Roosevelt and Hopkins, An Intimate History

By Robert E. Sherwood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXX
Cairo, Teheran and Overlord

Prior to the Quebec Conference, it had been generally assumed that the supreme command for OVERLORD would be British: for one thing, the huge operation was to be mounted in the United Kingdom and, for another, it was Britain's turn to take top rank, since the high command in North Africa, Sicily and the first phases of the campaign on the Italian mainland had been entrusted by common agreement to the American Eisenhower. Churchill had promised the new post to Sir Alan Brooke, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. However, it had become evident that, whereas in the original force for the securing of the beachhead the British troops would be about equal in strength if not superior to the Americans, in subsequent operations through France and into Germany the American forces would be steadily increased until they outnumbered the British by a ratio of approximately five to one. Therefore, Churchill agreed at Quebec that the supreme command should go to an American and there was no question of doubt in his mind that this American should be General Marshall. Nor was there any doubt in Roosevelt's mind at that time that Marshall was the one man pre-eminently qualified to assume this awful responsibility and to push the tremendous enterprise through to triumph and this opinion was vociferously supported by both Stimson and Hopkins. There were considerations in this that went well beyond awareness of Marshall's capabilities as a great soldier: from Churchill's point of view Marshall's selection was important because of his enormous prestige with the British Cabinet and the British people, who might have had reservations about Eisenhower or any less celebrated American general —and from the point of view of Roosevelt, Stimson and Hopkins, Marshall was the only one who could be trusted thoroughly to stick to the main objective without yielding to the persuasions and the blandish

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