George S. Patton
Canada Army general
George S. Patton
Biography
View basic information about George S. Patton.
Deceased
21 December 1945
home town
San Gabriel Township, California
Death Place
Heidelberg, Germany
Career Highlights
Some highlights of George S. Pattons career
Label
George s. patton
Alternative names
Patton, George
Nickname
The old man
Resting place
Luxembourg City
Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial
Awards
Distinguished Service Medal (U.S. Army)
Distinguished Service Cross (Canada)
Silver Star
Purple Heart
Bronze Star Medal
Distinguished Service Medal (Army)
Légion d'honneur
Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
Legion of Merit
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Service summary of George S. Patton
Bronze Star
Order of Koutusoff, 1st Grade
Photo Albums
Popular photos of George S. Patton
Relationships
View family, career and love interests for George S. Patton
News
News abour George S. Patton from around the web
Fort Snelling Military Museum gets orders to move out - Minnesota Public Radio
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His job as a private first class involved working with engineers on demolitions in France and Germany under the direction of the legendary General George Patton. "For me, it's hard to think that all this has deteriorated so fast and these volunteers
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Five King City golfers play in OGA series - The Regal Courier
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Five King City Men's Golf Club members stomped their feet so hard at the Spring Hill OGA Senior Tour Series in Albany that the golf gods had to listen. George Patton, Jack Croll, Frank Hoehna, Jim Trees and Jay Robinson answered the
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The beginning of the end of the welfare state - WND.com
Google News - over 5 years
George Patton's 3rd Army tanks made a hole and sped through the German lines, even making it to the east side of Moselle River, the last natural defensive barrier before the German homeland. The order came to stop in their tracks
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WW II Then and Now: Stationed in the desert - Canton Repository
Google News - over 5 years
George Patton. In his autobiography, Rex (standing, left) calls this photo “Dominick and friends.” By Anonymous “World War II was in full swing. My buddies were getting drafted or enlisting. I figured, what the heck, I might as well go in too,” said
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Military notes: Museum will honor Gen. George Patton's veterans - The Desert Sun
Google News - over 5 years
George Patton at an 11 am ceremony on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The museum is inviting Coachella Valley residents who fought under Patton's command and their family members to register for the event by calling (760) 341-3455 to receive a “VIP” pass for
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Sharpening The Blade - Blackanthem.com
Google News - over 5 years
First Army's lineage includes some very recognizable names such as "Black" Jack Pershing, George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Omar Bradley, and George Patton. It also boasts some significant historical milestones including the reduction of the Saint
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VIDEO: Eli on preseason loss to Panthers - New York Daily News (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
He reminds me of George Patton! Dye, can you give me three reasons why you are a Giants fan? How about one? Are you a Giants fan? I'm not saying that you don't have the right to voice your opinion, that's all good, but I've never seen a positive post
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Smell like Old Blood and Guts: US Army launch cologne named after Gen George ... - Daily Mail
Google News - over 5 years
By Daily Mail Reporter Well now you can it seems, courtesy of the US Army, who have licensed an official fragrance called Patton after eccentric World War II hero General George S. Patton. The cologne, by Parfumologie, is being sold for army veterans
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Obama shellacked again - Boston Herald
Google News - over 5 years
George Patton America is a center-right nation but we will, under the right conditions, vote for a liberal — even an extreme liberal. We might vote for a lush, a Lothario, perhaps even a lunatic. But there is one thing Americans will not abide: A
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Palm Desert, California - San Diego Reader
Google News - over 5 years
Originally inhabited by Cahuilla Indian farmers, it then served as training grounds for General George Patton's Third Army. After World War II, a Los Angeles developer began to develop the Palm Desert area into his vision of a dream community
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Whosr money is dirty or clean, anyway? - Times of Swaziland
Google News - over 5 years
General George Patton said, "it is the risk that makes the chase exciting." General Colin Powell said; "once the dice have left your hands, there is nothing to do but watch how they come up
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Learn something new at Osher summer lectures - Hilton Head Island Packet
Google News - over 5 years
Topics include: "Wonderful World of Coney Island," Tuesday, University of South Carolina Beaufort Hilton Head Gateway campus; "Satchmo: The life of Louis Armstrong," Wednesday, Pineland Station, Hilton Head; "General George Patton," Thursday,
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Eclectic collection reveals many interests - Atlanta Journal Constitution
Google News - over 5 years
Martin Luther King Jr., John Belushi, Amelia Earhart, George Patton and, because he is a Southern boy from Alabama, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Patton and Lee, now those two and the things they touched, he says, are among his favorites
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Cemetery tour remembers leaders of past - Vadnais Heights Press
Google News - over 5 years
George Patton and authored a prayer that may have changed the course of World War II. As St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church celebrates its 150th anniversary, church members are remembering leaders who helped shape the history of the church,
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WWII veteran from Harvey fought in Patton's Army - NOLA.com
Google News - over 5 years
George Patton's 3rd Army. "Here I was, leaving mama and papa, hoping they would be there when I come back from the war," Loyacano said. A year after training, he boarded the English ship Aquatina and left New York for Scotland
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The POW and the watch - Tbo.com
Google News - over 5 years
When George Patton's Third Army later freed the nearby town of Moosburg, Woehrle checked the time on his watch and wrote notes on an envelope. By AUSTIN CONSIDINE | New York Times News Service On April 29, 1945, Allied captives at Stalag VII A,
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Two King City golfers are sure-fire winners - The Regal Courier
Google News - over 5 years
WINNERS ALL AROUND —At the recent Super Seniors Golf Tournament, George Patton (left) was the low net winner in his flight and won the trophy on the table, and Jim Trees came in third in the flight; both won gift certificates
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of George S. Patton
1885
Patton was born on November 11, 1885, in San Gabriel, California, to George Smith Patton Sr. and his wife Ruth Wilson.
Patton had a younger sister, Anne. The family was of Irish, Scots-Irish, English, and Welsh ancestry. His great grandmother came from an aristocratic Welsh family, descended from many Welsh lords of Glamorgan, which had an extensive military background. Patton believed he had former lives as a soldier and took pride in mystical ties with his ancestors. Though not directly descended from George Washington, Patton traced some of his English colonial roots to George Washington's great-grandfather. He was also descended from England's King Edward I through Edward's son Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent. Family belief held the Pattons were descended from sixteen barons who had signed the Magna Carta. Patton also descended from Hugh Mercer, who had been killed in the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolution. Patton's paternal grandfather was Colonel George Smith Patton, who commanded the Confederate 22nd Virginia Infantry under Jubal Early in the Civil War and was killed in the Third Battle of Winchester, while his great uncle Colonel Waller T. Patton was killed while leading the Confederate 7th Virginia Infantry in Pickett's Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. Patton's father graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), became a lawyer and later the district attorney of Los Angeles County. Patton's maternal grandfather was Benjamin Davis Wilson, who had been Mayor of Los Angeles and a successful merchant. The family was prosperous, and George Patton spent his childhood on the family's estate.
Born in 1885 to a family with an extensive military background (with members serving in the United States Army and Confederate States Army), Patton attended the Virginia Military Institute, and later the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
He participated in the 1912 Olympic modern pentathlon, where he placed fifth. After the Olympics Patton studied fencing in France, and designed the M1913 Cavalry Saber, more commonly known as the "Patton Sword." The War Department ordered 20,000 of them in 1913. Later the same year Patton was assigned as a student and "Master of the Sword," the top instructor in a new course in swordsmanship, at the Mounted Service School in Fort Riley, Kansas. It was here he wrote "Saber Exercise 1914," using easy-to-follow steps accompanied by detailed illustrations. The following year he wrote a more informal guide, "Diary of the Instructor in Swordsmanship," at the request of his students who wanted more detailed training guidance. Patton first saw combat during the Pancho Villa Expedition in 1916, taking part in America's first military action using motor vehicles. He later joined the newly formed United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) and saw action in World War I, commanding the U.S. tank school in France before being wounded while leading tanks into combat near the end of the war. In the interwar period, Patton remained a central figure in the development of armored warfare doctrine in the U.S. Army, serving in numerous staff positions throughout the country. Rising through the ranks, he commanded the 2nd Armored Division at the time of the American entry into World War II.
1902
During a family summer trip to Catalina Island in 1902, Patton met Beatrice Banning Ayer, the daughter of Boston industrialist Frederick Ayer. The two wed on May 26, 1910 in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts.
They had three children, Beatrice Smith (born March 1911), Ruth Ellen (born February 1915), and George Patton IV (born December 1923). Patton never seriously considered a career other than the military. At the age of seventeen he wrote a letter to Senator Thomas R. Bard, seeking an appointment to the United States Military Academy. Bard required Patton to complete an entrance exam. Fearing a poor performance, Patton and his father applied to several universities with Reserve Officer's Training Corps programs. Patton was accepted to Princeton University but eventually decided on the Virginia Military Institute.
1903
He attended VMI from 1903 to 1904 and struggled with reading and writing but performed exceptionally in uniform and appearance inspection as well as military drill, earning the admiration of fellow cadets and the respect of upperclassmen.
While at VMI, Patton became a member of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity.
1904
On March 3, 1904, after Patton continued letter-writing and good performance in the entrance exam, Bard recommended him for West Point.
In his plebe year at West Point, Patton adjusted easily to the routine. Still, his academic performance was so poor that he was forced to repeat his first year after failing mathematics. Studying throughout his summer break, Patton returned and showed substantial academic improvement. For the remainder of his career at the academy, Patton excelled at military drills though his academic performance remained average. He was cadet sergeant major his junior year, and cadet adjutant his senior year. He also joined the football team but injured his arm and ceased playing on several occasions, instead trying out for the Sword Team and track and field, quickly becoming one of the best swordsmen at the academy. Patton graduated from the academy ranked 46 out of 103.
1909
He graduated from West Point on June 11, 1909 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the cavalry.
Patton's first posting was with the 15th Cavalry at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, where he established himself as a hard-driving leader who impressed superiors with his dedication.
1911
In late 1911, Patton was transferred to Fort Myer, Virginia, where many of the Army's senior leaders were stationed.
Befriending Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Patton served as his aide at social functions on top of his regular duties as quartermaster for his troop.
1912
For his skill with running and fencing, Patton was selected as the Army's entry for the first modern pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden.
Of 42 competitors, Patton placed twenty-first on the pistol range, seventh in swimming, fourth in fencing, sixth in the equestrian competition, and third in the footrace, finishing fifth overall and first among the non-Swedish competitors. There was some controversy concerning his performance in the pistol shooting competition, where he used a .38 caliber pistol while most of the other competitors chose .22 caliber firearms. He claimed that the holes in the paper from his early shots were so large that some of his later bullets passed through them, but the judges decided he missed the target completely once. Modern competitions on this level frequently now employ a moving background to specifically track multiple shots through the same hole. If his assertion was correct, Patton would likely have won an Olympic medal in the event. The judges' ruling was upheld. Patton's only comment on the matter was:
Following the 1912 Olympics, Patton traveled to Saumur, France, where he learned fencing techniques from Adjutant Charles Cléry, a French "master of arms" and instructor of fencing at the cavalry school there.
Bringing these lessons back to Fort Meyer, Patton redesigned saber combat doctrine for the U.S. cavalry, favoring thrusting attacks over the standard slashing maneuver and designing a new sword for such attacks.
1913
He was temporarily assigned to the Office of the Army Chief of Staff, and in 1913, the first 20,000 of the Model 1913 Cavalry Saber—popularly known as the "Patton sword"—were ordered.
Patton then returned to Saumur to learn advanced techniques before bringing his skills to the Mounted Service School at Fort Riley, Kansas, where he would be both a student and a fencing instructor. He was the first Army officer to be designated "Master of the Sword," a title denoting the school's top instructor in swordsmanship.
Arriving in September 1913, he taught fencing to other cavalry officers, many of whom were senior to him in rank.
1915
Patton graduated from this school in June 1915.
He was originally intended to return to the 15th Cavalry, which was bound for the Philippines. Fearing this assignment would dead-end his career, Patton traveled to Washington, D.C. during 11 days of leave and convinced influential friends to arrange a reassignment for him to the 8th Cavalry at Fort Bliss, Texas, anticipating that instability in Mexico might boil over into a full-scale civil war.
In 1915 Patton was assigned to border patrol duty with A Company of the 8th Cavalry, based in Sierra Blanca.
During his time in the town, Patton took to wearing his M1911 Colt .45 in his belt rather than a holster. His firearm discharged accidentally one night in a saloon, so he swapped it for an ivory-handled Colt Single Action Army revolver, a weapon that would later become an icon of Patton's image.
He transferred to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for a brief time later in 1915.
In March 1916 Mexican forces loyal to Pancho Villa crossed into New Mexico and raided the border town of Columbus. The violence in Columbus killed several Americans. In response, the U.S. launched a punitive expedition into Mexico against Villa. Chagrined to discover that his unit would not participate, Patton appealed to expedition commander John J. Pershing, and was named his personal aide for the expedition. This meant Patton would have some role in organizing the effort, and his eagerness and dedication to the task impressed Pershing. Patton modeled much of his leadership style after Pershing, who favored strong, decisive actions and commanding from the front. As an aide, Patton oversaw the logistics of Pershing's transportation and acted as his personal courier. In mid-April, Patton asked Pershing for the opportunity to command troops, and was attached to Troop C of the 13th Cavalry to assist in the manhunt for Villa and his subordinates.
1916
In the meantime, Patton was selected to participate in the 1916 Summer Olympics, but that olympiad was cancelled due to World War I.
His initial combat experience came on May 14, 1916 in what would become the first motorized attack in the history of U.S. warfare.
A force under his command of ten soldiers and two civilian guides with the 6th Infantry in three Dodge touring cars surprised three of Villa's men during a foraging expedition, killing Julio Cárdenas and two of his guards. It was not clear if Patton personally killed any of the men, but he was known to have wounded all three. The incident garnered Patton both Pershing's good favor and widespread media attention as a "bandit killer."
Shortly after, he was promoted to first lieutenant while a part of the 10th Cavalry on May 23, 1916.
Patton remained in Mexico until the end of the year. President Woodrow Wilson forbade the expedition from conducting aggressive patrols deeper into Mexico, so it remained encamped for much of that time. In October Patton briefly retired to California after being burned by an exploding gas lamp.
1917
He returned from the expedition permanently in February 1917.
After the Villa Expedition, Patton was detailed to Front Royal, Virginia, to oversee horse procurement for the Army, but Pershing intervened on his behalf. After the United States entered World War I, and Pershing was named commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) on the Western Front, Patton requested to join his staff.
Patton was promoted to captain on May 15, 1917 and left for Europe, among the 180 men of Pershing's advance party which departed May 28 and arrived in Liverpool, England, on June 8.
Taken as Pershing's personal aide, Patton oversaw the training of American troops in Paris, France, until September, then moved to Chaumont and assigned as a post adjutant, commanding the headquarters company overseeing the base. Patton was dissatisfied with the post and began to take an interest in tanks, as Pershing sought to give him command of an infantry battalion. While in a hospital for jaundice, Patton met Colonel Fox Conner, who encouraged him to work with tanks over infantry.
On November 10, 1917 Patton was assigned to establish the AEF Light Tank School.
He left Paris and reported to the French Army's tank training school at Champlieu near Orrouy, where he drove a Renault FT light tank. On November 20, the British launched an offensive towards the important rail center of Cambrai, using an unprecedented number of tanks. At the conclusion of his tour on December 1, Patton went to Albert, from Cambrai, to be briefed on the results of this attack by the chief of staff of the British Tank Corps, Colonel J. F. C. Fuller. On the way back to Paris, he visited the Renault factory to observe the tanks being manufactured.
1918
Patton was promoted to major on January 26, 1918.
He received the first ten tanks on March 23, 1918 at the Tank School at Langres, Haute-Marne département.
The only soldier with tank-driving experience, Patton personally backed seven of the tanks off the train. In the post, Patton trained tank crews to operate in support of infantry, and promoted its acceptance among reluctant infantry officers.
He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on April 3, 1918, and attended the Command and General Staff College in Langres.
In August 1918, he was placed in charge of the U.S. 1st Provisional Tank Brigade (re-designated the 304th Tank Brigade on November 6, 1918).
Patton's Light Tank Brigade was part of Colonel Samuel Rockenbach's Tank Corps, part of the American First Army. Personally overseeing the logistics of the tanks in their first combat use by U.S. forces, and reconnoitering the target area for their first attack himself, Patton ordered that no U.S. tank be surrendered. Patton commanded American-crewed Renault FT tanks at the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, leading the tanks from the front for much of their attack, which began on September 12. He walked in front of the tanks into the German-held village of Essey, and rode on top of a tank during the attack into Pannes, seeking to inspire his men. Patton's brigade was then moved to support U.S. I Corps in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on September 26. He personally led a troop of tanks through thick fog as they advanced into German lines. Around 09:00, Patton was wounded while leading six men and a tank in an attack on German machine guns near the town of Cheppy. His orderly, Private First Class Joe Angelo, saved Patton, for which he was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Patton commanded the battle from a shell hole for another hour before being evacuated. He stopped at a rear command post to submit his report before heading to a hospital. Sereno E. Brett, commander of the U.S. 326th Tank Battalion, took command of the brigade in Patton's absence.
He returned to duty on October 28 but saw no further action before hostilities ended with the armistice of November 11, 1918.
For his actions in Cheppy, Patton received the Distinguished Service Cross. For his leadership of the brigade and tank school, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He was also awarded the Purple Heart for his combat wounds after the decoration was created in 1932.
1919
Patton left France for New York City on March 2, 1919.
After the war he was assigned to Camp Meade, Maryland, and reverted to his permanent rank of captain on June 30, 1920, though he was promoted to major again the next day. Patton was given temporary duty in Washington D.C. that year to serve on a committee writing a manual on tank operations. During this time he developed a belief that tanks should be used not as infantry support, but rather as an independent fighting force. Patton supported the M1919 tank design created by J. Walter Christie, a project which was shelved due to financial considerations.
While on duty in Washington, D.C., in 1919, Patton met Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would play an enormous role in Patton's future career.
During and following Patton's assignment in Hawaii, he and Eisenhower corresponded frequently. Patton sent Eisenhower notes and assistance to help him graduate from the General Staff College. With Christie, Eisenhower, and a handful of other officers, Patton pushed for more development of armored warfare in the interwar era. These thoughts resonated with Secretary of War Dwight Davis, but the limited military budget and prevalence of already-established Infantry and Cavalry branches meant the U.S. would not develop its armored corps much until 1940.
1920
On September 30, 1920 he relinquished command of the 304th Tank Brigade and was reassigned to Fort Myer as commander of 3rd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry.
Patton, loathing duty as a peacetime staff officer, spent much time writing technical papers and giving speeches on his combat experiences at the General Staff College.
1921
In July 1921 Patton became a member of the American Legion Tank Corps Post No. 19.
1922
From 1922 to mid-1923 he attended the Field Officer's Course at the Cavalry School at Fort Riley, then he attended the Command and General Staff College from mid-1923 to mid-1924, graduating 25th out of 248.
1923
In August 1923, Patton saved several children from drowning when they fell off a yacht during a boating trip off Salem, Massachusetts.
He was awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal for this action.
1925
He was temporarily appointed to the General Staff Corps in Boston, Massachusetts, before being reassigned as G-1 and G-2 of the Hawaiian Division at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu in March 1925.
1927
Patton was made G-3 of the Hawaiian Division for several months, before being transferred in May 1927 to the Office of the Chief of Cavalry in Washington, D.C., where he began to develop the concepts of mechanized warfare.
A short-lived experiment to merge infantry, cavalry and artillery into a combined arms force was cancelled after U.S. Congress removed funding.
1931
Patton left this office in 1931, returned to Massachusetts and attended the Army War College, becoming a "Distinguished Graduate" in June 1932.
1932
In July 1932, Patton was executive officer of the 3rd Cavalry, which was ordered to Washington by Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur.
Patton took command of the 600 troops of the 3rd Cavalry, and on July 28, MacArthur ordered Patton's troops to advance on protesting veterans known as the "Bonus Army" with tear gas and bayonets. Patton was dissatisfied with MacArthur's conduct, as he recognized the legitimacy of the veterans' complaints and had himself earlier refused to issue the order to employ armed force to disperse the veterans. Patton later stated that, though he found the duty "most distasteful", he also felt that putting the marchers down prevented an insurrection and saved lives and property. He personally led the 3rd Cavalry down Pennsylvania Avenue, dispersing the protesters. Patton also encountered his former orderly as one of the marchers and forcibly ordered him away, fearing such a meeting might make the headlines.
1934
Patton was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the regular Army on March 1, 1934, and was transferred to the Hawaiian Division in early 1935 to serve as G-2.
Patton followed the growing hostility and conquest aspirations, of the militant Japanese leadership. He wrote a plan to intern the Japanese living in the islands in the event of an attack, as a result of the atrocities carried out by Japanese on the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese war.
1937
In 1937, he wrote a paper with the title "Surprise" which predicted, with what D'Este termed "chilling accuracy," a surprise attack by the Japanese on Hawaii.
Depressed at the lack of prospects for new conflict, Patton took to drinking heavily and began a brief affair with his 21-year-old niece by marriage, Jean Gordon.
Patton continued playing polo and sailing in this time. After sailing back to Los Angeles for extended leave in 1937, he was kicked by a horse and fractured his leg.
Patton developed phlebitis from the injury, which nearly killed him. The incident almost forced Patton out of active service, but a six-month administrative assignment in the Academic Department at the Cavalry School at Fort Riley helped him to recover.
1938
Patton was promoted to colonel on July 24, 1938 and given command of the 5th Cavalry at Fort Clark, Texas, for six months, a post he relished, but he was reassigned to Fort Myer again in December as commander of the 3rd Cavalry.
There, he met Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, who was so impressed with him that Marshall considered Patton a prime candidate for promotion to general. In peacetime, though, he would remain a colonel to remain eligible to command a regiment. Following the German Army's invasion of Poland and the outbreak of World War II in Europe in September 1939, the U.S. military entered a period of mobilization, and Patton sought to build up the power of U.S. armored forces.
1940
During maneuvers the Third Army conducted in 1940, Patton served as an umpire, where he met Adna R. Chaffee Jr. and the two formulated recommendations to develop an armored force.
Chaffee was named commander of this force, and created the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions as well as the first combined arms doctrine. He named Patton commander of the 2nd Armored Brigade, part of the 2nd Armored Division. The division was one of few organized as a heavy formation with many tanks, and Patton was in charge of its training. Patton was promoted to brigadier general on October 2, made acting division commander in November, and on April 4, 1941 was promoted again to major general and made Commanding General (CG) of the 2nd Armored Division. As Chaffee stepped down from command of the I Armored Corps, Patton became the most prominent figure in U.S. armor doctrine.
In December 1940, he staged a high-profile mass exercise in which 1,000 tanks and vehicles were driven from Columbus, Georgia, to Panama City, Florida, and back.
He repeated the exercise with his entire division of 1,300 vehicles the next month. Patton earned a pilot's license and, during these maneuvers, observed the movements of his vehicles from the air to find ways to deploy them effectively in combat. His exploits earned him a spot on the cover of Life Magazine.
1941
Patton led the division during the Tennessee Maneuvers in June 1941, and was lauded for his leadership, executing 48 hours' worth of planned objectives in only nine.
During the September Louisiana Maneuvers, his division was part of the losing Red Army in Phase I, but in Phase II was assigned to the Blue Army. His division executed a end run around the Red Army and "captured" Shreveport, Louisiana. During the October–November Carolina Maneuvers, Patton's division captured Hugh Drum, commander of the opposing army. On January 15, 1942 he was given command of I Armored Corps, and the next month established the Desert Training Center in the Imperial Valley to run training exercises.
He commenced these exercises in late 1941 and continued them into the summer of 1942.
Patton chose a expanse of desert area about southeast of Palm Springs. From his first days as a commander, Patton strongly emphasized the need for armored forces to stay in constant contact with opposing forces. His instinctive preference for offensive movement was typified by an answer Patton gave to war correspondents in a 1944 press conference. In response to a question on whether the Third Army's rapid offensive across France should be slowed to reduce the number of U.S. casualties, Patton replied, "Whenever you slow anything down, you waste human lives." It was around this time that a reporter, after hearing a speech where Patton said that it took "blood and brains" to win in combat, began calling him "blood and guts." The nickname would follow him for the rest of his life. Soldiers under his command at were known at times quipped, "our blood, his guts". Nonetheless, he was known to be admired widely by the men under his charge. Patton was also known simply as "The Old Man" among his troops.
1942
Under General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Patton was assigned to help plan the Allied invasion of French North Africa as part of Operation Torch in the summer of 1942.
Patton commanded the Western Task Force, consisting of 33,000 men in 100 ships, in landings centered on Casablanca, Morocco.
The landings, which took place on November 8, 1942, were opposed by Vichy French forces, but Patton's men quickly gained a beachhead and pushed through fierce resistance.
Casablanca fell on November 11 and Patton negotiated an armistice with French General Charles Noguès. The Sultan of Morocco was so impressed that he presented Patton with the Order of Ouissam Alaouite, with the citation "Les Lions dans leurs tanières tremblent en le voyant approcher" (The lions in their dens tremble at his approach).
1943
Patton oversaw the conversion of Casablanca into a military port and hosted the Casablanca Conference in January 1943.
On March 6, 1943, following the defeat of the U.S. II Corps by the German Afrika Korps, commanded by Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, Patton replaced Major General Lloyd Fredendall as Commanding General of the II Corps and was promoted to lieutenant general. Soon thereafter, he had Omar Bradley reassigned to his corps as its deputy commander. With orders to take the battered and demoralized formation into action in 10 days' time, Patton immediately introduced sweeping changes, ordering all soldiers to wear clean, pressed and complete uniforms, establishing rigorous schedules, and requiring strict adherence to military protocol. He continuously moved throughout the command talking with men, seeking to shape them into effective soldiers. He pushed them hard, and sought to reward them well for their accomplishments. His uncompromising leadership style is evidenced by his orders for an attack on a hill position near Gafsa which are reported to have ended "I expect to see such casualties among officers, particularly staff officers, as will convince me that a serious effort has been made to capture this objective."
Patton's I Armored Corps was officially redesignated the Seventh Army just before his force of 90,000 landed before dawn on D-Day, July 10, 1943, on beaches near the town of Licata.
The armada was hampered by wind and weather, but despite this the three U.S. infantry divisions involved, the 3rd, 1st, and 45th, secured their respective beaches. They then repulsed counterattacks at Gela, where Patton personally led his troops against German reinforcements from the Hermann Göring Division. Initially ordered to protect the British forces' left flank, Patton was granted permission by Alexander to take Palermo after Montgomery's forces became bogged down on the road to Messina. As part of a provisional corps under Major General Geoffrey Keyes, the 3rd Infantry Division under Major General Lucian Truscott covered in 72 hours, arriving at Palermo on July 21. He then set his sights on Messina. He sought an amphibious assault, but it was delayed by lack of landing craft, and his troops did not land at Santo Stefano until August 8, by which time the Germans and Italians had already evacuated the bulk of their troops to mainland Italy. He ordered more landings on August 10 by the 3rd Infantry Division, which took heavy casualties but pushed the German forces back, and hastened the advance on Messina. A third landing was completed on August 16, and by 22:00 that day Messina fell to his forces. By the end of the battle, the 200,000-man Seventh Army had suffered 7,500 casualties, and killed or captured 113,000 Axis troops and destroyed 3,500 vehicles. Still, 40,000 German and 70,000 Italian troops escaped to Italy with 10,000 vehicles.
Two high-profile incidents of Patton striking subordinates during the Sicily campaign attracted national controversy following the end of the campaign. On August 3, 1943, Patton slapped and verbally abused Private Charles H. Kuhl at an evacuation hospital in Nicosia after he had been found to suffer from "battle fatigue".
On August 10, Patton slapped Private Paul G. Bennett under similar circumstances. Ordering both soldiers back to the front lines, Patton railed against cowardice and issued orders to his commanders to discipline any soldier making similar complaints. Word of the incident reached Eisenhower, who privately reprimanded Patton and insisted he apologize. Patton apologized to both soldiers individually, as well as to doctors who witnessed the incidents, and later to all of the soldiers under his command in several speeches. Eisenhower suppressed the incident in the media, but in November journalist Drew Pearson revealed it on his radio program. Criticism of Patton in the United States was harsh, and included members of Congress and former generals, Pershing among them. The views of the general public remained mixed on the matter, and eventually Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson stated that Patton must be retained as a commander because of the need for his "aggressive, winning leadership in the bitter battles which are to come before final victory."
1944
On January 26, 1944 Patton was formally given command of the Third United States Army in England, a newly arrived unit, and assigned to prepare its inexperienced soldiers for combat in Europe.
This duty kept Patton busy in early 1944 preparing for the pending invasion.
The German High Command had more respect for Patton than for any other Allied commander and considered him central to any plan to invade Europe from the United Kingdom. Because of this, Patton was made a prominent figure in the deception operation, Fortitude, in early 1944.
The Allies fed German spies a steady stream of false intelligence that Patton had been named commander of the First United States Army Group (FUSAG) and was preparing this command for an invasion of Pas de Calais. The FUSAG command was in reality an intricately constructed "phantom" army of decoys, props, and fake signals traffic based around Dover to mislead German aircraft and to make Axis leaders believe a large force was massing there to mask the real location of the invasion in Normandy.
Patton was ordered to keep a low profile to deceive the Germans into thinking he was in Dover throughout early 1944, when he was actually training the Third Army.
As a result of Operation Fortitude, the German 15th Army remained at Pas de Calais to defend against Patton's supposed attack. This formation held its position even after the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Patton flew into France a month later and returned to combat duty.
Sailing to Normandy throughout July, Patton's Third Army formed on the extreme right (west) of the Allied land forces. Patton's Third Army became operational at noon on August 1, 1944, under Bradley's Twelfth United States Army Group.
The Third Army simultaneously attacked west into Brittany, south, east toward the Seine, and north, assisting in trapping several hundred thousand German soldiers in the Falaise Pocket between Falaise and Argentan. Patton's strategy with his army favored speed and aggressive offensive action, though his forces saw less opposition than did the other three Allied field armies in the initial weeks of its advance. The Third Army typically employed forward scout units to determine enemy strength and positions. Self-propelled artillery moved with the spearhead units and was sited well forward, ready to engage protected German positions with indirect fire. Light aircraft such as the Piper L-4 Cub served as artillery spotters and provided airborne reconnaissance. Once located, the armored infantry would attack using tanks as infantry support. Other armored units would then break through enemy lines and exploit any subsequent breach, constantly pressuring withdrawing German forces to prevent them from regrouping and reforming a cohesive defensive line. The U.S. armor advanced using reconnaissance by fire, and the .50 caliber M2 Browning heavy machine gun proved effective in this role, often flushing out and killing German panzerfaust teams waiting in ambush as well as breaking up German infantry assaults against the armored infantry.
Patton's offensive came to a halt on August 31, 1944, as the Third Army ran out of fuel near the Moselle River, just outside Metz.
Patton expected that the theater commander would keep fuel and supplies flowing to support successful advances, but Eisenhower favored a "broad front" approach to the ground-war effort, believing 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 Twenty First Army Group a higher priority for supplies for Operation Market Garden. Combined with other demands on the limited resource pool, this resulted in the Third Army exhausting its fuel supplies. Patton believed his forces were close enough to the Siegfried Line that he remarked to Bradley that with 400,000 gallons of gasoline he could be in Germany within two days. In late September, a large German Panzer counterattack sent expressly to stop the advance of Patton's Third Army was defeated by the U.S. 4th Armored Division at the Battle of Arracourt. Despite the victory, the Third Army stayed in place as a result of Eisenhower's order. The German commanders believed this was because their counterattack had been successful.
Fuller's review of Third Army records differs only in the number of enemy killed and wounded, stating that between August 1, 1944 and May 9, 1945, 47,500 of the enemy were killed, 115,700 wounded, and 1,280,688 captured, for a total of 1,443,888.
After World War II, Patton expressed anti-Semitism. According to The New York Times, Patton wrote into his journal that people believe "the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews who are lower than animals. " Patton asked for a command in the Pacific Theater of Operations, begging Marshall to bring him to that war in any way possible, and Marshall said he would be able to do so only if the Chinese secured a major port for his entry, an unlikely scenario. In mid-May, Patton flew to Paris, then London for rest. On June 7, he arrived in Bedford, Massachusetts, for extended leave with his family, and was greeted by thousands of spectators. Patton then drove to Hatch Memorial Shell and spoke to some 20,000, including a crowd of 400 wounded Third Army veterans. In this speech he aroused some controversy among the Gold Star Mothers when he stated that a man who dies in battle is "frequently a fool", adding that the wounded are heroes. Patton spent time in Boston before visiting and speaking in Denver and visiting Los Angeles, where he spoke to a crowd of 100,000 at the Memorial Coliseum. Patton made a final stop in Washington before returning to Europe in July to serve in the occupation forces.
1945
By February, the Germans were in full retreat. On February 23, 1945, the U.S. 94th Infantry Division crossed the Saar and established a vital bridgehead at Serrig through which Patton pushed units into the Saarland.
Patton had insisted upon an immediate crossing of the Saar River against the advice of his officers. Historians such as Charles Whiting have criticized this strategy as unnecessarily aggressive. Once again, Patton found other commands given priority on gasoline and supplies. To obtain these, Third Army ordnance units passed themselves off as First Army personnel and in one incident they secured thousands of gallons of gasoline from a First Army dump. Between January 29 and March 22, the Third Army took Trier, Coblenz, Bingen, Worms, Mainz, Kaiserslautern, and Ludwigshafen, killing or wounding 99,000 and capturing 140,112 German soldiers, which represented virtually all of the remnants of the German First and Seventh Armies. An example of Patton's sarcastic wit was broadcast when he received orders to by-pass Trier, as it had been decided that four divisions would be needed to capture it. When the message arrived, Trier had already fallen. Patton rather caustically replied: "Have taken Trier with two divisions. Do you want me to give it back?"
On March 26, 1945, Patton sent Task Force Baum, consisting of 314 men, 16 tanks, and assorted other vehicles, behind German lines to liberate a prisoner of war camp, OFLAG XIII-B near Hammelburg.
Patton knew that one of the inmates was his son-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel John K. Waters. The raid was a failure, and only 35 men made it back; the rest were either killed or captured, and all 57 vehicles were lost. Another prisoner liberated from the Oflag was Lt. Donald Prell who was recaptured and was sent to a POW camp south of Nuremberg. Patton reported this attempt to liberate Oflag XIII-B as the only mistake he made during World War II. When Eisenhower learned of the secret mission, he was furious. Patton later said he felt the correct decision would have been to send a Combat Command, a force about three times larger. By April, resistance against the Third Army was tapering off, and the forces' main efforts turned to managing some 400,000 German prisoners of war.
On April 14, 1945 Patton was promoted to general, a promotion long advocated by Stimson in recognition of Patton's battle accomplishments during 1944.
Gordon actually loved a young married captain who left her despondent when he went home to his wife in September 1945.
Patton repeatedly boasted of his sexual success with this young woman but his biographers are skeptical. Hirshson says the relationship was casual. Showalter believes that Patton, under severe physical and psychological stress, made up claims of sexual conquest to prove his virility. D'Este agrees, saying, "His behavior suggests that in both 1936 Hawaii and 1944–45, the presence of the young and attractive Jean was a means of assuaging the anxieties of a middle-aged man troubled over his virility and a fear of aging." 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.
On 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 final assignment was to command the Fifteenth United States Army, based in Bad Nauheim. The Fifteenth Army at this point consisted only of a small headquarters staff tasked to compile a history of the war in Europe. Patton had accepted the post because of his love of history, but quickly lost interest in the duty. He began traveling, visiting Paris, Rennes, Chartres, Brussels, Metz, Reims, Luxembourg, and Verdun, as well as Stockholm, where he reunited with other athletes from the 1912 Olympics. Patton decided he would leave his post at the Fifteenth Army and not return to Europe once he left on December 10 for Christmas leave. He intended to discuss with his wife whether he would continue in a stateside post or retire.
On December 8, 1945, Patton's chief of staff, Major General Hobart Gay, invited him on a pheasant hunting trip near Speyer to lift his spirits.
Observing derelict cars along the side of the road, Patton said, "How awful war is. Think of the waste." Moments later his car collided with an American army truck at low speed. Gay and others were only slightly injured, but Patton hit his head on the glass partition in the back seat. He began bleeding from a gash to the head and complained that he was paralyzed and having trouble breathing. Taken to a hospital in Heidelberg, Patton was discovered to have 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. He spent most of the next 12 days in spinal traction to decrease spinal pressure. All non-medical visitors, except for Patton's wife, who had flown from the U.S., were forbidden. Patton, who had been told he had no chance to ever again ride a horse or resume normal life, at one point commented, "This is a hell of a way to die."
His final media blowup occurred in September 1945, when goaded by reporters about Denazification, he said "Denazification would be like removing all the Republicans and all the Democrats who were in office, who had held office or were quasi Democrats or Republicans and that would take some time."
This caused Eisenhower to relieve Patton from command of the Third Army. As a leader, Patton was known to be highly critical, correcting subordinates mercilessly for the slightest infractions, but also being quick to praise their accomplishments. While he garnered a reputation as a general who was both impatient and impulsive and had little tolerance for officers who had failed to succeed, he fired only one general during World War II, Orlando Ward, and only after two warnings, whereas Bradley sacked numerous generals during the war. Patton reportedly had the utmost respect for the men serving in his command, particularly the wounded Many of his directives showed special trouble to care for the enlisted men under his command, and he was well known for arranging extra supplies for battlefield soldiers, including blankets and extra socks, galoshes, and other items normally in short supply at the front.
On February 1, 1945, Eisenhower wrote a memo ranking the military capabilities of his subordinate American generals in Europe.
Bradley and Army Air Force General Carl Spaatz shared the number one position, while Walter Bedell Smith was ranked number two, and Patton number three. Eisenhower revealed his reasoning in a 1946 review of the book Patton and his Third Army: "George Patton was the most brilliant commander of an army in the open field that our or any other service produced. But his army was part of a whole organization and his operations part of a great campaign." Eisenhower believed that other generals such as Bradley should be given the credit for planning the successful Allied campaigns across Europe in which Patton was merely "a brilliant executor". Notwithstanding Eisenhower's estimation of Patton's abilities as a strategic planner, his overall view of Patton's military value in achieving Allied victory in Europe can best be seen in Eisenhower's refusal to even consider sending Patton home after the slapping incidents of 1943, after which he privately remarked, "Patton is indispensable to the war effort – one of the guarantors of our victory." As Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy told Eisenhower: "Lincoln's remark after they got after Grant comes to mind when I think of Patton – 'I can't spare this man, he fights'." After Patton's death, Eisenhower would write his own tribute: "He was one of those men born to be a soldier, an ideal combat leader... It is no exaggeration to say that Patton's name struck terror at the hearts of the enemy."
General Henri Giraud was incredulous when he heard of Patton's dismissal by Eisenhower in late 1945, and invited him to Paris to be decorated by President Charles de Gaulle at a state banquet.
At the banquet, President de Gaulle gave a speech placing Patton's achievements alongside those of Napoleon. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was apparently an admirer, stating that the Red Army could neither have planned nor executed Patton's rapid armored advance across France. While Allied leaders expressed mixed feelings on Patton's capabilities, the German High Command was noted to have more respect for him than for any other Allied commander after 1943. Adolf Hitler reportedly called him "that crazy cowboy general." Many German field commanders were generous in their praise of Patton's leadership following the war, and many of its highest commanders also held his abilities in high regard. Erwin Rommel credited Patton with executing "the most astonishing achievement in mobile warfare." Generaloberst Alfred Jodl, chief of staff of the German Army, stated that Patton "was the American Guderian. He was very bold and preferred large movements. He took big risks and won big successes." Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring noted that "Patton had developed tank warfare into an art, and understood how to handle tanks brilliantly in the field. I feel compelled, therefore, to compare him with Generalfeldmarschall Rommel, who likewise had mastered the art of tank warfare. Both of them had a kind of second sight in regard to this type of warfare." Referring to the escape of the Afrika Korps after the Battle of El Alamein, Fritz Bayerlein opined that "I do not think that General Patton would let us get away so easily."
Patton died in Germany on December 21, 1945, as a result of injuries from an automobile accident twelve days earlier.
Patton's colorful image, hard-driving personality and success as a commander were at times overshadowed by his controversial public statements, including private racist and antisemitic remarks. His philosophy of leading from the front and his ability to inspire troops with vulgarity-ridden speeches, such as a famous address to the Third Army, attracted favorable attention. His strong emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action proved effective. While Allied leaders held sharply differing opinions on Patton, he was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command. A popular, award-winning biographical film released in 1970 helped transform Patton into an American folk hero.
He died in his sleep of pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure at about 18:00 on December 21, 1945.
Patton was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in the Hamm district of Luxembourg City, alongside wartime casualties of the Third Army, per his request to "be buried with his men." Patton's colorful personality, hard-driving leadership style and success as a commander, combined with his frequent political missteps, produced a mixed and often contradictory image. Patton's great oratory skill is seen as integral to his ability to inspire troops under his command. Historian Terry Brighton concluded that Patton was "arrogant, publicity-seeking and personally flawed, but... among the greatest generals of the war." Still, Patton's impact on armored warfare and leadership were substantial, with the U.S. Army adopting many of Patton's aggressive strategies for its training programs following his death. Many military officers claim inspiration from his legacy. The first American tank designed after the war became the M46 Patton.
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