Talk:General of the Armies

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q:Is George Washington's promotion to General of the Armies dated in 1776 or 1976?
A:The promotion is dated from 1976 to coincide with the United States Bicentennial celebrations. An order "backdating" the promotion to 1776 was never issued.
Q:Is "General of the Armies of the United States" a different rank from "General of the Armies"?"
A:"General of the Armies" is a shortened version of the rank "General of the Armies of the United States"
Q:Is George Washington the highest ranking United States officer?
A:George Washington's promotion order to General of the Armies established he would always be the highest ranked U.S. military officer by seniority; however, at least one other person (John Pershing) holds the same rank of General of the Armies.

World War II Cancellation[edit]

According to his service record, the proposal to promote MacArthur to General of the Armies was dropped on August 18th, 1945 (before the Japanese surrender). The reason that the Army "scrapped the idea" was because there was no longer going to be an Operational Downfall. The current version is suggesting that the Army waited until after September 2nd (the formal surrender) to give up on the idea. That isn't the case and needs to be clarified. -OberRanks (talk) 16:59, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

It's now 0330 here, so this will be brief.
Yes, the FORMAL surrender was 2 Sept, but Gyokuon-hōsō was 15 Aug, 3 days before 18 Aug.
The reason that the Army "scrapped the idea" was because there was no longer going to be an Operational Downfall. - Agreed. But not JUST because of the bombs.
The current version is suggesting that the Army waited until after September 2nd (the formal surrender) to give up on the idea. - No. The current version is ambiguous, and could be interpreted as "the Army waited until after September 2nd", which, as we both agree, would be wrong.
Yes, we both agree that needs clarification.
Cheers, Pdfpdf (talk) 18:11, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
I put four days after the surrender because the time difference made V-J Day August 14 in the U.S., which is presumably where the Army office that cancelled the promotion was located. - Morinao (talk) 18:32, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
I like your redraft. As to 3 or 4 days, I'm not fussy and will "go with the flow". Thanks. Pdfpdf (talk) 00:18, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
Thanks! Regarding the date, I figured the Pentagon is in the same time zone as Times Square and that famous photo of the sailor kissing the nurse is dated August 14. - Morinao (talk) 00:37, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

This seems to be the appropriate place to insert my question on this subject. While the three main leaders of the Allied Forces of WWII were Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, it's my understanding that even though they collaborated and strategized together, Roosevelt was ultimately put in charge of ground forces (even though deferring to advisors). Thus with/out the title, he would be General of the Armies. This has been my understanding, but I have not yet found reference to this arrangement on Wikipedia. Thoughts?
Christopher, Salem, OR (talk) 18:56, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

Off the cuff: POTUS is commander in chief of the US military. Pershing, the one and only lifetime appointment, was necessarily subordinate to the Presidents. He died in 1948, after being hospitalised from 1944. Roosevelt had died in office in 1945. Ike was Supreme Allied Commander. In no way was Roosevelt ever regarded as general or supreme commander of the land forces of the allies. Qexigator (talk) 19:38, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Ah, thank you for the corrections, Qexigator. Yes, that is the title I was referring to, Supreme Allied Commander. I thought that Supreme Allied Commander was virtually the same position as General of the Armies, just under a different name and an international office. On the S.A.C. page, I found the clarification I needed in the NATO section.
Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. Christopher, Salem, OR (talk) 20:07, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
Revision - it would seem that I was actually referring to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force by description, but still only generalized (no pun intended) by the use of 5 Stars of General of the Army during WWII. Again, not comparable to General of the Armies as I had originally mistaken.
Christopher, Salem, OR (talk) 20:30, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Date of Public Law 94-478[edit]

The reference given for PL 94-479 said that it was passed on 19 January 1976, but the source itself says it was enacted in October 1976. It is the date of enactment which counts, so I have changed it (to just say 1976, since the only date which really matters is the effective date of the promotion, which is 4 July 1976). Richard75 (talk) 17:46, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

I neglected to explain that January is when Congress passed the resolution, but the president signed it on 11 October. Richard75 (talk) 17:54, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

"Pershing's rank was senior to that of Grant's..."[edit]

I'm sure that that is true, but we can't get away with citing a 1915 source for that when Pershing was only promoted in 1919. We need a better one. Richard75 (talk) 18:30, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

Major Edit 2015[edit]

I just finished incorporating all my research and notes over these past two years as well as the IOH material I received. I hope everyone likes the finished product. Looking forward to any expansions, improvements on what I've added. Thanks everyone! -O.R.Comms 20:35, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Image info in article[edit]

I removed this information from the image at the top of the article:

unofficial image, from SVG elements 2006-2015

That seems to me to be something that should be in the information about the image itself, not on the article about the rank which the image represents. The insignia depicted by the image was originally created in 2008 when the Army created the Army Service Uniform. I think the average reader would not understand the caption about SVG elements. Opinions? Thanks -O.R.Comms 22:58, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Yes, that part of the note should be removed, as no other SVG image in the article has a note about it. ミーラー強斗武 (StG88ぬ会話) 00:12, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
Without the information, the image is misleading. Unlike other shoulder strap images, the existence of a proposed six-star insignia, and its official rejection, is the main point of the article, and we have not been shown what has been claimed to be the image published by IoH. It was not the image being shown here. It should be explained in one way or another that what we see here is a Wikipedia construct, not the IoH image as published. Qexigator (talk) 00:44, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
I've never seen something like that done before. Indeed, in most situations like you are describing, the information about the Wikipedia construct is outlined in the image description page. Putting the info in the reference note to the image (which you did - thank you) seems to be one solution. -O.R.Comms 01:52, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

Modern day Washington uniform[edit]

We would never be able to put this in the article, since its clearly Original Research, but here is what Washington would look like if he were alive today. I must say, a very cool picture! [1] -O.R.Comms 15:56, 1 July 2016 (UTC)

MacArthur's WW2 promotion proposal[edit]

I have a complete copy of Douglas MacArthur's OPMF from St Louis, and the only time he is mentioned for promotion to General of the Armies is the 1955 congressional proposal. Likewise; there is nothing in the other source quoted (Hell to Pay by Giangrecio) for MacArthur's proposed promotion. AlternateWars (talk)AlternateWars (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic. 14:17, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

I believe NPRC offers CDs now which is only the official OMPF and does not include the unit type records and follow-on correspondence. Originally, Mc's record was nine boxes for the OMPF with 11 follow-up containers covering the external paperwork. That might be why you are not seeing it on the CD. In any event, if information is disputed we discuss it first on the talk page, and/or add "disputed" tags to the article. Blanket blanking of sections without discussion or consensus is generally frowned upon, especially if its been sourced (the sources can be challenged, of course, or we can find others). -O.R.Comms 20:59, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
As others have been invited it may help if someone defines or at least wikilinks terms such as OPMF (Official Military Personnel File) and NPRC (National Personnel Records Center). Oddly, Wikipedia has very little about the OPMF. I had thought the OPMF was only given to the service member or their next of kin. Is this now public record for Douglas MacArthur? If so, where do you get it? Semi-related is would a proposal for a rank be included in someone's OPMF? --Marc Kupper|talk 16:39, 24 October 2016 (UTC)
I've removed the dispute notice as the sole person disputing appears to have been a single purpose account which has since ceased editing. -O.R.Comms 18:20, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

Six Star General Promotion Package[edit]

Here is a very brief summary of the six star promotion package from McA's service record. The package is actually classified as an "artifact", not part of his official OMPF, and technically is listed under the records of the Supreme Allied Commander, South West Pacific Area (SWPA). I saw it once about 12 years ago - it is a shoebox which contains a tissue paper sketch of a six star general insignia as well as a dossier of yellowed memos, dated from July and August 1945, going back and forth between McA's staff and the office of the Army Chief of Staff. I also interviewed someone who was on McA's staff when this was going on. The sketch was literally drawn by one his aides at some headquarters building in the jungle in New Guinea shortly after McA became a five star. The Army leadership was very much against McA becoming an actual 6 star general and went out of their way to make it very clear that that sketch his aide created meant absolutely nothing.

The shoebox artifact with these things I think now is in Norfolk. McA's service record was declared public about 10 years ago; for a time you had to pay in excess of $1,000 to get a copy then they digitized it to CD> the CD does NOT have the 6 star stuff in it, but does have the 1955 congressional paperwork for the same thing. Now, the operational tactical drafts for Operation Downfall actually do say that a 6 star general would lead the invasion force. That is in fact well sourced from primary documents, I'm sure we can find a few secondary sources which mention it to. I hope that clarifies the origin of this information. -O.R.Comms 19:35, 24 October 2016 (UTC)

@OberRanks: That's excellent. Hopefully a WP:RS historian has found (or will find) the shoebox and document its contents in a way that we can use as a source. All of the contents, including that sketch, should be in the public domain meaning if it can be tracked down someone can post copies of the contents to WP:COMMONS. Do you recall if the focus was "6 star general" or if they also included mention what the title would be such as "General of the Armies of the United States"? --Marc Kupper|talk 19:29, 25 October 2016 (UTC)

When I was in Norfolk a few years ago to do research at the MacArthur Memorial, I asked them about the six star thing during WWII. None of them had any idea about it. Secondly, WHICH operational tactical drafts for Downfall? There are dozens upon dozens of drafts for Operation MAJESTIC (the name OLYMPIC was reclassed to after a document leak in early August), so it would be kind of helpful if there was a document title to go with it. AlternateWars (talk) 02:14, 31 October 2016 (UTC)

At the end of the day, we will need a reliable source as it doesn't matter what I saw 12 years ago or what you were told by the Norfolk staff (although, I must admit, that's strange they would tell you that since they have volumes of correspondence there, dating 1945 to 1965, about promoting him to 6 star rank). Anyway, I've made some inquires and I will try to find better sources when I have access to my files on this (I don't right now). There is a magazine article from around 1961 that talks about efforts to promote McA and there is plenty of stuff in the record groups at the National Archives about Operation Downfall that reference a six star commander. The specific record group number and National Archives file ID I'll try to get a hold of the next time I am there. In the meantime, a "disputed" tag might be best if there is contradictory evidence against this material, although so far I haven't read anything here that directly contradicts the primary sources. -O.R.Comms 13:31, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
@OberRanks: for the sake of clarification as it relates to the disputed tag in the article, are we disputing both MacArthur and Bradly, or only MacArthur? If its just MacArthur then we could put the disputed template at the start of his section specifically, but if its both then its best to leave it where it is. TomStar81 (Talk) 16:39, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
Bradley did not appear to be an issue. Only the WWII McA part. I will move the dispute note accordingly. -O.R.Comms 16:48, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
The McA Memorial Staff knew about the post-war (1950s-1960s) efforts to get him promoted to Six Star, but they were ??? regarding the supposed 1945 stuff.
I've also looked through George C Marshall's Select Correspondence which is available through digitized microfilm on ProQuest for a side project of mine, and the PROMOTIONS, 1944-AUGUST 1945 folder is 17 pages, and while it does have a 14 SEP 1944 Memo regarding the Five Star rank: (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:4-SEP-1944_Memo_CoS_Page_1.jpg) (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:4-SEP-1944_Memo_CoS_Page_2.jpg) it doesn't have anything re six star rank. Surely Marshall's staff would have told him about the campaign by MacArthur's staff for the rank?
Regarding the National Archives, I live near the DC area, and I also have heavy interests in AFPAC/SWPA HQ stuff for aforementioned project of mine; so...the RG and Archives ARC # would also be of interest to me greatly. AlternateWars (talk) 23:54, 31 October 2016 (UTC) AlternateWars (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
I just added two references from my old research notes on this subject. As to Marshall, I highly doubt there would be anything official in the military papers of George MarshalL since his dislike of McA was more personal; I think it was in fact him who dubbed Douglas a "primadonna". Maybe in a diary entry, but not official correspondence since I don't know how involved he was in the 6 star effort and he had died before the end of it all in the 1960s. -O.R.Comms 17:40, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

Hell to Pay Reference[edit]

Let's start here:

"The proposal for MacArthur's promotion to a new rank was begun on July 23, 1945.[16]"

[16] Refers to:

Giangreco, D. M. (October 2009). Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan. Naval Institute Press.

I own that book in both dead tree and Kindle editions and an extensive search through it for keywords:

  • star
  • rank
  • promotion

reveals nothing in Hell to Pay.

Likewise, a search on the date "July 23" shows only the following hits in the footnotes of Hell To Pay:

  • “Our Casualties,” Yank 2 (July 23, 1943): 11.
  • “They Could Have Been Worse,” Yank 2 (July 23, 1943): 17.

AlternateWars (talk) 21:28, 23 October 2016 (UTC)AlternateWars (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.

I've asked others to chime in as I don't have direct access to my notes on this from previous research. The source you mentioned above was a source cited by another source, as I recall, so your research is good to know. -O.R.Comms 22:03, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
In 2007 I wrote "Recently, the original source documents for Pershing, MacArthur and Washington (1976) have been located and all of them agreed on 'General of the Armies of the Unites States'".talk archive I suspect the proposed promotion of MacArthur did happen and it's a matter of nailing down sources and details. Amazon has a Look Inside for Hell to Pay that offers searching and appears to cover 100% of the text. You can hover over the search results to see an expanded view of the context even for those pages that can't be viewed in the Look Inside. Searches for "proposal", "proposed", "July 23", "23 July" and "7/23" found nothing that supports "The proposal for MacArthur's promotion to a new rank was begun on July 23, 1945." I've tagged that with {{Failed verification}}. The sentence contains enough unique information, such as "July 23, 1945" that we should be able to find a supporting source.
I'll get a copy of MacArthur's autobiography, Reminiscences : General of the Army (McGraw-Hill, [1964]) to see if he mentions a promotion effort. I tried searching the congressional record for July 23, 1945 and did not see anything that seemed relevant. It does not say who made the proposal though the sentence after the one in question offers a hint with "The Army draft for the promotion ..." It seems odd to me that this would come from the Army as General of the Armies seems more like a political thing. That following sentence is also bothersome in that it says "renewed proposal". Renewed? Ok, was there a proposal prior to 1945? Maybe this section of the WP article is a mishmash of junk. --Marc Kupper|talk 17:23, 24 October 2016 (UTC)