“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
In 2017 Patton must be remembered on account of his dashing and aggressive leadership in World War II that saved countless lives and helped to shorten the duration of the war in Europe.
Patton Home. 1220 Patton Court, San Marino, CA
George S. Patton Jr. grew up in Pasadena, California. He was born in 1885 to a wealthy California family. He enjoyed riding horses in the hills around Pasadena. His childhood home at 1220 Patton Court in San Marino today is a private residence that is not open to the public (his sister Anne Wilson Patton, “Nita”, lived there until her death in 1971.
Patton Court. San Marino, CA
Patton’s family had a strong military tradition. His great uncle had served in the Confederate Army in the US Civil and was killed in Pickett’s charge at the battle of Gettysburg. Patton attended West Point where he did well in spite of his dyslexia. Patton also competed as pentathlete at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.
Church of Our Savior. Patton’s Church in San Gabriel, CA
Patton’s first military experience took place in 1916 during President Wilson’s undeclared war against Pancho Villa. We noted this in the Mexico chapter of America Invades…
“Wilson intervened again in Mexico in 1916, this time to strike at Pancho Villa, a notorious bandit leader who had launched a series of raids along the US-Mexico border. Brigadier General John Pershing was sent to lead the Punitive Expedition from New Mexico into Chihuahua. Pershing was a tough veteran of Indian wars and the Moro uprising in the Philippines (see “Philippines”), who would later lead the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. A young George S. Patton Jr., whose
attractive sister “Nita” (Anne Wilson Patton) was dating the widower Pershing, was detailed to Pershing’s staff.
Pancho Villa, as it turned out, proved to be somewhat elusive, but Patton, leading a small patrol, participated in a skirmish at San Miguelito in which three Villistas were killed. When about fifty Villistas approached the hacienda, Patton beat a hasty retreat with the three dead men strapped across his automobile hood. Patton was promoted to first lieutenant.”
In the Morocco chapter of America Invades we noted that seventy five years ago Patton led American forces in an invasion of Morocco…
Patton Statue. Church of Our Savior, San Gabriel, CA
“On November 8, 1942, US troops, under the command of General George “Blood and Guts” Patton, who studied the Koran on the voyage across the Atlantic, landed on three sites on the coast.
The United States, in invading Morocco, was attacking a nation with which it was not at war at the time—Vichy France was technically neutral. The point of Operation Torch invasions across North Africa was to strategically outflank Rommel’s Africa Corps and the Italians in Libya who faced the British driving west from Egypt…After the battle of Casablanca, the red carpet was rolled out for the surrendering French officers who had ruled Morocco. After negotiating the terms of surrender with the French, Patton, who was fluent in French, “held up his hand and told them there was one last formality to be completed.” Worried looks were quickly replaced by smiles as champagne bottles were opened and Patton offered a toast to the renewal of France and America’s age-old friendship.
Patton also turned out to be a surprisingly successful diplomat when he served as the putative viceroy of Morocco. He wrote to the sultan of Morocco assuring him they came as friends, not as conquerors, and did not intend to stay after the war. Patton frequently entertained the sultan (whom he referred to as “Sa Majesté”) and escorted him on inspection trips.”
Patton stained glass window. Church of our Savior, San Gabriel, CA
In Tunisia American forces were initially humiliated by the Germans at the Battle of Kasserine Pass. “Eisenhower dismissed Lloyd Fredendall and put General George “Blood and Guts” Patton in command of II Corps in Tunisia. With fresh leadership, there was an almost immediate improvement in morale. On March 16, Patton told his staff, “Gentlemen, tomorrow we attack. If we are not victorious, let no one come back alive.”
On April 3 1943, Patton held a meeting in Gafsa with Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder to demand that his soldiers receive better air cover; they were interrupted by three Focke Wulf fighters that strafed the streets and headquarters. Tedder, dusting himself off, inquired how the Germans had managed to achieve this, to which Patton famously replied, “I’ll be damned if I know, but if I could find the sonsabitches who flew those planes, I’d mail each one a medal.”
“I have finished my course” detail of Patton stained glass window. Church of our Savior, San Gabriel, CA
Patton did not participate directly in D-Day on June 6, 1944. But he famously led the 3rd US Army in France and northern Europe. In America Invades we noted his remarkable leadership of American forces in France. “As commander of the US Third Army after D-Day, Patton, led an army that advanced farther and faster than just about any army in military history, crossing twenty-four major rivers and capturing 81,500 square miles of territory, including more than twelve thousand cities and towns. Patton loved to quote Danton who said, “De l’audace, et encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace!” (“Audacity, more audacity, always audacity”).”
Patton’s accomplishments are celebrated in a stained glass window of an Episcopal church. The Church of Our Savior (www.churchofoursaviour.org/) celebrated its 150th anniversary in April of 2017. Patton and his family worshipped in this church over many years. Note the green swastikas which were used in this window — not something one sees everyday in an Episcopal church!
Author, Christopher Kelly at Patton’s grave. Luxembourg American Cemetery
Patton’s grave can be found in the Luxembourg American Memorial cemetery in Hamm Luxembourg (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.com/2017/03/invading-luxembourg.html).