Patton, General George S.
George S. Patton (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945), born in San Gabriel, California, was an American general leading U.S. forces in various World War II campaigns.
Patton’s grandfather was a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War. Patton was educated at the Virginia Military Institute and at the West Point Military Academy.
During the Mexican Border Campaign of 1916, Patton was assigned to the 13th Cavalry Regiment in Texas.
During World War I, Patton, then a lieutenant colonel, was placed in charge of the U.S. Tank Corps, which was part of the American Expeditionary Force and then the First U.S. Army. He took part in the St. Michel offensive of September, 1918.
Between the wars, Patton wrote professional articles on tank and armored car tactics, suggesting new methods to use these weapons.
During the buildup of the American Army prior to its entry into World War II, Patton established a Desert Training Camp in Indio, California. He also commanded one of the two wargaming armies in the Louisiana manuevers of 1941. Fort Benning, Georgia is well known for General Patton’s presence.
In 1942, Major General Patton commanded the Western Task Force of the U.S. Army, which landed off the coast of Morocco in Operation Torch. Following the defeat of the U.S. Army by the German Afrika Korps at the Battle of Kasserine Pass in 1943, Patton was made lieutenant general and placed in command of II Corps. Although tough in his training, he was generally considered fair and very well liked by his troops.
Patton led the Seventh Army in the 1943 Sicilian campaign and in operations in Italy. During this period, while visiting a hospital, he slapped a soldier who he thought was showing cowardly behavior. (The soldier had suffered malaria and had no visible wounds). Because of this action, Patton was kept out of public view for some time.
In the period leading to the Normandy invasion, Patton gave public talks as commander of the (fictional) First U.S. Army Group (FUSAG), which was supposedly intended to invade France by way of Calais. This was part of a sophisticated Allied campaign of military deception, Operation Fortitude.
Following the Normandy invasion, Patton was placed in command of the Third U.S. Army, which was on the extreme right (west) of the Allied lands. He led this army through tough fighting hampered by the Norman system of planting hedgerows, besieged Cherbourg, and then moved south and east, assisting in trapping several hundred thousand German soldiers in Falaise.
The Third Army was stopped because of a lack of fuel in September, and resumed offensive operations in the late fall of 1944. When the German army counterattacked during the Battle of the Bulge, Patton was able to disengage his army fighting eastward and turned it ninety degrees north # a considerable tactical and logistical achievement.
Once the Bulge was reduced, Patton moved into the Saar Basin of Germany. Patton was planning to take Prague, Czechoslovakia, when the forward movement of American forces was halted.
In October 1945 General Patton assumed control of the Fifteenth Army in American-occupied Germany. He died from injuries suffered in a jeep accident.
Patton wrote a diary, the basis of which formed his posthumous memoirs, War As I Knew It.
The movie Patton, made in 1970, was based on a biography by Ladislas Farago and on the autobiography of General Omar Bradley, A Soldier’s Story. The movie condenses several incidents into a two-hour film.