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To Maxim M. Litvinov
June 4, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
I understood from President Roosevelt that His Excellency, Commissar Molotov had stated that there would be no difficulty in arranging for the reception at an airport in Southern Russia of the United States Army planes shortly to take off from the Middle East with the mission of bombing the Refinery and other oil installations at Ploesti in Roumania.1 We have just received a message from Cairo from our officer in charge of the arrangements for this bombing flight that it would be of great assistance to have the privilege of using a field or fields within the areas Krasnodar-Rostov-Astrakhan-Makhachkala.
I would appreciate very much your ascertaining if this arrangement is possible and giving us the location of the field or fields that our planes might land, and such information as your Air people would consider necessary for purposes of identification. It would be understood that as soon as the time of flight is approximately determined, this would be communicated through you to your government.
It would be desired to have the planes refueled, and if your bombs could be adapted for use in the planes, they would be re-stocked for an attack on the return trip to the Middle East. There are twenty-four planes involved, of four-engine bombers of the B-24 type. It is hoped that they will be ready to take off from Aleppo within ten days.2
With assurances of high regard,
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. Vyacheslav M. Molotov, commissar for foreign affairs of the Soviet Union, arrived in Washington on May 29, 1942, for a visit of several days. He met with President Roosevelt on May 29-30 and June 1. Marshall attended the May 30 meeting. For information concerning Molotov’s visit to Washington, see Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1942, 7 vols. (Washington: GPO, 1956-63), 3: 566-95; and Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1948), pp. 556-77.
2. The next day Litvinov replied: “I cabled to Moscow immediately on the receipt of your letter of yesterday’s date and shall not fail to communicate with you as soon as I have a reply. I am sorry to say I do not quite understand the meaning of your statement that ‘if your bombs could be adapted for use in the planes they would be re-stocked for an attack on the return trip to the Middle East’. I have omitted this in my cable to Moscow as it is only a detail which cannot affect the reply. In the meantime I shall be glad to have this point cleared up.” (Litvinov to Marshall, June 5, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, Project Decimal File 1941-43, 336.4 Russia].) See Marshall to Litvinov, June 5, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-214 [3: 225].
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. 223-224.