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To Rufus C. Holman1
November 10, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Senator Holman:
Colonel Watt,2 our liaison officer with the Military Affairs Committee of the Senate, presented your request for the attached statement on the distribution of Special Service materials by the Special Service Department under General Osborn.3 With regard to your question as to the tangible effect of supplying this material to the soldier, our experience in France in 1917 and 1918 convinced us, particularly General Marshall, of the urgent necessity for a carefully devised system of providing some form of normal and healthful outlet for the soldiers’ physical and mental energies.
The War Department has a steadily increasing problem as well as responsibility for maintaining the morale of the men serving under difficult conditions overseas, particularly those who have been long absent from home. Special measures are urgently necessary to avoid an increase in disciplinary problems, a rise in venereal rates, and to counteract apathy and diseased mental outlooks which are liabilities of such service. All of this relates to the maintenance of morale which is a determining factor in the fighting efficiency of an Army.
The soldier overseas in many of the theaters is utterly dependent on the activity of the War Department in providing for him recreation, and reading and off-duty educational opportunities. This is particularly true in the many isolated stations such as in Greenland and the Aleutians, small islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, Equatorial Africa and in the Himalayan Mountains in Burma and China.
The men we have in the Persian Gulf, working for us at home, are carrying out a tremendous job under probably the most difficult climatic conditions, as to extreme heat, in this global war. The resources of that region provide little or nothing to refresh or stimulate them mentally. It is the obligation of the War Department to see that their special needs are met and it is General Osborn’s duty to carry out this work.
The Special Service Department was organized at the specific direction of General Marshall who has given personal direction to this work from month to month. General Osborn was selected by General Marshall to perform this important task which in our opinion is being carried out with high efficiency.
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. On November 9, William T Sexton, secretary of the General Staff, sent the following memorandum to the chief of staff: “Senator Holman is sniping at General Osborn on the materials which the Morale Branch is issuing to soldiers. General Persons [head of the Legislative and Liaison Division] thinks that the most effective way to stop this is for you to write a letter to Senator Holman on the subject, draft attached. If the sniping continues, somebody else will use your letter on the floor to refute whatever Holman might say.” (GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Marshall edited the document printed here from a draft written in the Legislative and Liaison Division; it was sent over Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph T. McNarney’s signature. Concerning Senator Holman’s complaints earlier in 1943 regarding what he considered Roosevelt administration “propaganda,” see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-506 [3: 539].
2. Colonel David A. Watt was a retired officer recalled to active duty with the Legislative and Liaison Division.
3. The attached statement is not in the Marshall papers.
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), pp. 185-186.