete deficiencies.

As a single example, consider the problem of calibre .30 ammunition. We are now legally on our way to a million four hundred thousand men in ranks before the end of this fiscal year and thousands of planes. Training requires the expenditure of small arms ammunition, and the number of machine gunners for a modern airplane will require tremendously increased consumption. Meanwhile, though we have striven by every hook or crook to expedite powder production, we cannot achieve quantity output before next summer.

In this same connection, immediately after the disaster of the British Army in Belgium and Northern France where it lost all of its equipment, its accumulation of munitions in dumps, etc., we released to that Government the deteriorated calibre .30 ammunition that had been disapproved for use in shoulder rifles. Without this ammunition the British would not have been able to utilize the Enfield rifles, obsolete machine guns and the automatic rifles we were giving them, without disadvantage to ourselves, to form the bulk of the equipment of the reconstituted army in England. Even so the number of rounds per rifle was, and remains, pathetic. But it was a long ways better than nothing at all.

I am giving you some highly confidential information which is for your eye alone. Probably I should not trust this to ordinary air mail, but I think it is important that you know something of our situation, and that you feel that I am alert to your dilemma and will do my very best in every way to help you out.

As to press announcements creating unfavorable reactions on the morale of your people, that is a matter extremely difficult to control and we can but do our best.

This is a hastily written letter and I want to get it off to you by air mail today.

Faithfully yours,

P.S. I hope to get clearance for a large number of temporary promotions Monday, largely to fill troop leadership vacancies. There must be more Staff promotions later. I don’t think Wilson on Corregidor is on the list but you can assure him that he will be moved into a position for advancement later.2 You yourself need not be concerned about a Lieutenant Generalcy. I expect to see you moved into that rank in due time.

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. The commanding general of the Philippine Department had written to the War Department on July 5, 8, 10, 22, 25, and August 2 requesting small arms ammunition, antiaircraft materiel, permission to recruit the Philippine Scouts to full peace strength, Air Corps personnel and materiel, funds for storage installations, and a supply of mustard gas. He had also written to Marshall personally on certain of these matters on July 5 and 10. On September 1 he again wrote to the chief of staff recapitulating his previous communications and remarking upon the decisions made or the lack of replies. He also enclosed a copy of a United Press dispatch which he said was typical of reports which dwelt on the defenselessness of the Philippines. “My campaign to bolster morale and to eliminate fear and defeatism has met with some success but the lack of an announced policy, backed by visual evidence of defense means and measures, works against me. . . . I can imagine how busy and involved you are and dislike to add to your burden, but I must assure myself that you understand the problems and conditions in this department.” (Grunert to Marshall, September 1, 1940, NA/ RG 407 [Classified, 093.5 Philippine Islands (7-2-40)].)

2. Major Albert T. Wilson was a member of the Forty-fifth Infantry (Philippine Scouts).

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 314-315.

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