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To Major General Kenyon A. Joyce
March 30, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
I just learned from General De Witt by a telephone conversation with Colonel Deane, Secretary of the General Staff that you were rather broken up over your relief from the 9th Corps and assignment to command the Corps Area.1 I think I can realize exactly how you feel, and I am sorry that I did not get word to you prior to the issuance of such orders. My apology must be that I have been so terribly busy that it has been utterly impossible for me to do the personal things that I formerly did and would like to do today.
The facts of your transfer are these: We have had to be absolutely firm on the question of age for command. Not only that, but we must go much lower in the age groups for division and corps commanders than we are now doing. Every bit of data we receive from the fighting fronts clearly shows that this is a young man’s war except in rare instances and then only in the highest command. There is no vacancy for an Army Commander and you have passed the age limits for Corps Commander. Therefore, your relief from the corps.
As to your assignment, the affairs of the 9th Corps Area are of critical importance at the present time—as to sabotage, as to evacuation of Japanese, as to the possibility of enemy raiding action along the coast. Therefore the matter of who should take command of the Corps Area was one of considerable importance, and you were selected.
General McNair has made very favorable reports, very flattering from him, of your leadership as a Corps Commander. As I recall, he used the expression on one occasion that you “deserved well of the War Department” for the excellent work that you have done. For that reason I was disturbed to learn of your feeling at the moment. Such matters have been of great difficulty for me. The recent transfers of General Bryden and General Moore2 were not easy decisions, especially as they had done remarkably fine work. As I said, my job in these matters has been most difficult and I have had to steel myself to what appeared to be my duty, and the degree of this emergency makes that of very great importance.
I hope you will not be too much disappointed and that you will feel certain that there is nothing of reflection on you in this affair other than your birthday.3
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. On Joyce’s relief, see the previous document (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-148 [3: 151-2]).
2. Marshall directed former deputy chiefs of staff Major General William Bryden to command the Fourth Corps Area as of March 19, 1942, and Major General Richard C. Moore to head the Requirements Section of the newly formed Army Ground Forces as of March 9.
3. Joyce replied that it had been a “shock—and a great one” to be relieved “at the culmination of a command achievement that everyone had praised.” He informed the chief of staff that he understood the reason for the action and promised his best in the corps area command. (Joyce to Marshall, April 4, 1942, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 152-153.