Patton was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the regular Army on March 1, , and was transferred to the Hawaiian Division in early to serve as G 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 soldiers on the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese war.
In 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. Patton's attempts to win her back were said to be among the few instances in which he willingly showed remorse or submission. Patton continued playing polo and sailing in this time. After sailing back to Los Angeles for extended leave in , 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. 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.
Patton had a personal schooner named When and If.
The schooner was designed by famous naval architect John G. Alden and built in The schooner's name comes from Patton saying he would sail it "when and if" he returned from war.
Chaffee Jr. Chaffee was named commander of this force,  and created the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions as well as the first combined arms doctrine. The division was one of few organized as a heavy formation with many tanks, and Patton was in charge of its training. In December , he staged a high-profile mass exercise in which 1, tanks and vehicles were driven from Columbus, Georgia , to Panama City, Florida , and back. Patton led the division during the Tennessee Maneuvers in June , and was lauded for his leadership, executing 48 hours' worth of planned objectives in only nine.
He commenced these exercises in late and continued them into the summer of His instinctive preference for offensive movement was typified by an answer Patton gave to war correspondents in a 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. The nickname would follow him for the rest of his life. Nonetheless, he was known to be admired widely by the men under his charge. Under Lieutenant General Dwight D. The landings, which took place on November 8, , were opposed by Vichy French forces, but Patton's men quickly gained a beachhead and pushed through fierce resistance.
On March 6, , following the defeat of the U. Soon thereafter, he had Major General Omar Bradley reassigned to his corps as its deputy commander. 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. Patton's training was effective, and on March 17, the U. In the meantime, on April 5, he removed Major General Orlando Ward , commanding the 1st Armored Division , after its lackluster performance at Maknassy against numerically inferior German forces. When Coningham dispatched three officers to Patton's headquarters to persuade him that the British were providing ample air support, they came under German air attack mid-meeting, and part of the ceiling of Patton's office collapsed around them.
Speaking later of the German pilots who had struck, Patton remarked, "if I could find the sons of bitches who flew those planes, I'd mail each of them a medal. Fearing U. Patton's I Armored Corps was officially redesignated the Seventh Army just before his force of 90, landed before dawn on D-Day, July 10, , on beaches near the town of Licata. The armada was hampered by wind and weather, but despite this the three U. 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.
He then set his sights on Messina. 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. By the end of the battle, the ,man Seventh Army had suffered 7, casualties, and killed or captured , Axis troops and destroyed 3, vehicles. Still, 40, German and 70, Italian troops escaped to Italy with 10, vehicles.
Patton's conduct in this campaign met with several controversies. Gay , claimed the message was "lost in transmission" until Messina had fallen. On July 22 he shot and killed a pair of mules that had stopped while pulling a cart across a bridge. The cart was blocking the way of a U. When their Sicilian owner protested, Patton attacked him with a walking stick and had his troops push the two mule carcasses off of the bridge.
Anyhow, they are dead, so nothing can be done about it. Patton later changed his mind. After he learned that the 45th Division's Inspector General found "no provocation on the part of the prisoners They had been slaughtered" Patton is reported to have said: "Try the bastards. Two high-profile incidents of Patton striking subordinates during the Sicily campaign attracted national controversy following the end of the campaign.
Kuhl at an evacuation hospital in Nicosia after he had been found to suffer from " battle fatigue ". Bennett under similar circumstances. Word of the incident reached Eisenhower, who privately reprimanded Patton and insisted he apologize. 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.
Patton did not command a force in combat for 11 months. While Eisenhower and Marshall both considered Patton to be a skilled combat commander, they felt Bradley was less impulsive or prone to making mistakes. Third Army in England, a newly formed field Army, and he was assigned to prepare its inexperienced soldiers for combat in Europe. The German High Command had more respect for Patton than for any other Allied commander and considered him to be central to any plan to invade Europe from England. FUSAG was in reality an intricately constructed fictitious army of decoys, props, and fake radio signal traffic based around Dover to mislead German reconnaissance planes and to make Axis leaders believe that a large force was massing there.
This helped to mask the real location of the invasion in Normandy. Patton was ordered to keep a low profile to deceive the Germans into thinking that he was in Dover throughout early , when he was actually training the Third Army. Patton flew to France a month later, and then returned to combat command.
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.
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 speed of the advance forced Patton's units to rely heavily on air reconnaissance and tactical air support. Developed originally by General Elwood Quesada of IX Tactical Air Command for the First Army in Operation Cobra , the technique of "armored column cover", in which close air support was directed by an air traffic controller in one of the attacking tanks, was used extensively by the Third Army. Each column was protected by a standing patrol of three to four P and P fighter-bombers as a combat air patrol CAP.
Patton's force was supplemented by Ultra intelligence for which he was briefed daily by his G-2, Colonel Oscar W. Koch , who apprised him of German counterattacks, and where to concentrate his forces. Third Army logistics were overseen by Colonel Walter J. Muller, Patton's G-4 , who emphasized flexibility, improvisation, and adaptation for Third Army supply echelons so forward units could rapidly exploit a breakthrough.
Patton's rapid drive to Lorraine demonstrated his keen appreciation for the technological advantages of the U. The major U. The U. Army had more trucks, more reliable tanks, and better radio communications, all of which contributed to a superior ability to operate at a rapid offensive pace. Patton's offensive came to a halt on August 31, , 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. 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.
The halt of the Third Army during the month of September was enough to allow the Germans to strengthen the fortress of Metz. In October and November, the Third Army was mired in a near-stalemate with the Germans during the Battle of Metz , both sides suffering heavy casualties. German commanders interviewed after the war noted he could have bypassed the city and moved north to Luxembourg where he would have been able to cut off the German Seventh Army.
Historian Carlo D'Este later wrote that the Lorraine Campaign was one of Patton's least successful, faulting him for not deploying his divisions more aggressively and decisively. With supplies low and priority given to Montgomery until the port of Antwerp could be opened, Patton remained frustrated at the lack of progress of his forces. On December 16, , it massed 29 divisions totaling , men at a weak point in the Allied lines, and during the early stages of the ensuing Battle of the Bulge , made significant headway towards the Meuse River during a severe winter.
Eisenhower called a meeting of all senior Allied commanders on the Western Front at a headquarters near Verdun on the morning of December 19 to plan strategy and a response to the German assault. Guessing the intent of the Allied command meeting, Patton ordered his staff to make three separate operational contingency orders to disengage elements of the Third Army from its present position and begin offensive operations toward several objectives in the area of the bulge occupied by German forces.
If you try to go that early you won't have all three divisions ready and you'll go piecemeal.
Still unconvinced, Eisenhower ordered Patton to attack the morning of December 22, using at least three divisions. Patton left the conference room, phoned his command, and uttered two words: "Play ball. III Corps and U. XII Corps , from their positions on the Saar River front along a line stretching from Bastogne to Diekirch and to Echternach , the town in Luxembourg that had been at the southern end of the initial "Bulge" front line on December On December 21, Patton met with Bradley to review the impending advance, starting the meeting by remarking, "Brad, this time the Kraut's stuck his head in the meat grinder, and I've got hold of the handle.
After briefly considering this, Bradley vetoed it, since he was less concerned about killing large numbers of Germans than he was in arranging for the relief of Bastogne before it was overrun. He responded with:. Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations.
On December 26, , the first spearhead units of the Third Army's 4th Armored Division reached Bastogne, opening a corridor for relief and resupply of the besieged forces. Patton's ability to disengage six divisions from front line combat during the middle of winter, then wheel north to relieve Bastogne was one of his most remarkable achievements during the war. This is my biggest battle.
By February, the Germans were in full retreat. On February 23, , the U. 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.
World War II: General George S. Patton's Race to Capture Messina
An example of Patton's sarcastic wit was broadcast when he received orders to bypass 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? The Third Army began crossing the Rhine River after constructing a pontoon bridge on March 22, and he slipped a division across the river that evening.
Patton knew that one of the inmates was his son-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel John K. 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. By April, resistance against the Third Army was tapering off, and the forces' main efforts turned to managing some , German prisoners of war. Third Army was ordered toward Bavaria and Czechoslovakia , anticipating a last stand by Nazi German forces there. Late that year, it played a key role in frustrating the German counterattack in the Ardennes during the massive Battle of the Bulge.
In early , Patton led his army across the Rhine River and into Germany, capturing 10, miles of territory and helping to liberate the country from Nazi rule. That December, Patton broke his neck in an automobile accident near Mannheim, Germany; he died in a Heidelberg hospital 12 days later. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. George C. Marshall was one of the most decorated military leaders in American history.
Infantry School. Named chief of staff when World George McClellan was a U. Army engineer, railroad president and politician who served as a major general during the Civil War. McClellan was well liked by his men, but his reticence to attack the Confederacy with the full force of his army put him at odds with President George Pickett was a U. Patton was an Olympic athlete. As a year-old Army cavalry officer, Patton was selected to compete in the first-ever Olympic modern pentathlon at the Summer Games in Stockholm.
Of the 42 competitors, he finished in fifth place, although he might have medaled if not for Ulysses Grant commanded the victorious Union army during the American Civil War and served as the 18th U. During the Civil George Meade was a U. Army general and civil engineer who served as commander of the Union Army of the Potomac during the Civil War In innovative fashion, he partnered with American tactical air forces to cover his flanks as his armored columns raced around static German formations.
Only then, for a brief moment, might the clear skies facilitate overwhelming American air support. In August his soldiers could camp outside, while his speeding tanks still had dry roads. In just 30 days, Patton finished his sweep across France and neared Germany. The Third Army had exhausted its fuel supplies and ground to a halt near the border in early September. That proved a harebrained scheme to leapfrog over the bridges of the Rhine River; it devoured Allied blood and treasure, and accomplished almost nothing in return. Scattered and fleeing German forces regrouped.
Their resistance stiffened as the weather grew worse and as shortened supply lines began to favor the defense. Could a racing Third Army really have burst into Germany so far ahead of Allied lines?
How could a supreme commander like Eisenhower handle Patton, who at any given moment could — and would — let loose with politically incorrect bombast? We do not know the answers to all those questions. Nor will we ever quite know the full price that America paid for having a profane Patton stewing in exile for nearly a year rather than exercising his leadership in Italy or Normandy. We only know that 70 years ago, an authentic American genius thought he could win the war in Europe — and almost did.
When his Third Army stalled, so did the Allied effort. Patton would die tragically from injuries sustained in a freak car accident not long after the German surrender. He soon became the stuff of legend but was too often remembered for his theatrics rather than his authentic genius that saved thousands of American lives.
General Patton: “Old Blood and Guts”
Seventy years ago this August, George S. More articles. Previous articles. George S. Patton Library of Congress Nearly 70 years ago, the lieutenant general began his advance toward the German border.