Search This Blog

Sunday, 8 January 2017

George S. Patton

George Smith Patton Jr. was born on November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California, to a wealthy family, George Smith Patton Sr. and his wife Ruth Wilson.


George's early years were marred by difficulties in spelling and reading, which has led some historians to speculate that he suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia.

Patton never seriously considered a career other than the military. He applied to several universities with Reserve Officer's Training Corps programs, eventually deciding on the Virginia Military Institute which his father and grandfather had attended. He performed exceptionally in uniform and appearance inspection as well as military drill. While Patton was at VMI, California's Senator nominated him for West Point.

Patton at the Virginia Military Institute, 1907

Patton's academic performance in his plebe (first) year at West Point was so poor that he was forced to repeat his first year after failing mathematics.

Patton's academic performance remained average throughout his time at West Point but he excelled at military drills. He graduated from West Point on June 11, 1909 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Cavalry Branch of the United States Army.

 Patton was selected as the Army's entry for the first modern pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. There he competed against military officers from around the world in an event that included swimming, pistol shooting, running, fencing, and riding. Patton made a respectable showing, finishing fifth overall and first among the non-Swedish competitors.

Patton (at right) fencing in the modern pentathlon of the 1912 Summer Olympics

Patton was wounded during World War I leading the newly formed Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces into combat.


On April 4, 1941 Patton was promoted to major general and made Commanding General (CG) of the 2nd Armored Division during World War II. During the war he was nicknamed ‘ Old Blood and Guts’ for his ruthless drive and leadership as Allied commander.

George S. Patton signed photo by U.S. Army
In 1942 Patton led U.S. troops in the invasion of Casablanca, and later commanded the Seventh Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily.

General Patton slapped shellshocked soldiers because he didn't believe that PTSD was a real thing. After hitting two of his men, he was removed from battlefield command, and transferred to England to lead a fake regiment of inflatable tanks. They served as a distraction to convince the Germans that Normandy would not be the spot of Allied invasion.

Patton returned to lead the Third Army following the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. After a successful armored drive across France, his army helped rescue beleaguered American troops during the Battle of the Bulge (December 16, 1944 – January 25, 1945), the last major German offensive on the Western Front.

Infantry North Carolina NG at St. Vith January 1, 1945

Patton joined his troops on the front lines and inspired them with vulgarity-ridden speeches. His emphasis on aggressive offensive action proved effective, but his hard-driving personality and success as a commander were at times overshadowed by controversial public statements.


Patton married Beatrice Banning Ayer, the daughter of Boston industrialist Frederick Ayer, on May 26, 1910 in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts.

They had three children, Beatrice Smith (born March 1911), Ruth Ellen (born February 1915), and George Patton IV (born December 1923).

General George Patton owned a White Bull Terrier called William the Conqueror, or Willy who went everywhere with Patton, including combat areas.


Patton was a staunch fatalist and believed in reincarnation. He famously believed that in a past life he was either a military leader killed in action from Napoleon's army or a Roman legionary.

During The Battle of The Bulge, General Patton ordered a chaplain to compose a prayer for good weather that was desperately needed for an advance. The chaplain complied, the weather cleared, and Patton awarded the chaplain a bronze star on the spot.


Just before Christmas in 1945, Patton broke his neck in a car crash near Mannheim in Germany. He died in his sleep of pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure 12 days later at about 18:00 on December 21, 1945.

Patton was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in the Hamm district of Luxembourg City, alongside wartime casualties of the Third Army, per his request to "be buried with [his] men."

Patton's grave in Luxembourg City. By Michel dieleman at Dutch Wikipedia

It has been claimed U.S. spy chiefs wanted Patton dead because he was going to expose collusion with the Russians that had cost U.S. lives.

Patton (1970), a movie biography directed by Franklin Schaffner and starring George C. Scott in the title role, won seven Academy Awards, including one for best picture. Scott's depiction of Patton, particularly of his famous speech to the Third Army, earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor.

No comments:

Post a Comment