2-580 To Major General Herbert A. Dargue, October 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

To Major General Herbert A. Dargue1

October 13 [18], 1941 [Washington, D.C]

Dear Dargue:

I have received your note of October 17, together with the pamphlet on your recent Air Defense test. I have looked through the pamphlet, and previously had talked over the recent maneuver with some of the Air officers.2

It was a matter of very genuine disappointment to me that I was not able to get up to New York last Wednesday. A combination of uncertain weather and terrific pressure that developed that morning in connection with Japanese matters and shipments to Russia made it extremely difficult for me to leave town, and a White House interview definitely terminated my previous plans for that day.3

It is an increasing source of assurance to me to follow the constant development in Air defense started with such slender resources by General Chaney. During the maneuvers the other day I felt for the first time that we were really getting somewhere so far as the field forces were concerned, but unfortunately I did not see your set-up though I did go over the Alexandria Warning service center. Again Washington interfered with my plans, as I was called back here on both of my visits to Louisiana.4

I think it is especially fortunate that you should have been involved in the same month with the mobile army Air program and the fixed defense Air set-up. I have been fearful that we would find ourselves too heavily developed along fixed defense as a result of the impressive demonstrations in the British Isles, and would lack a full and practical development for the coordination of air and ground troops. While we will always have to be prepared in an organizational way against sporadic air raids on coastal cities or manufacturing areas, the odds are that our principal military activity will be outside the United States, with ground troops heavily dependent upon air support. The distant bombing problem appears in many respects much more easy of organizational arrangement because only one force, and a very special one, is involved.

When you come to Washington, I would like to talk over your recent experiences.

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Dargue had commanded the Nineteenth Wing in the Panama Canal Zone until called to Washington to become the assistant chief of the Air Corps in October 1940. In July 1941 he had been promoted to major general and given command of the First Air Force, which had its headquarters at Mitchel Field, New York.

2. In response to Dargue’s invitation, Marshall had decided to visit the First Air Force’s “`Interceptor Maneuver’ . . . designed for the training of the organization which has been developed as a defense against aerial attack.” (Dargue to Marshall, October 7, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) When the chief of staff was unable to attend, Dargue sent him a “restricted pamphlet we got up on the Air Defense Test.” (Dargue to Marshall, October 17, 1941, ibid.)

3. Marshall was perhaps referring to the events of Thursday, October 16, when, as Secretary Stimson recorded in his diary: “I, at the last moment, received a message from the President that he had cancelled the Cabinet Meeting at 2:00 and instead had called a meeting of Hull, Knox, myself assisted by General Marshall, and Stark. Hopkins was also there. . . . It was a very important meeting on the subject of the crisis in Japan, which has grown very acute. The Japanese Cabinet has fallen and a new Cabinet will probably be chosen which will be much more anti-American.” (October 16, 1941, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 35: 136].) The following day the emperor designated Lieutenant General Hideki Tojo as premier.

4. Dargue had replaced Major General James E. Chaney as commanding general of the First Air Force after Chaney was sent on a special mission to Great Britain in May 1941. During the September maneuvers, Dargue had commanded the Third Air Task Force.

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. 649-650.

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