George S. Patton Jr.
American General during WWIIby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
During of the Second World War, especially in the European theater, the Allied Forces benefited greatly from the military expertise and the strategic abilities of a particularly colorful American general. That general’s name was George S. Patton Jr., a loud, opinionated, yet very disciplined soldier who understood the importance of courage and toughness in battle. Because of his ingenuity and skillful leadership of several Allied divisions, the Allies were able to overcome great difficulties and win great victories against the Axis powers in Europe. God used Patton to give the Allies an edge during WWII.
Born in 1885 in San Gabriel, California, Patton came from a long line of American soldiers. He was the descendant of George Washington, and his family could be traced back to a king of England and one of France, and it is said that he was related to 16 of those who signed the Magna Charta. He was an ambitious child, and wanted to be a hero from a very young age. Patton was born with dyslexia and because of this was home schooled until he was 11 years old. After he graduated from high school Patton was accepted to West Point and studied there for five years. While he was at West Point, he was dating/courting a young lady named Beatrice Ayer. They were married on the 26th of may, 1910, one year after graduating from West Point in 1909. He received a commission from the U.S. army as Second Lieutenant of the 15th Cavalry. For the next few years, Patton would hone his military and athletic skills, graduating from a cavalry school and representing the United States at the 1912 Olympics, where he placed fifth in the Pentathlon.
In 1915, Patton became involved in the U.S. endeavor to capture the Mexican rebel Francisco “Poncho” Villa, where he killed Poncho Villa’s chief body guard, Julio Cardenas, and was assigned as an aide to General John J. Pershing during this campaign. Patton’s toughness and skill in battle gained him much distinction, and Pershing gave him the rank of captain. Then in 1917, during the course of the First World War, Pershing made Patton a commanding officer in the new U.S. Tank Corps, and Patton became a lieutenant colonel of the First Tank Brigade. The assignment to the Tank Corps became a pivotal moment in Patton’s career, and for the rest of his life he would remain a tank enthusiast, constantly voicing his opinions about the proper and efficient usage of tanks in warfare. Under Patton’s strict standards and hard discipline, the men under his command became well trained in the use of their tanks. In September of 1918, Patton’s unit took part in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, during which Patton was wounded in the leg. He received a Purple Heart and the Service Cross for his actions during that maneuver.
After the war ended, the Tank Corps was disbanded, much to Patton’s dismay. He would spend the next few years advancing through military ranks and continuing his support of the use of tanks by the U.S. on a massive scale. At this point in his life, Patton had earned himself the nickname “Old Blood and Guts” with his unabashedly militaristic outlook and strict adherence to discipline. He had a fiery temper and a penchant for profanity, and he certainly did not mince words when it came to discussing the business of war. He is alleged to have said once in a speech “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other (expletive) die for his.” Yet he also had some religious influences, believing in God and the power of prayer. However, his theology strayed far beyond the scope of Christianity, given his belief in reincarnation.
Congress finally took Patton’s call for a large-scale use of tanks seriously when World War II broke out. In 1940, the Armored Force was formed, and Patton became the General of the First Armored Corps. Now he could put all of his years of experience and discipline to work against the Axis powers. When the Allies mounted an invasion of North Africa in 1942, Patton went up against the Nazi General Erwin Rommel, forcing the Axis troops into retreat and gaining much territory in the area. Later, in the spring of 1943, Patton was put in charge of the Seventh Army and given the task of invading Sicily. The attack began on July 10, 1943, and within 38 days, Patton and his Seventh Army had liberated both his half of the island and the eastern half which had been assigned to General Montgomery.
Patton was also known for controversial speeches. One such was so blood-thirsty and it may have fueled the Biscari Massacre, when American troops killed 73 German prisoners of war.
After th successful campaign of Sicily, a pair of regrettable events in that would color Patton’s military career took place later in the summer of 1943, when General Patton was visiting military hospitals. On August 3rd, Patton encountered a private who was receiving treatment for shell-shock, but had no visible wounds. Mistaking the private’s shattered nerves for mere cowardice, Patton’s famous temper became aroused. In a fury, he called the private a coward, struck him, and had him ejected from the tent. A very similar event took place a week later with another private, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower forced Patton to publicly apologize for his actions. Although Patton complied, he was afterwards removed from his command of the Seventh Army.
After a suitable time had passed after this fall from grace, Eisenhower placed Patton in another important position of a very different kind. As a part of Operation Fortitude, the strategic deception campaign in which the Allies were pretending to have an army invade France through Calais, Patton was placed in charge of this fictional army so as to deceive the Germans. The ploy worked, and after the actual invasion of Normandy, France, Eisenhower gave Patton a real division, the Third Army.
In the German's final attack they sent 29 divisions to one weak point in the allied force’s lines which became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans did well, and surrounded the 101st Airborne Division. Patton suddenly turned his troops north, and came to the rescue of the 101st. In a few months, Germany was in full retreat, and Patton was largely responsible. Under his command, the Third Army hauled across 600 miles of enemy territory in Europe, conquering and liberating over 80,000 square miles of land. Because of his capable leadership over the men and vehicles under his command, the Allies were able to win many victories over the Nazis.
On December 9, 1945, Patton was critically injured in an automobile accident, and he died later that month on December 21. His life and his military career illustrate how God will use any kind of man to work his will on earth. If he had only been able to discipline his tongue as well as his troops, he may have become one of America’s most revered Generals. Lack of self-control over the tongue led to lack of control over actions. As a small rudder turns a ship, or a bit turns a horse, so the tongue "setteth on fire the course of nature" (James 3:6). Yet, in spite of his temper and his frequently blunt and vulgar manner, Patton had the heart of a soldier, and his bravery and ingenuity had a profound effect on the Allied victory in Europe.
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