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To Winston S. Churchill
April 18, 1944 Radio No. WAR-24751 Washington, D.C.
TOPSEC to General Eisenhower for his eyes only from General Marshall.
Please deliver the following message from General Marshall to the Prime Minister:
To get on with operations in the Mediterranean on a firm basis without further delay the U S Chiefs of Staff are agreeing to the directive for General Wilson proposed by the British Chiefs of Staff.1 We must now throw everything we have in the Mediterranean into the battle in Italy in order to reduce the German capability to move forces to oppose OVERLORD.
Since Eisenhower’s assault is not to be supported by a landing in southern France, every possible deceptive effort—air, sea and ground—in the Mediterranean will have to be utilized to hold the German Divisions in southern France during the critical days of OVERLORD. Wilson, with the means available, should be able to take prompt advantage to the utmost of the command of the sea and the tremendous air force in his theater.
Regarding LST’s for later Pacific operations, our best estimates at this time indicate that there should be sufficient LST’s for the various operations required to defeat Japan, but the definite allocation will have to be made on the basis of approved plans. The necessity of offsetting the delays in Naval and other ship construction created by the accelerated LST program is the reason for unwillingness here to continue at the rate of peak production.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Top Secret Message File CM-OUT-24751, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. The British Chiefs of Staff proposed that the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean theater, General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, be sent a directive that Allied intentions in his theater were to: (1) launch an immediate all-out offensive in Italy to link the Anzio beachhead with the main front; (2) create the greatest possible threat “to contain German forces in Southern France,” thereby diverting German divisions away from OVERLORD; and (3) to use the amphibious resources remaining in the Mediterranean theater to either support operations in Italy or to “take advantage of opportunities arising in the South of France or elsewhere.” The main object was “to give the greatest possible assistance to OVERLORD by destroying or containing the maximum number of German formations in the Mediterranean.” (British Chiefs of Staff to Joint Staff Mission, COS [W] 1285, April 16, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) For background information, see Marshall to Churchill, April 13, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-346 [4: 404-5].
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. 423-424.