3-181 To Major General Russell P. Hartle, May 6, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 6, 1942

Subject: World War II

To Major General Russell P. Hartle1

May 6, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Hartle:

I have just received your radio No. 290, regarding the delivery to Lady Beresford-Ash of the box of candy. I appreciated your looking after this for me, but disliked to burden you with such a small chore. However, it was the only way I could make certain that the matter was attended to.2

I don’t think I have thanked you for the lovely handkerchiefs you presented to me on my departure from Ireland. As a matter of fact, I recall your mentioning the matter to me, but I thought you were referring to some loud green bandana or other large handkerchief typical of an Irishman, and it was not until I reached Washington that I discovered you had given me those fine Irish linen handkerchiefs. Thank you very much.

While I was absent from Washington on an inspection trip in the South, instructions were prepared and sent to General Chaney regarding reduction of age among the higher commanders of your force. These are to be modified because the officials here did not quite get my idea on the subject. I gave them as a standard an officer of the physical vigor of the average man of forty-five. This would apply to a number of older officers, but I understand that the instructions to General Chaney gave a flat rule of forty-five.3

There is no doubt in my mind but what you have to have more vigorous physical crew for the type of operation your troops will probably become involved in, but with the rapidly developing necessity for a great many experienced officers for administrative work in the British Isles, there should be no embarrassment in transferring less vigorous older officers to such duties and advancing your younger men, or filling the vacancies from the States. I am mentioning this to you personally, not as a directive as that must come from General Chaney, but as an indication of the character of the instructions he will eventually receive.

I just reviewed the First and 36th Divisions, and the most marked difference between the two was in the age of field officers. Field Marshal Sir John Dill was immensely impressed and surprised by the vigorous young men in regimental, and particularly, battalion command in the First Division. Most confidentially, this was not the case with the 36th Division.4

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. Hartle commanded the Thirty-fourth Infantry Division; he had taken the first contingent of United States troops to Northern Ireland in January 1942 and commanded all U.S. forces there.

2. The chief of staff stopped in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on his trip home from London, to inspect newly arrived army units. While in Londonderry, Marshall had stayed with Lady Helena Beresford-Ash and her family.

3. Marshall instructed Chaney: “It is not intended that instructions regarding ages of troop commanders be applied without due regard to the mental and physical vigor and stamina of the officer concerned.” (Marshall to Chaney, May 6, 1942, NA/ RG 165 [OPD, Project Decimal File 1941-43, U.S. Armed Forces British Isles].)

4. Marshall added a handwritten postscript: “I have just designated you to command the 5th Corps.” Hartle assumed that command on May 20.

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. 187-188.

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