Patton and MacArthur – A Chance Meeting – Both Move on to seek their own Destiny!


September 12, 1918 was just another day like so many other days during World War I. On that nondescript day an event would take place that at the time drew little or no attention in the grand scheme of things.  The fighting was heavy between the American Expeditionary Force and the German Army.

The 327th Tank Battalion was commanded by a thirty-two year old lieutenant colonel wearing a Colt .45 pistol with an ivory grip and his engraved initials. A graduate of West point with nine years of military service behind him, this was his first taste of battle!

The 42nd “Rainbow” Division was commanded by a thirty-eight year old brigadier general wearing a barracks cap and a muffler his mother knitted for him with a pipe in his mouth. Also a graduate of West Point, he had fifteen years of military service. He had been in combat for about 5 or 6 months.

The Tank Commanmder was suposed to provide support for the Infantry Commander.  He was frustrated because his tanks’ progress kept being hampered by terrain and weather. Both men were participating in The St. Mihiel Offensive to reenforece the American lines. Their joint venture was a first for the Amrican Army as a solo venture.

Both were headed for Essey, France. The Tank Commander was approaching a hill to check out the progress of his tank movements. As he approached a hill he saw the Infantry Commander standing on the hill overlooking his troops. The younger man approached the older man. As the two took measure of each other the Germans fired an artillery barrage that passed directly overhead. The troops of both commanders ran and dove for cover. The two Commanders stood their ground as they exchanged words.

To this day no one knows for sure what Lt.Colonel George Patton and Brigadeer General Douglas MacArthur said to each other on that day as they stood firmly in place on that hill in the midst of a German artillery barrage. Over the decades, many have speculated and tried to uncover their conversation. I prefer to belive that the words Patton wrote to his wife in a letter four [4] days later was probably closer to the truth of the matter as any other.

Patton told his wife that when the barrage sttarted as they stood on that hill, his reaction was to duck for cover. However he refused to budge until MacAtrthur did the same. But Patton could see in the General’s eyes that he was  thinking the same thing. So, they both stood their ground. They exchanged a few words, then very deliberstely and casually walked back to their respective units.

Of course we all know that General Patton and General MacArthur were both symbols of bravery and leadership under fire. Both were highly decorated soldiers. Both were the type of leader whose men would follow them anywhere. When General Patton was killed, over 20,000 men volunteered to be “pall bearers”at his funeral.

September 12, 1918 during combat of World War I was “the only” time these two very famous heroes ever met personally. This story can be found at the Army Historical Foundation. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. You can read the entire account at the link provided. 

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~ by devildog6771 on November 23, 2006.

3 Responses to “Patton and MacArthur – A Chance Meeting – Both Move on to seek their own Destiny!”

  1. Very informative. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for your remarks. My dad served under both. He rarely talked about the war so we never knew his thoughts on which of the two he admired or rather respected most. From all I have read I prefer Patton because he was less politically motivated. None can deny ego was a obvious trait either lacked. Both were exceptional men and leaders. Both were capable of capable of amazing feats on the field of battle.

    I think both were men whose personal leadership skills and ability to garner exceptional loyalty from their men made them both feared and revered!

  3. I’m only going by memory, but I believe that Patton served under MacArthur during the suppression of the Bonus Marchers after WWI. Of the two, I personally admired MacArthur, though I would have court martialed him for violating orders and crossing the bridge into Anacostia. I still believe Mac was the greatest general this country ever produced — him and Washington.

    Frankly, had MacArthur been alone on that hill, I still don’t think he would have budged. He was convinced he could not be killed in battle.

    As great as Patton was, MacArthur had, as a colonel, already survived a vicious gun battle in the Philippines where he killed at least two of his attackers.

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