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Chapter III — Activities and Problems of the Historical Branch: 1944-45

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When the Chief Historian assumed his duties in Room 5B733 of the Pentagon,1 he found that substantial progress had already

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been made in the all-important activity of building up an adequate staff. Personnel had increased from three to about ten.2 While this was still a woefully small staff, it included some who were to be long associated with the Historical Branch and were to contribute greatly to its achievements. Maj. Charles Taylor, who had been a key figure in planning the historical program, came from the Dissemination Unit of G-2 to the Branch at its inception. According to a statement made by the Chief of the Historical Branch in March 1945, Taylor was Kemper's "second in command from the outset," giving invaluable counsel and participating most ably in the varied activities of the Historical Branch until his departure.3 On 9 August 1943, Capt. Roy Lamson came to the Branch from the Bureau of Public Relations. Lamson had taught with Taylor and James Phinney Baxter at Harvard, and at the time of entering military service was teaching English Literature on Baxter's faculty at Williams College. Owing to his

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personableness, judgment, energy, and editorial skill, Lamson rendered most effective assistance in preparing historical manuscripts for publication and in pioneering the establishment of combat historical teams in theaters of operations.4

Maj. Jesse S. Douglas, who joined the Branch in August 1943, was responsible for this own recruitment. A military historian and a member of the National Archives staff in civilian life, Douglas had been serving for a year as Chief of the Records Management Branch of The Adjutant General's Office when the Historical Branch came into being. A copy of the 3 August directive which passed across his desk alerted him to the new historical organization; he immediately requested assignment to it. His transfer was promptly arranged and he soon found himself head of the Branch's records section. In this capacity, and later as a liaison and policy officer, he drafted directives and in visits

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to theaters helped establish historical programs overseas.5

On the day of Major Douglas' assignment, 20 August, Lt. Col. S. L. A. Marshall was transferred to the Branch from the Special Services Division, Army Service Forces. His addition to the historical organization apparently grew out of a project with which he had been associated in Army Service Forces—that of writing campaign narratives for the use of wounded soldiers. The project failed to materialize in the Army Service Forces, and was entrusted to the Historical Branch. Marshall, who came along shortly afterward, was a combat veteran of World War I and had been a military analyst on the editorial staff of the Detroit News. He was a man of enormous energy, unusual initiative, and exceptional talent as a writer. His interest in action and his firm belief that the combat historian should get a close-up view of the operations he proposed to describe caused him to prefer roaming assignments to desk duties in Washington. In the fall of 1943, after reporting the Tokyo Raid of 18 April 1942 in a manner highly pleasing to the Historical Branch, he was sent to

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the Pacific to cover island campaigns of the Seventh Infantry Division. In gathering material on the Makin and Kwajalein operations, he developed a system of interviewing participants en masse during rest periods immediately following battle. Enthusiastic reports that he made to the Historical Branch concerning mass interviews in the Pacific promoted the interviewing of individuals and small groups by historical officers everywhere. This technique was not as adaptable to mainland campaigns where action was continuous as to island fighting, though Marshall later used it to some extend in Europe. Nevertheless, Marshall's contribution was a valuable one, for interviews, properly used, enrich the historian's knowledge and help clarify the written record; indeed, it is hardly too much to state that they add another dimension to historical documentation. In general, interviews of key personnel in high positions proved of most value in writing the history of World War II, but the questioning of soldiers and company officers added not only human interest but battle realism to accounts of small unit actions.

Whether in the Pacific or in Europe, Marshall (known as "Slam" by his associates), through his wide acquaintance extending to officers of high rank, his dynamic personality, his articulateness, and his matchless salesmanship, did much to publicize the historical program and to win acceptance for it among responsible military leaders. Marshall's distaste for routine impaired his effectiveness

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as an administrator when, later, he was placed in a supervisory position in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), but his splendid achievement in spreading the historical gospel among unbelievers and the cold of heart (who were many) at a time when history was fighting an uneven battle for a place in the sun far more than offset this deficiency.6

Another pearl of great price that had been acquired by the Historical Branch before Wright's appointment was Israel Wice. Like Douglas, Wice learned of the new historical organization through reading the 3 August directive. Owing to prior service in the Central Records Branch of The Adjutant General's Office and The Adjutant General's Precedent and History Section and to uncertainty about the future of the Morale Branch to which he was

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then assigned as Chief Clerk, he requested transfer to the Historical Branch. His transfer was effected in late October 1943, and he thus began an extremely valuable connection with the Army's historical program that has extended to the present time.7

The newly appointed Chief Historian also found that some progress had been made in determining specific duties of the Branch and getting them under way. Of initial projects the most important by fare in the light of subsequent developments was the American Forces in Action (AFA) series. This series had its inception in a desire expressed by General Marshall, in April 1943, that simple accounts be made available to wounded soldiers explaining the actions in which they had participated. It was his thought that the reading of such narratives would not only provide needed diversion during convalescence but, by informing the men of what they had helped to accomplish, would contribute to their morale.8

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The Historical Branch received the assignment of preparing the combat narratives on 1 August 1943. Though Colonel Kemper had earlier turned down the project on the ground that his organization was not prepared to undertake it, he now took it over with alacrity. By August 1943 he had a small but growing staff which he needed to get started on some definite activity, and here was one that had the personal backing of the Chief of Staff—a fact which might be of great help in promoting the general historical program.9

Early steps in the preparation of the narratives, which at first were called Current History Pamphlets, are not clearly revealed by the records. Apparently initial plans called for preparation of drafts in the theaters with final editing and publication by the Branch. Actually the early booklets, especially the first two, required much basic research and extensive rewriting in the Branch.10

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The first pamphlet to go through the Branch mill was To Bizerte With the II Corps. Work on this narrative was begun in August 1943. It was written hurriedly and largely from high-level reports that gave little insight into human interest details. Most, if not all, of the writing was done in the Historical Branch. The Historical Section, Army War College, prepared the maps and the Signal Corps and the Engineer Board provided photographs and terrain models.11

The pamphlet was published in February 1944, a paper-bound, attractively illustrated booklet of sixty-four pages.12 But its

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limitations were such that it failed to inspire in the Historical Branch the pride that parents usually have in their first offspring. In March 1944, Mr. Goldthwaite Dorr, Office of the Secretary of War, remarked to the Chief Historian that he "had found it dry, lacking in the necessary detail to give it life." Dr. Wright readily admitted the shortcomings of the work and explained the haste, incomplete information, and other circumstances responsible for them. He predicted that the second booklet, Papuan Campaign, then nearing completion would show considerable improvement.13

Papuan Campaign was published in July 1944.14 It was a better work than its predecessor but still fell far short of the desired standards. The Salerno monograph, written in the Mediterranean theater by the Fifth Army Historical Section, began the editorial rounds in August 1944. Published early in November 1944, it was

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described by the Chief Historian as "a great improvement over Bizerte. It provided vastly more detailed information, specific and not generalized," he wrote. "The units in action obviously consist of human beings and not vague abstractions." He found portions of the narrative "overwritten," in an effort to achieve atmosphere. This Dr. Wright deplored. "To discover or create a fitting style for our pamphlets will perhaps be difficult," he observed, "but we must ... start with a style which is simple and unvarnished, even at the risk of being pedestrian."15

In mid-June 1944, three other AFA pamphlets were in advanced stages of preparation in the theaters: Guadalcanal, Volturno, and The Winter Line. Despite the improvements that had been made the Branch was still far from happy about the project. In a review of the situation dated 17 June 1944, the Chief Historian pointed up the following difficulties:

(1) To serve the purpose envisioned by General Marshall, the pamphlets should be published soon after the action. But experience had shown that under the most favorable conditions at least six months would intervene between the close of an operation and the publication of the pamphlet describing it; if the writing had to be done in Washington more time would be required.

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(2) General Marshall's mission called for a simple popular style. This could hardly be achieved by the academic writers whom the Branch had recruited for its primary responsibility of preparing the history of World War II.
(3) What the Branch was actually doing, and all that it could reasonably expect to do under the circumstances, was preparing operational studies "first narratives." These were sound studies from the historical standpoint, but they did not fulfill the need expressed by the Chief of Staff.16

On the ground that it was impossible for the Branch to write popular narratives and, at the same time, discharge its primary historical responsibilities as laid down in the basic directive of 3 August, Dr. Wright suggested that the pamphlet project be turned over to journalistic writers assigned to theater headquarters and attached, if need be, to overseas historical sections for editorial supervision. He suggested further, in the interest of time, that the booklets be published in the theater.17

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The Chief Historian outlined these ideas in a paper entitled Reflections on the Pamphlet Problem.18 Whether or not the document ever circulated beyond the Branch is not ascertainable. If so, nothing came of it. What actually happened was that the Branch sought increasingly to make the pamphlets serve the double purpose of informing and diverting the wounded and of providing sound, historical first narratives of combat operations.

To further this dual mission, Lt. Col. Charles Taylor went to Normandy in July 1944 to write up the Omaha Beachhead operation.19 He and his associates in the Branch had considerable difficulty in trying to tell historians in the theater how to write the pamphlets. Colonel Taylor finally concluded that the most effective mode of instructing others in the desired technique was to provide a model study for them to follow. He spent several months in France gathering

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material and drafting the narrative and returned to the United States early in 1945 to complete it. This study, when published early in 1946 as the seventh pamphlet in the series, marked the dawn of a new day in this field of activity. It was a considerably larger, fatter, and handsomer publication than its predecessors; its style was dignified but easy; and its thoroughness was such as to meet the highest standards of historical scholarship. Subsequent pamphlets were of the same generous format, and their content was much improved as the result of Colonel Taylor's splendid example and the application of lessons that he learned from the preparation of the Omaha study. The favorable reception given Omaha Beachhead by both convalescent soldiers and historical scholars indicated that Taylor had fulfilled to an extent deemed impossible by Dr. Wright in 1944 the dual objective of diverting booklet and historical monograph.21

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Eventually the American Forces in Action series was to reach a total of fourteen pamphlets, with an aggregate sale of nearly 200,000 by 1 February 1956. In addition, thousands of copies were distributed gratis.22

The AFA booklets, while in a sense a "side activity," helped to promote the basic historical mission in many important ways. The requirement of getting them quickly under way brought the Historical Branch to a prompt realization that combat records were inadequate. General Marshall's mandate gave the branch a powerful lever for correcting this situation and for filling other important needs both at home and overseas. Responsibility for the series also compelled the Branch to devote itself immediately to the task of production. Academicians frequently have a disease that might aptly be labelled "scriptophobia." Their high standards of scholarship incline them to extend research until the last document has been studied; this tendency, together with a natural aversion to undertaking the hard labor of writing—and writing is a very difficult task for most people, especially for those who are conscientious—often leads to excessive postponement of composition. In the last analysis, writing becomes an act of stern resolution and most scholars need the pressure of a deadline to help them exercise that resolution. The AFA series

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provided near and pressing deadlines for the Branch's first products. As a result, the staff discovered the nature of the problems confronting it much more quickly than otherwise would have been the case, won early recognition for its efforts, and acquired tangible bases—in the form of published booklets—for getting the means necessary to further its mission. When the historical project faced its first great crisis—the threatened manpower cut of July 1945—the first four published AFA pamphlets were submitted as an exhibit of accomplishment. There can be little doubt that they helped win the fight for survival.23

Another important activity of the Historical Branch in the early days was an effort to revamp the records system to meet the needs of the new history. Study of the problem was initiated by Major Douglas soon after he joined the Branch. On 13 August 1943, he made a report in which he advised against historical organizations becoming

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record-keeping agencies, other than of their own activities. Rather, he stated, historians should look to The Adjutant General, the Army's official archivist, for their records. He further suggested that co-ordination be established with The Adjutant General's Office concerning the collection, organization, and use of records. He also recommended revision of AR 345-105 and FM 101-5 so that units might maintain records of a type that would better serve historical needs than those currently provided.24

Proceeding along the lines laid down in the Douglas report, members of the Branch later in the year held conferences with Col. Wayne Grover (subsequently Archivist of the United States) and other interested officers from The Adjutant General's Office, as a result of which splendid working relationships were established between the two agencies. In November, a Records Analysis Section was established in the Historical Branch, with Major Douglas as its head.25 The duties of this section were to receive and store copies of published and unpublished histories coming in from other agencies, to establish a central reference collection including copies of selected historical source materials, and to service records borrowed for use within the Branch.

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One recommendation made by Major Douglas—that of revising AR 345-105—failed of implementation until long after the war. Douglas prepared a memorandum setting forth the need for thoroughly overhauling the regulation so as to provide better coverage of combat operations and administrative activities, and drew up a draft of a proposed revision. This draft was kicked back and forth among interested persons both in and out of the Branch, but not until 1949 was a new regulation promulgated.26

Another recommendation of Major Douglas in his 11 August report was that a survey be made of the records situation in theaters of operations. This proposal was approved and Douglas departed for North Africa in December 1943, or January 1944, where he conferred with officers of the Historical Section, Allied forces Headquarters. In the spring of 1944 he made another trip to North Africa and later visited other theaters. While information about his activities on these rounds is scant, indications are that he obtained helpful information about theater records, rendered needed assistance to historical officers concerning their own records problems, and helped expedite the collection and transfer to Washington of the records

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required by AR 345-105.27 Douglas' efforts along these lines were effectively supplemented by those of Colonel Kemper, who visited England and North Africa in late 1943 and early 1944. The records procedure in North Africa in April 1944, as developed from the collaboration of the Historical Branch and the theater historical section, was as follows: Subordinate units (which at first had to be prodded by the theater historical officer) forwarded the required records monthly to theater headquarters; there the records were checked by the historical section and copies or extracts made for use by the historical officer as needed; the records were then sent to the theater adjutant general for transmittal to The Adjutant General in Washington. When the theater historian turned the records over to the theater adjutant general, he forwarded a copy of the letter of transmittal to the Historical Branch, G-2, so that that organization might know what records were coming to Washington and approximately when they would arrive.28 The value of such a system

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to the Historical Branch is obvious.

Still another activity to which the Historical Branch devoted considerable attention from the beginning was the establishment in the theaters of historical organizations and programs that would promote the mission laid down in its basic directive. Historical sections had come into existence in some of the theaters before the establishment of the Branch. Contact with these sections was made by correspondence and, as opportunity permitted, by visits to the theaters of representatives of the Branch. As previously noted, in late 1943 Major Douglas went to North Africa and Colonel Kemper to that theater and to England. Colonel Marshall was sent to Hawaii in October 1943 and Major Lamson to Italy in January 1944. The supervision exercised by the Historical Branch was technical in nature and to a large extent informal. But correspondence between members of the Branch and theater sections indicates that in Africa and in Europe the influence of the Branch was considerable from the start, ant that it increased with the passing of time. During his visit to North Africa in January 1944, Colonel Kemper helped the Historical Section of the North African Theater of Operations, U. S. Army (NATOUSA), to prepare a comprehensive directive outlining objectives of the historical program and giving detailed instructions as to what historical reports were to be submitted by units and how they were to be prepared. This directive, according to a letter from Maj. Dwight Salmon of the NATOUSA historical section to Colonel Kemper

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on 16 March 1944, quickly "proved of enormous help in improving the material the units will be turning out in the future."29 In numerous instances the Branch was able to help overcome difficulties confronted by theater historians by discreet use of its weight as a high level War Department agency.30

The Branch rendered valuable assistance to the theaters in their efforts to find qualified historical officers, though it was not able to turn up historians in the quantity desired. "I have calls from all the theaters for officers, and am breaking my neck to find them," wrote Colonel Kemper to Major Salmon on 13 April 1944. "As I find them I will keep you advised."31

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With a view to meeting personnel needs of the theaters and to providing the more adequate coverage of combat operations which initial experience with AFA pamphlets had indicated to be necessary, the Branch in November 1943 drew up a plan calling for the organization of historical teams. These teams were to be trained in the Historical Branch and then assigned overseas. The proposal recommended immediate authorization of nine teams, each consisting of a major, a captain, and a sergeant; every three teams were to comprise a group headed by a lieutenant colonel. The War Department on 1 December approved the organization of teams but reduced the grades of group heads to major and of team officers to captain and first lieutenant.32

In conformity with the plan as approved, the Branch immediately began organizing and training teams. The first of these was taken to the North African theater by Colonel Kemper in December 1943, and others followed shortly. On 14 March 1944, Major Salmon reported that four teams had arrived in NATOUSA, three of which were on duty with

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Fifth Army headquarters.33 Early in 1944 the Branch organized other teams for the Central Pacific and European Theater.

Among members of the teams first organized were Chester Starr, Harris Warren, Roy Lamson, R. W. Komer, and Sidney Mathews, all of whom went to Italy. In general, the Branch followed the procedure of carrying teams on the Branch allotment until they arrived overseas and then assigning them to the theaters.34

The teams first organized were assigned to higher headquarters and charged primarily with the preparation of AFA pamphlets. But as military operations expanded, the need for a standard system of covering actions at the lower levels became increasingly apparent. While the Historical Branch was working on such a system, the War Department Bureau of Public Relations was seeking a solution for the problem of news coverage. Both agencies suggested the formation of teams for duty with armies, corps, and divisions. As a result of these proposals, the War Department in April 1944 authorized the Information and Historical Service, with a table of organization and equipment providing for a headquarters unit headed by a public relations officer (PRO) in the grade of colonel and a variable number of news and historical teams. The news teams were called combat

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information units and the historical teams were designated historical units. Each historical unit consisted of two officers and two enlisted men. At first it was thought that one Information and Historical Service per field army and one historical team per corps would be sufficient, but experience proved that it was more satisfactory to have one team per division.35 The combining of historical and public relations units under an organization headed by a public relations officer at first caused considerable apprehension on the part of some of the theater historians (who were not consulted until the plan had already been adopted). One of them, Major Salmon, on 11 May 1944 wrote Colonel Kemper: "The new T/O is dismaying to behold. I don't like the looks of it for I fear what the PRO boys will do with it and I have visions of a PRO colonel running the show with scant regards for our needs."36 But, as will be shown later,

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these fears for the most part proved groundless.

From the foregoing discussion, it is apparent that in its relations with the theaters the Branch in its early days was carefully feeling its way, seeking information about what was going on and what needed to be done to bring theater programs into line with its basic mission. In general, the Branch gave a minimum of advice at first, especially in theaters where historical programs seemed to be on a sound footing, under competent direction., Supervisory activities increased as the Branch acquired know-how and confidence and enlarged its own staff, though no general directive was issued to any theater until 1945. For various reasons, including inability of the Branch with its small staff to keep in close touch with all theaters, uncertainty as to the extent of its prerogative, and lack of response to such suggestions as were offered, the South and Southwest Pacific Areas received less supervision from the Branch than the other theaters.37 Theaters in which Branch influence were the greatest were the North African, the Mediterranean, and the European, a circumstance due in no small part to the close and cordial relationship between

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members of the Branch and historical staffs of those theaters.38

In general, the policy of the Branch with reference to zone of interior historical activities was the same as that concerning the theaters. The three major commands, Army Ground Forces, Army Air Forces, and Army Service Forces, all had programs under way when the Branch came into being. Colonel Kemper had Dr. George Auxier make a survey late in 1943 to determine what historical organizations existed, what studies were in progress, and the character, scope, and status of historical activities.39 From time to time Colonel Kemper and members of his staff conferred with historical officers on an informal basis, and, beginning in September 1944, he required the historians of major commands and of theaters of operations to submit bi-monthly reports of progress.40 But the guiding principle throughout the period the

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historical organization was a branch of G-2 was to let each major agency work out its own salvation and to give only such advice as was requested. In instances where programs were well conceived and administered, this arrangement worked out reasonably well. But in others, results were not satisfactory. The Branch later had cause to regret its failure to exercise closer supervision over the programs of the Air Forces and the Service Forces, especially of the latter.41

One of the most important activities of the Branch during its pioneer period was the building up of its prestige within the War Department. This activity centered around the Chief Historian. Owing to his personality, acquaintances, and varied experience, Dr. Wright possessed exceptional ability as a contact man, and this talent he used to advantage in obtaining support in high places for the historical activity.42 On 4 March 1944, after his return from North Africa, Colonel Kemper wrote Major Salmon: "Livy Wright is an ideal Chief Historian and is doing wonders toward crystallizing our thinking

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on what we are trying to do and why. More than that, his civilian status, plus his reputation is fast getting us in solid in such places and the Secretary's and Under Secretary's offices. Where I was worried about establishing him, he is instead establishing us."43

This comment is substantiated by statements which both Kemper and his successor, Col. Allen F. Clark, made after the war and is borne out by contemporary memoranda and correspondence in Wright's files.44 These papers show that Wright early in his incumbency made contact with key people in the War Department and that he followed up and expanded such contacts in every possible way. His report of a conversation with Mr. Goldthwaite Dorr on 21 March 1944 illustrates his technique. Wright paved the way for the conference by sending Mr. Dorr a copy of the Bizerte pamphlet. After an appropriate interval he apparently used the excuse of getting Mr. Dorr's opinion of the of the pamphlet to schedule a conference with him. At the conference Mr. Dorr talked at some length about the booklet, pointing up some of its shortcomings. Wright used this criticism as an opening to invite Mr. Dorr to read the Papuan pamphlet when it

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should appear and give his reaction to it. During the course of the conference Wright skillfully oriented Mr. Dorr in the activities and objectives of the Historical Branch. At the opportune moment he launched into what must have been his major purpose in seeking the interview:

I then opened up the question of the possible history of the Office of the Secretary of War and said that we believed it essential to have this work done because of the importance of the decisions which were reached there. I went on to say that I was very frankly engaged in what might be called propaganda, with a view to getting historical work under way at various levels where a record of the experience of the Department during this war would unquestionably be of great importance to future Secretaries and their staffs, but said that we did not wish to get a historian appointed in any particular office unless he was wanted by those in authority.

Wright concluded his account of the interview thus:

Conclusion: My impression is that Mr. Dorr is deeply interest in the project; that he will ruminate upon it, and from time to time as opportunity offers, will speak to the Secretary and other members of the office staff, and that probably within a period of some weeks, we will have some tangible reaction from him. Meanwhile, it is important for us to look for a man who might be able to do the job.45

At the time of this interview Wright had already succeeded in getting Dr. Troyer Anderson appointed as historian in the Office of the Under Secretary of War, with the understanding that he should prepare a history of that office which "should be detailed, complete and objective, telling of failures as well as successes, and prepared

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always with a view to its utility for a successor who might have to wage another war."46 Wright used this achievement as a pry on Mr. Dorr to secure a similar appointment in Secretary Stimson's office. He did not succeed until October 1944, when James Phinney Baxter lent a helping hand with Mr. Stimson to get Dr. Rudolph Winnacker appointed as historian for the Secretary's office.47 Later, in September 1945, Maj. Harvey DeWeerd, with the strong backing of Wright, was appointed historian of General Marshall's office.48

The placing of historians in these key offices seemed a tremendous achievement at the time. In a letter to Baxter of 9 October 1944 thanking him for making the Winnacker appointment possible, Wright stated exultantly:" The General Staff is now pretty well outflanked, and we

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shall not hesitate to exploit our advantageous position if any opportunity presents itself."49 To what extent the position was exploited it is not possible to state, though the very presence of historians in such high places must have had considerable prestige value, Anderson, in particular, was able to use his entrée to the Under Secretary to help specific projects along. But Anderson and Winnacker became so involved in writing reports for their chiefs and in other current activities that their purely historical activities suffered.50 Owing to this diversion and to other unfortunate circumstances, no history of the offices of the Secretary or Under Secretary was ever completed.

Other activities of the Branch in the pioneer period include the preparation of two popular pamphlets, one on the Attu campaign, for which Capt. Robert J. Mitchell and Nelson Drummond did the spade work, and the other on the Kwajalein operation, written by Col. S. L. A.

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Marshall and based in large part on his mass interviews of participants.51 These works were edited in the Branch and published by the Infantry Journal in its Penguin series in October 1944.52 In December 1943 the personnel and functions of the Chronology Section of the Military Intelligence Service, G-2, were transferred to the Historical Branch. This small group headed by Mrs. Mary Williams continued its mission of compiling a daily chronology of world events based on both classified and unclassified sources.

In 1944 the Historical Branch, with some reluctance apparently, took over the preparation of a popular chronology of the war. This project had originally been assigned to the Orientation Branch of the Morale Services Division, Army Service Forces. In keeping with General Marshall's statement "that a knowledge of the causes and events leading up to the present war and of the principles for which we are fighting is an indispensable part of military training," the Orientation Branch had prepared and distributed a small pamphlet

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entitled War in Outline. When the Historical Branch took over the chronology project, it was assigned to Dr. Roger W. Shugg of the Historical Branch staff. Dr. Shugg proceeded to write an entirely new type of chronology, the first edition of which was published by the Infantry Journal Press in February 1945 under the title, The World at War: 1939-1944.53

Another activity which the Branch initiated before the end of its first year and which was to cause many headaches while running its course was the "Training History Project." This project had its inception in March 1944 in a request of the American Council on Education for the co-operation of the War and Navy Departments in a study of the implications for civilian education of wartime military training. The War Department, like the Navy, agreed to co-operate, and the Historical Branch, G-2, in May 1944 was designated as the agency to maintain liaison with the council and furnish the necessary information. Capt. Elmer Ellis of the Historical Branch was charged

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with the responsibility of carrying the project forward.54

A difference of opinion soon became apparent between the Army and the council as to the extent of the Army's co-operation. The council apparently desired the Army to undertake special studies suggested by the council, and to turn these over in such form as would be readily convertible to a book which the council proposed to publish. The Army, taking the view that this would divert its historical agencies from their major missions, proposed instead to make available, with some adaptation where necessary, historical studies already in progress or projected. The matter was finally resolved by a compromise. Captain Ellis, and later Captains Underhill and Boyd C. Shafer, worked with the Army Ground Forces and other training commands to obtain studies, with a minimum of distraction from their major missions, bearing on army educational methods and practices. These were co-ordinated in the Historical Branch and placed at the disposal of council representatives. The Branch also helped council representatives secure records from War Department

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agencies and reviewed segments of the council's study as they were completed.55

The various activities of the first year kept the Historical Branch growing and humming. On his return from North Africa in the winter of 1943-44, Colonel Kemper wrote Major Salmon: "I got home on the 4th of February to find the Historical Branch going full blast with about twice as many people in it as there had been when I left. I think we now total 7 officers and 16 civilians."56 Five weeks later he reported to the same correspondent: "Life is such a rat-race around here that I now appear to have two letters from you which I have not answered."57

As its responsibilities multiplied and its staff increased the Branch made corresponding adjustments in its organization. On 15 May 1944, the first date for which full information is available, the Branch was organized into a research and writing group whose members, under the supervision of the Chief Historian, were engaged in preparing

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the chronology, training historical teams, writing the popular narratives for the Infantry Journal series, and performing other current assignments, and five sections with duties specified as follows:

  1. The Editorial Section [under the supervision of the Chief Historian] will prepare for publication and handle all matters concerning the printing and distribution of historical manuscripts published by the Branch and will examine and recommend action on historical manuscripts prepared for publication outside the Branch.
  2. The Cartographic Section will prepare maps and charts as required by the Research and Writing Group and the Editorial Section and will control and preserve all maps temporarily or permanently in the custody of the Branch except those (forming inseparable parts of records or other material) controlled by the Records Analysis Section.
  3. The Records Analysis Section will control and preserve all source material (other than maps and administrative records of the Branch) which is temporarily or permanently in the custody of the Branch, including manuscript records and reports, completed historical studies, publications, and pictorial material, and will collect and make available information concerning the location and content of other source material which may be of use to the Branch.
  4. The Chronology Section will compile a detailed factual summary of current events.
  5. The Chief of the Liaison and Policy Section is the principal planning assistant to the Chief. As such he is primarily responsible for the formulation and implementation of an over-all historical program for the Military Establishment. He will maintain liaison with other historical units and undertake staff studies toward that end.58

The basic memorandum of 3 August specified as one of the Branch's objectives the preparation of a popular history of the war. Owing to his success with the Kwajalein study and his reputation as a writer,

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Table 1 — Personnel of the Historical Branch, G-2: 15 May 1944

Source: Hist Br Admin Memo 4, 15 May 44, sub: Organization of the Historical Branch, G-2, Wright File, Folder "Staff and Organization '44-45."

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Colonel Marshall was first slated for this task. But for some reason not revealed in the records, he gave up the idea and Mr. Sewell Tyng, renowned as the author of The Campaign of the Marne, 1914, was selected for the assignment. Mr. Tyng drew up an outline, visited the European theater, and took other preliminary steps. But he fell ill and died in May 1946 before he had made any substantial progress, and the project was suspended.


  1. The space first allotted to the Historical Branch was rooms 5B741, 5B737, and 5B729. Memo 66, WD G-2, for all Groups, Units, and Branches, 30 Jul 43, sub: Hist Branch, G-2, 020 O/C Mil History (30 Apr 43). The WD telephone directory for January 1944 shows that Dr. Wright was in room 5B733 and Colonel Kemper was in 5B737. Unless otherwise noted, all materials cited in this study are in the OCMH files.
  2. This estimate is based on study of material in the file 020 O/C Mil History and the files of Dr. W. L. Wright, cited hereafter as Wright File.
  3. Memo, Col John M. Kemper for Brig Gen John Weckerling, 1 Mar 45, sub: Outstanding Members of the Historical Branch, Clark Personal File, 1945.
  4. Ibid. This statement is based in part on the writer's personal knowledge of Lamson and his work. The date of Lamson's reporting for duty in the Branch is given in his Memo for Acting Chief, Hist Br, 21 Aug 43, sub: Current History Pamphlet, CSHIS 314.7 American Forces in Action.
  5. Memo, Kemper for Weckerling, 1 Mar 45, sub: Outstanding Members of the Historical Branch, Clark Personal File, 1945. Robert R. Smith, The Historical Branch, G-2: Getting the Program Under Way, pp. 15-18. The latter source will be cited hereafter as Robert R. Smith Study.
  6. This account of Marshall and his work is based largely on the diary of Col. Allen F. Clark and on that officer's personal file for 1945; in the latter see especially Ltr, Kemper to Clark, 5 Jun 45. Marshall's interview technique is discussed in his book Island Victory: The Battle of Kwajalein Atoll (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1944), pp. 2ff. See also description of Marshall's duties as of 21 July 1944 in folder, Administration—Historical Branch, Wright File.
  7. Robert R. Smith Study, p. 18. The statement is based in part on the writer's personal acquaintance with Mr. Wice. A fuller account of Mr. Wice's career will be found in Memo, Chief of Military History, 26 Jul 55, sub: National Civil Service League Career Awards, OCMH.
  8. Robert R. Smith Study, pp. 6-7. Valuable material on the AFA pamphlets is in CSHIS 314.7 American Forces in Action.
  9. Ibid., p. 7; Clark Report, pp. 5-6; Comments of Clark attached to Robert R. Smith Study.
  10. Memo of Conversation, W. L. Wright with Mr. Goldthwaite Dorr, 21 Mar 44, Wright File.
  11. Ibid.; To Bizerte With the II Corps (Washington: GPO, 1944), p. iv, Capt. Roy Lamson and Lt. Harris Warren initiated work on this booklet and apparently did much of the writing. See Memo, Maj Lamson for Acting Chief Hist Br, 21 Aug 43, sub: Current History Pamphlet, CSHIS 314.7 American Forces in Action.
  12. To Bizerte With the II Corps, p. 1, et passim. Publication dates of the AFA Series, undated, CSHIS 314.7 American Forces in Action.
  13. Memo of Conversation, W. L. Wright with Mr. Goldthwaite Dorr, 21 Mar 44.
  14. A draft of this booklet was prepared in the Historical Branch by Major Chester Starr just before he went overseas. Mrs. Marjorie W. Cline had primary responsibility for editing. Memo, Mrs Cline for Capt Lamson, 9 Mar 44, CSHIS 314.7 American Forces in Action.
  15. Memo, W. L. Wright, 23 May 44, sub: Salerno Pamphlet, Wright File, Comments on Articles.
  16. Summarized from Paper, W. L. Wright [17 Jun 44], Reflections on the Pamphlet Problem, CSHIS 314.7 American Forces in Action.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Copies of this paper are in CSHIS 314.7 American Forces in Action and in Wright File, Comments on Articles.
  19. Taylor went to England in March 1944 taking the nucleus of two historical teams, and from there he went to France in July. See Ltr, Taylor to Paul H. Buck, 28 Sep 45, Clark Personal File, 1945.
  20. Ltr, Taylor to Buck, 28 Sep 45; Statement, Dr. K. R. Greenfield to the writer, 5 Jun 53, regarding the "model" concept.
  21. Statement, Dr. K. R. Greenfield to the writer, 19 Mar 54. Popularity of Omaha Beachhead is evidenced by its sale (20,738 as of 1 February 1956) which was the greatest of any in the series. Sales Report as of 1 February 1956, K. R. Greenfield Files, U.S. Army in World War II: Sales and Dissemination. An ex-rifleman wrote of the booklet: "It is the only book of treasure I have of my own experiences, and it is positively an accurate description of events which surprises me." OCMH, Promotional Pamphlet, History of the U.S. Army in the World Wars.
  22. Sales Report as of 1 February 1956.
  23. Draft Memo, unsigned for W. L. Wright, 22 Jul 44, sub: War Department Historical Program, Wright File. On 27 September 1944, Colonel Kemper wrote Col. Dwight Salmon: "We are still trying hard to complete a series of these pamphlets on operational studies … before the war is over, not so much to circulate them to the wounded as to have something in the way of combat history written up and in published form when the war ends and the Republicans (?) start withdrawing financial support for the compilation of a history of the Democrats at War." Salmon Personal File.
  24. Robert R. Smith Study, p. 16.
  25. Comments of Clark attached to Robert R. Smith Study.
  26. A copy of this draft is in the Wright File, AR 345-105 & 10; Statement, Mr. Israel Wice to writer, 16 Mar 54.
  27. Some comment on Douglas' trips are to be found in the personal file of Col. Dwight Salmon. See especially Ltr, Salmon to Kemper, 4 Apr 44.
  28. Memo, Maj Dwight Salmon, Historical Officer NATOUSA, for Chief Hist Br WD G-2, 9 Apr 44, Salmon Personal File.
  29. Ltr, Salmon to Kemper, 16 Mar 44, Salmon Personal File. A copy of the 8 January 1944 NATOUSA directive that Colonel Kemper helped prepare is in HB 314.75 Historical Program AFHQ (20 Apr 43).
  30. This statement is substantiated by many items in the correspondence of theater historical officers with members of the Historical Branch. See especially the Salmon and Paul Birdsall personal correspondence files.
  31. Ltr, Kemper to Salmon, 13 Apr 44, Salmon Personal File.
  32. Robert R. Smith Study pp. 11-13; Ltr, Kemper to Salmon, 18 Mar and 19 Jun 44, Salmon Personal File. Comments of Colonel Clark on Smith's study and the Salmon correspondence show that Smith was mistaken in his conclusion that the Historical Branch hoped at first to keep control of teams sent to the theaters.
  33. Ltr, Salmon to Kemper, 14 Mar 44, Salmon Personal File.
  34. Comments of Clark attached to Robert R. Smith Study; Ltr, Kemper to Salmon, 4 Mar 44, Salmon Personal File.
  35. [W. L. Wright] draft of article, "The Army Historical Program," Wright File, Folder "Article"; WD T/O&E 20-12S, 2 Apr and 3 Oct 44; WD Memo, 220-44, 18 Apr 44, sub: Hq & Hq Det. and Assignment Units, Info & Hist. Service.
  36. Ltr, Salmon to Kemper, 11 May 44, Salmon Personal File.
  37. Robert R. Smith Study, pp. 19-20; Clark Report, pp. 3-4; Comments of Clark attached to Robert R. Smith Study.
  38. Clark Report, pp. 3-4; Comments of Clark attached to Robert R. Smith Study; Salmon Personal File.
  39. George W. Auxier, Report on War Department Historical Program, World War II, 1 Jan 44, Wright File.
  40. WD Memo 345-44, 1 Sep 44, sub: Progress Report, WD Hist Program, HIS 314.7, Historical Program, Hist Br G-2, (11 Nov 45).
  41. Clark Report, pp. 6-7; Memo, Guy Stanton Ford for Col. J. Paul, 20 Apr 45, sub: Meeting of April 12-14, 1945.
  42. Ltr, Kemper to Maj Leonard O. Friesz, 4 Jun 53, OCMH files.
  43. Ltr, Kemper to Salmon, 4 Mar 44, Salmon Personal File.
  44. Ltr, Kemper to Friesz, 4 Jun 53; Clark Report, p. 33.
  45. Memorandum of Conversation, W. L. Wright with Mr. Goldthwaite Dorr, 21 Mar 44.
  46. Ibid. For the background of Anderson's appointment, see Wright memoranda 15 Feb and 16 Mar 44, sub: Hist of the Office of the Under Secretary of War, Wright File, Folder Memoranda on Conversations.
  47. Ltr, Wright to Baxter, 9 Oct 44, James Phinney Baxter File; Ltr, Baxter to Maj Gen A. C. Smith, 25 Mar 53, OCMH files.
  48. Draft Memo [W. L. Wright] 28 Aug 45, Wright File, Folder OCS.
  49. Ltr, Wright to Baxter, 9 Oct 44, James Phinney Baxter File.
  50. For reference to Anderson's diversion to other duty, see Weekly Report of Chief Historian, 21 Apr 45.
  51. Memo, Wright for Chief Hist Br, 12 Aug 44, sub: Draft Accounts of the Attu and Kiska Operations, Wright File, "Comments on Articles." Ltr, Wright to Capt Robert J. Mitchell, 30 Dec 44, Wright File, folder "Field Historians"; Island Victory; Attack on Attu.
  52. Robert R. Smith Study, pp. 22-24; Weekly Report of Chief Historian, 28 Apr 45. In 1946 the Infantry Journal Press published "An Entirely New Book" by Roger W. Shugg and Lt. Col. Harvey A. DeWeerd, entitled World War II: A Concise History, which carried the story of the war through V-J Day.
  53. For origin and progress of the Training History project, see Wright File, folder "American Council on Education," especially WD Memo 350-45, 31 Aug 45, sub: Implications of Wartime Military Training for Civilian Education, Conversation Memo of Wright with Mr. Goldthwaite Dorr, 20 May and 16 Jun 44.
  54. Ten studies were published by the council, the last in 1948.
  55. Ltr, Kemper to Salmon, 4 Mar 44, Salmon Personal File.
  56. Ibid., 13 Apr 44.
  57. Hist Br, Admin Memo 4, 15 May 44, sub: Organization of the Historical Branch, G-2, Wright File, Folder, "Staff Organization '44-45." See Table 1, next page.

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