George S Patton Jr.

George S Patton Jr.

In 1942 George Patton stepped forth like some warrior of old to lead and inspire vast forces of men at a pace never equaled in military history. No American leader was more colorful and more successful. General George S Patton Jr. dedicated to the glory and the victory that was won, the name assembled the victories are history.

Background

It’s not easy to believe that George S Patton Jr. was once just Georgie. From his earliest years, he believed he was going to be General George S Patton Jr. His imagination was stirred by stories of great heroes of the past told by his father. Patton was described as an intelligent boy and was widely read on classical military history, particularly the exploits of HannibalScipio AfricanusJulius CaesarJoan of Arc, and Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as those of family friend Confederate General John Singleton Mosby, who frequently stopped by the Patton family home when Patton was a child

His military career began at VMI and at West Point he proved himself a model cadet, although like Washington and Napolean he could not spell. He established the first football team for soldiers to keep them from wasting their off hours and drinking and gambling.

He studied fencing and designed the M1913 Cavalry Saber, more commonly known as the “Patton Saber”, and competed in modern pentathlon in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.

Patton first saw combat during 1916’s Pancho Villa Expedition, America’s first military action using motor vehicles. He saw action in World War I as part of the new United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces: he commanded the U.S. tank school in France, then led tanks into combat and was wounded near the end of the war.  

Tanker

World War I convinced him that the tank would someday come into its own. He studied it, rode into battle on it, and became the United States first tank commander. He would always be linked with the weapon that symbolized his driving overwhelming personality.

After the war, he attended a tank school at Fort Meade alongside Dwight D Eisenhower. The two young officers shared a deep military interest in the weapon.

World War 2

In November 1942, in command of American forces for the invasion of North Africa, Lieutenant General George s Patton Jr. displayed bold leadership and left a favorable impression on French and Arabs alike. Long-range battle plans could now be formulated. Plans which would cast America’s toughest general in a leading role.

The battle soon moved to the east to Tunisia. His tankers whom he roused to a pitch of fighting spirit entered the fray. Allied leaders such as General Alexander sensed Patton’s remarkable military gifts, his judgment, his sure instinct for what the enemy would do.

Patton’s set a tank trap for Field Marshal Rommel. Rommel marched right into it. His tenth Panzer Division lost half its 60 tanks, He retreated and never attempted a counter-attack.

Patton’s reputation grew he looked forward eagerly to his next campaign. He was selected to command a new army, the Seventh Army, slated for the conquest of Sicily. An order of the day from Patton to his men “Remember that we as attackers have the initiative, we must retain this tremendous advantage by always attacking, rapidly, ruthlessly, viciously without rest, keep punching. God is with us, we shall win.”

“Attack, attack, and when in doubt attack again.” Patton’s major principle for fighting battles or a war, his chief mission he believed was to arouse the morale of his men. He urged them on certain that speed and boldness could shorten the war. Like his Bristish counterpart Monty, he believed in showmanship but he was aware that if the act could not be carried off in fine style the men would see through it. Both leaders used every means to inspire the troops of their vast command. Sicily proved to be a model campaign, sound tactics and a fighting spirit won the island in 38 days.

After the infamous slapping incident and subsequent drubbing down Patton’s role in the D-Day invasion in Normandy was in doubt. In what may have been his greatest role, he appeared in Great Britain. He then was assigned a key role in Operation Fortitude, the Allies disinformation campaign for Operation Overlord.  The new troops freshly arriving from the U.S. heard him give numerous speeches that everyone who has seen the movie Patton will recall. The new troops called him “old blood and guts”, the old-timers referred to him as the old man, who knew more about fighting than any man alive. He called a spade a spade, he told the troops to get mad and stay mad, they listened.

After D-Day behind Bradley’s first army, another army assembled. It would be the Third Army with plenty of armor and led by Patton. This outfit was like its commander fast hard-hitting, spirited. When the Cherbourg Peninsula breakout began, a rolling advance, an all-out smashing attack, the Patton version of a German blitzkrieg. The old man had said the harder we push the more Nazis we’ll kill and the more Nazis we kill the fewer of our men will be killed, pushing means fewer casualties. The Third Army took the old man at his word and found he was right.

France

Sr. Melo was the beginning of a long list of towns occupied by Germans one day, liberated the next. At the head of a vast crusading army, a man fulfilling a destiny he had dreamed of since early youth, the attacks now were in all directions at once toward the south and north and east toward Germany. The Third advanced like a tidal wave. The enemy’s response was fear. He told his men in “That in the last 2 weeks the Third advanced farther and faster than any other army in history. My intention is to move farther and faster still.” Outrunning its maps, the Third Army crossed the Senne and in his words, he was touring France with an army. He was everywhere at once, covering the great distances within his command. His use of light aircraft to tour the battleground exemplified his eagerness to adopt any new means of increasing efficiency. Patton saw nothing in the way, he was ready to push on into the heart of Germany. Struggling to keep up with his fast-moving front was a miraculous supply effort known as the Red Ball Express, but now Patton’s supply lines were strained to the utmost.

Winter was approaching and other Allied armies were feeling the pinch. The third was ordered to hold up to take the defensive, nothing but defeat itself could have made the general more depressed. This was a difficult time for an army built to roll, the tension for Patton was finally eased he was assured by his old friend Eisenhower that the Third would eventually receive adequate supplies to resume what they had begun. Patton urged his leaders to keep high the morale created during the offensive. He himself delivered the pep talks for which he was famous, giving credit, instilling pride, urging men to even greater deeds.

Metz and the Battle of the Bulge

Then the green light. In 400 years, Metz a fortress city had withstood every assault, Metz was no cheap victory but the fall of this highly regarded fortification bore out Patton’s belief that no defensive position had ever been successfully defended. With General Walker at the front, Patton now planned a great drive toward the highly reputed Siegfried line, but an instinct for what the enemy will do had alerted him to a new danger. Field Marshal Von Rundstedt struck with 20 divisions on a 40-mile front.

This became the Battle of the Bulge. Patton was asked to speed what help he could. Could it be in three days Ike asked? Patton’s armored troops would make it in two days, dashing 100 miles over icy roads to Bastogne, then at the heart of a major attack. Patton’s concentrated armored power was slowed by terrible weather which prevented a much-needed air attack. A religious man who happened frequently prayed, this time a prayer went out on thousands of printed cards for all his men to join him. “Almighty and merciful Father grant us fair weather for battle.” Now the enemy was on the defensive, in Patton’s book they were destined to fail. The third broke the back of the German offensive and began preparations for their own.

Germany

The old man pushed them harder than anyone had pushed them before and always the results were more than they might have expected for a commander who was so obviously a winner, they would do the impossible. Patton believed in decorations, in recognizing and exalting the heroic qualities of his men and they sensed his sincerity when he used words like duty, patriotism and loyalty. To him, these words had real meaning. The Siegfried line in Patton’s words “this monument to the stupidity of man “cracked easily. The famous Third was now on the loose again on a spring rampage that would bring the war to a close before summer. Again Patton’s army was going beyond expectations. The enemy believed Patton would pause at the Rhine, instead, he went right across. Now along a wide front, his divisions fought toward the final goal, always he took time out to give credit where it really belonged to the men.

Patton never dwelt long on the horrors of war but as his Third Army overtook concentration camps in Germany he saw horror of a new kind. Victory’s piled up as the Third turned southwest to link up with Soviet forces in the Danube Valley.

Between becoming operational in Normandy on August 1, 1944, and the end of hostilities on May 9, 1945, the Third Army was in continuous combat for 281 days. In that time, it captured 81,500 square miles (211,000 km2) of territory, including more than 12,000 cities and towns. The Third Army claimed to have killed, wounded, or captured 1,811,388 German soldiers, six times its strength in personnel. 

Postwar

Patton was appointed as military governor of Bavaria, where he led the Third Army in denazification efforts. Patton attracted controversy as military governor when it was noted that several former Nazi Party members continued to hold political posts in the region. When responding to the press about the subject, Patton repeatedly compared Nazis to Democrats and Republicans in noting that most of the people with experience in infrastructure management had been compelled to join the party in the war, causing negative press stateside and angering Eisenhower.

In September 28, 1945, after a heated exchange with Eisenhower over his statements, Patton was relieved of his military governorship. He was relieved of command of the Third Army on October 7, and in a somber change of command ceremony, Patton concluded his farewell remarks, “All good things must come to an end. The best thing that has ever happened to me thus far is the honor and privilege of having commanded the Third Army.

Patton’s Death

While on his way to a hunting trip near Speyer, the car Patton was traveling in was hit by a U.S. Army truck. Patton hit his head on the glass partition in the back seat of the car and later it was discovered that he had a compression fracture and dislocation of the cervical third and fourth vertebrae, resulting in a broken neck and cervical spinal cord injury that rendered him paralyzed from the neck down.

Patton spent most of the next 12 days in spinal traction to decrease the pressure on his spine. He died in his sleep of pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure at about 6:00 pm on 21 December 1945.

On 24 December Patton was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial alongside some wartime casualties of the Third Army, in accordance with his request to, “be buried with [his] men

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