With D-Day Just Two Weeks Away, Ike Writes Edgar, “God knows I am busy…”

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Eisenhower’s wartime rise in the military was meteoric. He started World War II as Chief of War Plans and became Assistant Chief of Staff in charge of Operations for General George Marshall in April 1942. In that post, he conducted a mission to London to increase co-operation among World War II...

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With D-Day Just Two Weeks Away, Ike Writes Edgar, “God knows I am busy…”

Eisenhower’s wartime rise in the military was meteoric. He started World War II as Chief of War Plans and became Assistant Chief of Staff in charge of Operations for General George Marshall in April 1942. In that post, he conducted a mission to London to increase co-operation among World War II allies. On June 25, 1942, he was designated commanding general of all U.S. troops in the European Theater and was directly involved with planning and executing U.S. military strategy. In early November 1942, he was then given command of Operation Torch – the Allied landings in North Africa. These took place from November 8-11 and were successful. By mid-November the Allies were able to begin advancing into Tunisia to take on the Germans, but the Africa campaign did not swing into full force until early 1943. That summer Eisenhower led the invasions of Sicily and Italy, and in December 1943, after success in Italy, he was appointed Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces. In this role he planned and commanded Operation Overlord – the invasion of Normandy – that took place on June 6, 1944 – D-Day.

I wish that all such things could wait until a man really had leisure to think up some really good tales to tell about his boyhood

Edgar Eisenhower was a lawyer and Ike’s older brother. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1914, a year before his brother finished at West Point, and began practicing law in 1915 in Tacoma, Washington. His relationship with his brother was both close and strained at the same time. On a personal level, Edgar was an older brother who was both opinionated and thought he knew best. He seldom hesitated to tell Ike what to do, even while his younger brother was President. On a political level, Edgar was known as an ultraconservative, while Ike was a moderate. They were thus often in disagreement and would have heated discussions about history and politics around the kitchen table when they got together.

           

By May 1944, 2,876,000 Allied troops were amassed in southern England waiting to invade France.  Artificial harbors were being built, dispositions of troops determined, preliminary bombing undertaken, supply questions resolved, dates for launch set, and in general final planning was taking place for one of the great enterprises of history. Ike took a moment to write his brother. Typed Letter signed on his Office of the Supreme Commander letterhead, England, May 22, 1944, two short weeks before D-Day, to Edgar. “Thank you for your letter of May 13. I was particularly delighted to have such a fine account of mother and her doings. By coincidence I received a letter in the same mail from Frances Curry, who had seen you outside some grocery store and had a long talk with you. I have heard that a man named Kenneth Davis is writing a biography. I wish that all such things could wait until a man really had leisure to think up some really good tales to tell about his boyhood. If they gave me time and did not check up too closely on fact I could make you and me look like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Which one would you rather be? God knows I am busy and you must forgive both the brevity and the infrequency of my letters. Someday I will come to see you and bore you for a week.”

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