Douglas MacArthur collection  1885-1983 (bulk 1917-1919)
full text File Size: 63 K bytes


Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur was born on January 26, 1880, the youngest child of (Capt.) Arthur MacArthur (1845-1912) and Mary Pinkney Hardy (1852-1935). His siblings were Arthur (1876-1923), and Malcolm (1878-1883), who died before his seventh birthday.

Douglas MacArthur graduated from West Texas Military Academy in 1897 as valedictorian and two years later entered West Point. In 1902 he graduated as First Captain, West Point's highest honor. In September 1903, he joined the 3rd Battalion Engineers in San Francisco, and almost immediately was sent to Manila, Philippines. The next year he was promoted to First Lieutenant, and in 1906 returned to the United States. After being made Captain of Engineers at Leavenworth in 1911, MacArthur was assigned to Vera Cruz to report information to the War Department. While serving as military aide to the Secretary of War in 1916, he conceived the idea of expanding the existing National Guard through volunteer enlistment and turned into combat divisions - an idea that would be used for the formation of the 42nd Division.

In 1917, MacArthur was appointed Colonel and Chief of Staff of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division. As Commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade, he led his troops during the vitally important Argonne Campaign in the last months of the war. In 1919, the 42nd Division returned to the United States, and MacArthur accepted an appointment as Superintendent of West Point. While there, he became permanent Brigadier General. MacArthur married Louise Cromwell Brooks in 1922, the year he was posted to command the Philippine Division, but they divorced seven years later. In November 1929, MacArthur was promoted to General and chosen as the man to replace General Summerall as the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army. In 1937, MacArthur married a second time - to Jean Marie Faircloth, and they had a son, Arthur, a year later.

In December 1941, the Japanese Army attacked and defeated MacArthur's Philippine Army on the Bataan Peninsula. The following March, MacArthur was ordered from the Philippines to command the Allied troops with Thomas Blamey. For six months, MacArthur concentrated on the defense of New Guinea, which led to an ambitious counter-attack in January and February 1943. On the day the Japanese surrendered, MacArthur was appointed Supreme Commander of Allied Powers.

MacArthur remained in occupied Japan until 1950, orchestrating the reformation of the post-war country. On the 29th of June, 1950, MacArthur went to South Korea with American forces to assess the situation after North Korea's invasion of South Korea. This assessment led to Truman's commitment of U.S. troops to a ground war in Korea. The North Koreans abandoned Seoul on September 28, 1950, after MacArthur's successful military plan to attack through Inchon. As a result of the success of this campaign, China decided to enter the Korean War. MacArthur was ordered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, in conjunction with a U.N. resolution, to proceed north of the 38th parallel. Chinese troops attacked, leading to the withdrawal of MacArthur's troops back south of the 38th. By this time, MacArthur had disobeyed the military order to employ only Korean forces in the frontier provinces. On the 24th of March, MacArthur issued a lengthy communiqué complaining about the restrictions on his forces and taunted the enemy for their lack of industrial power and inability to maintain even moderate air and naval power. This pronouncement and his previous insubordination caused President Truman to relieve MacArthur of his command.

In April 1951, General Douglas MacArthur returned to San Francisco to thousands of cheering citizens. On April 19 he presented his case regarding his relief of command to a joint session of congress. During his remaining years, MacArthur traveled throughout the United States to make speeches, in which he often denounced communists and socialists, and spoke of corrupt administration and heavy taxation. At the age of 84, on April 5, 1964, Douglas MacArthur died in a hospital in Washington.

The 42nd (Rainbow) Division

The Rainbow Division was created in 1917 as a composite division of members of the Regular Army and the National Guard solely for use in the war in Europe. The 42nd arrived in Europe in 1917 as the war was entering a new phase: Russia had dropped out of the war, America was joining the war, and Germany was racing to provide tremendous reinforcement before the American forces arrived.

In February 1918 the 42nd Division, part of the First U.S. Army Corps, was ordered to the Luneville area for a month of training with French units from the 7th French Army Corps. While there, the Rainbow Division distinguished itself as "a first class combat Division."

The first assignment for the 42nd was to relieve the 128th French Infantry Division from the Baccarat Sector. In the war, this was the first time an American Division held a Sector on its own. The Division successfully held the Baccarat Sector until relief orders were sent on June 16, 1918. Two weeks later, the 42nd Division went to the front at the Battle of Champagne alongside the 21st French Army Corps. After an attack by the Germans on the fifteenth of July, the 42nd assisted in the Champagne defense until the end of the battle (July 18). The Sixth French Army Corps was given the Rainbow Division to pursue the supposedly retreating enemy at the Battle of the Ourcq from July 25-July 27, 1918. From July 28-August 1st, the Allies captured strongpoints of the German position. August 2-August 3rd, the 42nd Division assisted in pursuing the enemy until relieved by the 4th Regular Division.

After the Battle of the Ourcq, Douglas MacArthur was given command of the 84th Infantry Brigade (William Hughes, Jr., replaced him as Chief of Staff, 42nd Division). In September, the Rainbow Division, then under the 4th American Army Corps, was ordered to attack the center of the south side of the San Mihiel Salient and was assigned to the defense of the Essey-Pannes Sector until September 30, when it was relieved by the 89th Division.

On October 11-12, 1918, the Rainbow Division relieved the 1st Division on the Verdun front. In order to break the 2nd German line of defense, the hill called The Cote de Chatillon had to be taken. From October 13-16, Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur commanded the 84th Infantry Division to the successful capture of Hill 288 (a strongly fortified point on the Kreimhilde Stellung), the Tuilerie Ferme, and the Cote de Chatillon (beyond the enemy's strong line of resistance).

The next attack took place November 1, 1918. The 42nd Division provided machine gun fire for the advancement of the 2nd and 89th Divisions. After this victory, and as a result of divisional rivalry (and a difference in opinion as to the exact nature of a memorandum), the 42nd and the 1st Divisions (of the First American Army Corps and the 5th American Army Corps respectively) 'raced' for the glory of partaking in the (potential) final engagement of the war, in Sedan. On November 6-7, the Rainbow, the 4th French Army, and the 1st and 77th American Divisions, fought south of the Meuse (south of Sedan). The fighting ended when the enemy requested an armistice on November 9, 1918. The 42nd Division backed off and was able to claim that the Americans who got closest to Sedan were members of the 166th Infantry of the 83rd Infantry Brigade. The armistice was signed two days later.

The 42nd Division remained in France and occupied Germany until May 1, 1919, when the last unit arrived home. Less than two weeks later, the last Brigade was demobilized.