5-581 To Mrs. Joseph W. Stilwell, October 20, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 20, 1946

Subject: China

To Mrs. Joseph W. Stilwell

October 20, 1946 Nanking, China

Dear Mrs. Stilwell:

I hope my cables reached you, though they are a poor medium for sympathy.1 Katherine and I both feel deeply for you and the children, especially as the time had just come for Stilwell to settle down with you in the lovely surroundings of Carmel and enjoy the peace and comfort of life that had been denied him for so long a time.

Yesterday we attended a memorial service in his honor in the Hall of the Ministry. About 1500 were present, including a large representation from the troops that he had commanded in Burma, flown in here for the occasion. The ministers of the government and the leading officers of the army were all present. The decorations were rather unique and very elaborate, the altar or dais was set with flowers, ceremonial incense braziers, huge candles, etc. The walls were hung with panels of writing, tributes from the leading governmental figures. (A printed volume of these I believe is being prepared for you). Altogether it was a very impressive setting and ceremony and at least a partial tribute to Stilwell’s services to China.

Our stay here remains indefinite. Katherine longs to get back to her house at Leesburg and the lodge at Pinehurst. However, she is radiant now over the expected arrival of Molly and the two children, en route to India to join her husband at New Delhi. She has been trying to get transportation since mid-September and has finally gotten an air lift this far. From Shanghai she will probably go on by a freighter as no passenger boats seem to be scheduled.2

Please give our love to the family and for yourself our affectionate regards and understanding sympathy.

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. Stilwell, who had been commanding general of Sixth Army since March 1, had entered Letterman Hospital at the Presidio in San Francisco on September 28 for what was described as a check-up. He had an operation for a liver disease on October 3, but his condition was soon reported to be “critical.” He died on October 12 at age sixty-three. On the sixteenth, his ashes were scattered at sea off Carmel, California, from his former plane by his crew from the China-Burma-India Theater. (New York Times, October 10, 1946, p. 14; October 13, 1946, p. 1; October 17, 1946, p. 9.)

Marshall had written to both Stilwell and his wife on October 5 expressing sympathy for his illness and to Mrs. Stilwell on October 13 expressing sorrow for the general’s death.

2. The Winn family departed for India by air on November 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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 724-725.

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