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The Funeral Of General S. Patton Jr.

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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

 

Birth:  

Nov. 11, 1885

Death:  

Dec. 21, 1945

 

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 American 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.

 

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"General's Row." (Left to right) Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz, Lieutenant General George Patton, Lieutenant General James Doolittle, Major General Hoyt Vandenberg and Brigadier General O.P. Weyland.

After Services at Christ Church in Heidleburg, Germany, the photo shows the Patton cortege heading for the station where a special train took the General's body to The American National Cemetery in Luxembourg.

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General Patton's journey into history began in Mannheim, Germany on December 9, 1945, when the sedan in which he was riding ran headlong into an army truck. He was taken to the army hospital outside of Heidelberg, and although his injuries appeared to be minor, he passed away on December 21. He lay in state at the Villa Reiner, one of the stately homes in Heidelberg. Funeral services were conducted at Christ Church, afterward his body was placed aboard a special funeral train for the trip to Luxembourg for burial at the Military Cemetery in nearby Hamm, where 3,000 American soldiers lie, many having served under General Patton in the 3rd Army. He was buried on December 24th following a funeral service at the Luxembourg Cathedral. In spite of the pouring rain, thousands lined the streets from the central railroad along the tracks to the cemetery. Representatives of nine countries and the highest ranking officers of the American troops stationed in Europe followed the coffin. Present were delegations from Luxembourg, France, Belgium, England, Italy, The Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. France and Belgium provided the honor guard. While the gun carriage with the coffin was on its way from the railroad station to the cemetery, a French battery fired a seventeen-round volley of salute. After a brief religious service George Patton Jr. was lowered into the grave

 

 

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Last Updated

02/10/2014

 

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