Wedemeyer, Albert C.
1946 TLS while Army Chief Plans and Operations, before returning to China, sending his autograph
Description: (1897-1989) USMA 1919, US Army commander in Asia October 1943 to the end of the war. Previously, he was an important member of the War Planning Board which formulated plans for the Normandy invasion. He was General Marshall’s chief consultant when in Spring 1942 they went to London with a small group of US military men to consult with the British to them to support a cross-Channel invasion. A staunch anti-communist, while in China 1944-45, he was Chiang Kai-shek’s Chief of Staff and commanded all US forces in China. Wedemeyer supported Chiang’s struggle against Mao Zedong and in 1947 President Truman sent him back to China to report on what actions the United States should take. During the Cold War, Wedemeyer was a chief supporter of the Berlin Airlift.
Captain Wedemeyer was one of 2 Army officers who attended, as exchange students, the Kriegsakademie in Berlin 1936-38. After graduation he was one of many international observers at the 1938 German Army grand maneuvers. When he returned to Washington that year, he analyzed Germany’s grand strategy, dissected their thinking, and became the military’s foremost authority on German tactical operations, his most ardent student was General Marshall.
At the outbreak of WW II, Wedemeyer was a lieut. colonel, a staff officer with the War Plans Division. In 1941 he was chief author of the “Victory Program”, which advocated the defeat of Germany’s armies in Europe as the US’ prime war objective. This plan was adopted and expanded as the war progressed. Wedemeyer also helped plan the Normandy invasion.
In 1943, he was reassigned to the SE Asia Theatre as Chief of Staff to supreme Allied Commander Lord Louis Mountbatten. In 1944, Wedemeyer was directed by General Marshall to assume command of US forces in China, replacing General Stilwell, also named Chief of Staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. When Wedemeyer arrived at Stilwell’s headquarters after Stilwell’s dismissal, Stilwell intentionally left without seeing him and did not leave a single briefing paper or documentary record of Stilwell’s plans or records of his former or future operations.
He was instrumental in expanding the Hump airlift operation with additional, more capable transport aircraft, and continued Stilwell’s programs to train, equip, and modernize the Nationalist Chinese Army, not wholly successful, in part because of the ill will engendered by Stilwell, as well as continuing friction over the role of Communist Chinese forces. Wedemeyer supervised logistical support for US air forces in China, incl. the 20th Air Force and Claire Chennault’s 14th Air Force. On Dec. 7, 1945, Wedemeyer, MacArthur, and Adm. Spruance recommended the Pentagon transport 6 more Chinese Nationalist armies into North China and Manchuria. However they also suggested forcing the Nationalists into a coalition government with the Communists, later a central issue in the fierce “who lost China” 1949–51 political debates. Wedemeyer served in China into 1946 and after his returning, was promoted to Army Chief of Plans and Operations.
In July 1947, President Truman sent him to China and Korea to examine the “political, economic, psychological and military situations.” The result was the 1948 Wedemeyer Reports in which Wedemeyer stressed the need for intensive US training of and assistance to the Nationalist armies. He said Chiang’s armies were far better-equipped than their Communist adversaries (who had not yet received weapons and training from the USSR in Manchuria) and pushing them back on all fronts, but ammunition, fuel, and spare parts were severely lacking. These were promised by Lend-Lease, but not delivered and while the Nationalists had over 16,000 trucks, virtually all were inoperable, forcing Chiang’s troops to march on foot. Ammunition shortages also caused Nationalist divisions to lose battles, and troops were forced to scavenge abandoned American dumps because no deliveries had been made. Much surplus weaponry and ammunition in the Pacific was being destroyed and Chiang’s government was charged exorbitant prices for what remained. Wedemeyer recommended sending leftover equipment to China rather than blowing it up.
President Truman rejected the recommendations in the report and also imposed an arms embargo against the Nationalist government, intensifying the bitter political debate over the US role in the Chinese Civil War. Secretary of State Marshall supported Truman’s view and suppressed publication of Wedemeyer’s report, further provoking resentment by Nationalist and Communist advocates inside and outside the US government and armed forces. The report was, however, reprinted in 1949.
Wedemeyer was given command of the 6th US Army in San Francisco and saw himself as cut off from further military policy making. After the fall of China to Communist forces, he testified before Congress that the Truman administration’s 1947 decision to discontinue further training and modernizing of Nationalist forces, the US-imposed arms embargo, and constant anti-Nationalist sentiment expressed by Western journalists and policymakers were the primary causes of Nationalist loss of morale. He was supported by Chennault and 2 other high-ranking officers. After the Communist victory in 1949, Wedemeyer became intimately associated with the “China Lobby” and openly voiced criticism of those allegedly responsible for the Communist takeover of China. In 1951, after the outbreak of the Korean War, he became a hero to US anticommunists, and lectured around the country.
After retiring in 1951, he was promoted to full General by Act of Congress in 1954. On May 23, 1985, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Reagan.
TLS “A. C. Wedemeyer” on 10 ½ x 8 War Department General Staff Operations Division letterhead, Washington, August 5 1946, to an Ohio man sending his autograph on the letter and on an envelope (not present) for his collection.
Condition: Very good