Marshall, General George, 1880-1959

At the outbreak of World War II, Marshall had just been appointed Chief of Staff of the American Army, then only 200,000 strong. He had formerly acted as aide to Pershing, after World War I, in which he had fought as a junior officer, but otherwise had had no training in the raising of a great Army for war, towards which America seemed inevitably to be drifting. Nevertheless he succeeded, by the time of Pearl Harbor, in more than doubling the Army’s size and, as soon as war broke out, on carrying through a major reorganization, which divided it into three: the Army Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces and the Army Service Forces. He proved himself to be more than an organizer. He had already done much to aid American preparedness for war by his prewar planning and appointment of trusted subordinates, like EISENHOWER, to key positions. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, he became chairman of the new Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee to advise the President on strategy, a post he held throughout the war. He consistently supported the principle of ‘Germany First’ and, though irritated by what he regarded as British prevarication over the invasion of Europe, steadfastly supported the Anglo- American strategic line in the face of American naval opposition. He accompanied the President or represented the Chiefs of Staff at most of the major inter-Allied conferences of the war, and maintained a creative relationship with ROOSEVELT until his death. Despite suggestions that he should eventually take over command of the American armies in Europe, the President eventually decided that he was too valuable in Washington to be spared and remained Chief of Staff until the war’s end. In postwar years he became Secretary of State and the architect of the Marshall Plan to rebuild the war-shattered economies of Europe, foe’s and friend’s alike. A cool and distant figure, with whom few could claim to be intimate, he impressed all who worked with him by his total unselfishness and impartiality of judgement and by a sort of Roman nobility of character.

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