GEORGE S. PATTON, “Old blood and Guts”
George Smith Patton is a very famous American because of his contributions in both World War I and II. He was considered one of the greatest U.S. generals of World War II. This war started in 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Hitler. Then, Italy, under the leadership of Benito “el duce” Mussolini, unites with Germany. The United States wouldn’t enter this war until Japan declared war by destroying their naval base on the Pacific Ocean called Pearl Harbor. It lasted 6 years and ended in1945 with the triumph of the Allies and the use of the atomic bomb for the first time on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Because of Patton’s great leadership, the U.S. was able to invade North Africa, capture Sicily and halt the German counter attack in the Battle of Bulge.
Patton had a family with a long tradition of military service. His father, George Patton, was the son of a brigadier general in command of the 22d Virginia Regiment who was killed at the Battle of Winchester in the Civil War for the Confederacy. His mother, Ruth Wilson, was the daughter of a savage fighter nicknamed “Don Benito” who was very well known for once returning from a battle with Indians, with a basket full of the enemies heads. George Smith Patton Junior was born on November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. Even though George grew up on his father ranch, he learned a lot of things. Here he was taught how to hunt, fish, sail, horseback ride and many things about agriculture. His mother was an excellent horsewoman who taught Patton, while his father read to him the works of Homer, Shakespeare and the Holy Bible.
All that Patton could learn from his parents was very important because he was not able to begin his formal education until he was 11. There is no known reason to why he couldn’t enter any school until he was this old. It has been stated that the cause may have been his dyslexia. Not even the fact that Patton had memorization abilities could get him on educational institutions. “Patton could quote long passages of books that other students would not dare attempt to read. Though impressive, this ability did not change the fact that he was illiterate.”
Patton studied at Dr. Stephen Cotter Clark’s Classical School for Boys in Pasadena and then passed on to the Pasadena High School. He had many learning problems and here he learned things that many of the boys his age had learned a long time ago. Patton had many great ideas and made many contributions to the class, but had problems with arithmetic and other important themes. Later on Patton decided to leave this school and was accepted at the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, VA. Patton had a year of preparation and then was transferred to the respected West Point. He had problems graduating due to his bad grades in French and Math classes, but he finally graduated in 1909 and was given the rank of 2d Lieutenant in the 15th Cavalry.
While at West Point, Patton was a very skillful athlete. He played football and was not only characterized for his amazing records, but also for his roughness while playing. He played with so much passion that once he broke both his arms and broke records. He participated in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. His event was the military pentathlon, but he put so much effort in the swimming part that he had to be removed with a boat hook.
Patton can be thought of one of the most successful leaders of his time. And he is not only the best general because of his roughness or because of his techniques, but because of his preparation. “His military career was one of the most colorful of all 20th century military leaders.” Patton’s military career was one of the best of every other general in the World War II. When Patton graduated, he was commissioned a second Lieutenant. Later on in 1916, a Mexican bandit called Francisco “Poncho” Villa was causing some problems to the U.S. and killed 16 Americans in New Mexico. President Woodrow Wilson assigned General John Joseph Pershing to go after Villa. General Pershing chose Patton to aid him on his special assignment. On his first days on this assignment, Patton took out three Villa’s followers. This was a great surprise for Pershing until Patton decided to strap two of the bodies to some fences. General’s Pershing response to this act by Patton was a very brief statement. “We have a bandit in our ranks, this Patton boy! He’s a real fighter!” Patton left everyone amazed. With this, Patton demonstrated his passion while in a fight and how tough he was.
Soon after Patton returned from Mexico, the United States entered World War I against Germany and Austria- Hungary on 1914. General Pershing was assigned as the head of the Expeditionary Forces and again decided to bring with him George Patton but this time he was Captain George Patton. During this war Pershing was a great commander and helped Patton a lot on what he was doing right or wrong, only that he always was against the idea of promoting Patton to lead troops in battle. Patton decided to express himself and went to talk to Pershing and gave him some arguments to support his discontent. Pershing was so convinced of promoting Patton that he gave Patton the choice to choose either command of an infantry battalion or an assignment to the Tank Corps. Patton was very confused about what task to choose so he decided to ask for his father-in-law’s advice. After he took his father-in-law’s recommendation, he informed General Pershing that he had chosen the assignment to the Tank Corps.
Patton started visiting French and English training centers and here he kept notes on the tank’s abilities and capabilities. By 1918, Patton was promoted to Major and made his tank-training center in Langres, France. He had many soldiers signed up for the training and the first delivery of 20 tanks arrived and they became the 304th Tank Brigade. Patton was known all around Europe for the training he gave to his men.
“The men of the 304th were worked hard by Patton. He would drill them hard and was a stickler for discipline: “All human beings have an innate resistance to obedience. Discipline removes this resistance and by constant repetition, makes obedience habitual and unconscious.” His men were considered the best trained in Europe.”
Patton gave the best training he could give to their men, and their men the best they could give in response to Patton. On September 12, the Germans attacked but Patton failed and 104 of his 174 tanks got trapped in the mud. General Rochenbacher was very disappointed with Patton and he was threatened with being relieved of his position. Patton had to do something to give satisfaction to his General so he decided to take his tanks on an unauthorized mission the next day. Three of his tanks were able to break through the Germans and the mission was accomplished. With this Patton could convince of what he and his 304th were capable of. A few weeks later Patton was wounded in a mission that had the objective of taking over a machine gun nest. Because of this he had to spend the rest of the war at the hospital. He received the Service Cross and Medal, and the Purple Heart (Appendix).
Patton spent his years after the war going from base to base as a control officer for mechanized maneuvers as a brigadier general. Patton was so harsh to everyone that during this time he got nicknamed “Old Blood and Guts”. Patton joined the Second Armored Division at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1940. He was named commanding general in April 11, 1941, and later on was promoted to Major General George S. Patton Jr.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor. This attack got the United States to fight in the World War II. On February 5, 1942, Patton was assigned to create a Desert Training Center to train both men and machines to fight in desert conditions. They were getting ready to fight some German troop under the command of Marshal Erwin Rommel “The Desert Fox”. Patton was asked to get his men trained well and fast. Four months later Patton found out that he was being sent to North Africa.
On November 8, 1942, General Patton and his Tank Force landed on the beaches of French Morocco. Here the Americans had to fight the French who where under orders to resist. Patton organized a fight, which included Naval, air and ground bombardment to Casablanca. The same day the attack was scheduled for, the French were ordered to cease resistance. In March 1943, Eisenhower transferred Patton to the American II Corps. Eisenhower, who gave him many important assignments, considered Patton a great leader.
“II Corps had a sub-par performance thus far in Operation Torch. “The troops had to be picked up quickly,” Eisenhower remarked, “For such a job Patton has no superior in the Army… General Patton’s buoyant leadership and strict insistence upon discipline rapidly rejuvenated the II Corps and brought it up to fighting pitch.””
The plan assigned to Patton was to work along with Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery’s British forces to break through German lines. Just when Patton found an opportunity to break through the lines by the east side, the British General Sir Harold Alexander ordered Patton to abort that mission and keep Africa Corps from running off while Montgomery’s Army broke through the line. After this, Patton was very frustrated, but he was back in action when Eisenhower assigned him to plan Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. By May 20, Northern Africa was under Allied control.
Allied forces landed on Sicily’s coast on July 20, 1943. Patton’s was moved to the Seventh Army and while making plans, he was asked to double check with the British. Montgomery criticized a lot Patton’s plans, but Patton did not even care for him. The invasion lasted 39 days of constant conflict. The Americans had already accomplished their task but Montgomery had problems pushing north. A final push to the Northern city of Palermo, which resulted in 6,000 German casualties and 44,000 prisoners, gave the Allies the victory. By July 22, 1943, Western Sicily was under Allied occupation and later on Patton aid Montgomery, who was stuck at the south in Mount Etna.
On August 3, while Patton was visiting the wounded at the 15th Evacuation Hospital, one of the most legendary stories about Patton took place. He found a soldier very depressed so he decided to ask what was going on. The soldier answered Patton by saying, “I guess I just can’t take it.” Patton got enraged and struck the soldier on the face with his gloves, called him a coward, cursed him and kicked him out of the tent. Seven days later, while Patton was visiting the 93d Evacuation Hospital, a very similar incident happened. Patton asked a soldier what was wrong and the soldier replied, “It’s my nerves,” and began to cry. Patton screamed at him “What did you say?” And the soldier replied him “It’s my nerves, I can’t stand the shelling anymore.” Again Patton was furious and called the man a coward, struck him and this time he even threaten to kill him. Patton was ordered personally by Eisenhower to formally apologize to the soldiers.
Patton was given the command of the United States Third Army and on New Years Eve, 1943, the Third Army was put on active duty. They traveled to England to prepare for the Allied invasion of Europe. On June 5, 1944, Patton addressed the Third Army with a speech about what he expected of every soldier.
“He also reassured the men, but told the truth. War is not a pretty thing. The speech was very vulgar and very colorful, but in a rhetorical manner which got through to the soldiers better.”
On June 6, 1944, the biggest invasion in the history began.