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To Major General Terry de la M. Allen
July 30, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Personal and Confidential
Your several notes were received just prior to my leaving for England (this must be regarded as most confidential) from where I returned yesterday to find your letter of July 27th.1
I am very glad to learn that the 1st Division appears to be in such good shape. Nothing can be left to chance in its training, because its conduct in action will set a standard for the entire Army, just as was the case in May 1918.
Frankly, I was greatly disturbed regarding the complications which arose in connection with Sherburne. That you may understand my state of mind I must explain to you that there had come to me from several different sources an indication that you had been drinking. I don’t mean you were appearing under the influence of liquor, but I do mean drinking in the daytime. Whether or not there is any truth in this, is impossible for me to know, but it was disturbing to have this sort of report at the same time the confusion arose over Sherburne.
Had I previous indications of possible sniping against you on the part of people who might have been jealous of your first promotion and later opportunities, I would have treated the matter a little differently.2 However, I have had nothing but commendation regarding your record up until this occasion.
I have no time to go into details regarding individual division commanders. I am assuming there is no truth in what I heard and I am continuing my confidence in you. I would prefer that you do not refer to this to me, merely want you to understand what has happened and be on your guard accordingly, if there is any necessity for that. Above all I don’t want you to react along the line of having been done a great injustice, because that would about disqualify you for continuing your command.
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. Allen had sent a three-page single-spaced typewritten letter to Marshall on July 14 expressing concern over the inspector general’s office investigation of “certain allegations made against me by the Headquarters of the Army Ground Forces.” (Allen to Marshall, July 14, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) On July 9 Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair had questioned Allen’s release of Colonel Edward G. Sherburne (U.S.M.A., 1915), commander of the First Division’s Eighteenth Infantry, in an “irregular” manner. Allen had forwarded a certificate that Sherburne was unfit for extended field service, but Sherburne’s examination at Walter Reed General Hospital found him fit for active service. (McNair Memorandum for Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations Division, July 9, 1942, ibid.)
In the letter Allen denied that he had tried to relieve Colonel Sherburne from duty in an irregular manner and refuted various statements made in the memorandum from Army Ground Forces Headquarters. Allen concluded: “I feel that if unfavorable action is taken towards me as the result of this investigation, it will be a very grave injustice. As a result of the very intensive training program that we have been able to put into effect here and thanks to the very fair allotment of ammunition and other training facilities that we have received, the Division has made remarkable strides in discipline, in rifle marksmanship, in the use of infantry weapons, and in the teamwork and combat firing of all infantry and artillery units. I hope that I will not be prevented from keeping this command because of this very unfortunate situation, which has arisen through no fault whatsoever of mine. I have been honest, truthful and fair and have acted with common sense and good judgment.” (Allen to Marshall, July 14, 1942, ibid.)
On July 27 Allen again wrote that the First Division was in fine shape and ready for combat. “The men seem very young, but I believe they are fit and hard and ready to go, and I sincerely trust that the First Division will live up to your expectations.” Allen also apologized for having “bothered” the busy chief of staff regarding Sherburne’s release from the First Division. “Actually, there was nothing irregular with the entire affair. Possibly, my anxiety may have caused me to be more worried than I should have been.” (Allen to Marshall, July 27, 1942, ibid.)
2. Marshall had promoted Allen from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general in October 1940, ahead of nine hundred men on the promotion list. (See note 2, Marshall to De Witt, September 25, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-269 [2: 316-17].) A year later Marshall praised Allen’s “special qualifications” in a letter to Lieutenant General Hugh A. Drum. “Terry Allen . . . took the Infantry School course, was weapons instructor at Riley, in fact wrote their pamphlet on this subject, and is outstanding as a leader. And his work in this regard during the recent maneuvers was so notable as to excite comment. He can do anything with men and officers, though unprepossessing in appearance and apparently casual in manner.” (Marshall to Drum, November 3, 1941, ibid., p. 662.)
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. 285-287.