THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

THE PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

 

General George S. Patton Jr.

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November 11, 1885 -  December 21, 1945 (aged 60)

George Smith Patton Jr.

 

George Patton

George Smith Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a leading U.S. Army general in World War II in campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, France, and Germany, 1943–1945. In World War I he was a senior commander of the new tank corps and saw action in France. After the war he was an advocate of armored warfare but was reassigned to the cavalry. In World War II he commanded major units of North Africa, Sicily, and the European Theater of Operations. The popular image of "Old Blood and Guts" contrasts with historians' image of a brilliant military leader whose record was marred by insubordination and some periods of apparent instability.

 

 

His Family

George S. Patton, Jr was born in San Gabriel, California, to George Smith Patton Sr. (September 30, 1856 – June, 1927) and Ruth Wilson. Although he was technically the third George Smith Patton he was given the name Junior. The Patton's were an affluent family of Scottish descent. As a boy, Patton read widely in classics and military history. Patton's father was a friend of John Singleton Mosby, a cavalry hero of the Confederate Army in the U.S. Civil War, serving first under J.E.B. Stuart and then as a guerrilla fighter. The younger Patton grew up hearing Mosby's stories of military glory. From an early age, the young Patton sought to become a general and hero in his own right.

George Smith Patton

United States Army

Nickname Old Blood and Guts
Place of birth San Gabriel, California
Place of death Heidelberg, Germany
Allegiance  United States Army
Years of service 1909–1945
Rank General
Commands 3rd Cavalry Regiment
2nd Armored Division
U.S. II Corps
U.S. Seventh Army
U.S. Third Army
U.S. Fifteenth Army
Battles/wars Mexican Expedition
World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Cross (2)
Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Silver Star (2)
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Relations Major. General George Patton IV (son)

Patton came from a long line of soldiers including General Hugh Mercer of the American Revolution. His great grandfather John M. Patton was a governor of Virginia. A great-uncle, Waller T. Patton, perished of wounds received in Pickett's Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. Another relative, Hugh Weedon Mercer, was a Confederate General.

Patton's paternal grandparents were Colonel George Smith Patton (June 26, 1833 – September 25, 1864) and Susan Thornton Glassell. Patton's grandfather, born in Fredericksburg, graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Class of 1852, second in a class of 24. After graduation, George Smith Patton studied law and practiced in Charleston. When the American Civil War broke out, he served in the 22nd Virginia Infantry of the Confederate States of America.

Dying at the Battle of Opequon (the Third Battle of Winchester), Patton's grandfather left behind a namesake son, born in Charleston, West Virginia. The second George Smith Patton (born George William Patton in 1856, changed his name to honor his late father in 1868) was one of four children. Graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in 1877, Patton's father served as an L.A. County District Attorney and the first City Attorney for the city of Pasadena, California and the first mayor of San Marino, California. He was a Wilsonian Democrat with a romantic nostalgia for the lost cause of the Confederate States of America, was disgusted by Reconstruction, and publicly advocated the "continued supremacy" of "Aryan civilization." This certainly helped to shape George, Jr.'s attitudes as evidenced when he took his daughter, Ruth Ellen, to see Robert E. Lee's grave, and handing her a small Confederate flag, told her, "You're so unreconstructed."

His maternal grandparents were Benjamin Davis Wilson, (December 1, 1811 to March 11, 1878, the namesake of Southern California's Mount Wilson, and his second wife, Margaret Hereford. Wilson was a self-made man that was orphaned in Nashville, Tennessee, and made his fortune as a fur trapper and adventurer during the Indian wars and the war against Mexico, before marrying the daughter of a Mexican land baron and settling in what would become California's San Gabriel Valley.

Patton's mother kept paintings of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on the wall in their home. Patton admired them as he knelt to say his prayers, initially thinking that the portraits were of God the Father and God the Son.

Patton—a staunch believer in reincarnation, along with many other members of his family—often claimed to have seen vivid, lifelike visions of his ancestors.

He was married to Beatrice Banning Ayer, the daughter of a wealthy textile baron, on May 26, 1910. Together they had three children, Beatrice Smith (March 19, 1911–October 24, 1952), Ruth Ellen (February 28, 1915–November 25, 1993) and George Smith Patton (December 24, 1923–June 30, 2004).

 

His Education

 

 

Patton at Virginia Military Institute

Patton attended Virginia Military Institute for one year, where he was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order. He then transferred to the United States Military Academy. He was compelled to repeat his first "plebe" year after doing poorly in mathematics. He repeated his plebe year with honors, and was appointed Corporal Adjutant (the second highest position for a cadet) eventually graduating in 1909 and receiving his commission as a cavalry officer.

Patton participated in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, representing the United States in the first-ever modern pentathlon. He finished fifth.

 

The Patton Saber

After the Olympics, Lieutenant Patton was made the Army's youngest-ever "Master of the Sword." While Master of the Sword, Patton improved and modernized the Army's Cavalry Saber fencing techniques and designed the M1913 Cavalry Saber.[1] It had a large, basket-shaped hilt mounting a straight, double-edged, thrusting blade designed for use by heavy cavalry. Now known as the “Patton” Saber, it was heavily influenced by the 1908 and 1912 Pattern British Army Cavalry Swords.

Ironically, these weapons were never used: At the beginning of World War I, several cavalry units were brought to the front, but they were never used. The word cavalry now refers to armored cavalry units, which use tanks: Gen Patton later became famous as a tank commander. The term horse cavalry denotes the older kind of cavalry, when the distinction needs to be made.

The Patton Saber

 

Patton's Early Military Career

During the Mexican Expedition of 1916, Patton was assigned to the 8th Cavalry Regiment[1] in Fort Bliss, Texas. He accompanied then-Brigadier General John J. Pershing as his aide during the Punitive Expedition in his pursuit of Pancho Villa after Villa's forces had crossed into New Mexico and raided the town of Columbus, looting and killing several Americans. During his service, Patton, accompanied by ten soldiers of the 6th Infantry Regiment, killed two Mexican leaders, including "General" Julio Cardenas, commander of Villa's personal bodyguard. For this action, as well as Patton's affinity for the Colt Peacemaker, Pershing titled Patton his "Bandito". Patton's success in this regard gained him a level of fame in the United States, and he was featured in newspapers across the nation.

Patton's Pistols

 

 

World War I

 

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Patton in France in 1918

At the onset of the USA's entry into World War I, General Pershing promoted Patton to the rank of captain. While in France, Patton requested that he be given a combat command and Pershing assigned him to the newly formed United States Tank Corps. Depending on the source, he either led the U.S. Tank Corps or was an observer at the Battle of Cambrai (1917), where the first tanks were used as a significant force. As the U.S. Tank Corps did not take part in this battle the role of observer is the most likely. From his successes (and his organization of a training school for American tankers in Langres, France), Patton was promoted to major and then lieutenant colonel and was placed in charge of the U.S. Tank Corps, which was part of the American Expeditionary Force and then the First U.S. Army. He took part in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, September 1918, and was wounded by machine gun fire as he sought assistance for tanks that were mired in the mud. The bullet passed through his upper thigh and for years afterwards, when Patton was inebriated at social events, he would drop his pants to show his wound and called himself a "half-assed general." While Patton was recuperating from his wounds, hostilities ended.

For his service in the Meuse-Argonne Operations, Patton received the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Service Cross, and was given a battlefield promotion to a full colonel. For his combat wounds, he was presented the Purple Heart.

 

 

The Interwar Years

While on duty in Washington, D.C. in 1919, Captain (he reverted from his wartime temporary rank of Colonel) Patton met and became close friends with Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would play an enormous role in Patton's future career. In the early 1920s, Patton petitioned the U.S. Congress to appropriate funding for an armored force, but had little luck. Patton also wrote professional articles on tank and armored car tactics, suggesting new methods for their use. He also continued working on improvements to tanks, coming up with innovations in radio communication and tank mounts. However, the lack of interest in armor created a poor atmosphere for promotion and career advancement so Patton transferred back to the horse cavalry.

In July 1932, Patton served under Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur, as a major leading 600 troops, including the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, in an action to disperse the protesting veterans known as the "Bonus Army" in Washington, DC. MacArthur ordered the troops to advance on the protesters with tear gas and bayonets. At one point, when the protesters resisted with bricks and curses, Patton led the last mounted charge of the U.S. Cavalry. One of the veterans rousted by the cavalry was Joe Angelo, who had won the Distinguished Service Cross in 1918 for saving Patton's life.[2]

Patton served in Hawaii before returning to Washington to once again ask Congress for funding for armored units. In the late 1930s, Patton was assigned command of Fort Myer, Virginia. Shortly after Germany's blitzkrieg attacks in Europe, Maj. Gen. Adna Chaffee, the first Chief of the U.S. Army's newly created Armored Force was finally able to convince Congress of the need for armored divisions. This led to the activation of the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions in 1940. Col. Patton was given command of the 2nd Armored Brigade, US 2nd Armored Division in July 1940. He became the Asst. Division Commander the following October, and was promoted to Brigadier General on the second day of that month. Patton served as the acting Division Commander from November 1940 until April 1941. He was promoted to Major General on 4 April and made Commanding General of the 2nd Armored Division 7 days later.

 

 

World War II

 

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General George S. Patton statue Ettelbruck / Luxembourg

During the buildup of the U.S. Army prior to its entry into World War II, Patton commanded the 2nd Armored Division which performed with mixed results in both the Louisiana Maneuvers and Carolinas Maneuvers in 1941. The 2nd Armored Division was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, until the unit, along with its commander, was ordered to the newly established Desert Training Center in Indio, California by the Chief of the Armored Force, Maj. Gen. Jacob L. Devers. Patton was subsequently appointed as the commander of the newly activated I Armored Corps by Devers, and was in this position when the corps was assigned to Operation Torch, the Invasion of North Africa.

On June 3, 1942, Patton believed the Japanese were on a course to invade Mexico. He believed the Japanese would use the beaches of Mexico to move north into California. For three days, Patton had his troops on high alert to move within minutes to meet the invading Japanese at the tip of the Gulf of California. [3] The Japanese invasion fleet eventually landed on Kiska Island on June 6.

 

 

The African Campaign

 

In 1942, Major General Patton commanded the Western Task Force of the U.S. Army, which landed on the coast of Morocco in Operation Torch. Patton and his staff arrived in Morocco aboard the heavy cruiser USS Augusta, which came under fire from the French battleship Jean Bart while entering the harbor of Casablanca.

Following the defeat of the U.S. II Corps as part of British 1st Army, by the German Afrika Korps at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass in 1943, General Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower assessed the aftermath by sending Major General Omar Bradley to observe the conditions of the II Corp operations. As a result of his report, Patton was made Lieutenant General and placed in command of II Corps on March 6, 1943. Soon thereafter, Patton had Bradley reassigned to his Corps Command as deputy commander, and thus began a long wartime association between the two diverse personalities.

Tough in his training, he was generally unpopular with his troops. However, they preferred to serve with him nonetheless, because they thought he was their best chance to get home alive. Both British and US officers had noted the "softness" and lack of discipline in the II Corps under Lloyd Fredendall. Patton required all personnel to wear steel helmets, even physicians in the operating wards, and required his troops to wear the unpopular lace-up leggings and neckties. A system of fines was introduced to ensure all personnel shaved daily and observed other uniform requirements. While these measures did not make Patton popular, they did tend to restore a sense of discipline and unit pride that may have been missing earlier. In a play on his nickname, troops joked that it was "his guts and our blood".

The discipline paid off quickly; by mid-March, the counteroffensive was pushing the Germans east, along with the rest of British 1st Army, while the British Eighth Army commanded by General Bernard Law Montgomery in Tunisia was simultaneously pushing them west, effectively squeezing the Germans out of North Africa.

 

 

The Sicily Campaign

 

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As a result of his accomplishments in North Africa, Patton was given command of the Seventh Army in preparation for the 1943 invasion of Sicily. The Seventh Army's mission was to protect the left (western) flank of the British Eighth Army as both advanced northwards towards Messina.

The Seventh Army repulsed several German counterattacks in the beachhead area before beginning its push north. Meanwhile, the Eighth Army stalled south of Mount Etna in the face of strong German defenses. The Army Group commander, Harold Alexander, exercised only the loosest control over his two commanders. Montgomery therefore took the initiative to meet with Patton in an attempt to work out a coordinated campaign.

Patton formed a provisional Corps under his Chief of Staff, and quickly pushed through western Sicily, liberating the capital, Palermo, and then swiftly turned east towards Messina. US forces liberated Messina in accordance with the plan jointly created by Montgomery and Patton. However the Italians and Germans had air and naval supremacy over their withdrawal routes and evacuated all of their soldiers and much of their heavy equipment across the straits of Messina onto the Italian mainland.

 

The Slapping Incident And His Removal From Command

Patton's bloodthirsty speeches resulted in controversy when it was claimed one inspired the Biscari Massacre, where American troops who followed his instructions to be ruthless were jailed after killing seventy-six prisoners of war, although Patton and their senior officers were not charged with any wrong-doing.

Even worse for him was the "slapping incident" that nearly ended Patton's career in August 1943. While visiting hospitals and commending wounded soldiers, he slapped and verbally abused two privates who he thought were exhibiting cowardly behavior. The soldiers were suffering from "shell shock" (and today might be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), but had no visible wounds.

Newsmen decided to keep the incident quiet but the doctors used their own chain of command to inform Eisenhower. Eisenhower thought of sending him home in disgrace, as many newspapers demanded. But after consulting with George Marshall, Eisenhower decided to keep Patton, but without a major command. Eisenhower ordered Patton to apologize to the individual soldiers and hospital staff who witnessed the incidents.

Eisenhower used Patton's "furlough" as a trick to mislead the Germans as to where the next attack would be, since they assumed Patton would lead the attack and he was the general they feared the most. During the 10 months Patton was relieved of duty, his prolonged stay in Sicily was interpreted by the Germans to be indicative of an upcoming invasion of southern France. Later, a stay in Cairo was interpreted as heralding an invasion through the Balkans. German intelligence misinterpreted what happened and made faulty plans as a result.

In the months before the June 1944 Normandy invasion, Patton gave public talks as commander of the fictional First U.S. Army Group (FUSAG), which was supposedly intending to invade France by way of Calais. This was part of a sophisticated Allied campaign of military disinformation, Operation Fortitude. The Germans misallocated their forces as a result, and were slow to respond to the actual landings at Normandy.

 

 

Normandy

Following the Normandy invasion, Patton was placed in command of the U.S. Third Army, which was on the extreme right (west) of the Allied land forces. Beginning at noon on August 1, 1944, he led this army during the late stages of Operation Cobra, the breakout from earlier slow fighting in the Normandy hedgerows. The Third Army simultaneously attacked west (into Brittany), south, east towards the Seine, and north, assisting in trapping several hundred thousand German soldiers in the Chambois pocket, between Falaise and Argentan, Orne.

Patton used Germany's own blitzkrieg tactics against them, covering 600 miles in just two weeks, from Avranches to Argentan. Patton's forces were part of the Allied forces that freed northern France, bypassing Paris. The city itself was liberated by the French 2nd Armored Division under French General Leclerc, insurgents who were fighting in the city, and the US 4th Infantry Division. The French 2nd Armored Division had recently been transferred from the 3rd Army, and many soldiers of that Division thought they were still part of 3rd Army. These early 3rd Army offensives showed the characteristic high mobility and aggressiveness of Patton's units.

Rather than engage in set-piece slugging matches, Patton preferred to bypass centers of resistance and use the mobility of US units to the fullest, defeating German defensive positions through maneuver rather than head-on fighting whenever possible. He was able to do this in part because of his systematic exploitation of ULTRA, a highly classified system that was very successful in reading German ENIGMA ciphers. Still, Patton was able to continue these tactics despite German radio silence during preparation for the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge).

 

 

Lorraine

General Patton's offensive, however, came to a screeching halt on August 31, 1944, as the Third Army literally ran out of gas near the Moselle River, just outside of Metz, France. Berragan (2003) argues it was due primarily to Patton's ambitions and his refusal to recognize that he was engaged in a secondary line of attack. Others suggest that General Lee, commander of the Zone of Communication, chose that time to move his headquarters to the more comfortable environs of Paris. Some 30 truck companies were diverted to that end, rather than providing support to the fighting armies.

Patton expected that the Theater Commander would keep fuel and supplies flowing to support successful advances. However, Eisenhower favored a "broad front" approach to the ground-war effort, knowing that a single thrust would have to drop off flank protection, and would quickly lose its punch. Still, within the constraints of a very large effort overall, Eisenhower gave Montgomery and his 21st Army Group a strong priority for supplies, to give him the chance to make the breakout that Montgomery claimed would end the war.

The combination of supply priority to Montgomery, and diversion of resources to moving the Communications zone, coupled with Patton's refusal to attack slowly, resulted in the 3rd Army running out of gas in Alsace-Lorraine while exploiting German weakness.

Patton's experience suggested that a major US and allied advantage was in mobility. This led to greater number of US trucks, higher reliability of US tanks, better radio communications, all contributing to superior ability to operate at high tempo. Slow attacks were wasteful, and resulted in high losses; they also permitted the Germans to prepare multiple defensive positions, then withdraw from one to another after inflicting heavy casualties on US and allied forces. He refused to operate that way.

The time needed to resupply was just enough to allow the Germans to further fortify the fortress of Metz. In October and November, the Third Army was mired in a near-stalemate with the Germans, with heavy casualties on both sides. By November 23, however, Metz had finally fallen to the Americans, the first time the city had been taken since the Franco-Prussian War.

 

 

The Ardennes Offensive

 

Bradley, Eisenhower, and Patton

In late 1944, the German army made a last-ditch offensive across Belgium, Luxembourg, and northeastern France in the Ardennes Offensive (better known as the Battle of the Bulge), nominally led by German Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt. On December 16, 1944, the German army massed 29 divisions (totaling some 250,000 men) at a weak point in the Allied lines and made massive headway towards the Meuse River during one of the worst winters Europe had seen in years. It was during the midst of this fighting that the weather had become bitterly cold and snowy, which halted tank operations for a time.

Needing just one full day (24 hours) of good weather, Patton ordered the Third Army Chaplain, (COL) James O'Neill, to come up with a prayer beseeching God to grant this. The weather did clear soon after the prayer was recited, and Patton decorated O'Neill with the Bronze Star Medal on the spot.[4] Following this, he continued ahead with dealing with the German offensive and von Rundstedt.

Patton turned the 3rd Army north abruptly (a notable tactical and logistical achievement), disengaging from the front line to relieve the surrounded and besieged 101st Airborne Division pocketed in Bastogne. By February, the Germans were in full retreat and Patton moved into the Saar Basin of Germany. The bulk of 3rd Army completed its crossing of the Rhine at Oppenheim on March 22, 1945.

Patton was planning to take Prague, Czechoslovakia, when the forward movement of American forces was halted. His troops liberated Pilsen (May 6, 1945) and most of western Bohemia.

The True Story of The Patton Prayer

By The Man Who Wrote It

 

The U.S. Third Army Battle Performance

 

The battle performance of the U.S. Third Army under Patton's command, from the start of its operations in Normandy until VE-Day, is said to have been outstanding. According to Charles M. Province,

The enemy lost an estimated 1,280,688 captured [including 515,205 captured after the end of combat in the last week of the war - ed.], 144,500 killed, and 386,200 wounded, adding up to 1,811,388. By comparison, the Third Army suffered 16,596 killed, 96,241 wounded, and 26,809 missing in action for a total of 139,646 casualties. [5]

Prisoners of war taken during or after military engagements can be counted, whereas an opposing military force’s losses in killed and wounded can usually be only estimated, and there has been a tendency in all military forces at all times to exaggerate casualties inflicted on the enemy. The above figures on German troops killed or wounded by Patton’s Third Army seem questionable considering the overall relation between Allied and German casualties during the 1944/45 campaign in northwestern Europe. According to Charles B. MacDonald,

Since D-day in Normandy the Germans in the west alone had lost 263,000 dead, 49,000 permanently disabled, and 8,109,000 captured. Allied casualties were 186,900 dead, 545,700 wounded, and 109,600 missing (some later declared dead and others later repatriated as prisoners of war). [6]

 

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Corps and Divisions of

Patton's Third Army

If both Province’s and MacDonald’s figures are accurate, this would mean that Patton’s Third Army inflicted 55 % of all German KIA or DOW during the 1944/45 campaign in northwestern Europe (144,500 out of 263,000), whereas its own losses of these categories were only 9 % of the Allies’ total losses (16,596 out of 186,900). While Patton’s Third Army would have inflicted much higher losses on the enemy than it suffered, all other Allied units, on average, would have suffered losses that were considerably higher than those they inflicted on the enemy:

Overall 1944/45 Campaign German KIA/DOW: 263,000; Allied KIA/DOW: 186,900; German KIA/DOW per 100 Allied KIA/DOW: 141

Patton’s Third Army German KIA/DOW: 144,500; Allied KIA/DOW: 16,596; German KIA/DOW per 100 Allied KIA/DOW: 871

Other Allied units German KIA/DOW: 118,500; Allied KIA/DOW: 170,304; German KIA/DOW per 100 Allied KIA/DOW: 70

Unless the total number of German combat fatalities during this campaign was much higher than stated by MacDonald, this means either of the following:

a) The command, troops and tactics of Patton’s Third Army were much superior to those of all other Allied units that took part in the 1944/45 campaign in northwestern Europe;

b) Province's figure on German combat fatalities inflicted by Patton’s Third Army is a considerable exaggeration.

 

 

A Brief Visit Home To California June 1945

 

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Patton during a parade in Los Angeles, California.

Largely overlooked in history is the warm reception he received on June 9, 1945, when he and Lt. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle were honored with a parade through Los Angeles and a reception at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before over 100,000 people that evening. The next day, Patton and Doolittle toured the metropolitan Los Angeles area. Patton spoke in front of the Burbank City Hall and at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. He wore his helmet with a straight line of stars, chest full of medals, and two ivory[7] handle trademark pistols. He punctuated his speech with some of the same profanity he had used with the troops. He spoke about conditions in Europe and the Russian allies to the adoring crowds. This may be the only time in America when the civilian people, en masse, heard and saw the famous warrior on the podium.

This was also the time when he quietly turned over an original copy of the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, which he had smuggled out of Germany in violation of JCS 1067, to the Huntington Library, a world-class repository of historical original papers, books, and maps, near Pasadena. He instructed physicist Robert Millikan, then the chairman of the board of trustees of the Huntington Library to make no official record of the transaction, and to not make the materials available for public inspection during Patton's lifetime. The Huntington Library retained the Nuremberg Laws in a basement vault in spite of a legal instruction in 1969 by the general's family to turn over all of his papers to the Library of Congress. On June 26, 1999, Robert Skotheim, then the president of the Huntington Library announced that the Library was to permanently loan the Nuremberg Laws to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where they are currently on display.

 

 

The Accident And Death

 

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Patton's grave in Luxembourg

On December 9, 1945, in Germany a day before he was due to return to the United States, Patton was severely injured in a road accident. He and his chief of staff, Major General Hobart R. "Hap" Gay, were on a daytrip to hunt pheasants in the country outside Mannheim. Their 1939 Cadillac Model 75 was driven by PFC Horace Woodring (1926 - 2003). Patton sat in the back seat, on the right with General Gay on his left, as per custom. At 11:45 near Neckarstadt, (Käfertal), a 2½ ton truck driven by T/5 Robert L. Thompson appeared out of the haze and made a left-hand turn towards a side road. The Cadillac smashed into the truck. General Patton was thrown forward and his head struck a metal part of the partition between the front and back seats. Gay and Woodring were uninjured. Paralyzed from the neck down, George Patton died of an embolism on December 21, 1945 at the military hospital in Heidelberg, Germany with his wife present.

Patton was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Hamm, Luxembourg along with other members of the Third Army[8]. His body was moved from the original grave site in the cemetery to its current prominent location at the head of his former troops. A cenotaph was placed at the Wilson-Patton family plot at the San Gabriel Cemetery in San Gabriel, California, adjacent to the Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal), where Patton was baptized. In the narthex of the sanctuary of the church is a stained glass window honor which features, among other highlights of Patton's career, a picture of him riding in a tank. A statue of General Patton is in the court yard adjacent to the church.

Patton's car was repaired and used by other officers. The car is now on display, with other Patton artifacts, at the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

 

General George Patton Reaches The Finish Line

Patton's Last Battle : Valiant in Death as in Life

Patton's funeral

The Reflections Of  Patton's Children

 Patton The Legend

 

 

His Controversies And Criticisms

Patton more than once caused political irritations and was criticised for some controversial faux pas, such as the "Sicily slapping incident" in 1943 (see above). Patton, in several reports, insisted on the highest standard of order and grooming within his army's area and imposed fines for anyone who violated his strict guidelines.

Patton has a reputation today as a general who was very impatient with the officers under him, compared to Omar Bradley, his colleague and later superior, but the truth is much more complicated. Patton actually fired only one general during World War Two, Orlando Ward, and only after repeated warnings, whereas Bradley sacked more than a dozen generals during the war with little provocation.

 

 

Patton's Problems With Humor, His Image, And The Press

Patton was not known for his sense of humor, and his reckless words often made him his own worst enemy. Unlike Eisenhower, who was popular with troops partly for his self-deprecating humor, Patton disliked jokes aimed at himself. Soldiers stationed in the Pacific theater of war were not pleased with what was going on in the European continent and disliked him for his perceived disregard for the lives of his troops. Patton actually had the utmost respect for the men serving in his command but had no regard for men that were "shell shocked."  The cartoonist Bill Mauldin ridiculed Patton several times in his comics, prompting Patton to summon Sergeant Mauldin to his headquarters for a dressing-down. On the other hand, he was himself capable of the occasional blunt witticism: "The two most dangerous weapons the Germans have are our own armored halftrack and jeep. The halftrack because the boys in it go all heroic, thinking they are in a tank. The jeep because we have so many God-awful drivers." During the Battle of the Bulge, he famously remarked that the Allies should "let the sons-of-bitches [Germans] go all the way to Paris, then we'll cut 'em off and round 'em up!" He also suggested that the German forces could attack towards the British and create "another Dunkirk". His remarks frequently ridiculed General Montgomery and at times the Soviet Red Army, contributing to inter-Allied discord. In the context of coalition warfare, these remarks were occasionally harmful. Eisenhower wisely used Patton's high profile with the press to contribute to Operation Fortitude; he knew the press would report on his appearances in Britain and that the Germans would pick up these reports.

Patton deliberately cultivated a flashy, distinctive image in the belief that this would motivate his troops. He was usually seen wearing a highly polished helmet, riding pants, and high cavalry boots. He carried flashy ivory-handled, nickel-plated revolvers as his most famous sidearms (a Colt Single Action Army .45 (aka "Peacemaker") and later the addition of a S&W Model 27 .357). His vehicles carried oversized rank insignia and loud sirens. His speech was riddled with profanities. The toughness of his image and character appeared well-suited to the conditions of battle. His theatrics were admired by many, so much so that, upon his death, upwards of 20,000 soldiers volunteered to be pall bearers at his funeral. This came as a surprise to the American populace, as the media had often portrayed Patton's armies as disliking him.

 

 

The Task Force Baum Controversy

On March 24th, shortly after completing his crossing of the Rhine, Patton ordered US XII Corps commander Major General Manton Eddy to undertake an immediate operation to liberate the OFLAG XIII-B prison camp at Hammelburg, some 80 kilometers behind enemy lines. Eddy strongly argued against the necessity and prudence of the raid, reportedly going so far as to refuse to pass the order to the US 4th Armored Division without General Eisenhower's approval. Patton, having no desire to involve Eisenhower (who was already well acquainted with Patton's headstrong tendencies and would likely have cancelled the operation), flew to the XII Corps command post at Undenheim, waited until Eddy left for dinner, and personally delivered the operation order to Brigadier General Hoge of the US 4th Armored Division. Noting that intelligence indicated a strong Wehrmacht and possible SS Panzer presence in the area (as well as its relative distance from the front line), Hoge and "Combat Command B" commander Lieutenant Colonel Creighton Abrams told Patton that no less than a full Combat Command would be required. Patton rejected this, insisting that only a limited task force be sent. He planned to use 3,000 men but ultimately used two companies with 300 men and 15 tanks to raid the Hammelburg POW camp. He also mandated that his aide-de-camp and personal friend, Major Alexander Stiller accompany the force "to gain experience." [9]

The task force, named Task Force Baum (after its leader, Captain Abraham Baum), fought valiantly through significant resistance to liberate the camp, but was too exhausted and reduced in size from 52 hours of continuous fighting to break out of the noose of Wehrmacht reinforcements that rapidly swarmed into the area to surround them. The raid by Task Force Baum was a total failure, and only 35 of the 300 men returned; the rest were captured or killed.

After the news of the operation became public, it was revealed that Patton's motivation for ordering the operation against apparent common sense and the strident objections of his officers was most probably personal: he had been informed on February 9th by General Eisenhower that his son-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel John K. Waters, captured in North Africa in 1943, was being held at Hammelburg. Until this information came out, Patton had always insisted he had no knowledge of the location of Waters. Upon further review, Patton's explanation for insisting that Stiller go along also didn't hold water; as a decorated World War I officer, Stiller had already seen significantly more combat than most of the men in Task Force Baum, and (most importantly) as a personal friend of Patton's family, he had met Waters and would be able to identify him. Furthermore, Patton had always insisted that the operation to liberate the camp at Hammelburg was motivated by a deep concern for the welfare and safety of captured US servicemen, yet in an ironic twist, after Stiller was captured, Patton refused to try to liberate the camp where he and other survivors were being held, even though it was much closer to the 3rd Army line of advance than Hammelburg had been, and contained nearly twice as many troops. Patton's superior, General Omar Bradley, later famously characterized the raid as "a wild goose-chase that ended in a tragedy."[9]

 

 

After The German Surrender

 

After the surrender of May 8, 1945 extinguished the common threat of Nazi Germany, Patton was quick to assert the Soviet Union would cease to be an ally of the United States. He was concerned that some 25,000 American POWs had been liberated from POW camps by the Soviets, but were never returned to the US. In fact, he urged his superiors to evict the Soviets from central and eastern Europe. Patton thought that the Red Army was weak, under-supplied, and vulnerable, and the United States should act on these weaknesses before the Soviets could consolidate their position. In this regard, he told then-Undersecretary of War Robert P. Patterson that the "point system" being used to demobilize Third Army troops was destroying it and creating a vacuum that the Soviets would exploit. "Mr. Secretary, for God’s sake, when you go home, stop this point system; stop breaking up these armies," pleaded the general. "Let’s keep our boots polished, bayonets sharpened, and present a picture of force and strength to these people, the Soviets. This is the only language they understand." Asked by Patterson — who would become Secretary of War a few months later — what he would do, Patton replied: "I would have you tell the Red Army where their border is, and give them a limited time to get back across. Warn them that if they fail to do so, we will push them back across it."

On a personal level, Patton was disappointed by the Army's refusal to give him a combat command in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Unhappy with his role as the military governor of Bavaria and depressed by his belief that he would never fight in another war, Patton's behavior and statements became increasingly erratic. He also made many anti-Russian statements in letters home. Various explanations beyond his disappointments have been proposed for Patton's behavior at this point. Carlo D'Este, in Patton: A Genius for War, writes that "it seems virtually inevitable ... that Patton experienced some type of brain damage from too many head injuries" from a lifetime of numerous auto- and horse-related accidents, especially one suffered while playing polo in 1936.

It should be noted, however, that many of the controversial opinions he expressed were common (if not exactly popular) at the time and his outspoken opposition to post-surrender denazification is still widely debated today. Many still laud his generous treatment of his former German enemies and his early recognition of the Soviet threat, while detractors say his protests reflect the views of a bigoted elitist. Whatever the cause, Patton found himself once again in trouble with his superiors and the American people. While speaking to a group of reporters, he compared the Nazis to losers in American political elections, and that being a Nazi in Germany was just being a member of a political party, "like being a Democrat in the States." Patton was soon relieved of command of Third Army and transferred to the Fifteenth Army, a paper command preparing a history of the war.

 

 

His Attitudes On Race

The use of black troops during the push to the Siegfried Line offers some insight into Patton's attitude towards them. The first black tank unit, the 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion, was assigned to Patton in the fall of 1944, at his request. As the 761st was about to enter combat, Patton reviewed the battalion and addressed the men:

Men, you're the first Negro tankers to ever fight in the American Army. I would never have asked for you if you weren't good. I have nothing but the best in my Army. I don't care what color you are as long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sons of bitches. Everyone has their eyes on you and is expecting great things from you. Most of all your race is looking forward to you. Don't let them down and damn you, don't let me down![10]

George S. Patton, The 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion in World War II"

Click on Picture to enlarge

However, like many military officers of the era, Patton expressed his doubts about using black men in combat. On returning to headquarters afterwards, he remarked, "They gave a good first impression, but I have no faith in the inherent fighting ability of the race."[10] He only accepted the 761st because he desperately needed all the ground power he could get. Even after the war, Patton was not inclined to reform his perception of black soldiers. In War As I Knew It, he relates the interaction described above, and comments, "Individually they were good soldiers, but I expressed my belief at the time, and have never found the necessity of changing it, that a colored soldier cannot think fast enough to fight in armor."[11]

D'Este explains that "on the one hand he could and did admire the toughness and courage" of some black soldiers but his writings can also be frequently read as "disdaining them and their officers because they were not part of his social order." Historian Hugh Cole points out that Patton was the first American military leader to integrate the rifle companies "when manpower got tight."

Patton's views on blacks seem mild and even generous compared to remarks he made about Jews and other ethnic groups he encountered throughout his military career (much less his legendary hatred of the Russians). Like many Americans of his era, he generally considered those who were not of Northern European ancestry to be dirty and uncivilized. However, his statements regarding history show that this did not amount to lack of respect for the military accomplishments of other races. He expressed his feelings about Jews with his writings:

We entered a synagogue which was packed with the greatest stinking bunch of humanity I have ever seen. Either these Displaced Persons never had any sense of decency or else they lost it all during their period of internment by the Germans... My personal opinion is that no people could have sunk to the level of degradation these have reached in the short space of four years.[12]

George S. Patton, "After the Holocaust: Rebuilding Jewish Lives in Post War Germany"

[others may believe]... that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews, who are lower than animals.[13]

However, he was nonetheless horrified at what he found when his Third Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. Local German citizens claimed that they didn't know what was going on. He ordered American troops to round up the roughly 2000 local Germans and march them through the camps. He wanted them to see the atrocities firsthand.

Though many of his attitudes were common (if not universal) in his time, as with all of his controversial opinions, he was often exceptionally blunt in his expression of them. He once wrote:

The difficulty in understanding the Russian is that we do not take cognizance of the fact that he is not a European, but an Asiatic, and therefore thinks deviously. We can no more understand a Russian than a Chinese or a Japanese, and from what I have seen of them, I have no particular desire to understand them except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them. In addition to his other amiable characteristics, the Russian has no regard for human life and they are all out sons-of-bitches, barbarians, and chronic drunks.[14]

George S. Patton

 

 

Patton's Relations With Eisenhower

 

Click on Picture to enlarge

Patton (seated, second from left) and Eisenhower (seated, middle) with other American military officials, 1945.

The relationship between George S. Patton and Dwight Eisenhower has long been of interest to historians in that the onset of World War II completely reversed the roles of the two men in the space of just under two years. When Patton and Eisenhower met in the mid 1920s, Patton was six years Eisenhower’s senior in the Army and Eisenhower saw Patton as a leading mind in tank warfare.

Between 1935 and 1940, Patton and Eisenhower developed a very close friendship to the level where the Patton and Eisenhower families were spending summer vacations together. In 1938, Patton was promoted to full colonel and Eisenhower, then still a lieutenant colonel, openly admitted that he saw Patton as a friend, superior officer, and mentor.

Upon the outbreak of World War II, Patton’s expertise in mechanized warfare was recognized by the Army, and he was quickly made a brigadier general and, less than a year later, a major general. In 1940, Lt. Col. Eisenhower petitioned Major General Patton, offering to serve under the tank corps commander. Patton accepted readily, stating that he would like nothing better than for Eisenhower to be placed under his command.

George Marshall, recognizing that the coming conflict would require all available military talent, had other plans for Eisenhower. In 1941, after five years as a relatively unknown lieutenant colonel, Eisenhower was promoted to colonel and then again to brigadier general in just 6 months time. Patton was still senior to Eisenhower in the Regular Army, but this was soon not the case in the growing conscript army (known as the Army of the United States). In 1942, Eisenhower was promoted to major general and, just a few months later, to lieutenant general — outranking Patton for the first time. When the Allies announced the invasion of North Africa, Major General Patton suddenly found himself under the command of his former subordinate, now one star his superior.

In 1943, Patton became a lieutenant general one month after Eisenhower was promoted to full (four-star) general. Patton was unusually reserved in never publicly commenting on Eisenhower's hasty rise. Patton also reassured Eisenhower that the two men’s professional relationship was unaffected. Privately however, Patton was often quick to remind Eisenhower that his permanent rank in the Regular Army, then still a one-star brigadier general, was lower than Patton’s Regular Army commission as a two-star major general.

When Patton came under criticism for the "Sicily slapping incident" (see above), Eisenhower met privately with Patton and reprimanded him, but then reassured Patton that he would not be sent home to the United States for his conduct. Many historians have speculated that, had it been anybody other than Eisenhower, Patton would have been demoted and court-martialed. Of the two slapped soldiers, one was AWOL from his unit, and reported diarrhea (which could be induced by eating the issue yellow soap). The other had malaria, but had been labeled by the hospital unit as a "battle fatigue" case.

Eisenhower is also credited with giving Patton a command in France, after other powers in the Army had relegated Patton to various unimportant duties in England. It was in France that Patton found himself in the company of another former subordinate, Omar Bradley, who had also become his superior. As with Eisenhower, Patton behaved with professionalism and served under Bradley with distinction.

After the close of World War II, Patton (now a full General) became the occupation commander of Bavaria, and made arrangements for saving the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions of Vienna. However, he was relieved of duty after making comments that the Nazis were nothing more than a normal political party, and ordering former SS units to begin drilling in attempt to gain some respectability.  Patton was relieved of duty after openly revolting against the punitive occupation directive JCS 1067.[15] His view of the war was that with Hitler gone, the German army could be rebuilt into an ally in a potential war against the Russians, whom Patton notoriously despised and considered a greater menace than the Germans. During this period, he wrote that the Allied victory would be in vain if it led to a tyrant worse than Hitler and an army of "Mongolian savages" controlling half of Europe. Eisenhower had at last had enough, relieving Patton of all duties and ordering his return to the United States. When Patton openly accused Eisenhower of caring more about a political career than his military duties, their friendship effectively came to an end. In addition, Patton was highly critical of the victorious Allies use of German forced labor. He commented in his diary "I’m also opposed to sending PW’s to work as slaves in foreign lands (in particular, to France) where many will be starved to death." He also noted "It is amusing to recall that we fought the revolution in defense of the rights of man and the civil war to abolish slavery and have now gone back on both principles".[16]

From time to time, conspiracy theorists have suggested that Eisenhower had Patton assassinated; that the auto accident in which Patton broke his neck was not an accident at all. While there is no evidence to suggest that this is true, Patton's diary does suggest that the General was planning either to retire or resign his commission, and enter politics. Given his popularity with the American people and the respect in which he was held by his men, it is entirely possible he could have won the same nomination his erstwhile friend accepted.  It must be noted that Patton's medals for combat valor make Eisenhower's medals for merit seem pale by comparison,  and that by 1948 many Americans had come to see the Soviet menace as Patton had in 1945.

When the biography of George Patton was aired on the A&E network, a single quote perhaps best described the relationship and destinies of George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower:

[The] course of World War II would lead these two men to very different ends: one to the office of President of the United States and the other to a soldier's grave on a foreign shore.

Near the end of the war (February 1945), Eisenhower ranked the major generals in Europe. Omar Bradley and Carl Spaatz were rated as the best. Bedell Smith was ranked number 2, and Patton number 3, followed by Mark Clark, and Lucian Truscott.

Bradley himself had been asked by Eisenhower to rank all the generals in December of 1945, and he ranked them as follows: Bedell Smith #1, Spaatz #2, Courtney Hodges #3, Elwood Quesada #4, Truscott #5, and Patton #6 (others were also ranked) [17]

These rankings probably included factors other than Patton's success as a battle leader. As to that, Alan Axelrod in his book Patton (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) quotes German Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt as stating "Patton was your best" and, surprisingly, Joseph Stalin as stating that the Red Army could neither have planned nor executed Patton's advance across France. D'Este reports that even Hitler begrudgingly respected Patton, once calling him "that crazy cowboy general."

It should also be pointed out that Spaatz and Quesada were generals in the U.S. Strategic Air Forces, which was still part of the U.S. Army during World War Two. They would be considered U.S. Air Force generals today. Therefore, it may be futile to compare them to Patton, since they were given a very different mission.

 

Patton's Rank Comparison To Eisenhower

 

Rank

 

Patton

 

Eisenhower

 

Component

 

Second Lieutenant June 11, 1909 June 12, 1915 United States Army
First Lieutenant May 23, 1916 July 1, 1916 United States Army
Captain May 15, 1917 May 15, 1917 United States Army
Major January 26, 1918 June 17, 1918 National Army
Lieutenant Colonel March 30, 1918 October 14, 1918 National Army
Colonel October 17, 1918 N/A National Army
Captain (Peacetime reversion) June 30, 1920 June 30, 1920 Regular Army
Major July 1, 1920 July 2, 1920 Regular Army
Lieutenant Colonel March 1, 1934 July 1, 1936 Regular Army
Colonel July 1, 1938 March 11, 1941 Regular Army
Brigadier General October 1, 1940 September 29, 1941 Army of the United States
Major General April 4, 1941 March 27, 1942 Army of the United States
Lieutenant General March 12, 1943 July 7, 1942 Army of the United States
Brigadier General August 16, 1944[18] N/A Regular Army
Major General August 16, 1944[19] N/A Regular Army
General April 14, 1945 February 11, 1943 Army of the United States
General of the Army N/A December 20, 1944 Army of the United States

 

Patton The Movie

 

Patton was the focus of the epic 1970 Academy Award-winning movie Patton, with the title role played by George C. Scott. As a result of the movie and its now-famous opening monologue in front of a gigantic American flag, (based on a real speech he made to Third Army troops shortly before the Normandy invasion), in popular culture Patton has come to symbolize a warrior's ferocity and aggressiveness. Although the movie is based upon Ladislas Farago's Patton: Ordeal and Triumph and Omar Bradley's A Soldier's Story, historians have stated the movie's accuracy could be tinged with some bias, noting the heavy influence of Omar Bradley as senior military advisor and writer. Bradley, played in the movie by Karl Malden, had a tumultuous relationship with Patton and the movie's treatment of him could be seen as hagiographic. Still, many Patton contemporaries, including many who knew him personally or served with him, applauded Scott's portrayal as being extremely accurate in capturing the essence of the man. Other historians have praised the film for its generally accurate and balanced portrayal of Patton as a complex, capable, and flawed leader. Another source used by these and other authors is the "Button Box" manuscript written by Patton's wife, Beatrice Ayer Patton.[20]

The image of Patton in the movie is somewhat misleading since the opening monologue is delivered from a stage in front of what sounds like a very large audience. The real George Patton was not known as a good public speaker. He was very self-conscious and knew that his high-pitched voice risked making him sound like an old grandmother, unlike the gravelly voice of George C. Scott, who confidently delivered a finely tuned and concise speech. The movie writers of Patton's famous speech, however, changed the wording here and there, often for the sake of toning it down and removing the general's obscenities.

The movie was a favorite of President Richard M. Nixon, who watched it shortly before ordering the aerial bombing of Cambodia.

 

Patton's Legacy

  • Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
  • A museum dedicated to Patton, and his efforts training a million soldiers for African desert combat, is located at the site of his Desert Training Center in Chiriaco Summit, California. A statue of Patton can be seen from nearby Interstate 10.
  • Two active United States Army installations are named in memory of General Patton. Patton Barracks in Heidelberg, Germany, houses the headquarters for the United States Army Garrison Heidelberg. Patton Army Air Field, located on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, provides rotary-wing aviation support for Army units in southern Kuwait.
  • The Patton series of tanks, including the M60 Patton are named for him.
  • Patton's son, George S. Patton IV, also became an Army officer and served at the tail end of World War II (he was in his last year at West Point when his father was killed). He also served in Korea and Vietnam, advancing to the rank of major general in his own right. One of his last assignments was as Commander, 2nd Armored Division, U.S. Army, the same unit his father commanded at the start of World War II, thereby making father and son the first Army officers to command the same Army division. Patton retired from active duty in 1980 and retired to a horse farm in Virginia. He died in 2004, aged 80.
  • Patton's granddaughter, Margaret Georgina Patton, became a practicing Catholic nun.

 

His Awards And Decorations

 

At the time of General Patton's death, he was authorized the following awards and decorations. United States awards.

Click on Picture to enlarge

General Patton's Ribbons as they would appear today

 

 

 

 

 

Dates Of Rank

No pin insignia for 2nd Lts. in 1909 Second Lieutenant, Regular Army: June 11, 1909
First Lieutenant, Regular Army: May 23, 1916
Captain, Regular Army: May 15, 1917
Major, National Army: January 26, 1918
Lieutenant Colonel, National Army: March 30, 1918
Colonel, National Army: October 17, 1918
Reverted to permanent rank of Captain, Regular Army: June 30, 1920
Major, Regular Army: July 1, 1920
Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army: March 1, 1934
Colonel, Regular Army: July 1, 1938
Brigadier General, Army of the United States: October 2, 1940
Major General, Army of the United States: April 4, 1941
Lieutenant General, Army of the United States: March 12, 1943
Brigadier General, Regular Army: 1944-08-16[18]
Major General, Regular Army: 1944-08-16[19]
General, Army of the United States: April 14, 1945

 

Famous Quotes By Patton

  • "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."
  • "March toward the sound of gunfire, an easily recognizable sound that they could usually find in front of them"
  • "If a man does his best, what else is there?"
  • "Courage is fear holding on a minute longer."
  • "I'm a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight."
  • "Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way."
  • "May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't."
  • "My men can eat their belts, but my tanks gotta have gas."
  • "Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men."
  • "A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood."
  • "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
  • "Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base."
  • "I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom."
  • "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week."

 

 

Miscellaneous Facts About Patton

  • Patton often claimed to behold visions of his ancestors. He was a staunch believer in reincarnation, and anecdotal evidence indicates that he held himself to be the reincarnation of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, or a Roman legionnaire, or a Napoleonic field marshal, etc. [21]
  • Patton's summer home was located in Hamilton, Massachusetts. The town has since dedicated its central park to Patton, boasting a World War II-era tank in the center of town, and the town's school sports teams play under the name "Generals". In addition, the French Government bestowed two statues to the town commemorating Patton's service to their nation. They were improved in 2003 and sit at the entrance to Patton Park.
  • One of Patton’s revolvers was a .45 caliber Colt Single-Action Army model, serial number 332088, with a 4 ¾ inch barrel, ivory handles, and a nickel-plated finish. It was delivered from the Colt factory to Shelton Payne Arms Company in El Paso, Texas on March 4th, 1916, where it was further customized before then-2nd Lt. Patton took possession of it, shortly before Pershing’s campaign into Mexico against Poncho Villa. It is believed that two notches carved into the left-hand ivory grip are to commemorate Patton’s killing of Villa’s most notorious lieutenants.
  • His other revolver was a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum with a 3 ½ inch barrel, serial number 47022. It was shipped directly to him in Hawaii from the S&W factory on October 18th, 1935. (The large-frame .357 Magnums would later become designated Model 27, when S&W switched to using a numerical system for naming their various models of handguns.) Patton had the ivory grips fitted to it later.
  • During World War II, Patton also carried a Colt Pocket Hammerless semiautomatic pistol. These guns were issued as self-defense weapons to US Army and Air Force senior officers and generals from the 1940s to the 1970s.
  • Patton's bull terrier, Willie (short for William the Conqueror) has been portrayed by some historians as being faithful, yet cowardly, and by others as highly aggressive and fearless.[4][22]
  • Patton was a descendant of a first cousin of George Washington, Frances Gregory. Gregory married Francis Thornton III, a first cousin twice removed of James Madison and three times removed of Zachary Taylor.
  • Patton was named the class exemplar for the United States Air Force Academy's class of 2005, the only non-aviator to receive this honor.
  • In June 2007, David Greer, an executive of Royal Dutch Shell seconded to the Sakhalin-2 project in Russia, resigned after using in a motivational memo several stirring phrases from a speech given by General Patton in 1944, without acknowledging the source.

Notes

References

  1. 8th Cavalry Regiment - Early History
  2. Grand Army of the Republic
  3. Manning, Scott (2006-09-30). What if Japan Invaded Mexico in June of 1942?. Digital Survivors. Retrieved on 2006-11-29.
  4. a b Carlo D'Este. Patton : A Genius for War HarperCollins, (1995).
  5. http://www.pattonhq.com/textfiles/thirdhst.html
  6. http://gi.grolier.com/wwii/wwii_5.html
  7. Province, Charles M. The Unknown Patton. CMP Publications, 2002. p16.
  8. http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/lx.php
  9. a b Whiting, Charles. "48 Hours to Hammelburg: Patton's Secret Mission", Ballantine (New York), 1970
  10. a b Wilson, Joe W. The 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion in World War II". Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1999. p53.
  11. Patton, George S. War As I Knew It. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947. p60.
  12. Brenner, Michael. "After the Holocaust: Rebuilding Jewish Lives in Post War Germany". P. 15, Princeton University Press.
  13. Angelika Königseder and Juliane Wetzel: Waiting for Hope - Jewish Displaced Persons in Post-World War II Germany. Evanston, Illinois, 2001. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0810114771.
  14. http://www.pattonhq.com/unknown/chap10.html
  15. Walter L. Dorn "The Debate Over American Occupation Policy in Germany in 1944-1945" Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 4. (Dec., 1957), pp. 481-501.
  16. John Dietrich. The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (2002) pg. 127
  17. from the Papers of David Eisenhower and Omar Bradley as quoted by Russell F. Weigley in his book Eisenhower's Lieutenants, 1981. p758.
  18. a b Official Date Of Rank of 1943-09-01
  19. a b Official Date Of Rank of 1943-09-02
  20. http://www.washtimes.com/books/20050723-092118-1294r.htm
  21. Patton and Hannibal
  22. D.A. Lande. I Was With Patton, page 271

 

Sources

Primary Sources

  • George S. Patton, Jr., War As I Knew It;Houghton Mifflin
    ISBN 0-395-73529-7 ;(1947/1975); (Soft Cover)
    ISBN 0-395-08704-6 (1947/1975); (Hard Cover)
  • George S. Patton, Jr., The poems of General George S. Patton, Jr.: lines of fire, edited by Carmine A. Prioli. Edwin Mellen Press, 1991.
  • Patton's photographs: war as he saw it. ed by Kevin Hymel Potomac Books,
    ISBN 1-57488-871-4 (2006) (Hard Cover);
    ISBN 1-57488-872-2 (2006) (Soft Cover; Alkali Paper).
  • Blumenson, Martin. The Patton Papers. Vol. 1, 1885-1940.;
    ISBN 0-395-12706-8 (Hard Cover) Houghton Mifflin Co., 1972. 996 pp.
    ISBN 0-306-80717-3 (Soft Cover; Alkali Paper) Da Capo Press; 1998; 996 pp.
  • Blumenson, Martin. The Patton Papers: Vol. 2, 1940-1945.;
    ISBN 0-395-18498-3 (Hard Cover); Houghton Mifflin, 1974. 889 pp.
    ISBN 0-306-80717-3 (Soft Cover; Alkali Paper); Da Capo Press, 1996. 889 pp.
  • Patton, Robert H. The Pattons: A Personal History of An American Family;
    ISBN 1-57488-127-2 (Soft Cover); Crown Publishers (1994); Brassey's (1996) 320 pp.
  • Platt, Anthony M. with O'Leary, Cecilia E. "Bloodlines: Recovering Hitler's Nuremberg Laws, From Patton's Trophy To Public Memorial.";
    ISBN 1-59451-140-3 (paperback); Paradigm Publishers, 2006. 268 pp.

Secondary sources

  • Sobel, Brian. The Fighting Pattons
    ISBN 0-440-23572-2 (Soft Cover) Dell Publishing, 1997; Praeger Publishers Reprint, July, 2000.
  • Axelrod, Alan. Patton: A Biography. Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. 205 pp.
  • Berragan, G. W. "Who Should Bear Primary Responsibility for the Culmination of Patton's Us Third Army on the Moselle in 1944? Are There Lessons for Contemporary Campaign Planning?" Defence Studies 2003 3(3): 161-172. Issn: 1470-2436 Fulltext in Ingenta and Ebsco.
  • Martin Blumenson. Patton: The Man Behind the Legend, 1885-1945 (1985) ISBN 0-688-06082-X
  • Blumenson, Martin. The Battle of the Generals: The Untold Story of the Falaise Pocket - the Campaign That Should Have Won World War II. 1993. 288 pp.
  • Carlo D'Este. Patton : A Genius for War HarperCollins, (1995). 978 pp. ISBN 0-06-016455-7
  • Dietrich, Steve E. "The Professional Reading of General George S. Patton, Jr." Journal of Military History 1989 53(4): 387-418. Issn: 0899-3718 Fulltext in Jstor
  • Essame, H. Patton: A Study in Command. 1974. 280 pp.
  • Stanley P. Hirshson. General Patton: A Soldier's Life. (2002) ISBN 0-06-000982-9
  • Ladislas Farago. Patton: Ordeal and Triumph. ISBN 1-59416-011-2
  • Nye, Roger H. The Patton Mind: The Professional Development of an Extraordinary Leader. Avery, 1993. 224 pp.
  • Pullen, John J. "'You Will Be Afraid.'" American Heritage 2005 56(3): 26-29. Issn: 0002-8738 Fulltext in Ebsco. Patton's March 1945 was made famous by the movie, which sanitized it. Patton used harsh and foul language and castigated cowards, or "psychoneurotics," and those who used self-inflicted wounds to get out of combat. The basic message was "shoot and keep shooting."
  • Rickard, John Nelson. Patton at Bay: The Lorraine Campaign, September to December 1944. Praeger, 1999. 295 pp.
  • Dennis Showalter. Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century (2005). ISBN 978-0-425-20663-8.
  • Smith, David Andrew. George S. Patton: A Biography. Greenwood, 2003. 130 pp.
  • Spires, David N. Patton's Air Force: Forging a Legendary Air-Ground Team. Smithsonian Inst. Pr., 2002. 377 pp.
  • Brenton G. Wallace. Patton & His Third Army ISBN 0-8117-2896-X
  • Russell F. Weigley. Eisenhower's Lieutenants: The Campaign of France and Germany 1944-1945, (1990)
  • Wilson, Dale Eldred. `Treat 'Em Rough'! The United States Army Tank Corps in the First World War. Temple U. Press (1990). 352 pp.

 

 

A Soldier's Burial

by George S. Patton

 

Not midst the chanting of the Requiem Hymn,

Nor with the solemn ritual of prayer,

Neath misty shadows from the oriel glass,

And dreamy perfume of the incensed air

Was he interred;

But the subtle stillness after fight,

And the half light between the night and the day,

We dragged his body all besmeared with mud,

And dropped if, clod-like, back into the clay.

Yet who shall say that he was not content,

Or missed the prayers, or drone of chanting choir,

He who had heard all day the Battle Hymn

Sung on all sides by a thousand throats of fire.

What painted glass can lovelier shadows cost

Than those the evening skies shall ever shed,

While, mingled with their light, Red Battle's Sun

Completes in magic colors o'er our dead

The flag for which they died.

 


 

General Patton's Funeral

 

General George Smith Patton Jr. had survived two great wars, three battle wounds and dozens of narrow battlefield escapes. It seemed likely that he would be able to survive the terrible auto accident in Germany in early December which had broken his neck. Encased in a plaster cast, he fought back from the edge of death. But then, on Friday, December 21, 12 days after the accident, death came suddenly and peacefully. A lung clot killed "Old Blood and Guts" while he slept.

 

 

 

The body of General Patton was taken from the military hospital in Heidelberg to a mountain villa overlooking the old city. There it lay in state all day Saturday. Then his steel-gray, flag-covered casket was carried down a winding road to Heidelberg's Christ Church for a simple funeral ceremony. In a half-track that had helped spearhead Patton's brilliant drive through France, the coffin was carried to a special funeral train. Seventeen guns saluted him and, as the train doors closed, taps was blown by a GI whose division had been saved by Patton's Third Army in the Battle of the Bulge.

    

 

After a slow trip through the night the train eased into the city of Luxembourg. From the station the funeral cortege marched solemnly to an American military cemetery, followed by citizens of Luxembourg who trudged the four miles in bare-headed respect to their "liberator." Then, in the white-crossed cemetery whose rolling land General Patton's army had liberated only a year before, the soldiers' rifles volleyed crisply and the general was laid to rest.

The next day General Patton's widow, who only a few weeks before had planned to celebrate a Christmas furlough with her husband at home, returned from his funeral on Christmas Day alone.

 

 

On December 24, 1945, General George S. Patton Jr. was buried in the cemetery with full military honors. The cortege arrived at the cemetery at 10 a.m. Serving as Honor Guard was an American Battalion consisting of troops of the 1st Infantry Division, the 4th Armored Division, the 9th Infantry Division, and the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Division. Also serving as Honor Guard were troops from the146th and 151st French Infantry Regiments, and troops from the Luxembourg and Belgian Armies. When the convoy stopped before the burial Plot, six American Enlisted Men carried the casket to the grave as the band from the 3rd Army played the Generals March in slow time. Chaplain Colonel Carter officiated at the grave and after the prayers Mrs. Patton at the arm of Lieutenant General Keyes laid an armful of Luxembourg Roses near General Patton's casket. The American flag was folded by pallbearers and presented to Mrs. Patton. After the blessing the Firing Squad. fired the usual three volleys and the bugler blew taps.

 

 

The U.S. Army was represented by Generals MacNarney Burpee, Ross, W. B. Smith, Moses, Balmer, Halley, Nevius Summers and Colonel C.H. Reed. The U.S. Navy was represented by Vice Admiral Glassford. Other high ranking officers were present.

England was represented by Lieutenant General Thomas, Major General Marriott, Lieutenant Colonel Lambert, Lieutenant Colonel Taylor and Major Grieve.

Russia was represented by Lieutenant General Lukianchenko, Major General Kovlov, Colonel Skarin and Major Danton.

France was represented by Lieutenant General Koenig, Lieutenant General Dody, Colonel De La Brotesche and other Officers and Officials.

Belgium was represented by General Ceethels, Colonel Hougardy, Mr. Legrand and Major Berten.

Holland was represented by Colonel De Ruijter van Stevening and Capt. Van Euben.

Yugoslavia was represented by Lieutenant Colonel Polezina.

Czechoslovakia was represented by Major Pospizil/Inlichonsky.

Representing Luxembourg were:

H.R.H. Prince Felix

H.R.H. Hereditary Grand Duke Jean

The Bishop of Luxembourg, Monsignor Joseph Philippe

The Luxembourg Government, lead by Prime Minister Pierre Dupong

Numerous Members of Parliament

Representatives of the Supreme Court

The municipal authorities of Luxembourg City

The Ancients Combatants of World Wars I and II Representatives of Gendarmerie and Police

Many Luxembourg citizens assisted to the General's obsequies

I discovered a mistake in the name of one of the two (not three) Dutch representatives. The first name is: De Ruijter van Stevening and not De Ruijper, (and) Van Steubening.

 

 


 

 

General George S. Patton

 

Soldier, General, Pilot, Athlete, Father, Gun Owner, Hero, Legend

UNLIKE many war heroes who had no intention of ever becoming famous, George Patton decided during childhood that his goal in life was to be a hero. This noble aim was first inspired by listening to his father read aloud for hours about the exploits of the heroes of ancient Greece. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey were particular favorites of young Georgia, who could recite lines from both texts long before he could even lift a sword. These classic images were filled out by recent war stories of living soldiers, particularly those of John Singleton ''Ranger'' Mosby. John often visited the Patton house and would entertain Georgie for hours with tales of his Civil War adventures. With this steady diet of combat regalia, Georgie was convinced that the profession of arms was his calling.

GENERAL PATTON'S PERSONAL SIDE ARMS. THE IVORY HANDLED REVOLVERS BECAME HIS TRADEMARK DURING WW2. TOP SMITH & WESSON .357 MAGNUM. BOTTOM COLT .45 MODEL 1873.

Young George didn't want to be just any soldier; he had his sights fixed on becoming a combat general. He had one major obstacle to overcome, however. Though he was obviously intelligent (his knowledge of classical literature was encyclopedic and he had learned to read military topographic maps by the age of 7), George didn't learn to read until he was 12 years old. It was only at age 12 when George was sent off to Stephen Cutter Clark's Classical School that he began to catch up on his academic skills; he managed to find plenty of time for athletics as well. While at school, the path toward his goal became focused he planned on attending West Point as the next major step in the pursuit of his general's stars.

When he graduated from high school, however, there were no appointments open to West Point in his home state of California, so he enrolled at his father's alma mater, Virginia Military Institute. As a first year "rat" at VMI, young Patton did quite well despite his late start at formal learning. However, spelling and punctuation were to give him problems throughout his life. An appointment to West Point opened the next year and George was awarded it. He reported to ''Beast Barracks'' in 1904. During his career at the Point, George developed into an expert fencer. His football career suffered due to his aggressiveness he suffered three broken noses and two broken arms playing end. Due to deficiencies in mathematics, he had to spend an extra year at West Point, but this deficiency was no detriment to his superb military skills which gained him the cadet adjutancy his final year. When he graduated in the class of 1909 he ranked 46th out of a class of 103. As would befit one with a love of heroics, Lieutenant Patton chose the cavalry as his special branch, no doubt picturing himself leading hell-for-leather charges against the enemy. He also married Bee Ayer, whom he met while at the Point, in 1910. The next two years saw the dashing young cavalry of officer become one of the Army's best polo players.

Patton also represented the United States in the 1912 Olympics at Stockholm in the Modern Pentathlon. This event, which includes five traditional military skills shooting, fencing, swimming, riding, and running was considered a rigorous test of those skills most necessary for an officer. Patton did quite well, but lost points on perhaps his best event shooting. The competitors were allowed to choose whatever pistol they wished, and most used .22 revolvers. Patton, however, felt that he should use a true military weapon, which at that time was a .38 revolver. Consequently, Patton's handgun punched larger holes in the target, which probably cost him points in the shooting finals since he supposedly missed with one round; in actuality the "missing" round had passed through a cluster of holes he had already put in the target. Still, Patton finished fifth overall, an excellent finish in an event traditionally dominated by European marksmen.

After the Olympics, Patton kept busy by visiting the French cavalry school as an observer and studying French sword drill. The latter studies helped him become the U.S. Army's Master of the Sword when he was assigned to teach the use of the blade to fellow officers. Patton, also designed a new U. S cavalry saber the M1913 and authored a training manual for its use, the Army's Saber Regulations 1914. Patton's future fame as a general was based on his emphasis on aggressive attack. True to that form, the Patton saber was designed to serve better on the offensive. He also eliminated the parry maneuver from his manual since he thought it made the user too vulnerable to attack.

These activities kept Patton busy, but he wanted to go to war, so when World War I started in 1914, Patton asked permission to serve with the French cavalry, but the War Department turned him down. In 1915 Lt. Patton was sent to Fort Bliss along the Mexican border where he led routine cavalry patrols until 1916 when he accompanied General Pershing as an aide on his punitive expedition against Poncho Villa into Mexico. While on a foraging mission for the expeditionary force, Patton killed General Cardenas, the head of Villa's bodyguard, and another Villista using the single-action Colt he had purchased in March, 1915. This revolver would become a Patton trademark during World War II. As a result of this action, Patton was promoted to first lieutenant. He also added two notches to his revolver, notches which he would later show to the King and Queen of Great Britain during World War II while recounting to them his adventures as a young officer.

After the United States declared war on Germany, Gen. Pershing, who had been impressed with Patton in Mexico, promoted him to captain and asked him to command his headquarters troop. When Pershing and his staff arrived in England, Patton and his cavalrymen became the first foreign troops to ever be quartered in the Tower of London. Soon, however, Pershing and Patton were in France, where George requested transfer to a combat command. His request was granted and Patton became the first American assigned to the new U. S Tank Corps. With his usual impetuousness, Patton treaded to victory with the British tankers at Cambrai, the world's first major tank battle. A short time later he went through the French tank course. Using his newly acquired knowledge of tanks, Patton organized the American tank school at Langres, France, and trained the first 500 American tankers. During the next few months, Patton received two promotions to lieutenant colonel. Prior to the battle of St. Mihiel, his tankers carried out reconnaissance missions. During the battle itself, Lt. Col. Patton foreshadowed his later armored thrusts as he pushed deep into enemy territory ahead of the American infantry with his primitive Renault tanks, receiving a Silver Star for his efforts.

During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Patton led his tankers into battle once again but was wounded by machine gun fire while looking for help to rescue some tanks which were mired in the mud. For the Meuse-Argonne operations, Patton received a Purple Heart, a Distinguished Service Cross and a promotion to colonel. While Col. Patton was recuperating, However, the war ended. He resumed to the U.S. a few months later to command the U.S. Tank Corps.

Although Patton was an outspoken advocate of the tank as a modern combat weapon, he found that Congress was not willing to appropriate funds to build a large armored force. Still, he carried out experiments to improve radio communications between tanks and helped invent the co-axial tank mount for cannon and machine gun. Despite all of his efforts, however, Patton reverted to his regular rank of captain in 1920. The Tank Corps was dissolved as a separate entity at the same time, with the tanks being assigned to the infantry. Patton was almost immediately promoted to the permanent rank of major and returned to the cavalry and polo.

Finding himself with time on his hands in the early 1920s, Patton decided to acquire another useful military skill he learned to fly. He also displayed his velour off the battlefield in several episodes during these years. Typical of such actions was when he saw three men abducting a woman. Though on his way to a formal dinner and wearing a tuxedo, he leaped out of the car and drew his pistol to rescue her. He carried out another rescue of three boys from a capsized boat in Salem Harbor, which won him the Congressional Life Saving Medal, Second Class.

By 1925, Patton was serving in Hawaii. After Hawaii he finished out the 1920s in Washington, where he pressed for getting increased amour assigned along with horse cavalry the two would complement each other depending on the mission and the terrain. At the time, his arguments made very good sense. He kept fighting for more and better armored vehicles, too. By 1935 Patton had risen to the permanent rank of lieutenant colonel and had returned to Hawaii, this time sailing all the way there on his own boat. While in Hawaii, Patton warned of possible problems from spies among the civilian Japanese population.

Posted to Fort Clark in Texas, Patton, who believed that the U.S. would be involved in a war before long, rigorously trained the men under his command. As the 1930s drew to a close, Patton took command of Fort Myer. When the German Blitzkrieg was unleashed on Europe, he finally convinced Congress that the U.S. needed a more powerful armored striking force and Patton finally got his star. He was promoted to brigadier general and put in command of the new armored brigade, which he had to create by training the men in obsolete tanks.

As Patton's force expanded, it became the 2nd Armored Division and Patton earned the rank of major general. Patton's famous "blood and guts" speeches of World War II began at this time in an amphitheater he had built to accommodate the entire division. His ability to turn up unexpectedly anywhere in the divisional training area became legendary at this time, too, as it would later in the 3rd Army. Using his Stimson Voyager he often commanded on maneuver while flying overhead where he could observe the entire area. Much of the credit for light observation planes coming into use in the Army can be attributed to this training technique of Patton's. He soon turned the 2nd Armored Division into a formidable fighting implement, at one point keeping them in the field almost constantly for 17 weeks.

BRITISH GENERAL MONTGOMERY (RIGHT) WAS PATTON'S GREATEST RIVAL IN WW2. GENERAL OMAR BRADLEY STANDS IN THE MIDDLE.

They also carried the stamp of high morale and drive for which Patton's units were to become famous. Even Patton's wife Bee got in on the act by writing The March Song of the Armored Force for the unit.

As the armored forces expanded, so did Patton's responsibilities as he was given command of the Ist U. S. Armored Corps. While plans for Operation Torch (the Allied invasion of North Africa) progressed early in 1942, Patton was sent to the American southwest to train his tankers for desert warfare. Patton drove the tankers hard, sometimes expecting them to go without sleep for 36 hours at a stretch, but they learned their craft his tankers would be used to deliver the first American jolt to the Germans.

In November 1942, Patton and his men participated in the invasion of North Africa. Before an all-out assault by Patton's tanks proved necessary, however, the French surrendered. As much as Patton loved battle, he was happy not to have to fight his old friends the French. Both the French and the Sultan of Morocco were impressed by Patton's style, which helped gain their cooperation after the American forces had occupied Morocco.

After the disastrous American defeat at the Kasserine Pass, Gen. Eisenhower knew that a hard driver was needed to recoup American morale and to force back the Germans. He immediately promoted Patton to lieutenant general and put him in charge of the 2nd Corps, which had suffered the defeat. Patton's first job was to restore the morale and discipline of the dispirited troops of his new command. He set about this mission with a vengeance. He began at the bottom by mandating strict enforcement of military rules governing hygiene and attire. Also, officers in the 2nd Corps were now ordered to set an example for their troops and lead them from the front, rather than safely from the rear.

According to Patton, "A man of diffident manner will never inspire confidence."' Patton's hard-nosed discipline and flamboyance succeeded in "waking up'' his men and won him their respect. He always wore his ivory-handled revolvers and medals, partly because he was a great showman, but primarily because having his men see all the trappings of rank let them know they were commanded by a fighting general. Patton also knew that loyalty to a leader would inspire men to take on objectives against all odds; his troops proved this theory correct again and again. Within a few months of taking over the 2nd Corps, Patton had galvanized them and by March 1943 their counteroffensive had pushed the Germans back, while Patton's British arch-rival Montgomery hit the Germans from the East.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Patton was given command of the new U.S. 7th Army in April 1943. He immediately threw himself into training his new command for the amphibious invasion of Sicily. When the invasion was launched, Patton's 7th Army was given the job of liberating the western half of the island, while Montgomery's 8th British Army took the eastern half. When a German counterattack delayed the advance, Patton put his command principles into practice by going ashore and personally taking command on the beach. Moving as far forward as possible, he joined a group of Rangers and helped engage the advancing Germans. With Patton driving them, the 7th broke out of the beachhead and advanced ahead of schedule, capturing Palermo and then driving on to Messina ahead of Montgomery.

Despite this victory, Patton found himself in trouble with military leaders after he slapped a soldier whom he considered a coward and a malingerer. There was pressure from some superiors in Washington and an ignorant public to have Patton relieved of duty. No one bothered to ask the men of the 7th Army what they thought. To a man, they considered the criticisms unjustified. Despite Patton's aggressiveness, they trusted him in combat. And trust in a commander wins more battles than all the world's hearts and minds put together. Fortunately, Eisenhower and Chief of Staff Marshall recognized Patton's virtues as a fighting general, too, and refused to dismiss him. In the end, Patton made a courageous public apology for the incident.

While most of the 7th Army's divisions were transferred to the 5th Army for the fighting in Italy, Patton was in Palermo awaiting a new assignment. He still proved useful, though, since the Germans feared him above all other Allied generals. They expected him to lead a major invasion. When he was sent to Corsica, the Germans were convinced he would lead an invasion of southern France. When he was sent to Cairo, they feared for an invasion through the Balkans. These diversions caused the Germans to tie down a great many troops to counter the Patton bogeyman.

In January 1944, Patton was finally ordered to England to form his new 3rd Army which he would lead to glory during the campaign to liberate Europe. Now an old hand at getting his troops in fighting trim, he began to mould the fledgling 3rd Army into one of the greatest fighting forces in American history. The 3rd Army was not used during Operation Overlord (the invasion of France) but still served a useful purpose, since Hitler and many members of the Abwehr (German military intelligence) believed that Normandy could not be the primary invasion site if Patton was not committed to the battle. The German command, therefore, held back critical Panzer divisions which could have opposed the landings. Eisenhower, knowing Patton's value at exploiting an enemy's weakness and driving through it, was holding Patton in reserve to breakout from the beachhead.

PATTON (LEFT) WITH EISENHOWER (CENTRE) AND OMAR BRADLEY (RIGHT)

While the 3rd Army trained in Britain, Patton studied the terrain of Normandy first hand. Actually, Patton had already mapped much of the area on jaunts when he was in France previously, so he was already familiar with the battlefield which would make the 3rd Army famous. Finally, on 28 July, Eisenhower turned Patton loose and the 3rd Army came sweeping across Northern France spearheaded by the 4th Armoured Division. Patton and his 3rd Army were turning the German's famed Blitzkrieg tactics against them, covering 600 miles in two weeks. During the first four weeks of the breakout, Patton was all over the front as his 3rd Army advanced so fast that entire German divisions were often bypassed to be mopped up by following elements.

One example of Patton's personal heroism occurred when a tanker was knocked off his vehicle by a shell fragment. Patton applied pressure to an artery on the man's arm until a corpsman arrived, probably saving the tanker's life. Another time he personally saved two Frenchmen from a collapsed building. Finally, as the 3rd Army approached the fortified city of Metz, their fuel and ammunition began to run out and the advance ground to a halt. Eventually, however' Metz fell to the 3rd Army-the first time in modern history the fortress had fallen. After the fall of Metz, the 3rd Army pushed on into the Saar Basin. When the German Ardennes offensive hit to the north and threatened to slice through the U.S. lines and drive to the sea, it was Patton who, at the gloomy meeting called by Eisenhower to evaluate the situation, saw that the German attack could be turned into an American victory if the Germans could be hit from the rear.

Calling upon the iron will and discipline he had instilled in his troops, Patton disengaged elements of the 3rd Army and hurled them northward into the worst winter to descend upon Europe in years. He did this in an attempt to hit the Germans in the flank and relieve Bastogne. Everyone outside the 3rd Army had felt this feat was impossible, but this was where the willingness of the 3rd Army to perform the impossible for their leader paid off. By 5 February 1945, the 3rd Army was back on the offensive all along the Saar front as Patton drove into Germany. Patton's oft-quoted dictum, "Grab 'em by the nose and kick 'em in the ass" was in full play. His tactic was to hit the Germans in the front lines and then drive into their flanks and rear with his armoured units. In so doing, his troops succeeded in cutting off entire German divisions during this advance. Hundreds of thousands of German troops were taken prisoner.

When the 3rd Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp, though, Patton slowed his pace. He instituted the policy, later adopted by other commanders, of forcing local German civilians to tour the camps. By the time the armistice finally came, the 3rd Army, now consisting of more than a half-million men, had liberated or conquered 81,522 square miles of territory and inflicted 1,443,888 casualties on the enemy.

GENERAL PATTON TAKEN SHORTLY BEFORE HIS UNTIMELY DEATH.

Patton, however, was not ready to rest on his laurels. He requested a transfer to the Pacific theatre so he could fight the Japanese. The request was, of course, denied, respectfully. The mind boggles at the thought of Patton serving under Macarthur! One congressman even proposed that Patton be made Secretary of War, but Patton's lack of diplomacy guaranteed the suggestion was never taken seriously. Back in Germany, while on occupation duty after a visit to the States during which he was welcomed with parades as a conquering hero, Patton's outspokenness got him into trouble yet again when he tried justifying the use of ex-Nazis in important administrative positions during the occupation of Bavaria. Patton had also been willing to make known his view that the United States and Britain should re-arm the Germans and fight the Russians.

As a result of his ''unofficial'' remarks, he was relieved of the command of his beloved 3rd Army.Though he had been showered with honors when he had returned to the United States, there was obviously a great deal of discussion in Washington about what to do with Patton now that the war was over. Invaluable in war, Patton's temperament was somewhat of a liability in peacetime. In many ways, it would have been fitting for Patton the warrior to have died on the battlefield, but that was not to be. Despite the fact that throughout his military career he had constantly exposed himself to danger, it was a traffic accident, not a bullet, which took Patton's life. In December 1945, his car was hit by a truck and he was severely injured. On 21 December he died from these injures and was buried in Luxembourg a country which still considers George S. Patton its liberator.

Since his death, Patton's reputation has continued to grow until he is now considered by many the greatest military commander in U. S history. The praise levered on him by the men of 3rd Army has nearly drowned out any lingering criticisms about his brashness. Even today, 3rd Army veterans are proud to make it known that they served under Patton. George Patton's ambition as a boy was to be a general, a hero and a warrior. History has proven that he succeeded magnificently at all three.

 

 

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Last Updated

02/10/2014

 

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