Defense Files

Memorandum by the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Marshall)1

Subject: Initial Atlantic Troop Movement.

The Navy reports it will be impossible for the George Washington to be in serviceable condition before the 20th of January and perhaps not until after that date. This vessel will not leave the yard until some time between the 10th and 12th of January, is a coal burner, and will have a green crew.

Prior to the receipt of instructions concerning the use of the George Washington, a convoy was being assembled for dispatch to North Ireland. The Navy feels it imperative to return approximately 4250 marines in Iceland to reconstitute the First Marine Division which must be the spearhead of any landing force.

The Navy (Admiral King) and I strongly recommend that the convoy now being assembled be completed for dispatch to Iceland and North Ireland on or about January 15. This convoy will carry about 20,000 troops, 14,000 for North Ireland and 6,000 for Iceland to relieve the marines. The Navy states that sufficient escorts will be available for one convoy per month for combined movements to Iceland and the United Kingdom. It is planned to schedule subsequent convoys at monthly intervals using the ships that are not necessary for other more urgent missions which may have been approved in the meantime.

The adoption of such a course will permit the use of the facilities now loading for North Ireland, on another mission ( Gymnast ) with a delay of six days if the decision to carry out the other mission is taken prior to January 13, 1942. After that date these ships will be committed to the movement to Iceland and United Kingdom for a period of about three weeks.

G. C. Marshall

Approved: by President and Prime Minister
January 1, 1942. 7:30 P.M.

Notify: G–4 and GHQ

G. C. M.
  1. The source text was the copy annexed to Gerow’s notes of the meeting on January 1, 1942, 6 p.m.; see ante, p. 156.