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Memorandum for General Hammond1
April 13, 1934 [Chicago, Illinois]
Governmental treatment of Army as to pay and allowances.
Reducations in Pay.
As of July 1, 1932 Congress reduced the pay of the Army by eight and one third percent (8_%) and made further reductions in allowances. Furthermore, a ban was placed on increases of pay for promotion or as provided for at stated intervals automatically, regardless of promotion. Later under special authority vested in the President, a cut of fifteen percent (15%) was imposed and the “freeze” on promotions and automatic increases was continued. The basis for these Federal reductions in pay was the amount of the reduction in the cost of living in 1933 as compared to 1926.
Result of reductions.
Considering only the Junior elements of the Army, the second lieutenants and enlisted men, the effect of these reductions was drastic in the extreme, far beyond what would be assumed as the results of a mere 15% cut, below even the cost of living standards of 1908.
For example, a second lieutenant received as pay and ration money $140.60. This was cut to $119.51 or 18.5 percent less than he received 25 years before. The difference in the cost of living between 1908 and 1933 was great. Never the less he was given 18.5 percent less money in 1933 than in that far off period of cheap living.
However, this was not the worse phase of the reduction for these young men. When their salary was set by the Pay Act of 1922 they were purposely given less money than in 1908 in order that after promotion to first lieutenant or after five years service if promotion was unduly delayed, they should receive sufficient increase to permit them to marry. This without increasing the total pay of the Army. The reductions of 1932 and 1933 prohibited increases for promotion or after five years service, with the result that these young men, most of whom married during their fourth year of service with the then legal certainty of a material increase in pay, found themselves after six years of service drawing 42 percent less money than the Government had promised them. Officers with wives and one or two children were required to maintain themselves on $119.51 a month, 30.4 percent less than they would have received 25 years earlier.
In the case of the private soldier the full effect of the reductions was equally drastic. A private who was a good enough soldier to qualify as expert rifleman, suffered a reduction of 33.3 percent in monthly pay. On a yearly basis, including his clothing and reenlistment allowances, his reduction was 44.7 percent.
The Sergeants received a total cut of about 23 percent and the Master Sergeants 20 percent.
Comparison with other Government Services.
The Navy and Marine Corps received the same general reduction as the Army. All these services had previously been denied the large increases given the Civil Service, the Diplomatic and Consular Service, the Congressmen and high government officials. As a result, with only about ten percent increase in pay since 1908, the Army was cut in general, far below the standard of 1908. While the Diplomatic Service, for instance, still held an increase, after the cut, of more than 150 percent. Congressional pay was only cut 15 percent, following an increase in 1928 of 33 percent. The Postmen were left with more than a 6 percent increase over their 1908 standard of pay.
Special status of military personnel.
The heavy reductions imposed on the military-naval officers and men should be considered in the light of their special relation to the Federal government. They cannot resign; they must present a certain standard of appearance no matter how closely pressed they may be financially; they must accept the added expenses of moves and special service; they constitute the government’s final backing in the event of grave emergencies; they must hazard their lives in the government service, with no choice of resigning if they do not care to serve. Yet on these servants the Federal government imposed its most drastic program of economy, and at a time when it was demanding more of the Army to meet the special requirements of the New Deal, than of any other branch of the government.
The Army put over the CCC for the government after the inability of the originally designated agencies to handle the problem, had become evident. Officers and men were suddenly scattered in 1400 Camps throughout the United States, under the necessity of maintaining their families in one place and themselves in another. The wives and children of married soldiers were often without funds for food and rent. Corporals of years of service found themselves first sergeants of CCC companies, every man of these companies receiving as much or more money than the first sergeant. Regular soldiers in large numbers found themselves unable to continue allotments of $10.00 a month to their parents, while CCC boys, picked off the streets, were enabled to contribute from $25.00 to $40.00 a month to their families.
The regular soldier had no choice of post or duty. The CCC boy was free to terminate his connection with the government any time. He could not be worked more than six hours a day. The regular in the CCC Camp was usually on duty twelve hours a day.
Despite the inequalities and injustice of this arrangement, the regular soldiers gave their earnest and most efficient services to make the CCC a success it has been.
Congress recently restored 5 percent pay and provided for a further increase of 5 percent July 1st. The ban on pay for promotion was lifted, but the prohibition against automatic increases remains in force. This last continues the heaviest cut imposed on second lieutenants of more than four years service.
The elimination of reenlistment allowances, and the cut in clothing allowances remains in force. Extra pay for marksmanship has been partially restored—no marksman or sharpshooter pay allowed, but one year in three an expert rifleman will receive $5.00 per month. Similar adjustments have been made for the Artillery, etc.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Illinois National Guard, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Brigadier General Thomas S. Hammond commanded the Illinois National Guard’s Sixty-sixth Infantry Brigade, with headquarters in Chicago.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 425-428.