2-039 To William R. Matthews, August 31, 1939

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 31, 1939

To William R. Matthews1

August 31, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]

My dear Mr. Matthews:

Due to my absence from Washington I have just received your note of August 23d regarding the apparent deficiency of Ordnance officers covering the European situation, and your comment as to the campaign hat instead of steel helmets. I am glad to have your suggestions and will give them careful consideration.2

However, I might make a comment on the steel helmet to the effect that it was developed and worn in the climate of Europe, and you can fry eggs in it in Arizona and could have broiled a steak on it in August at Manasses. Our National Guard troops are unseasoned when they turn out for training, and there is no suitable period for gradually hardening them, therefore compromise must be made to meet the actualities of the occasion. I must be frank and admit I am not aware of the immediate reasons for the point I am discussing, but I have worn a steel helmet in Texas. I do not mean by these remarks to indicate that one would not wear a steel helmet in a hot region, but relief would certainly be sought at every opportunity.

General Pershing seems to be building up strength very nicely. I saw him at the hospital Sunday.

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. The editor and publisher of the Tucson Arizona Daily Star since 1930, Matthew’s had been an officer in the Marine Corps in France in the World War.

2. Matthew’s wrote that he had talked with American military attach_s all around the world and that he had great respect for their ability. However, he observed, “we have only one ordnance officer covering the four principal military powers of Europe. At this time this deficiency is a serious one.” Secondly, he wrote, he had seen photographs of the recent army maneuvers which showed men under simulated battle conditions wearing campaign hats instead of steel helmets. “As a former infantryman who saw a lot of action this deficiency appears astounding and not in keeping with the high standards and realism which the army maintains in so many of its other activities.” (Matthew’s to Marshall, August 23, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 42-43.

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