Skip to comments.George Patton's Summer of 1944
Posted on 07/24/2014 5:05:44 AM PDT by Kaslin
Nearly 70 years ago, on Aug. 1, 1944, Lieutenant General George S. Patton took command of the American Third Army in France. For the next 30 days they rolled straight toward the German border.
Patton almost did not get a chance at his summer of glory. After brilliant service in North Africa and Sicily, fellow officers -- and his German enemies -- considered him the most gifted American field general of his generation. But near the conclusion of his illustrious Sicilian campaign, the volatile Patton slapped two sick GIs in field hospitals, raving that they were shirkers. In truth, both were ill and at least one was suffering from malaria.
Public outrage eventually followed the shameful incidents. As a result, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was forced to put Patton on ice for 11 key months.
Tragically, Patton's irreplaceable talents would be lost to the Allies in the soon-to-be-stagnant Italian campaign. He also played no real role in the planning of the Normandy campaign. Instead, his former subordinate, the more stable but far less gifted Omar Bradley, assumed direct command under Eisenhower of American armies in France.
In early 1944, a mythical Patton army was used as a deception to fool the Germans into thinking that "Army Group Patton" might still make another major landing at Calais. The Germans apparently found it incomprehensible that the Americans would bench their most audacious general at the very moment when his audacity was most needed.
According to the German High Command, it
would be insane to come across, anywhere BUT
Pas de Calais!
I have been following the daily posts by Homer_J_Simpson (ketword worldwarii) in which he posts the New York Times from 70 years ago today and I noticed that in the time from D-Day to present, the Soviets have advanced nearly 150 miles on Warsaw, the Allies have advanced 150 miles on Florence, but the Allies in Normandy have advanced barely 20 miles from the beach. I know that after Patton takes over (a week from today) the allied advance against the Germans in France will be epic. The folks back home must have seen him as heroic, even invincible.
Leadership & ability: 2 things sorely lacking in Obama.
Nothing against Patton, but it helps to have the enemy’s codes broken, and air superiority. When you know where and when their supplies are being transported, you cut their logistics, and the odds are in your favor.
In Patton’s favor, he knew what he had going for him and took full advantage. That was his genius.
Now Monte on the other hand...
“How could a supreme commander like Eisenhower handle Patton, who at any given moment could and would let loose with politically incorrect bombast?”
By placing the PRIORITY on WINNING and screwing the PC nonsense!!!!!!
Americas’s greatest Generals: Washington, Andrew Jackson, Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Pershing, Eisenhower, McArthur, Patton, possibly Schwartzkopf.
My Dad was a junior officer in the 45th ID (Thunderbirds) in the SLOG up Italy and at Anzio. The disaster of the Anzio landing was the pause to consolidate, reinforce and organize without pushing out to the surrounding high ground. US Generals John Lucas and his immediate superior, Mark Clark, have been strongly criticized for allowing German forces to close the beachhead and turn a brilliant around-the-back amphibious attack into a 4+ month siege and bleeding! Somehow I cannot see General Patton making the same ‘caution’ error and PERHAPS done better at the battle up from Salerno!
It is amazing to me how my mind fills in the picture of Patton with George C Scott. The lanky fellow in this picture does not seem to be real in comparison to the burly presence of Scott in the movie. Just an observation of the effect of media upon the psyche of history.
Grant. He ran 4 or 5 complete armies and personally directed the operations in VA. Never lost a battle..except some might say the wilderness, except the wilderness was one continous campaign.
Took Lincoln that long to learn to stay the hell out of the way.
In fairness to all our GI’s in Normandy, the single biggest limiting factor was the Hedgerow country they were fighting in. The boundaries between different farmers’ fields were thickly planted with trees that over the centuries, built up not only thick roots, but stones and excess dirt was piled up along these boundaries to make a sometimes 8 foot high by 8 foot wide wall. The Normandy fields were also quite small. Upon busting through one wall, the troops would find the German machine gun positions imbedded in the next wall 100 yard away, and so on and so on.
By late June, early July of 1944, the GIs devised a cowcatcher like device to put on the front of a Sherman tank that made it like a bulldozer, the pointed end of this device would cut through the roots while the heft of the tank could push the wall down. The German MG 42 bullets would bounce of the tank, and then the tankers could use their machine gun or main gun to destroy the German machine gun nest allowing the infantry to take that field without enormous casualties. This was very effective, but deploying it throughout the theater took time.
By the time we were ready to unleash George Patton, we had broken through most of the most difficult hedgerow country. We had reached the vicinity of St Lo, and the farms here were open, wide fields, excellent terrain for Patton’s tank armies!
I’ve actually driven all over Normandy in the Summer of 1994, 50 years later, and was lucky enough to encounter many groups of Americans who fought then, revisiting for the 50th anniversary as well. Their stories were fabulous, and they told me in many famous places marked as battle sights what went on then. I was quite happy, with my Michelin map of France, as I scouted out the next site, to see a tour bus there that I knew would have those old heroes on it!
I also read Homer J Simpson’s daily posts.
Operation Cobra started on July 25, 1944 (70 years ago tomorrow). 1500 B-17s and B-24s dropped about 3000 tons of bombs with another 1000 tons of bombs and napalm dropped by medium bombers. Some of our own soldiers were killed by bombs falling short because our bombers dropped perpendicular to the road instead of parallel. Cobra allowed Patton’s 3rd Army to breakout across France.
I think the lanky guy standing was Omar Bradley played by Karl Malden.
The funny thing about Patton was that he hated his voice, it was supposed to be high pitched and rose and octave when he was mad.
There’s a couple of good books on Patton, I read recently “Genius for War” and it was pretty good.
In the film, the person who comes out the best is Bradly, who consulted on the film.
I know this will get me barbequed with Southern FReepers, but I would question Stonewall Jackson’s inclusion. There is some debate about whether his nickname is a compliment or an insult. And there were numerous incidents when he failed to execute his orders, executed them late, or changed them beyond recognition. Maybe those are marks of military genius — and to be fair, he occasionally exhibited signs of that as well — or maybe they’re symptoms of a narcissistic sociopath who saw himself as God’s avenging angel ... sort of a reverse John Brown with a general’s stars.
I had a similar experience in Normandy in 2004. I was working near Geneva and took my 2 ten age kids up there for 4 days near the 60th anniversary. We will never forget it.
Most of our citizens have...
I get it’s an article on Patton and don’t disagree that he was a genius at what he did. But...”far less gifted Omar Bradley”...I think is a bit much.
Omar did well in his role and got a ton out of his troops more than most of the other generals. I wouldn’t put him on an equal plateau with Patton, but I wouldn’t put him anywhere near Montgomery who was “far less” than Patton in everything except politics.
Funny how that works.
I’m sorry but no other General could have stopped in the middle of one attack and immediately move several hundred miles to help relieve Bastogne, like Patton did. That was pure balls on his part.
You can say that again
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