Bold Enough To Beat The Brave

The Making Of The Greatest Soldier Who Ever Live

Bold Enough To Beat The Brave

How The Most Heralded Partnership In The History Of The Armed Forces Happened

by Daniel Bennett on April 24

General George C. Marshall was known for speaking his mind regardless of who he was with, who his audience was, this was prolifically important when he met President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Many years before this as a staff officer in France in 1917, a general from the field General Pershing criticised the division and the division commander and the subordinates that Marshall was working with. Marshall a lowly cleaner of the staff rooms and offices rose to the defence of his division.

When Pershing ignored his protests Marshall exploded. Placing his hand on his arm forcing the general to listen to him, George C. Marshall performed an extraordinary lecture about his opinions, about Pershing himself, his own office, his own faults. The crowds of fellow officers could not believe the bottle, balls, the wit and downright passion of Mr Marshall standing up to an esteemed general and completely rendering the senior experienced man speechless was something to behold.

Pershing went away having listened to junior Marshall and worked upon all criticisms in his own office – he was not the first and most definitely would not be the last to feel the full wrath of George C. Marshall. He would provide frank advice to Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), the President of The United States Of America, many years later.

Speaking his mind and portraying his passions regardless of perceived ways of going about it, in a meeting at The White House in November 1938, FDR proposed plans of building 10,000 warplanes, FDR secretly wanted to export these planes to Britain and France to defeat the Germans alone with no US involvement – this would, in Marshall's opinion, expose the US to un-neutral behaviour and put its security at risk.

FDR presented the plans at the meeting, thinking he'd made a good case for the programme. The discussion ran around the room in a light-hearted positive manner, until FDR turned to newly promoted to general rank General General Marshall. "Do you think it's a good proposal George?" Marshall exclaimed that he did not think it's a good idea at all and that there's been a huge misrepresentation of their intimacy, by calling him George and not 'General Marshall'

In the room the ambience, the candour, and the  positive atmosphere changed dramatically, you could have heard a pin drop. All the generals stopped what they were doing and their jaws dropped. Nothing else was said and at the end of the meeting hundreds of other generals shook Marshalls hand and  said, "nice knowing you, good luck." Offering condolences. Every single man, woman and dog in the room knew that Marshalls  bluntness with the most powerful man on the planet, the president of the United States of America, the first time they'd ever met, to publicly attempt to shame the president,  had lost him his whole army career.  

This was in fact the complete opposite. The great, charismatic leader that Franklin D. Roosevelt was, ensured he saw  something phenomenal in George Marshall. Frankness and candour was what bonded these two great leaders. Marshalls bluntness had impressed rather than alienated his superior.

Three months later there was no doubt in the president's mind who would be his 'Chief of Army Staff' when general Malin Craig retired. Roosevelt summoned Marshall to the White House and said "Since I first met you, I have it in mind to choose you as the next Chief of Staff of The United States of America Army. What do you think about that?"
George replied, "Nothing, Mr President, except to remind you I say exactly what I think. And that, as you know, he added, "can often be unpleasing. Is that alright?"

The two men continued a jovial dialogue about this subject matter.

They went on to form the most heralded relationship in Armed Forces history. Displaying the most remarkable partnership to steer the world through World War II.


A recent remarkable operation led by another U.S. leader was the capture of Osama Bin Laden. The location of a man in hiding for 10 years for the most atrocious attacks on humanity was always going to be heavily guarded. It was going to take a team of George C. Marshall’s  bravery, nous and coolness to complete the mission at Abbottabad, Pakistan.    

SEAL Team Six  also known as "Night Stalkers" swooped down and successfully captured the killer in an “intelligence gathering operation.”  which makes for remarkable reading. We can learn much from our armed forces leaders

My Granddad himself was an army leader in the records office. Here I am pictured with him, and my brother Chris in the Snowdonia National Park during the hottest streak of my Junior Athletics life.  Aged thirteen, this was just prior to a memorable cross-country season – I had enjoyed a memorable season on the Track in London.




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