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To Mrs. Lesley J. McNair
July 26, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Mrs. McNair,
General McNair’s death has taken from me one of the strongest supports I have had in this war.1 I am at a loss for words sufficient to describe the great contribution which he has made to the Army and to the war effort through the force of his character and wisdom in leadership. My official feelings, however, are more than equalled by the strong personal loss I feel. Our long association has given me a regard for him which amounted to a deep affection.
There is nothing I can say at this time which will be of much comfort to you but I want you to feel that in his death the Army has lost a great leader who will not be forgotten. I pray that you find the faith and courage to bear your sorrow.
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. McNair, head of the Army Ground Forces and pro tempore commander of the fictitious First U.S. Army Group, a notional force whose role was to convince the Germans that the Allies planned to invade France in the Pas-de-Calais area, was killed on July 25 when U.S. bombers in Operation COBRA dropped their loads short of the German lines. Operation COBRA—the First Army plan to penetrate German defenses in the Cotentin by coordinated ground attack and air bombardment—is discussed in Martin Blumenson, Breakout and Pursuit, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1961), pp. 213-46. Eisenhower requested that word of McNair’s death be delayed until Lieutenant General John L. De Witt could replace McNair. (Walter Bedell Smith to Marshall, Radio No. FWD-12450, July 25, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Thus Marshall’s letter to Mrs. McNair was sent on July 27.
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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 534.