General Patton Essay, Research Paper
U.S. Army officer George Smith Patton was an outstanding practitioner of mobile tank warfare in the European and Mediterranean theatres during World War II. His strict discipline, toughness, and self-sacrifice elicited pride within his ranks. General Patton was referred to as “Old Blood-and-Guts.” In 1909 he graduated from U.S military academy at West Point, New York. He began his army career as a cavalry lieutenant and After serving with the U.S. Tank Corps in World War I, Patton became a vigorous proponent of tank warfare. He was made a tank brigade commander in July 1940. On April 4, 1941, he was promoted to major general, and two weeks later he was made commander of the 2nd Armored Division. Soon after the Japanese surprise air attack on Pearl Harbor, he was made corps commander in charge of both the 1st and 2nd Armored divisions and organized the desert training centre at Indio, California. Patton was commanding general of the western task force during the U.S. operations in North Africa in November 1942. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in March 1943 and led the U.S. 7th Army in Sicily, employing his armour in a rapid drive that captured Palermo in July. The apogee of his career came with the dramatic sweep of his 3rd Army across northern France in the summer of 1944. Prior to the Normandy Invasion, he was publicly placed in command of the 1st U.S. Army Group, a fictitious army whose supposed marshaling in eastern England helped to deceive German commanders into thinking that the invasion would take place in the Pas-de-Calais region of France. Patton’s armoured units were not operational until August 1, almost two months after D-Day, but by the end of the month they had captured Mayenne, Laval, Le Mans, Reims, and Chalons. They did not stop until they hurtled against the strong German defenses at Nancy and Metz in November. In December his forces played a strategic role in defending Bastogne in the massive Battle of the Bulge. By the end of January 1945 Patton’s forces had reached the German frontier; on March 1 they took Trier, and in the next 10 days they cleared the entire region north of the Moselle River, trapping thousands of Germans. They then joined the 7th Army in sweeping the Saar and the Palatinate, taking 100,000 prisoners. Patton’s military achievements caused authorities to overlook strong civilian criticism of some of his methods, including his widely reported striking of a hospitalized, shell-shocked soldier in August 1943. (Patton publicly apologized for the incident.) His public criticisms of the Allied postwar denazification policy in Germany led to his removal from the command of the 3rd Army in October 1945. The controversial general died in a Heidelberg hospital after an automobile accident near Mannheim.