From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchFor the diplomat, see Douglas MacArthur II. For the New Zealand politician, see Douglas Hastings Macarthur.”General MacArthur” redirects here. For other uses, see General MacArthur (disambiguation).
Douglas MacArthur (26 January 1880 – 5 April 1964) was an American military leader who served as General of the Army for the United States, as well as a field marshal to the Philippine Army. He was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s, and he played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. MacArthur received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines campaign. This made him along with his father Arthur MacArthur Jr. the first father and son to be awarded the medal. He was one of only five to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the U.S. Army, and the only one conferred the rank of field marshal in the Philippine Army.
Raised in a military family in the American Old West, MacArthur was valedictorian at the West Texas Military Academy where he finished high school, and First Captain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated top of the class of 1903. During the 1914 United States occupation of Veracruz, he conducted a reconnaissance mission, for which he was nominated for the Medal of Honor. In 1917, he was promoted from major to colonel and became chief of staff of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division. In the fighting on the Western Front during World War I, he rose to the rank of brigadier general, was again nominated for a Medal of Honor, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice and the Silver Star seven times.
From 1919 to 1922, MacArthur served as Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he attempted a series of reforms. His next assignment was in the Philippines, where in 1924 he was instrumental in quelling the Philippine Scout Mutiny. In 1925, he became the Army’s youngest major general. He served on the court-martial of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell and was president of the American Olympic Committee during the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. In 1930, he became Chief of Staff of the United States Army. As such, he was involved in the expulsion of the Bonus Army protesters from Washington, D.C., in 1932, and the establishment and organization of the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1935 he became Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1937 and continued being the chief military advisor to the Philippines.
MacArthur was recalled to active duty in 1941 as commander of United States Army Forces in the Far East. A series of disasters followed, starting with the destruction of his air forces on 8 December 1941 and the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. MacArthur’s forces were soon compelled to withdraw to Bataan, where they held out until May 1942. In March 1942, MacArthur, his family and his staff left nearby Corregidor Island in PT boats and escaped to Australia, where MacArthur became supreme commander, Southwest Pacific Area. Upon his arrival, MacArthur gave a speech in which he promised “I shall return” to the Philippines. After more than two years of fighting, he fulfilled that promise. For his defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor. He officially accepted the surrender of Japan on 2 September 1945 aboard the USS Missouri, which was anchored in Tokyo Bay, and he oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951. As the effective ruler of Japan, he oversaw sweeping economic, political and social changes. He led the United Nations Command in the Korean War with initial success; however, the invasion of North Korea provoked the Chinese, causing a series of major defeats. MacArthur was contentiously removed from command by President Harry S. Truman on 11 April 1951. He later became chairman of the board of Remington Rand. He died in Washington, D.C. on 5 April 1964 at the age of 84.
- 1Early life and education
- 2Junior officer
- 3Veracruz expedition
- 4World War I
- 5Between the wars
- 6World War II
- 7Occupation of Japan
- 8Korean War
- 9Later life
- 10Death and legacy
- 14Further reading
- 15External links
Early life and education
A military brat, Douglas MacArthur was born 26 January 1880, at Little Rock Barracks, Arkansas, to Arthur MacArthur Jr., a U.S. Army captain, and his wife, Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur (nicknamed “Pinky”). Arthur Jr. was a son of Scottish-born jurist and politician Arthur MacArthur Sr. Arthur Jr. would later receive the Medal of Honor for his actions with the Union Army in the Battle of Missionary Ridge during the American Civil War, and be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. Pinkney came from a prominent Norfolk, Virginia, family. Two of her brothers had fought for the South in the Civil War, and refused to attend her wedding. Of the extended family, MacArthur is also distantly related to Matthew Perry, a Commodore of the U.S. Navy. Arthur and Pinky had three sons, of whom Douglas was the youngest, following Arthur III, born on 1 August 1876, and Malcolm, born on 17 October 1878. The family lived on a succession of Army posts in the American Old West. Conditions were primitive, and Malcolm died of measles in 1883. In his memoir, Reminiscences, MacArthur wrote “I learned to ride and shoot even before I could read or write—indeed, almost before I could walk and talk.”MacArthur as a student at West Texas Military Academy in the late 1890s
MacArthur’s time on the frontier ended in July 1889 when the family moved to Washington, D.C., where he attended the Force Public School. His father was posted to San Antonio, Texas, in September 1893. While there MacArthur attended the West Texas Military Academy, where he was awarded the gold medal for “scholarship and deportment”. He also participated on the school tennis team and played quarterback on the school football team and shortstop on its baseball team. He was named valedictorian, with a final year average of 97.33 out of 100. MacArthur’s father and grandfather unsuccessfully sought to secure Douglas a presidential appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, first from President Grover Cleveland and then from President William McKinley. After these two rejections, he was given coaching and private tutoring by Milwaukee high school teacher Gertrude Hull. He then passed the examination for an appointment from Congressman Theobald Otjen, scoring 93.3 on the test. He later wrote: “It was a lesson I never forgot. Preparedness is the key to success and victory.”
MacArthur entered West Point on 13 June 1899, and his mother also moved there, to a suite at Craney’s Hotel, which overlooked the grounds of the academy. Hazing was widespread at West Point at this time, and MacArthur and his classmate Ulysses S. Grant III were singled out for special attention by Southern cadets as sons of generals with mothers living at Craney’s. When Cadet Oscar Booz left West Point after being hazed and subsequently died of tuberculosis, there was a congressional inquiry. MacArthur was called to appear before a special Congressional committee in 1901, where he testified against cadets implicated in hazing, but downplayed his own hazing even though the other cadets gave the full story to the committee. Congress subsequently outlawed acts “of a harassing, tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting or humiliating nature”, although hazing continued. MacArthur was a corporal in Company B in his second year, a first sergeant in Company A in his third year and First Captain in his final year. He played left field for the baseball team and academically earned 2424.12 merits out of a possible 2470.00 or 98.14%, which was the third-highest score ever recorded. He graduated first in his 93-man class on 11 June 1903. At the time it was customary for the top-ranking cadets to be commissioned into the United States Army Corps of Engineers, therefore, MacArthur was commissioned as a second lieutenant in that corps.
MacArthur spent his graduation furlough with his parents at Fort Mason, California, where his father, now a major general, was serving as commander of the Department of the Pacific. Afterward, he joined the 3rd Engineer Battalion, which departed for the Philippines in October 1903. MacArthur was sent to Iloilo, where he supervised the construction of a wharf at Camp Jossman. He went on to conduct surveys at Tacloban City, Calbayog City and Cebu City. In November 1903, while working on Guimaras, he was ambushed by a pair of Filipino brigands or guerrillas; he shot and killed both with his pistol. He was promoted to first lieutenant in Manila in April 1904. In October 1904, his tour of duty was cut short when he contracted malaria and dhobi itch during a survey on Bataan. He returned to San Francisco, where he was assigned to the California Debris Commission. In July 1905, he became chief engineer of the Division of the Pacific.MacArthur was an engineer for the first 14 years of his military career. He received these golden castle pins as a gift upon graduation. He carried these pins with him for over 40 years and in 1945 gave them to Major General Leif J. Sverdrup, whom he thought was more deserving to wear them. Sverdrup gave them to the Chief of Engineers in 1975. Every Chief of Engineers since then has worn MacArthur’s pins.
In October 1905, MacArthur received orders to proceed to Tokyo for appointment as aide-de-camp to his father. A man who knew the MacArthurs at this time wrote that: “Arthur MacArthur was the most flamboyantly egotistical man I had ever seen, until I met his son.” They inspected Japanese military bases at Nagasaki, Kobe and Kyoto, then headed to India via Shanghai, Hong Kong, Java and Singapore, reaching Calcutta in January 1906. In India, they visited Madras, Tuticorin, Quetta, Karachi, the Northwest Frontier and the Khyber Pass. They then sailed to China via Bangkok and Saigon, and toured Canton, Tsingtao, Peking, Tientsin, Hankow and Shanghai before returning to Japan in June. The next month they returned to the United States, where Arthur MacArthur resumed his duties at Fort Mason, still with Douglas as his aide. In September, Douglas received orders to report to the 2nd Engineer Battalion at the Washington Barracks and enroll in the Engineer School. While there he also served as “an aide to assist at White House functions” at the request of President Theodore Roosevelt.
In August 1907, MacArthur was sent to the engineer district office in Milwaukee, where his parents were living. In April 1908, he was posted to Fort Leavenworth, where he was given his first command, Company K, 3rd Engineer Battalion. He became battalion adjutant in 1909 and then engineer officer at Fort Leavenworth in 1910. MacArthur was promoted to captain in February 1911 and was appointed as head of the Military Engineering Department and the Field Engineer School. He participated in exercises at San Antonio, Texas, with the Maneuver Division in 1911 and served in Panama on detached duty in January and February 1912. The sudden death of their father on 5 September 1912 brought Douglas and his brother Arthur back to Milwaukee to care for their mother, whose health had deteriorated. MacArthur requested a transfer to Washington, D.C., so his mother could be near Johns Hopkins Hospital. Army Chief of Staff, Major General Leonard Wood, took up the matter with Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, who arranged for MacArthur to be posted to the Office of the Chief of Staff in 1912.
On 21 April 1914, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the occupation of Veracruz. MacArthur joined the headquarters staff that was sent to the area, arriving on 1 May 1914. He realized that the logistic support of an advance from Veracruz would require the use of the railroad. Finding plenty of railroad cars in Veracruz but no locomotives, MacArthur set out to verify a report that there were a number of locomotives in Alvarado, Veracruz. For $150 in gold, he acquired a handcar and the services of three Mexicans, whom he disarmed. MacArthur and his party located five engines in Alvarado, two of which were only switchers, but the other three locomotives were exactly what was required. On the way back to Veracruz, his party was set upon by five armed men. The party made a run for it and outdistanced all but two of the armed men, whom MacArthur shot. Soon after, they were attacked by a group of about fifteen horsemen. MacArthur took three bullets in his clothes but was unharmed. One of his companions was lightly wounded before the horsemen decided to retire after MacArthur shot four of them. Further on, the party was attacked a third time by three mounted men. MacArthur received another bullet hole in his shirt, but his men, using their handcar, managed to outrun all but one of their attackers. MacArthur shot both that man and his horse, and the party had to remove the horse’s carcass from the track before proceeding.
A fellow officer wrote to Wood recommending that MacArthur’s name be put forward for the Medal of Honor. Wood did so, and Chief of Staff Hugh L. Scott convened a board to consider the award. The board questioned “the advisability of this enterprise having been undertaken without the knowledge of the commanding general on the ground”. This was Brigadier General Frederick Funston, a Medal of Honor recipient himself, who considered awarding the medal to MacArthur “entirely appropriate and justifiable”. However the board feared that “to bestow the award recommended might encourage any other staff officer, under similar conditions, to ignore the local commander, possibly interfering with the latter’s plans”; consequently, MacArthur received no award at all.
World War I
Brigadier General MacArthur holding a riding crop at a French château, September 1918
MacArthur returned to the War Department, where he was promoted to major on 11 December 1915. In June 1916, he was assigned as head of the Bureau of Information at the office of the Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker. MacArthur has since been regarded as the Army’s first press officer. Following the declaration of war on Germany on 6 April 1917, Baker and MacArthur secured an agreement from President Wilson for the use of the National Guard on the Western Front. MacArthur suggested sending first a division organized from units of different states, so as to avoid the appearance of favoritism toward any particular state. Baker approved the creation of this formation, which became the 42nd (“Rainbow”) Division, and appointed Major General William A. Mann, the head of the National Guard Bureau, as its commander; MacArthur was its chief of staff, with the rank of colonel. At MacArthur’s request, this commission was in the infantry rather than the engineers.
The 42nd Division was assembled in August and September 1917 at Camp Mills, New York, where its training emphasized open-field combat rather than trench warfare. It sailed in a convoy from Hoboken, New Jersey, for France on 18 October 1917. On 19 December, Mann was replaced as division commander by Major General Charles T. Menoher.
Lunéville-Baccarat Defensive Sector
The 42nd Division entered the line in the quiet Lunéville sector in February 1918. On 26 February, MacArthur and Captain Thomas T. Handy accompanied a French trench raid in which MacArthur assisted in the capture of a number of German prisoners. The commander of the French VII Corps, Major General Georges de Bazelaire, decorated MacArthur with the Croix de Guerre. Menoher recommended MacArthur for a Silver Star, which he later received. The Silver Star Medal was not instituted until 8 August 1932, but small Silver Citation Stars were authorized to be worn on the campaign ribbons of those cited in orders for gallantry, similar to the British mention in despatches. When the Silver Star Medal was instituted, it was retroactively awarded to those who had been awarded Silver Citation Stars. On 9 March, the 42nd Division launched three raids of its own on German trenches in the Salient du Feys. MacArthur accompanied a company of the 168th Infantry. This time, his leadership was rewarded with the Distinguished Service Cross. A few days later, MacArthur, who was strict about his men carrying their gas masks but often neglected to bring his own, was gassed. He recovered in time to show Secretary Baker around the area on 19 March.
Brigadier General MacArthur in the center in his unauthorized WWI uniform. He never wore a helmet even in no man’s land and he would always wear that modified hat. His uniform was completely different from his four subordinates in the photo.
MacArthur was promoted to brigadier general on 26 June. In late June, the 42nd Division was shifted to Châlons-en-Champagne to oppose the impending German Champagne-Marne Offensive. Général d’Armée Henri Gouraud of the French Fourth Army elected to meet the attack with a defense in depth, holding the front line area as thinly as possible and meeting the German attack on his second line of defense. His plan succeeded, and MacArthur was awarded a second Silver Star. The 42nd Division participated in the subsequent Allied counter-offensive, and MacArthur was awarded a third Silver Star on 29 July. Two days later, Menoher relieved Brigadier General Robert A. Brown of the 84th Infantry Brigade of his command, and replaced him with MacArthur. Hearing reports that the enemy had withdrawn, MacArthur went forward on 2 August to see for himself. He later wrote:
It was 3:30 that morning when I started from our right at Sergy. Taking runners from each outpost liaison group to the next, moving by way of what had been No Man’s Land, I will never forget that trip. The dead were so thick in spots we tumbled over them. There must have been at least 2,000 of those sprawled bodies. I identified the insignia of six of the best German divisions. The stench was suffocating. Not a tree was standing. The moans and cries of wounded men sounded everywhere. Sniper bullets sung like the buzzing of a hive of angry bees. An occasional shellburst always drew an angry oath from my guide. I counted almost a hundred disabled guns various size and several times that number of abandoned machine guns.
MacArthur reported back to Menoher and Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett that the Germans had indeed withdrawn, and was awarded a fourth Silver Star. He was also awarded a second Croix de guerre and made a commandeur of the Légion d’honneur. MacArthur’s leadership during the Champagne-Marne Offensive and Counter-offensive campaigns was noted by General Gouraud when he said MacArthur was “one of the finest and bravest officers I have ever served with.”
Battle of Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensive
The 42nd Division earned a few weeks rest, returning to the line for the Battle of Saint-Mihiel on 12 September 1918. The Allied advance proceeded rapidly and MacArthur was awarded a fifth Silver Star for his leadership of the 84th Infantry Brigade. He received a sixth Silver Star for his participation in a raid on the night of 25–26 September. The 42nd Division was relieved on the night of 30 September and moved to the Argonne sector where it relieved the 1st Division on the night of 11 October. On a reconnaissance the next day, MacArthur was gassed again, earning a second Wound Chevron.General Pershing (second from left) decorates Brigadier General MacArthur (third from left) with the Distinguished Service Cross. Major General Charles T. Menoher (left) reads out the citation while Colonel George E. Leach (fourth from left) and Lieutenant Colonel William Joseph Donovan await their decorations.
The 42nd Division’s participation in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive began on 14 October when it attacked with both brigades. That evening, a conference was called to discuss the attack, during which Charles Pelot Summerall, commander of the First Infantry Division and V Corps, telephoned and demanded that Châtillon be taken by 18:00 the next evening. An aerial photograph had been obtained that showed a gap in the German barbed wire to the northeast of Châtillon. Lieutenant Colonel Walter E. Bare—the commander of the 167th Infantry—proposed an attack from that direction, where the defenses seemed least imposing, covered by a machine-gun barrage. MacArthur adopted this plan. He was wounded, but not severely, while verifying the existence of the gap in the barbed wire. As he mentioned to William Addleman Ganoe a few years later while superintendent at West Point, MacArthur personally led a reconnaissance patrol of soldiers into no man’s land at night to confirm the gap that Bare mentioned to him earlier. The Germans saw them and shot at MacArthur and the squad with artillery and machine guns. MacArthur was the sole survivor of the patrol, claiming it was a miracle that he survived. He confirmed that there was indeed a huge exposed gap in that area due to the lack of enemy gunfire coming from that area.
Summerall nominated MacArthur for the Medal of Honor and promotion to major general, but he received neither. Instead he was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross. The 42nd Division returned to the line for the last time on the night of 4–5 November 1918. In the final advance on Sedan. MacArthur later wrote that this operation “narrowly missed being one of the great tragedies of American history”. An order to disregard unit boundaries led to units crossing into each other’s zones. In the resulting chaos, MacArthur was taken prisoner by men of the 1st Division, who mistook him for a German general. This would be soon resolved by the removal of his hat and long scarf that he wore. His performance in the attack on the Meuse heights led to his being awarded a seventh Silver Star. On 10 November, a day before the armistice that ended the fighting, MacArthur was appointed commander of the 42nd Division. For his service as chief of staff and commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
His period in command was brief, for on 22 November he, like other brigadier generals, was replaced, and returned to the 84th Infantry Brigade. The 42nd Division was chosen to participate in the occupation of the Rhineland, occupying the Ahrweiler district. In April 1919, the 42nd Division entrained for Brest and Saint-Nazaire, where they boarded ships to return to the United States. MacArthur traveled on the ocean liner SS Leviathan, which reached New York on 25 April 1919.
Between the wars
Superintendent of the United States Military Academy
In 1919, MacArthur became Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which Chief of Staff Peyton March felt had become out of date in many respects and was much in need of reform. Accepting the post allowed MacArthur to retain his rank of brigadier general, instead of being reduced to his substantive rank of major like many of his contemporaries. When MacArthur moved into the superintendent’s house with his mother in June 1919, he became the youngest superintendent since Sylvanus Thayer in 1817. However, whereas Thayer had faced opposition from outside the Army, MacArthur had to overcome resistance from graduates and the academic board. MacArthur’s vision of what was required of an officer came not just from his recent experience of combat in France but also from that of the occupation of the Rhineland in Germany. The military government of the Rhineland had required the Army to deal with political, economic and social problems but he had found that many West Point graduates had little or no knowledge of fields outside of the military sciences. During the war, West Point had been reduced to an officer candidate school, with five classes graduated in two years. Cadet and staff morale was low and hazing “at an all-time peak of viciousness”. MacArthur’s first change turned out to be the easiest. Congress had set the length of the course at three years. MacArthur was able to get the four-year course restored.
During the debate over the length of the course, The New York Times brought up the issue of the cloistered and undemocratic nature of student life at West Point. Also, starting with Harvard University in 1869, civilian universities had begun grading students on academic performance alone, but West Point had retained the old “whole man” concept of education. MacArthur sought to modernize the system, expanding the concept of military character to include bearing, leadership, efficiency and athletic performance. He formalized the hitherto unwritten Cadet Honor Code in 1922 when he formed the Cadet Honor Committee to review alleged code violations. Elected by the cadets themselves, it had no authority to punish, but acted as a kind of grand jury, reporting offenses to the commandant. MacArthur attempted to end hazing by using officers rather than upperclassmen to train the plebes.
Instead of the traditional summer camp at Fort Clinton, MacArthur had the cadets trained to use modern weapons by regular army sergeants at Fort Dix; they then marched back to West Point with full packs. He attempted to modernize the curriculum by adding liberal arts, government and economics courses, but encountered strong resistance from the academic board. In Military Art classes, the study of the campaigns of the American Civil War was replaced with the study of those of World War I. In History class, more emphasis was placed on the Far East. MacArthur expanded the sports program, increasing the number of intramural sports and requiring all cadets to participate. He allowed upper class cadets to leave the reservation, and sanctioned a cadet newspaper, The Brag, forerunner of today’s West Pointer. He also permitted cadets to travel to watch their football team play, and gave them a monthly allowance of $5 (equivalent to $81 in 2021). Professors and alumni alike protested these radical moves. Most of MacArthur’s West Point reforms were soon discarded but, in the ensuing years, his ideas became accepted and his innovations were gradually restored.
Army’s youngest major general
MacArthur became romantically involved with socialite and multi-millionaire heiress Louise Cromwell Brooks. They were married at her family’s villa in Palm Beach, Florida, on 14 February 1922.
Rumors circulated that General Pershing, who had also courted Louise, had threatened to exile them to the Philippines if they were married. Pershing denied this as “all damn poppycock”. More recently, Richard B. Frank has written that Pershing and Brooks had already “severed” their relationship by the time of MacArthur’s transfer; Brooks was, however, “informal[ly]” engaged to a close aide of Pershing’s (she broke off the relationship in order to accept MacArthur’s proposal). Pershing’s letter concerning MacArthur’s transfer predated—by a few days—Brooks’s and MacArthur’s engagement announcement, though this did not dispel the newspaper gossip.
In October 1922, MacArthur left West Point and sailed to the Philippines with Louise and her two children, Walter and Louise, to assume command of the Military District of Manila. MacArthur was fond of the children, and spent much of his free time with them.MacArthur c. 1925
The revolts in the Philippines had been suppressed, the islands were peaceful now, and in the wake of the Washington Naval Treaty, the garrison was being reduced. MacArthur’s friendships with Filipinos like Manuel Quezon offended some people. “The old idea of colonial exploitation”, he later conceded, “still had its vigorous supporters.” In February and March 1923 MacArthur returned to Washington to see his mother, who was ill from a heart ailment. She recovered, but it was the last time he saw his brother Arthur, who died suddenly from appendicitis in December 1923. In June 1923, MacArthur assumed command of the 23rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Division. On 7 July 1924, he was informed that a mutiny had broken out amongst the Philippine Scouts over grievances concerning pay and allowances. Over 200 were arrested and there were fears of an insurrection. MacArthur was able to calm the situation, but his subsequent efforts to improve the salaries of Filipino troops were frustrated by financial stringency and racial prejudice. On 17 January 1925, at the age of 44, he was promoted, becoming the Army’s youngest major general.
Returning to the U.S., MacArthur took command of the IV Corps Area, based at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia, on 2 May 1925. However, he encountered southern prejudice because he was the son of a Union Army officer, and requested to be relieved. A few months later, he assumed command of the III Corps area, based at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, which allowed MacArthur and Louise to move to her Rainbow Hill estate near Garrison, Maryland. However, this relocation also led to what he later described as “one of the most distasteful orders I ever received”: a direction to serve on the court-martial of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. MacArthur was the youngest of the thirteen judges, none of whom had aviation experience. Three of them, including Summerall, the president of the court, were removed when defense challenges revealed bias against Mitchell. Despite MacArthur’s claim that he had voted to acquit, Mitchell was found guilty as charged and convicted. MacArthur felt “that a senior officer should not be silenced for being at variance with his superiors in rank and with accepted doctrine”.
In 1927, MacArthur and Louise separated, and she moved to New York City, adopting as her residence the entire twenty-sixth floor of a Manhattan hotel. In August that year, William C. Prout—the president of the American Olympic Committee—died suddenly and the committee elected MacArthur as their new president. His main task was to prepare the U.S. team for the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, where the Americans were successful. Upon returning to the U.S., MacArthur received orders to assume command of the Philippine Department. This time, the general travelled alone. On 17 June 1929, while he was in Manila, Louise obtained a divorce, ostensibly on the grounds of “failure to provide”. In view of Louise’s great wealth, William Manchester described this legal fiction as “preposterous”. Both later acknowledged the real reason to be “incompatibility”.
Chief of Staff
By 1930, MacArthur was 50 and still the youngest and one of the best known of the U.S. Army’s major generals. He left the Philippines on 19 September 1930 and for a brief time was in command of the IX Corps Area in San Francisco. On 21 November, he was sworn in as Chief of Staff of the United States Army, with the rank of general. While in Washington, he would ride home each day to have lunch with his mother. At his desk, he would wear a Japanese ceremonial kimono, cool himself with an oriental fan, and smoke cigarettes in a jeweled cigarette holder. In the evenings, he liked to read military history books. About this time, he began referring to himself as “MacArthur”. He had already hired a public relations staff to promote his image with the American public, together with a set of ideas he was known to favor, namely: a belief that America needed a strongman leader to deal with the possibility that Communists might lead all of the great masses of unemployed into a revolution; that America’s destiny was in the Asia-Pacific region; and a strong hostility to the British Empire. One contemporary described MacArthur as the greatest actor to ever serve as a U.S. Army general while another wrote that MacArthur had a court rather than a staff.
The onset of the Great Depression prompted Congress to make cuts in the Army’s personnel and budget. Some 53 bases were closed, but MacArthur managed to prevent attempts to reduce the number of regular officers from 12,000 to 10,000. MacArthur’s main programs included the development of new mobilization plans. He grouped the nine corps areas together under four armies, which were charged with responsibility for training and frontier defense. He also negotiated the MacArthur-Pratt agreement with the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral William V. Pratt. This was the first of a series of inter-service agreements over the following decades that defined the responsibilities of the different services with respect to aviation. This agreement placed coastal air defense under the Army. In March 1935, MacArthur activated a centralized air command, General Headquarters Air Force, under Major General Frank M. Andrews.Bonus Army marchers confront the police
One of MacArthur’s most controversial acts came in 1932, when the “Bonus Army” of veterans converged on Washington. He sent tents and camp equipment to the demonstrators, along with mobile kitchens, until an outburst in Congress caused the kitchens to be withdrawn. MacArthur was concerned that the demonstration had been taken over by communists and pacifists but the General Staff’s intelligence division reported that only three of the march’s 26 key leaders were communists. MacArthur went over contingency plans for civil disorder in the capital. Mechanized equipment was brought to Fort Myer, where anti-riot training was conducted.
On 28 July 1932, in a clash with the District police, two veterans were shot, and later died. President Herbert Hoover ordered MacArthur to “surround the affected area and clear it without delay”. MacArthur brought up troops and tanks and, against the advice of Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, decided to accompany the troops, although he was not in charge of the operation. The troops advanced with bayonets and sabers drawn under a shower of bricks and rocks, but no shots were fired. In less than four hours, they cleared the Bonus Army’s campground using tear gas. The gas canisters started a number of fires, causing the only death during the riots. While not as violent as other anti-riot operations, it was nevertheless a public relations disaster. However, the defeat of the “Bonus Army”, while unpopular with the American people at large, did make MacArthur into the hero of the more right-wing elements in the Republican Party who believed that the general had saved America from a communist revolution in 1932.Civilian Conservation Corps workers on a project alongside a road
In 1934, MacArthur sued journalists Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen for defamation after they described his treatment of the Bonus marchers as “unwarranted, unnecessary, insubordinate, harsh and brutal”. Also accused for proposing 19-gun salutes for friends, MacArthur asked for $750,000 to compensate for the damage to his reputation. In turn, the journalists threatened to call Isabel Rosario Cooper as a witness. MacArthur had met Isabel, a Eurasian teenager, while in the Philippines, and she had become his mistress. MacArthur was forced to settle out of court, secretly paying Pearson $15,000.
In the 1932 presidential election, Herbert Hoover was defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. MacArthur and Roosevelt had worked together before World War I and had remained friends despite their political differences. MacArthur supported the New Deal through the Army’s operation of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He ensured that detailed plans were drawn up for its employment and decentralized its administration to the corps areas, which became an important factor in the program’s success. MacArthur’s support for a strong military, and his public criticism of pacifism and isolationism, made him unpopular with the Roosevelt administration.
Perhaps the most incendiary exchange between Roosevelt and MacArthur occurred over an administration proposal to cut 51% of the Army’s budget. In response, MacArthur lectured Roosevelt that “when we lost the next war, and an American boy, lying in the mud with an enemy bayonet through his belly and an enemy foot on his dying throat, spat out his last curse, I wanted the name not to be MacArthur, but Roosevelt”. In response, Roosevelt yelled, “you must not talk that way to the President!” MacArthur offered to resign, but Roosevelt refused his request, and MacArthur then staggered out of the White House and vomited on the front steps.
In spite of such exchanges, MacArthur was extended an extra year as chief of staff, and ended his tour in October 1935. For his service as chief of staff, he was awarded a second Distinguished Service Medal. He was retroactively awarded two Purple Hearts for his World War I service, a decoration that he authorized in 1932 based loosely on the defunct Military Badge of Merit. MacArthur insisted on being the first recipient of the Purple Heart, which he had engraved with “#1”.
Field Marshal of the Philippine Army
When the Commonwealth of the Philippines achieved semi-independent status in 1935, President of the Philippines Manuel Quezon asked MacArthur to supervise the creation of a Philippine Army. Quezon and MacArthur had been personal friends since the latter’s father had been Governor-General of the Philippines, 35 years earlier. With President Roosevelt’s approval, MacArthur accepted the assignment. It was agreed that MacArthur would receive the rank of field marshal, with its salary and allowances, in addition to his major general’s salary as Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines. This made him the best-paid soldier in the world. It would be his fifth tour in the Far East. MacArthur sailed from San Francisco on the SS President Hoover in October 1935, accompanied by his mother and sister-in-law. He brought Eisenhower and Major James B. Ord along as his assistants. Another passenger on the President Hoover was Jean Marie Faircloth, an unmarried 37-year-old socialite. Over the next two years, MacArthur and Faircloth were frequently seen together. His mother became gravely ill during the voyage and died in Manila on 3 December 1935.Ceremony at Camp Murphy, 15 August 1941, marking the induction of the Philippine Army Air Corps. Behind MacArthur, from left to right, are Lieutenant Colonel Richard K. Sutherland, Colonel Harold H. George, Lieutenant Colonel William F. Marquat and Major LeGrande A. Diller.
President Quezon officially conferred the title of field marshal on MacArthur in a ceremony at Malacañan Palace on 24 August 1936. Eisenhower recalled finding the ceremony “rather fantastic”. He found it “pompous and rather ridiculous to be the field marshal of a virtually nonexisting army.” Eisenhower learned later on that the field-marshalship had not been (as he had assumed) Quezon’s idea. “I was surprised to learn from him that he had not initiated the idea at all; rather, Quezon said that MacArthur himself came up with the high-sounding title.” (A persistent myth has pervaded the biographical literature, to the effect that MacArthur wore a “specially designed sharkskin uniform” at the 1936 ceremony to go with his new rank of Philippine Field Marshal. Richard Meixsel has debunked this story; in fact the special uniform was “the creation of a poorly informed journalist in 1937 who mistook a recently introduced U.S. Army white dress uniform for a distinctive field marshal’s attire.”)
The Philippine Army was formed from conscription. Training was conducted by a regular cadre, and the Philippine Military Academy was created along the lines of West Point to train officers. MacArthur and Eisenhower found that few of the training camps had been constructed and the first group of 20,000 trainees did not report until early 1937. Equipment and weapons were “more or less obsolete” American cast offs, and the budget was completely inadequate. MacArthur’s requests for equipment fell on deaf ears, although MacArthur and his naval adviser, Lieutenant Colonel Sidney L. Huff, persuaded the Navy to initiate the development of the PT boat. Much hope was placed in the Philippine Army Air Corps, but the first squadron was not organized until 1939. Article XIX of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty banned the construction of new fortifications or naval bases in all Pacific Ocean territories and colonies of the five signatories from 1923 to 1936. Also, military bases like at Clark and Corregidor were not allowed to be expanded or modernized during that 13-year period. For example, the Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor was constructed from 1932 to 1934 with condemned TNT and without a single dollar from the U.S. government because of the treaty. This added to the numerous challenges facing MacArthur and Quezon.
MacArthur married Jean Faircloth in a civil ceremony on 30 April 1937. Their marriage produced a son, Arthur MacArthur IV, who was born in Manila on 21 February 1938. On 31 December 1937, MacArthur officially retired from the Army. He ceased to represent the U.S. as military adviser to the government, but remained as Quezon’s adviser in a civilian capacity. Eisenhower returned to the U.S., and was replaced as MacArthur’s chief of staff by Lieutenant Colonel Richard K. Sutherland, while Richard J. Marshall became deputy chief of staff.
World War II
Main article: Douglas MacArthur in World War II
Philippines campaign (1941–1942)
Defense of the Philippines
On 26 July 1941, Roosevelt federalized the Philippine Army, recalled MacArthur to active duty in the U.S. Army as a major general, and named him commander of U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). MacArthur was promoted to lieutenant general the following day, and then to general on 20 December. On 31 July 1941, the Philippine Department had 22,000 troops assigned, 12,000 of whom were Philippine Scouts. The main component was the Philippine Division, under the command of Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright. The initial American plan for the defense of the Philippines called for the main body of the troops to retreat to the Bataan peninsula in Manila Bay to hold out against the Japanese until a relief force could arrive. MacArthur changed this plan to one of attempting to hold all of Luzon and using B-17 Flying Fortresses to sink Japanese ships that approached the islands. MacArthur persuaded the decision-makers in Washington that his plans represented the best deterrent to prevent Japan from choosing war and of winning a war if worse did come to worse.
Between July and December 1941, the garrison received 8,500 reinforcements. After years of parsimony, much equipment was shipped. By November, a backlog of 1,100,000 shipping tons of equipment intended for the Philippines had accumulated in U.S. ports and depots awaiting vessels. In addition, the Navy intercept station in the islands, known as Station CAST, had an ultra-secret Purple cipher machine, which decrypted Japanese diplomatic messages, and partial codebooks for the latest JN-25 naval code. Station CAST sent MacArthur its entire output, via Sutherland, the only officer on his staff authorized to see it.
At 03:30 local time on 8 December 1941 (about 09:00 on 7 December in Hawaii), Sutherland learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor and informed MacArthur. At 05:30, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General George Marshall, ordered MacArthur to execute the existing war plan, Rainbow Five. Instead, MacArthur did nothing. On three occasions, the commander of the Far East Air Force, Major General Lewis H. Brereton, requested permission to attack Japanese bases in Formosa, in accordance with prewar intentions, but was denied by Sutherland; Brereton instead ordered his aircraft to fly defensive patrol patterns, looking for Japanese warships. Not until 11:00 did Brereton speak with MacArthur, and obtained permission to begin Rainbow Five. MacArthur later denied having the conversation. At 12:30, nine hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, aircraft of Japan’s 11th Air Fleet achieved complete tactical surprise when they attacked Clark Field and the nearby fighter base at Iba Field, and destroyed or disabled 18 of Far East Air Force’s 35 B-17s, caught on the ground refueling. Also destroyed were 53 of 107 P-40s, 3 P-35s, and more than 25 other aircraft. Substantial damage was done to the bases, and casualties totaled 80 killed and 150 wounded. What was left of the Far East Air Force was all but destroyed over the next few days.MacArthur (center) with his Chief of Staff, Major General Richard K. Sutherland, in the Headquarters tunnel on Corregidor, Philippines, on 1 March 1942
MacArthur attempted to slow the Japanese advance with an initial defense against the Japanese landings. MacArthur’s plan for holding all of Luzon against the Japanese collapsed, for it distributed the American-Filipino forces too thinly. However, he reconsidered his overconfidence in the ability of his Filipino troops after the Japanese landing force made a rapid advance following its landing at Lingayen Gulf on 21 December, and ordered a retreat to Bataan. Within two days of the Japanese landing at Lingayen Gulf, MacArthur had reverted to the pre-July 1941 plan of attempting to hold only Bataan while waiting for a relief force to come. However, this switching of plans came at a grueling price; most of the American and some of the Filipino troops were able to retreat back to Bataan, but without most of their supplies, which were abandoned in the confusion. Manila was declared an open city at midnight on 24 December, without any consultation with Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commanding the Asiatic Fleet, forcing the Navy to destroy considerable amounts of valuable materiel. The Asiatic Fleet’s performance was not very optimal during December 1941. While the surface fleet was obsolete and was safely evacuated to try to defend the Dutch East Indies, there were over two dozen modern submarines assigned to Manila – Hart’s strongest fighting force. The submariners were confident, but they were armed with the malfunctioning Mark 14 torpedo. They were unable to sink a single Japanese warship during the invasion. MacArthur thought the Navy betrayed him. The submarines were ordered to abandon the Philippines by the end of December after ineffective attacks on the Japanese fleet, only returning to Corregidor to evacuate high-ranking politicians or officers for the rest of the campaign.
On the evening of 24 December, MacArthur moved his headquarters to the island fortress of Corregidor in Manila Bay arriving at 21:30, with his headquarters reporting to Washington as being open on the 25th. A series of air raids by the Japanese destroyed all the exposed structures on the island and USAFFE headquarters was moved into the Malinta Tunnel. In the first-ever air raid on Corregidor on 29 December, Japanese airplanes bombed all the buildings on Topside including MacArthur’s house and the barracks. MacArthur’s family ran into the air raid shelter while MacArthur went outside to the garden of the house with some soldiers to observe and count the number of bombers involved in the raid when bombs destroyed the home. One bomb struck only ten feet from MacArthur and the soldiers shielded him with their bodies and helmets. Filipino sergeant Domingo Adversario was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for getting his hand wounded by the bomb and covering MacArthur’s head with his own helmet, which was also hit by shrapnel. MacArthur was not wounded. Later, most of the headquarters moved to Bataan, leaving only the nucleus with MacArthur. The troops on Bataan knew that they had been written off but continued to fight. Some blamed Roosevelt and MacArthur for their predicament. A ballad sung to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” called him “Dugout Doug”. However, most clung to the belief that somehow MacArthur “would reach down and pull something out of his hat”.
On 1 January 1942, MacArthur accepted $500,000 from President Quezon of the Philippines as payment for his pre-war service. MacArthur’s staff members also received payments: $75,000 for Sutherland, $45,000 for Richard Marshall, and $20,000 for Huff. Eisenhower—after being appointed Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF)—was also offered money by Quezon, but declined. These payments were known only to a few in Manila and Washington, including President Roosevelt and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, until they were made public by historian Carol Petillo in 1979. While the payments had been fully legal, the revelation tarnished MacArthur’s reputation.
Escape from the Philippines
Main article: Douglas MacArthur’s escape from the Philippines
In February 1942, as Japanese forces tightened their grip on the Philippines, President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to relocate to Australia. On the night of 12 March 1942, MacArthur and a select group that included his wife Jean, son Arthur, Arthur’s Cantonese amah, Ah Cheu, and other members of his staff, including Sutherland, Richard Marshall and Huff, left Corregidor. They traveled in PT boats through stormy seas patrolled by Japanese warships, and reached Del Monte Airfield on Mindanao, where B-17s picked them up, and flew them to Australia. MacArthur ultimately arrived in Melbourne by train on 21 March. His speech, in which he said, “I came through and I shall return”, was first made on Terowie railway station in South Australia, on 20 March. Washington asked MacArthur to amend his promise to “We shall return”. He ignored the request.
Medal of Honor
George Marshall decided that MacArthur would be awarded the Medal of Honor, a decoration for which he had twice previously been nominated, “to offset any propaganda by the enemy directed at his leaving his command”. Eisenhower pointed out that MacArthur had not actually performed any acts of valor as required by law, but Marshall cited the 1927 award of the medal to Charles Lindbergh as a precedent. Special legislation had been passed to authorize Lindbergh’s medal, but while similar legislation was introduced authorizing the medal for MacArthur by Congressmen J. Parnell Thomas and James E. Van Zandt, Marshall felt strongly that a serving general should receive the medal from the President and the War Department, expressing that the recognition “would mean more” if the gallantry criteria were not waived by a bill of relief.
Marshall ordered Sutherland to recommend the award and authored the citation himself. Ironically, this also meant that it violated the governing statute, as it could only be considered lawful so long as material requirements were waived by Congress, such as the unmet requirement to perform conspicuous gallantry “above and beyond the call of duty”. Marshall admitted the defect to the Secretary of War, acknowledging that “there is no specific act of General MacArthur’s to justify the award of the Medal of Honor under a literal interpretation of the statutes”. Similarly, when the Army’s adjutant general reviewed the case in 1945, he determined that “authority for [MacArthur’s] award is questionable under strict interpretation of regulations”.
MacArthur had been nominated for the award twice before and understood that it was for leadership and not gallantry. He expressed the sentiment that “this award was intended not so much for me personally as it is a recognition of the indomitable courage of the gallant army which it was my honor to command”. At the age of 62 MacArthur was the oldest living active-duty Medal of Honor recipient in history and as a four-star general, he was the highest-ranked military servicemember to ever receive the Medal of Honor. Arthur and Douglas MacArthur thus became the first father and son to be awarded the Medal of Honor. They remained the only pair until 2001, when Theodore Roosevelt was posthumously awarded for his service during the Spanish–American War, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. having received one posthumously for his gallantry during the World War II Normandy invasion. MacArthur’s citation, written by Marshall, read:
For conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula. He mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces.
As the symbol of the forces resisting the Japanese, MacArthur received many other accolades. The Native American tribes of the Southwest chose him as a “Chief of Chiefs”, which he acknowledged as from “my oldest friends, the companions of my boyhood days on the Western frontier”. He was touched when he was named Father of the Year for 1942, and wrote to the National Father’s Day Committee that:
By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact, but I am prouder, infinitely prouder to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentialities of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son when I am gone will remember me, not from battle, but in the home, repeating with him our simple daily prayer, “Our father, Who art in Heaven.”
New Guinea Campaign
Further information: New Guinea Campaign
On 18 April 1942, MacArthur was appointed Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). Lieutenant General George Brett became Commander, Allied Air Forces, and Vice Admiral Herbert F. Leary became Commander, Allied Naval Forces. Since the bulk of land forces in the theater were Australian, George Marshall insisted an Australian be appointed as Commander, Allied Land Forces, and the job went to General Sir Thomas Blamey. Although predominantly Australian and American, MacArthur’s command also included small numbers of personnel from the Netherlands East Indies, the United Kingdom, and other countries.
MacArthur established a close relationship with the prime minister of Australia, John Curtin, and was probably the second most-powerful person in the country after the prime minister, although many Australians resented MacArthur as a foreign general who had been imposed upon them. MacArthur had little confidence in Brett’s abilities as commander of Allied Air Forces, and in August 1942 selected Major General George C. Kenney to replace him. Kenney’s application of air power in support of Blamey’s troops would prove crucial.Australian prime minister John Curtin (right) confers with MacArthur
The staff of MacArthur’s General Headquarters (GHQ) was built around the nucleus that had escaped from the Philippines with him, who became known as the “Bataan Gang”. Though Roosevelt and George Marshall pressed for Dutch and Australian officers to be assigned to GHQ, the heads of all the staff divisions were American and such officers of other nationalities as were assigned served under them. Initially located in Melbourne, GHQ moved to Brisbane—the northernmost city in Australia with the necessary communications facilities—in July 1942, occupying the Australian Mutual Provident Society building (renamed after the war as MacArthur Chambers).
MacArthur formed his own signals intelligence organization, known as the Central Bureau, from Australian intelligence units and American cryptanalysts who had escaped from the Philippines. This unit forwarded Ultra information to MacArthur’s Chief of Intelligence, Charles A. Willoughby, for analysis. After a press release revealed details of the Japanese naval dispositions during the Battle of the Coral Sea, at which a Japanese attempt to capture Port Moresby was turned back, Roosevelt ordered that censorship be imposed in Australia, and the Advisory War Council granted GHQ censorship authority over the Australian press. Australian newspapers were restricted to what was reported in the daily GHQ communiqué. Veteran correspondents considered the communiqués, which MacArthur drafted personally, “a total farce” and “Alice-in-Wonderland information handed out at high level”.
Anticipating that the Japanese would strike at Port Moresby again, the garrison was strengthened and MacArthur ordered the establishment of new bases at Merauke and Milne Bay to cover its flanks. The Battle of Midway in June 1942 led to consideration of a limited offensive in the Pacific. MacArthur’s proposal for an attack on the Japanese base at Rabaul met with objections from the Navy, which favored a less ambitious approach, and objected to an Army general being in command of what would be an amphibious operation. The resulting compromise called for a three-stage advance. The first stage, the seizure of the Tulagi area, would be conducted by the Pacific Ocean Areas, under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. The later stages would be under MacArthur’s command.Senior Allied commanders in New Guinea in October 1942. Left to right: Mr Frank Forde (Australian Minister for the Army); MacArthur; General Sir Thomas Blamey, Allied Land Forces; Lieutenant General George C. Kenney, Allied Air Forces; Lieutenant General Edmund Herring, New Guinea Force; Brigadier General Kenneth Walker, V Bomber Command.
The Japanese struck first, landing at Buna in July, and at Milne Bay in August. The Australians repulsed the Japanese at Milne Bay, but a series of defeats in the Kokoda Track campaign had a depressing effect back in Australia. On 30 August, MacArthur radioed Washington that unless action was taken, New Guinea Force would be overwhelmed. He sent Blamey to Port Moresby to take personal command. Having committed all available Australian troops, MacArthur decided to send American forces. The 32nd Infantry Division, a poorly trained National Guard division, was selected. A series of embarrassing reverses in the Battle of Buna–Gona led to outspoken criticism of the American troops by the Australians. MacArthur then ordered Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger to assume command of the Americans, and “take Buna, or not come back alive”.
MacArthur moved the advanced echelon of GHQ to Port Moresby on 6 November 1942. After Buna finally fell on 3 January 1943, MacArthur awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to twelve officers for “precise execution of operations”. This use of the country’s second highest award aroused resentment, because while some, like Eichelberger and George Alan Vasey, had fought in the field, others, like Sutherland and Willoughby, had not. For his part, MacArthur was awarded his third Distinguished Service Medal, and the Australian government had him appointed an honorary Knight Grand Cross of the British Order of the Bath.
New Guinea Campaign
My strategic conception for the Pacific Theater, which I outlined after the Papuan Campaign and have since consistently advocated, contemplates massive strokes against only main strategic objectives, utilizing surprise and air-ground striking power supported and assisted by the fleet. This is the very opposite of what is termed “island hopping” which is the gradual pushing back of the enemy by direct frontal pressure with the consequent heavy casualties which will certainly be involved. Key points must of course be taken but a wise choice of such will obviate the need for storming the mass of islands now in enemy possession. “Island hopping” with extravagant losses and slow progress … is not my idea of how to end the war as soon and as cheaply as possible. New conditions require for solution and new weapons require for maximum application new and imaginative methods. Wars are never won in the past.
Lieutenant General Walter Krueger‘s Sixth Army headquarters arrived in SWPA in early 1943 but MacArthur had only three American divisions, and they were tired and depleted from the fighting at Battle of Buna–Gona and Battle of Guadalcanal. As a result, “it became obvious that any military offensive in the South-West Pacific in 1943 would have to be carried out mainly by the Australian Army”. The offensive began with the landing at Lae by the Australian 9th Division on 4 September 1943. The next day, MacArthur watched the landing at Nadzab by paratroops of the 503rd Parachute Infantry. His B-17 made the trip on three engines because one failed soon after leaving Port Moresby, but he insisted that it fly on to Nadzab. For this, he was awarded the Air Medal.
The Australian 7th and 9th Divisions converged on Lae, which fell on 16 September. MacArthur advanced his timetable, and ordered the 7th to capture Kaiapit and Dumpu, while the 9th mounted an amphibious assault on Finschhafen. Here, the offensive bogged down, partly because MacArthur had based his decision to assault Finschhafen on Willoughby’s assessment that there were only 350 Japanese defenders at Finschhafen, when in fact there were nearly 5,000. A furious battle ensued.
In early November, MacArthur’s plan for a westward advance along the coast of New Guinea to the Philippines was incorporated into plans for the war against Japan. Three months later, airmen reported no signs of enemy activity in the Admiralty Islands. Although Willoughby did not agree that the islands had been evacuated, MacArthur ordered an amphibious landing there, commencing the Admiralty Islands campaign. He accompanied the assault force aboard the light cruiser Phoenix, the flagship of Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, the new commander of the Seventh Fleet, and came ashore seven hours after the first wave of landing craft, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star. It took six weeks of fierce fighting before the 1st Cavalry Division captured the islands.
MacArthur had one of the most powerful PR machines of any Allied general during the war, which made him into an extremely popular war hero with the American people. In late 1943–early 1944, there was a serious effort by the conservative faction in the Republican Party centered in the Midwest to have MacArthur seek the Republican nomination to be the candidate for the presidency in the 1944 election, as they regarded the two men most likely to win the Republican nomination, namely Wendell Willkie and Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, as too liberal. For a time, MacArthur, who had long seen himself as a potential president, was in the words of the U.S historian Gerhard Weinberg “very interested” in running as the Republican candidate in 1944. However, MacArthur’s vow to “return” to the Philippines had not been fulfilled in early 1944 and he decided not to run for president until he had liberated the Philippines.Conference in Hawaii, July 1944. Left to right: General MacArthur, President Roosevelt, Admiral Leahy, Admiral Nimitz.
Furthermore, Weinberg had argued that it is probable that Roosevelt, who knew of the “enormous gratuity” MacArthur had accepted from Quezon in 1942, had used his knowledge of this transaction to blackmail MacArthur into not running for president. Finally, despite the best efforts of the conservative Republicans to put MacArthur’s name on the ballot, on 4 April 1944, Governor Dewey won such a convincing victory in the Wisconsin primary (regarded as a significant victory given that the Midwest was a stronghold of the conservative Republicans opposed to Dewey) as to ensure that he would win the Republican nomination to be the GOP’s candidate for president in 1944.
MacArthur bypassed the Japanese forces at Hansa Bay and Wewak, and assaulted Hollandia and Aitape, which Willoughby reported being lightly defended based on intelligence gathered in the Battle of Sio. MacArthur’s bold thrust by going 600 miles up the coast had surprised and confused the Japanese high command, who had not anticipated that MacArthur would take such risks. Although they were out of range of the Fifth Air Force’s fighters based in the Ramu Valley, the timing of the operation allowed the aircraft carriers of Nimitz’s Pacific Fleet to provide air support.
Though risky, the operation turned out to be another success. MacArthur caught the Japanese off balance and cut off Lieutenant General Hatazō Adachi‘s Japanese XVIII Army in the Wewak area. Because the Japanese were not expecting an attack, the garrison was weak, and Allied casualties were correspondingly light. However, the terrain turned out to be less suitable for airbase development than first thought, forcing MacArthur to seek better locations further west. While bypassing Japanese forces had great tactical merit, it had the strategic drawback of tying up Allied troops to contain them. Moreover, Adachi was far from beaten, which he demonstrated in the Battle of Driniumor River.
Philippines Campaign (1944–45)
Further information: Philippines Campaign (1944–45)
In July 1944, President Roosevelt summoned MacArthur to meet with him in Hawaii “to determine the phase of action against Japan”. Nimitz made the case for attacking Formosa. MacArthur stressed America’s moral obligation to liberate the Philippines and won Roosevelt’s support. In September, Admiral William Halsey Jr.‘s carriers made a series of air strikes on the Philippines. Opposition was feeble; Halsey concluded, incorrectly, that Leyte was “wide open” and possibly undefended, and recommended that projected operations be skipped in favor of an assault on Leyte.“I have returned” – General MacArthur returns to the Philippines with Philippine President Sergio Osmeña to his right, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Carlos P. Romulo at his rear, and Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland on his left. Photo taken by Gaetano Faillace. This iconic image is re-created in larger-than-life statues at MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park
On 20 October 1944, troops of Krueger’s Sixth Army landed on Leyte, while MacArthur watched from the light cruiser USS Nashville. That afternoon he arrived off the beach. The advance had not progressed far; snipers were still active and the area was under sporadic mortar fire. When his whaleboat grounded in knee-deep water, MacArthur requested a landing craft, but the beachmaster was too busy to grant his request. MacArthur was compelled to wade ashore. In his prepared speech, he said:
People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.
General Douglas MacArthur (center), accompanied by Lieutenant Generals George C. Kenney and Richard K. Sutherland and Major General Verne D. Mudge (Commanding General, First Cavalry Division), inspecting the beachhead on Leyte Island, 20 October 1944 with a crowd of onlookers.
Since Leyte was out of range of Kenney’s land-based aircraft, MacArthur was dependent on carrier aircraft. Japanese air activity soon increased, with raids on Tacloban, where MacArthur decided to establish his headquarters, and on the fleet offshore. MacArthur enjoyed staying on Nashville‘s bridge during air raids, although several bombs landed close by, and two nearby cruisers were hit. Over the next few days, the Japanese counterattacked in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, resulting in a near-disaster that MacArthur attributed to the command being divided between himself and Nimitz. Nor did the campaign ashore proceed smoothly. Heavy monsoonal rains disrupted the airbase construction program. Carrier aircraft proved to be no substitute for land-based aircraft, and the lack of air cover permitted the Japanese to pour troops into Leyte. Adverse weather and tough Japanese resistance slowed the American advance, resulting in a protracted campaign.
By the end of December, Krueger’s headquarters estimated that 5,000 Japanese remained on Leyte, and on 26 December MacArthur issued a communiqué announcing that “the campaign can now be regarded as closed except for minor mopping up”. Yet Eichelberger’s Eighth Army killed another 27,000 Japanese on Leyte before the campaign ended in May 1945. On 18 December 1944, MacArthur was promoted to the new five-star rank of General of the Army, placing him in the company of Marshall and followed by Eisenhower and Henry “Hap” Arnold, the only four men to achieve the rank in World War II. Including Omar Bradley who was promoted during the Korean War so as not to be outranked by MacArthur, they were the only five men to achieve the rank of General of the Army since the 5 August 1888 death of Philip Sheridan. MacArthur was senior to all but Marshall. The rank was created by an Act of Congress when Public Law 78–482 was passed on 14 December 1944, as a temporary rank, subject to reversion to permanent rank six months after the end of the war. The temporary rank was then declared permanent 23 March 1946 by Public Law 333 of the 79th Congress, which also awarded full pay and allowances in the grade to those on the retired list.
MacArthur’s next move was the invasion of Mindoro, where there were good potential airfield sites. Willoughby estimated, correctly as it turned out, that the island had only about 1,000 Japanese defenders. The problem this time was getting there. Kinkaid balked at sending escort carriers into the restricted waters of the Sulu Sea, and Kenney could not guarantee land based air cover. The operation was clearly hazardous, and MacArthur’s staff talked him out of accompanying the invasion on Nashville. As the invasion force entered the Sulu Sea, a kamikaze struck Nashville, killing 133 people and wounding 190 more. Australian and American engineers had three airstrips in operation within two weeks, but the resupply convoys were repeatedly attacked by kamikazes. During this time, MacArthur quarreled with Sutherland, notorious for his abrasiveness, over the latter’s mistress, Captain Elaine Clark. MacArthur had instructed Sutherland not to be bring Clark to Leyte, due to a personal undertaking to Curtin that Australian women on the GHQ staff would not be taken to the Philippines, but Sutherland had brought her along anyway.American military officers off Leyte Island in the Philippines, October 1944: Lieutenant General George Kenney, Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland, President Sergio Osmeña, General Douglas MacArthur
The way was now clear for the invasion of Luzon. This time, based on different interpretations of the same intelligence data, Willoughby estimated the strength of General Tomoyuki Yamashita‘s forces on Luzon at 137,000, while Sixth Army estimated it at 234,000. MacArthur’s response was “Bunk!”. He felt that even Willoughby’s estimate was too high. “Audacity, calculated risk, and a clear strategic aim were MacArthur’s attributes”, and he disregarded the estimates. In fact, they were too low; Yamashita had more than 287,000 troops on Luzon. This time, MacArthur traveled aboard the light cruiser USS Boise, watching as the ship was nearly hit by a bomb and torpedoes fired by midget submarines. His communiqué read: “The decisive battle for the liberation of the Philippines and the control of the Southwest Pacific is at hand. General MacArthur is in personal command at the front and landed with his assault troops.”
MacArthur’s primary concern was the capture of the port of Manila and the airbase at Clark Field, which were required to support future operations. He urged his commanders on. On 25 January 1945, he moved his advanced headquarters forward to Hacienda Luisita, closer to the front than Krueger’s. He ordered the 1st Cavalry Division to conduct a rapid advance on Manila. It reached the northern outskirts of Manila on 3 February, but, unknown to the Americans, Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi had decided to defend Manila to the death. The Battle of Manila raged for the next three weeks. To spare the civilian population, MacArthur prohibited the use of air strikes, but thousands of civilians died in the crossfire or Japanese massacres. He also refused to restrict the traffic of civilians who clogged the roads in and out of Manila, placing humanitarian concerns above military ones except in emergencies. For his part in the capture of Manila, MacArthur was awarded his third Distinguished Service Cross.
After taking Manila, MacArthur installed one of his Filipino friends, Manuel Roxas—who also happened to be one of the few people who knew about the huge sum of money Quezon had given MacArthur in 1942—into a position of power that ensured Roxas was to become the next Filipino president. Roxas had been a leading Japanese collaborator serving in the puppet government of José Laurel, but MacArthur claimed that Roxas had secretly been an American agent all the long. About MacArthur’s claim that Roxas was really part of the resistance, Weinberg wrote that “evidence to this effect has yet to surface”, and that by favoring the Japanese collaborator Roxas, MacArthur ensured there was no serious effort to address the issue of Filipino collaboration with the Japanese after the war. There was evidence that Roxas used his position of working in the Japanese puppet government to secretly gather intelligence to pass onto guerillas, MacArthur, and his intelligence staff during the occupation period.The photo shows hundreds of Santo Tomas camp internees in front of the UST Main Building cheering their release (taken 5 February 1945)
One of the major reasons for MacArthur to return to the Philippines was to liberate prisoner-of-war camps and civilian internee camps as well as to relieve the Filipino civilians suffering at the hands of the very brutal Japanese occupiers. MacArthur authorized daring rescue raids at numerous prison camps like Cabanatuan, Los Baños, and Santo Tomas. At Santo Tomas Japanese guards held 200 prisoners hostage, but the U.S. soldiers were able to negotiate safe passage for the Japanese to escape peacefully in exchange for the release of the prisoners.
After the Battle of Manila, MacArthur turned his attention to Yamashita, who had retreated into the mountains of central and northern Luzon. Yamashita chose to fight a defensive campaign, being pushed back slowly by Krueger, and was still holding out at the time the war ended, much to MacArthur’s intense annoyance as he had wished to liberate the entire Philippines before the war ended. On 2 September 1945, Yamashita (who had a hard time believing that the Emperor had ordered Japan to sign an armistice) came down from the mountains to surrender with some 100,000 of his men.
Although MacArthur had no specific directive to do so, and the fighting on Luzon was far from over, he committed his forces to liberate the remainder of the Philippines. In the GHQ communiqué on 5 July, he announced that the Philippines had been liberated and all operations ended, although Yamashita still held out in northern Luzon. Starting in May 1945, MacArthur used his Australian troops in the invasion of Borneo. He accompanied the assault on Labuan, and visited the troops ashore. While returning to GHQ in Manila, he visited Davao, where he told Eichelberger that no more than 4,000 Japanese remained alive on Mindanao. A few months later, six times that number surrendered. In July 1945, he was awarded his fourth Distinguished Service Medal.
As part of preparations for Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan, MacArthur became commander in chief U.S. Army Forces Pacific (AFPAC) in April 1945, assuming command of all Army and Army Air Force units in the Pacific except the Twentieth Air Force. At the same time, Nimitz became commander of all naval forces. Command in the Pacific therefore remained divided. During his planning of the invasion of Japan, MacArthur stressed to the decision-makers in Washington that it was essential to have the Soviet Union enter the war as he argued it was crucial to have the Red Army tie down the Kwantung army in Manchuria. The invasion was pre-empted by the surrender of Japan in August 1945. On 2 September MacArthur accepted the formal Japanese surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri, thus ending hostilities in World War II. In recognition of his role as a maritime strategist, the U.S. Navy awarded him the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.
Occupation of Japan
Further information: Occupation of Japan
Protecting the Emperor
On 29 August 1945, MacArthur was ordered to exercise authority through the Japanese government machinery, including the Emperor Hirohito. MacArthur’s headquarters was located in the Dai Ichi Life Insurance Building in Tokyo. Unlike in Germany, where the Allies had in May 1945 abolished the German state, the Americans chose to allow the Japanese state to continue to exist, albeit under their ultimate control. Unlike Germany, there was a certain partnership between the occupiers and occupied as MacArthur decided to rule Japan via the Emperor and most of the rest of the Japanese elite. The Emperor was a living god to the Japanese people, and MacArthur found that ruling via the Emperor made his job in running Japan much easier than it otherwise would have been.MacArthur and the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, at their first meeting, September 1945
After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, the Australian government listed Hirohito as a war criminal, and intended to put him on trial. General Douglas disagreed, as he thought that a ostensibly cooperating emperor would help establish a peaceful allied occupation regime in Japan.
Inspired by U.S. psychological warfare, since all Japanese trust the emperor, MacArthur wanted to gain the trust of the Japanese people and turn it against them by retaining the emperor. Since retaining the emperor was crucial to ensuring control over the population, the allied forces aimed to immunize him from war responsibility, never undermine his authority, and maximize the use of existing Japanese government organizations. Any possible evidence that would incriminate the emperor and his family were excluded from the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.
Code-named Operation Blacklist, MacArthur created a plan that separated the emperor from the militarists, retained the emperor as a constitutional monarch but only as a figurehead, and used the emperor to retain control over Japan and help the U.S. achieve their objectives. The American historian Herbert P. Bix described the relationship between the general and the Emperor as: “the Allied commander would use the Emperor, and the Emperor would cooperate in being used. Their relationship became one of expediency and mutual protection, of more political benefit to Hirohito than to MacArthur because Hirohito had more to lose—the entire panoply of symbolic, legitimizing properties of the imperial throne”.
At the same time, MacArthur undermined the imperial mystique when his staff released a picture of his first meeting with the Emperor, the impact of which on the Japanese public was electric as the Japanese people for the first time saw the Emperor as a mere man overshadowed by the much taller MacArthur instead of the living god he had always been portrayed as. Up to 1945, the Emperor had been a remote, mysterious figure to his people, rarely seen in public and always silent, whose photographs were always taken from a certain angle to make him look taller and mo
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