3-640 To Major General Orlando Ward, May 5, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 5, 1943

Subject: World War II

To Major General Orlando Ward

May 5, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]

Personal and Confidential

My dear Ward:

The day before yesterday Colonel Kern from the First Armored Division, one of your men, I believe, came in to see me because of our previous contacts at Vancouver Barracks. He gave me a most interesting account of operations, but I did not know at the time of the interview of the splendid work he had carried out in leadership, I believe near Tebourba.1 However, during the conversation he voiced the view that we still had a very hard time before us in dealing with the Germans in Tunisia and expressed himself in such a way as to give the impression of a degree of pessimism which was disturbing to me.

I am writing to you because this same reaction was credited to you by several people, probably four or five, with whom you had discussed matters both in Africa and here at home. Further, in a confidential letter from General Eisenhower which I received yeterday there is this comment regarding you: “Ward was too sensitive, both to criticism from his immediate superior and to the loss of his friends and subordinates on the battlefield. In all else he seems tops.”2

This sort of issue came up to General Pershing times without number during the Meuse-Argonne battle. I saw high commanders cry and beg that further action be not pushed. The head of the Medical Corps pled with me morning after morning to suspend action. The troops we were using were hardly half trained and we were taking serious losses. However, the war ended in November, 1918 instead of sometime in 1919 as was the expectation of most people, not including General Foch and General Pershing. Extreme fatigue, confusion, losses, the bitter cold nights of the French fall, all these factors influenced the mental reaction of large numbers of those engaged in the Meuse-Argonne battle. But they had no effect on General Pershing other than to press the issue as hard as it was humanly possible to do so.

Naturally I am deeply interested in you and your career, but I am much more interested, through necessity, in the development of the fighting spirit in our Army. They must be better trained, better hardened and they must have indoctrined in them the invincible will to win despite every conceivable obstacle. I therefore am writing this letter to put you on your guard against giving the impression such as you have already given to others and as Colonel Kern, who quite evidently did a fine job in Africa, gave me, which will do a great deal of harm. I can’t have that and you must be on your guard against it.3

Faithfully yours,

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. William B. Kern (U.S.M.A., 1934) had been stationed at Vancouver Barracks, Washington, from September 1934 to June 1937. He was commanding officer of the First Armored Division’s First Battalion, Sixth Armored Infantry Regiment, and was wounded in Tunisia.

2. On April 24, 1943, General Eisenhower replied to an April 14 letter from General Marshall, drafted by G-1 and sent to the major overseas commanders, stating that more battle-experienced senior officers were needed for the training cadres in the United States and calling for exchanges between officers in active theaters and those in the States. “One of the difficulties encountered in this matter is that of making the greatest subsequent usefulness of individuals who may have disclosed some particular weakness on the battlefield, but who have definite value in other capacities. For example, I believe that both Fredendall and Ward, because of their qualifications and experience, should be of great assistance in the training army at home; although under conditions of hard fighting, each apparently displayed a particular weakness. . . . Ward was too sensitive, both to criticism from his immediate superior and to the loss of his friends and subordinates on the battlefield. He cannot develop the necessary veneer of callousness. In all else he seems tops.” (Papers of DDE, 2: 1101-2.)

3. “I hope some of these days to be able to talk to you freely when time from the current business of winning this war permits,” replied Ward. “In the meantime I assure you that I will effectively guard giving the impression mentioned in your letter.” (Ward to Marshall, May 9, 1943, 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. 678-679.

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