Arthur R. Wilson

Arthur Riehl Wilson (July 18, 1894 - August 11, 1956) was a highly decorated Major General in the United States Army during World War II. He wrote an account of U.S. Army operations in North Africa titled Report of Operations in North Africa.[1] Previously, he also served in the Pacific Theater, as quartermaster, working to "infuse vigor into all supply activities in Australia".[2][3]

Arthur Riehl Wilson
Arthur R Wilson.png
Arthur R. Wilson
Born(1894-07-18)July 18, 1894
Cherokee, California
DiedAugust 11, 1956(1956-08-11) (aged 62)
San Francisco, California
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1916-1946
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Service number0-8346
UnitUSA - Army Field Artillery Insignia.png Field Artillery Branch
Commands heldCoastal Base Section
Battles/warsPancho Villa Expedition
World War I
World War II
AwardsDistinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal

Early career and World War IEdit

Arthur R. Wilson was born on July 18, 1894 in Cherokee, California as the son of Alexander Moffatt and Agnes Matilda Wilson. He attended grammar school in Cherokee and subsequently enrolled the Oroville Union High School. Following the graduation in summer 1913, Wilson entered the University of California at Berkeley and also enlisted the California National Guard.[4]

Wilson rose through the ranks from Private to Sergeant and left the University in June 1916, when his regiment was called for the federal service during Pancho Villa Expedition. He was ordered to the Mexican Border with 2nd California National Guard Infantry Regiment and was promoted to the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant. Wilson's unit was deactived by the end of September 1916 and he returned to the civilian life.[4]

Following the United States' entry into World War I, Wilson entered the Army service and was commissioned second lieutenant in the Field Artillery on August 15, 1917. He was ordered to the Presidio of San Francisco and attached to the 386th Field Artillery Regiment. Wilson completed basic training and moved with the regiment to Camp Lewis, Washington, D.C. in September 1917. He was promoted to the temporary rank of first lieutenant on April 11, 1918 and embarked for France in June that year. He was meanwhile promoted to the temporary rank of Captain on May 24, 1918 and was stationed at Camp de Souge, where he participated in the training of replacement units.[4]

Upon the Armistice was signed in November 1918, he participated in the occupation of the Rhineland, Germany until February 1919, when his regiment was ordered back to the United States.[4]

Interwar periodEdit

Following his return to the United States, Wilson remained in the Army and was stationed at Fort Collins, Colorado. He was allowed to complete his education at the University of California and graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree in May 1919. Wilson then assumed duty as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Colorado Agricultural College and remained in that capacity until October that year, when he was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for duty with 9th Field Artillery Regiment.[4]

On July 1, 1920, Wilson was transferred to the Regular Army and commissioned first lieutenant and Captain on the same day. While at Fort Sill, he entered the Army Field Artillery School in September 1921 and following the graduation in June of the following year. Wilson then moved to Columbia, Missouri, where he assumed duty as a Professor of Military Science and Tactics at University of Missouri.[4]

His tenure there ended in September 1926 and joined 76th Field Artillery Regiment at the Presidio of Monterey, California and remained until March 1928, when he was sent to the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii for service with 13th Field Artillery Regiment.[4]

In December 1930, Wilson returned stateside and joined the headquarters of Experimental Mechanized Force at Fort Eustis, Virginia under Brigadier general Daniel Van Voorhis as Publicity Officer. The mission of the Force was to conduct experiments in armored warfare and test experimental armored equipment. The attached subordinate units came under the control of the Mechanized Force for specific training events related to the testing of equipment or tactics and Wilson was in the frequent contact with the press.[4]

Wilson moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky and became Post Adjutant in November 1931 and remained in that capacity until August 1932, when he was ordered to the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and graduated from the two-year course in June 1934. Wilson was then sent to the Army War College in Washington, D.C., where he completed advanced course in June 1935. He then attended the Chemical Warfare School at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland and following the graduation on August 1, 1935, he was promoted to Major.[4]

He then served as an instructor at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth until July 1937, when he was sent to the War Department General Staff in Washington, D.C. for duty as Liaison officer with the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency, employing millions of job-seekers (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads.[5]

Wilson was appointed Chief of the Works Projects Administration Branch at the Supply Division, War Department General Staff in September 1939 and remained in that capacity until January 1940, when he resumed his previous duty as Liaison officer with the War Department General Staff. He was appointed Chief of the Federal Works Agency Branch within the Supply Division in June 1940 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel on August 18 of that year. While in this capacity, Wilson was given additional duty as Liaison officer with the Truman Committee under then-Senator Harry S. Truman, which was formed in March 1941 to find and correct problems in U.S. war production with waste, inefficiency, and war profiteering.[3][4]

World War IIEdit

Following the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, Wilson was promoted to the temporary rank of Colonel on December 24, 1941 and ordered back to the War Department General Staff. He was promoted to the temporary rank of Brigadier general on January 22, 1942 and sailed with the first waves of American troops to the Southwest Pacific. As quartermaster general, South West Pacific Area Command, he assisted in working out a vital lend-lease agreement with the top officials of the Australian government.[3]

Wilson returned to the United States in June 1942 and then embarked for Europe as Commanding general, Services of Supply, Western Task Force. He held that assignment during the Operation Torch, an AngloAmerican invasion of French North Africa in November 1942 and was responsible for the administration of the Corps of Engineers, Signal Corps, Ordnance Department, Quartermaster Corps, Chemical Corps, Medical Corps and the Transportation Corps.

By the beginning of January 1943, Wilson was appointed Commanding General, Atlantic & Mediterranean Base Sections, U.S. North African Theater of Operations and was responsible for the administration of supplies during the combat operations in that areas and held that command during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July-August 1943. Wilson was decorated with Legion of Merit for his service in 1942–1943. He was promoted to the temporary rank of Major general on January 13, 1944.[3]

In July 1944, Wilson was based in Naples, Italy as commanding general, Coastal Base Section, which accompanied the Seventh Army on 15 August 1944 during Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of Southern France. For the first three weeks Coastal Base Section was largely occupied with the operation of the landing beaches. Wilson also transformed Naples into the major supply center on the Italian mainland and did the similar work in two other ports. In doing so these three port communities were rehabilitated in record-breaking time, earning the gratitude and appreciation of the people and government of liberated Italy.[6][3]

Wilson's work was appreciated by the Italian Government and he was decorated with the Order of the Crown of Italy and the University of Naples awarded him an honorary degree of doctor of laws. The City of Naples conferred honorary citizenship upon him and he was also elected a Cavalier Magistrate, Order of the Knights of Malta, in connection with these recognition's of his significant part in helping to restore the life and culture of Free Italy. For his service in that capacity, Wilson received Army Distinguished Service Medal.[7][8][3]

General Wilson was appointed Chief of Staff, Seventh Army under lieutenant general Alexander Patch in November 1944 and participated in the Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe operations. Wilson distinguished himself again in this capacity and received second Army Distinguished Service Medal and Bronze Star Medal. He was also decorated with the Legion of Honour, Croix de Guerre with Palm by the Government of France or Order of the British Empire.[7][3]

In 1945 he was conferred the Freedom of the City of Dijon.[9]

Postwar service and retirementEdit

Wilson returned to the United States in July 1945 and joined the War Department General Staff in Washington, D.C. as a member of the Committee on National Guard and Reserve Policies. He retired from active duty on May 31, 1946 after almost thirty years of service and accepted job as Vice President of Trans World Airlines and remained in this capacity until late 1947, when he accepted job as vice president of Industrial Products Trading Company.

In early 1956, Wilson suffered a heart attack and also bladder ailment. He was admitted to the Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco on August 11, 1956 and died of another heart attack later on that day. He was buried at Cherokee Cemetery in Oroville, California together with his wife Ellen A. Wilson.


Here is Major general Wilson's ribbon bar:[7]

1st Row Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
2nd Row Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster Bronze Star Medal Mexican Border Service Medal World War I Victory Medal with one Battle Clasp
3rd Row Army of Occupation of Germany Medal American Defense Service Medal with Clasp Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal American Campaign Medal
4th Row European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five 3/16 inch service stars World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal Commander of the Order of the British Empire
5th Row Commander of the Legion of Honor (France) French Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with Palm Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy Officer of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite (Morocco)


  1. ^ Fighting Patton: George S. Patton Jr. Through the Eyes of His Enemies, Yeide, Harry, p.439 Retrieved August 2013
  2. ^ Global Logistics and Strategy 1943-1945, Coakley, Robert W., Retrieved August 2013
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Biography of Major-General Arthur R. Wilson (1894 - 1956), USA". Websites. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Major general Arthur R. Wilson - Military Museum". Military Museum Websites. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  5. ^ Arnesen, Eric (2007). Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working-Class History. 1. New York: Routledge. p. 1540. ISBN 9780415968263.
  6. ^ Retrieved August 2013
  7. ^ a b c "Valor awards for Arthur R. Wilson". Militarytimes Websites. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Memorial Park for all of Butte County". Oroville Memorial Park Websites. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  9. ^ Conferment of Freedom of Dijon on General Thomas B. Larkin, U. S. Army, General Arthur R. Wilson, U. S. Army, Lieutenant-Colonel P.C.R. St. Aubyn, British Military Reprensative, in the Hall of the States of Burgundy, February 28th 1945, Connes, George Retrieved August 2013

External linksEdit