Difference between revisions of "George S. Patton, Jr."

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American General '''George Smith Patton Jr.''' was a celebrated and controversial American general in World War II, famed for his successes in armored warfare against the Germans in 1944-45.  His public image of tough-minded courage in battle remains fixed in the popular image of the war.
 
American General '''George Smith Patton Jr.''' was a celebrated and controversial American general in World War II, famed for his successes in armored warfare against the Germans in 1944-45.  His public image of tough-minded courage in battle remains fixed in the popular image of the war.
  
Patton served in the [[American Expeditionary Forces]] in France in [[World War I]] as a senior tank officer. In World War II, he commanded U.S. Army invasions of North Africa (1942-43) and Sicily (1943). Humiliated after slapping a wounded soldier, Patton in 1944 was given command a fake army designed to fool the Germans as to where the invasion of France would take place. He was then given command of a major unit, the Third Army, pushed the Germans out of France, defended and counterattacked at the [[Battle of the Bulge]], then rolled through Germany in 1945. He died in an automobile accident.  Patton has a very high visibility as a gruff, no nonsense, attacker who promoted armored force as they key to mobility nd victory.
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Patton served in the [[American Expeditionary Forces]] in France in [[World War I]] as a senior tank officer. In World War II, he commanded U.S. Army invasions of North Africa (1942-43) and Sicily (1943). Humiliated after slapping a wounded soldier, Patton in 1944 was given command of a 'fake' army designed to fool the Germans as to where the invasion of France would take place. He was then given command of a major unit, the Third Army, pushed the Germans out of France, defended and counterattacked at the [[Battle of the Bulge]], then rolled through Germany in 1945. He died in an automobile accident.  Patton has a very high visibility as a gruff, no nonsense, attacker who promoted armored force as they key to mobility nd victory.
  
 
==Career==
 
==Career==

Revision as of 03:07, 16 March 2010

Patton.jpg
George S. Patton, Jr.
Born November 11, 1885
Died December 21, 1945

American General George Smith Patton Jr. was a celebrated and controversial American general in World War II, famed for his successes in armored warfare against the Germans in 1944-45. His public image of tough-minded courage in battle remains fixed in the popular image of the war.

Patton served in the American Expeditionary Forces in France in World War I as a senior tank officer. In World War II, he commanded U.S. Army invasions of North Africa (1942-43) and Sicily (1943). Humiliated after slapping a wounded soldier, Patton in 1944 was given command of a 'fake' army designed to fool the Germans as to where the invasion of France would take place. He was then given command of a major unit, the Third Army, pushed the Germans out of France, defended and counterattacked at the Battle of the Bulge, then rolled through Germany in 1945. He died in an automobile accident. Patton has a very high visibility as a gruff, no nonsense, attacker who promoted armored force as they key to mobility nd victory.

Career

Patton was born on a ranch in San Gabriel, California.His wealthy southern family had a history of fine military service and his grandfather was an American Civil War hero. He attended Virginia Military Institute and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, receiving his commission in the cavalry in 1909.

World War I

Patton served with General John J. Pershing in Mexico and accompanied him to France in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) upon American entry into World War I in 1917. There he showed interest in the mobility and firepower of a new invention, tank, capable of crossing trenches, pushing through barbed wire, and shielding soldiers inside from machine gun bullets and (some) artillery fragments. He established a tank training school (the couterpart of a traininbg center run by Dwight D. Eisenhower in the States). Patton organized the First Tank Brigade, which he commanded in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. Wounded during the latter action, he saw no further active service in World War I.

Between the wars, Patton recognized the advantages of the tank but his superiors did not; the tank units were disbanded and he was reassigned to the cavalry.

World War II

At the outbreak of World War II, as commander of the Second Armored Division and the First Armored Corps, he oversaw the training of the Armored Force. In November 1942 he led the Western Task Force in Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa; later he commanded the Second Corps in Tunisia. In July 1943 he led the newly formed U.S. Seventh Army in the attack on Sicily. His name became a byword for aggressive fighting and unexpected maneuvers. Although Patton had seen many cases of shell-shock, he was disgusted when one healthy-looking soldier was hospitalized, struck him, called him a coward, and talked of shooting him. News reporters, who admired Patton, covered up the story but the hospital doctors complained to his superior, Eisenhower. Eisenhower almost sent Patton home in disgrace and when the news broke the Army was embarrassed to be associated with brutality. Patton was made commander of a fake army operating in England that fooled the Germans into deciding the Allied invasion would come at Calais, far east of the actual landing point in Normandy. After the landings succeeded, Eisenhower gave Patton command of the Third Army, reporting to Patton's former subordinate Omar Bradley.

On August 1 his Third Army poured through the breach in the German lines made by the First Army near St. Lô. The ensuing rapid sweep through Brittany and across northern France often defied logistic difficulties, especially the constant shortage of diesel fuel for tanks and trucks. The Third Army continued to play a major role in the winter fighting, helping stem the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes called the "Battle of the Bulge.". In the final offensive Patton struck boldly and suddenly across the Rhine after a blitz encirclement of the Saar Basin and advanced across central Germany. He secretly sent a rescue mission to liberate a POW camp that contained a relative of his; the raid was a total failure.

He attained four-star rank shortly before the end of the war. He died Dec. 21, 1945, after an automobile accident, and was buried in the U.S. military cemetery at Hamm, Luxembourg.

Tactics

Patton also perfected the art of lightning-fast tank maneuvers and unrestrained aggression. He was first given control over the 3rd Cavalry which was transfered into a tank division. Once Patton led his men in war games in Atlanta that were supposed to last for many days. Patton's aggression and the enthusiasm of his men enabled him to win the games in just a day or two. Patton inspired a unique loyalty and spirit in his men that enabled his troops to win quicker and with few casualties than everyone else. A German profile once said he could swear like a stable boy, but be as complimentary as a king. Patton had no part of the D-Day landings because he was in temporary disgrace after slapping a shell-shocked US soldier while visiting a military hospital during the Sicily campaign. Just six months after the war in Europe ended, Patton died in a car crash in Berlin, Germany in 1945 on his way to lunch with a friend.

Patton's fame derives primarily from his record as an outstanding practitioner of mobile armored warfare. Quick-tempered and bluff in speech, he was frequently involved in political controversy, not least because of his propensity to racist and anti-Semitic remarks. He was nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts" by his men, who disliked his minute attention to dress codes even in battle zones. Patton's war diary was published posthumously in 1947 under the title "War As I Knew It."

The 1970 movie

Patton became famous to new generations through by the Oscar-winning 1970 movie, which sanitized it slightly. Actor George C. Scott captured Patton's mannerisms and style exactly in the movie, except for Patton's squueky high-pitched voice. The famous opening scene portrays Patton's actual speech of March 1945, sanitizing away the obscenities. Patton used harsh and foul language and castigated cowards, or "psychoneurotics," and those who used self-inflicted wounds to get out of combat. The basic message was "shoot and keep shooting."[1]

The movie seven academy awards including "Best Picture." It is a biographical film, based factually on Ladislas Farago's book Patton: Ordeal and Triumph, and General Omar Bradley's A Soldier's Story. Bradley was a major consultant, andthe movie shows him in a very good light indeed. It starred George C. Scott, and critic Roger Ebert called it "one of those sublime performances in which the personalities of the actor and the character are fulfilled in one another."

George C. Scott.jpg

The movie conveys many facts about Patton's career, but highlights his colorful personality and his controversial role in the public eye. The opening of the film has become famous, and is frequently alluded to or parodied. A gigantic American flag fills the screen, and Patton addresses his (unseen) troops with frankness and brutality; the screenplay was inspired by a real speech Patton actually gave. His most famous line in that scene was "I want you to remember that no bastard has ever won a war by dying for his country. We won by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!" "We will not only kill our enemies, but cut his liver out and shine the tracks of ours tanks with it!".

The movie was originally filmed and presented on 70mm wide-screen film, and had a dimension of spectacle which cannot be fully appreciated in home video. The film was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and originally distributed by 20th Century Fox.

The movie has been interpreted as both anti-war and pro-military; Ebert judges the movie to be "a hard-line glorification of the military ethic, personified by a man whose flaws and eccentricities marginalized him in peacetime, but found the ideal theater in battle."

Legacy

  • Patton, an Episcopalian, believed in reincarnation and that he himself had been the hero in many important battles in the ancient world of Rome and Greece.
  • Patton's son, George S. Patton IV, also an Army officer, served near the conclusion of World War II. He also served in Korea and Vietnam, and attained the rank of major general. Toward the end of his career, he was given command of the 2nd Armored Division, the same unit his father had commanded at the beginning of World War II, making father and son the first Army officers to command the same Army division. Patton retired from active service in 1980. A cousin of George S Patton Jr. was Democratic Congressman from Georgia Larry McDonald who was on Korean Airlines Flight 007 shot down by the Soviets just west of Sakhalin Island on Sept. 1, 1983.

Quotes

  • "May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't"

Bibliography

  • Axelrod, Alan. Patton: A Biography. (2006). 205 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Berragan, G. W. "Who Should Bear Primary Responsibility for the Culmination of Patton's Us Third Army on the Moselle in 1944? Are There Lessons for Contemporary Campaign Planning?" Defence Studies 2003 3(3): 161-172. Issn: 1470-2436 Fulltext in Ingenta and Ebsco.
  • Blumenson, Martin. The battle of the generals: the untold story of the Falaise Pocket, the campaign that should have won World War II (1993)
  • Blumenson, Martin. Patton: The Man Behind the Legend, 1885-1945 (1985) excerpt and text search
  • Blumenson, Martin. The Battle of the Generals: The Untold Story of the Falaise Pocket - the Campaign That Should Have Won World War II. 1993. 288 pp.
  • D'Este, Carlo. Patton: A Genius for War (1995) 978pp
  • Dietrich, Steve E. "The Professional Reading of General George S. Patton, Jr." Journal of Military History 1989 53(4): 387-418. Issn: 0899-3718 Fulltext in Jstor
  • Essame, H. Patton: A Study in Command. 1974. 280 pp.
  • Hirshson. Stanley P. General Patton: A Soldier's Life. (2002)
  • Pullen, John J. "'You Will Be Afraid.'" American Heritage 2005 56(3): 26-29. Issn: 0002-8738 Fulltext in Ebsco.
  • Rickard, John Nelson. Patton at Bay: The Lorraine Campaign, September to December 1944. Praeger, 1999. 295 pp.
  • Showalter, Dennis. Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century (2005).
  • Smith, David Andrew. George S. Patton: A Biography. Greenwood, 2003. 130 pp.
  • Spires, David N. Patton's Air Force: Forging a Legendary Air-Ground Team. 2002. 377 pp.
  • Weigley, Russell F. Eisenhower's Lieutenants: The Campaign of France and Germany 1944-1945 (1981)
  • Wilson, Dale Eldred. `Treat 'Em Rough'! The United States Army Tank Corps in the First World War. Temple U. Press (1990). 352 pp.

Primary Sources

  • George S. Patton, Jr., War As I Knew It (1947) excerpt and text search
  • Blumenson, Martin, ed. The Patton Papers. Vol. 1, 1885-1940. 1972. 996 pp.; The Patton Papers: Vol. 2, 1940-1945. 1974. 889 pp.

notes

  1. Pullen (2005)