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To Major General Jacob L. Devers
September 24, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Devers:
I had a special investigation made of the selection of men for the Officer Candidate Schools, and while I have not had time to gain more than a superficial reaction in the matter, it is evident to me that some very inefficient administration occurred which gave us far below the average quality we should have obtained. The most adverse report is against the selection of candidates for the Armored Force school, therefore I would like you to look into this personally as soon as you get back to Knox.
I do not know to what extent the following comments apply to your school, as they were submitted in regard to the general proposition, but I recite them for your information:
Selections were not always impartial, especially in the case of local boards; too many clerks and old non-commissioned officers were selected as well as men whose past records showed trial and conviction for such offenses as desertion, assault and battery, and disrespect to their superior officers. Some men were sent to school who had previously failed to complete non-commissioned officer courses in the same school.1
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. Devers had commanded the Armored Force headquarters at Fort Knox, Kentucky, since August 1. He replied that the recent graduates were “the cleanest finest group of second lieutenants that I have seen anywhere. If the quality of this group is the lowest of all the schools, then, indeed, the army has nothing to worry about.” Devers’s only reservation about the group was that 50 percent of them were older than he preferred. He reported that there was no indication of any partiality shown by the local or final boards. Of the 250 candidates who had been authorized, only 231 had been selected. Of the 178 who were graduated, 56 were clerks, 9 were supply sergeants, and 13 were selectees; 38 were over twenty-nine years of age. One had been convicted of desertion in 1934, but he had since completed six years of “continuous excellent service.” Devers concluded that they would not be able to fill their quota of 250 for the class entering in October, and that “instructions have been given to improve the quality of candidates.” (Devers to Marshall, October 1, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) See Memorandum for the Inspector General, August 19, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-534 [2: 594].
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. 617-618.