George S Patton | WW1, North Africa Campaign & Death

George S Patton’s Summary

George S Patton earned a place in the history books as one of the most outstanding military leaders of the twentieth century. His profane language and big personality made his men love him, but his career was marked with controversies, rivalries, and contradictions. Despite his legacy during the war, he remains a dividing figure.

George S Patton Facts

George S Patton
George S Patton Commander of U.S Military (Rare Colour Image)

Full Name: George Smith Patton, Jr.

Born: November 11, 1885, San Gabriel, U.S

Death: December 21, 1945, Heidelberg

Cause of Death: A blood clot

Parents: George S. Patton Sr > Susan Thornton Glassell

Wife:  Beatrice Banning Ayer

Childrens: Beatrice Smith > Ruth Ellen

George S. Patton Early Life

George S. Patton was born into a wealthy Californian family in 1885. Both his grandfather and great-uncle served and died in the American Civil War, and young Patton loved military history, so it only made sense that Patton signed up for the military when he came of age. After studying for a year at the Virginia Military Institute, They earned a place at the West Point Military Academy.

He graduated in 1909 and was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant in the Calvary. Early in his military career, he trained in fencing with a French Master of Arms, Adjutant Charles Clery. He brought his newfound skills back to the U.S., where he became an instructor at the Mounted Service School and became the first U.S. Army officer designated as a “Master of the Sword.”

He even designed a new sword, the U.S. Model 13 Enlisted Sword, which became known as the Patton Saber. Unfortunately, World War I, which began during Patton’s time at the Mounted Service School, essentially ended sword warfare, as tanks and planes emerged as superior war technology.

First Taste of Combat and World War 1

First Taste of Combat and World War1 TS HISTORICA
Patton got his first taste of combat in the Pancho Villa expedition of 1916 – a U.S. Army(Rare-im)

Patton got his first taste of combat in the Pancho Villa expedition of 1916 – a U.S. Army operation into Mexico to track down and contain Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who frequently led raids on border towns in New Mexico. Eager to participate in the action, Patton convinced General John Pershing’s commander to allow him to lead Troop C in the expedition. While Villa evaded capture, Patton’s men attacked and killed three of Villa’s men, earning Patton widespread media attention and the favour of General Pershing.

 

In April 1917, George S Patton was dispatched to France as General Pershing’s Aide-de-camp. However, he soon grew discontent with the monotonous staff position, believing himself above it. By November, they’d transferred to the Tank Corps, where they thrived. While neither a technical expert nor a revolutionary military thinker at the time, he helped conceive mobility adjustments that made tank warfare more successful. This included the idea that the General should use tank warfare to support the infantry, which helped tanks gain approval from infantry officers who were otherwise wary of them. George Patton proved himself a valuable asset to the Tank Corps and was quickly promoted to major and then, by April 1918, lieutenant colonel.

In September 1918, George Patton got his first taste of the war during the Saint Mihiel Offensive. A successful battle for the Allied forces proved the merit of tank warfare. And Patton, leading the charge, proved himself a leader unafraid of the front lines. This earned his men’s admiration, but his commanding officers considered it reckless and stupid. “George Patton was always on the front lines, never in the rear with the Red Cross,” wrote Captain Viner. “That was one of the secrets to his greatness.”

Despite reprimanding his commanders, he continued fighting on the front lines alongside his men. At the Meuse Argonne Offensive, he said, “To hell with them [the Germans]; they can’t hit me.” Testing fate didn’t end well for him, however. He was later hit by a German machine gun and sat out the remainder of the war in hospital, with a Distinguished Service Cross to show his bravery under fire.

Northern Africa Campaign and the Invasion of Sicily

North Africa Campaign
November 1941, (Operation Crusader) British Crusader tank passes a destroyed and smoking German Panzer IV.

By the time war broke out in Europe in 1939, Patton was a colonel and continued to advocate for tank warfare. In the Spring of 1941, he was promoted again to Major General and made Commanding General of the 2nd Armored Division.

In November 1942, George S Patton led the landing at Casablanca and overtook the Vichy French opposition in just three days. His early success in North Africa promoted him to lieutenant general in 1943, and he became the Commanding General of the II Corps. They were an authoritarian leader who expected strict adherence to military regulations and pushed their men to be better soldiers. He had little tolerance for what he perceived as weakness. Despite his harsh leadership style, he rewarded his men well and had their unwavering support throughout the war. After leading his troops to victory at the Battle of El Guettar, he returned to Casablanca to help lead the Allied invasion into Sicily, known as Operation Husky.

George Patton, for this operation, was commander of the Seventh Army, working alongside British General Bernard Montgomery for the first time. While they were both exceptional leaders in their own right, the two men held each other in contempt. Montgomery despised Patton’s audacity, while Patton believed Montgomery’s methodical approach wasted too much time. While the Allied invasion was successful, it was marred by several major controversies involving Patton. First, there was the incident where George Patton shot two mules blocking a bridge on the way to Palermo, a diversion that left his men vulnerable to attack.

The second was the Biscari Massacre, in which two American soldiers executed 73 unarmed POWs after the invasion. The two soldiers were serving under Patton at the time and claimed they were following the orders Patton had given in one of his famous speeches – a claim he denied. They were tried for war crimes, while George Patton was exonerated. Finally, while still in Italy, General Patton berated and physically assaulted several hospitalized soldiers who, in his eyes, showed no physical signs of injury.

Eisenhower personally reprimanded Patton over these incidents and ordered him to apologize. However, recognizing Patton’s formidability as a leader, he refused to discipline him further and even tried to bury the story when the media got a hold of it. But it didn’t stay buried long, and once it reached the American public, many called for Patton’s dismissal.

The Senate also delayed his promotion to Major General. These incidents hindered Patton’s career and cost him a command for almost 11 months. Much to his chagrin, he even missed out on serving in the invasion of Normandy. But his military prowess made him far too valuable of a leader to outright dismiss, and he’d soon find victory on the Western Front. 

The Western Front

The Westorn Front
The Westorn Front

Given Patton’s decisive victories in North Africa and Italy, even the Germans held George Patton in high regard, deeming him the Allies’ most competent and dangerous military leader. Using this to their advantage, the Allies set up a fake command for Patton in England and, through misdirects, convinced the German forces that George Patton would be landing at Pas de Calais.

The Allies hoped this would divert the Germans from Normandy. Operation Fortitude, as it’s known, was successful in this regard. General George Patton arrived in France in July 1944, commanding the U.S. Third Army. His impassioned speeches roused his men to battle. Favouring fast and aggressive tactics, his troops swept through Northern France during the summer of 1944, claiming victory after victory. In his memoir War As I Knew It, George Patton wrote, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” He continued to fight throughout the Autumn of 1944.

In December, when the Germans launched a major offensive in the Battle of the Bulge, Patton rerouted 130,000 Allied troops within days so they could support the counterattack. The main goal was to relieve the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, which had become trapped at Bastogne. It was a grand display of leadership, and General Eisenhower was duly impressed.

George S Patton later wrote, “[This was] the most brilliant operation we have thus far performed, and it is, in my opinion, the outstanding achievement of the war. This is my biggest battle.” By January 1945, the Third Army had forced German forces back over the border. By March, two of Patton’s divisions had overtaken the city of Trier. When he received radio orders to bypass Trier, he famously retorted, “Have taken Trier with two divisions. Do you want me to give it back?” During the nine months George Patton’s Third Army fought in Western Europe, they reclaimed nearly 211,000 square kilometres, wounded or killed almost 170,000 Axis troops, and captured 1.2 million. However, his war victories weren’t enough to protect him after it.

In October 1945, Patton lost command of the Third Army because he criticized the denazification process in Europe. Eisenhower, in particular, was disgruntled by Patton’s refusal to remove former Nazi party members from their posts in Bavaria, with Patton comparing them to Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. and claiming it would be impossible to remove them all.

George S Patton Death

George S Patton Death
Car Accident of George S Patton

On December 8, two days before he was scheduled to return to America, Patton was riding in the back seat of a car with Gay through the suburbs of Mannheim, Germany, when an Army truck abruptly cut them off. Gay and the driver braced themselves for impact, but Patton had been looking out the side window and didn’t see the car.

The impact threw him forward against the metal frame of the glass partition between the front and back seats. He remained conscious, although he cut his head to the bone. they also damaged his neck, and he said, “I think I’m paralyzed.” He added a little later, quote, “This is a helluva way to die.” George Patton was transported by ambulance to a hospital about 15 miles away, where Patton determined that he had fractured and dislocated vertebrae and was paralyzed from the neck.

On December 11, his wife flew in from the States to be with him. Given the state of medicine at those times, it was impossible to operate on Patton’s neck to relieve the paralysis. Patton seemed resigned to his fate; when he saw his wife, he said to her, “I’m afraid, Bea, this may be the last time we see each other.”

On December 20, an x-ray revealed a pulmonary embolism in his right lung. The next day, another struck in his left lung fatally. Patton was buried in a U.S. military cemetery in Luxembourg. Almost immediately, rumours began to circulate that George Patton had been the victim of an assassination plot, despite all evidence to the contrary. And those bizarre conspiracy theories have continued even to this day.

In 2014, Bill O’Reilly, who was then a fixture on Fox News, publishedKilling George Patton as part of a series of books that speculate wildly about famous historical figures’ deaths. O’Reilly claimed that George Patton was killed under orders from Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, telling USA Today, “We believe he was poisoned in the hospital.” Historians immediately weighed in on the O’Reilly theory, pronouncing it as complete and utter rubbish.

Carlo D’Este, the author of Patton: A Genius for War, told Media Matters for America, “You’ve got to look at what George Patton’s situation was. He was a quadriplegic; he was going to die anyway; he was immobilized, he couldn’tmove. What is the point of assassinating him and where did Stalin come from anyway?…Somebody could have snuck into the hospital, but why would you bother? You need to verify facts.” And the sad fact is that one of America’s preeminent warriors died in a routine traffic accident.

General Patton Conclusion

General S Patton remains a contradictory and controversial figure. He was a fearless leader on the battlefield who cared deeply for his men, winning their lifelong reverence. Even other military leaders who disliked George Patton’s aggressive style admired his ability to lead troops in battle.

U.S. military tactics changed dramatically because of Patton. His legacy heavily influenced military operations and even recruitment long after his death. Off the battlefield, however, he held contradictory — and often racist — opinions, and his temper and erratic behaviour ultimately cost him his command. But what do you think? Should we admire General Patton, or is he an overblown historical figure? 

People Also Ask?


What is general George Patton most famous for?

George S Patton earned a place in the history books as one of the most outstanding military leaders of the twentieth century. His profane language and big personality made his men love him, but his career was marked with controversies, rivalries, and contradictions. Despite his legacy during the war, he remains a dividing figure.

Was George S Patton a good leader?

George S Patton was a Good Leader and George S Patton earned a place in the history books as one of the most outstanding military leaders of the twentieth century.

How did General George S Patton Die?

On December 8, two days before he was scheduled to return to America, Patton was riding in the back seat of a car with Gay through the suburbs of Mannheim, Germany, when an Army truck abruptly cut them off. Gay and the driver braced themselves for impact, but Patton had been looking out the side window and didn’t see the car.

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