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George S. Patton
George Smith Patton Jr.
General in the United States Army
1885 11 11
HOW PATTON SAW THE WAR—IN HIS OWN PHOTOGRAPHS
Old Blood and Guts’s personal photographs reveal how he saw the war from North Africa to Germany.
By JERRY D. MORELOCK
General George S. Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885—December 21, 1945), America’s best-known World War II battle commander, was famously nicknamed “Old Blood and Guts” for his aggressive and daring leadership style—an image deliberately cultivated through ostentatious uniforms and profanity-laced “motivational” speeches to his troops. Patton led American soldiers to victory in campaigns from November 1942 to May 1945 in North Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium, and Germany.
However, to gain some insight into how Patton himself viewed the war, the Library of Congress’s Patton Papers includes six boxes of photos and negatives that Patton personally took during the war and sent home to his wife, Beatrice.
The 11 “coffee table-sized” photograph albums Beatrice created and donated to the library provide a fascinating snapshot of what caught Patton’s eye as images worthy of capturing in personal photographs. Here’s a look at how George Patton saw World War II.
George Smith Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a general in the United States Army who commanded the Seventh United States Army in the Mediterranean Theater of World War II, and the Third United States Army in France and Germany after the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
Born in 1885, Patton attended the Virginia Military Institute and the United States Military Academy at West Point. He studied fencing and designed the M1913 Cavalry Saber, more commonly known as the "Patton Saber". He competed in the modern pentathlon in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. Patton entered combat during the Pancho Villa Expedition of 1916, the United States' first military action using motor vehicles. He fought in World War I as part of the new United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces: he commanded the U.S. tank school in France, then led tanks into combat and was wounded near the end of the war. In the interwar period, Patton became a central figure in the development of the army's armored warfare doctrine, serving in numerous staff positions throughout the country. At the United States' entry into World War II, he commanded the 2nd Armored Division.
Patton led U.S. troops into the Mediterranean theater with an invasion of Casablanca during Operation Torch in 1942, and soon established himself as an effective commander by rapidly rehabilitating the demoralized II Corps. He commanded the U.S. Seventh Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily, where he was the first Allied commander to reach Messina. There he was embroiled in controversy after he slapped two shell-shocked soldiers, and was temporarily removed from battlefield command. He was assigned a key role in Operation Fortitude, the Allies' military deception campaign for Operation Overlord. At the start of the Western Allied invasion of France, Patton was given command of the Third Army, which conducted a highly successful rapid armored drive across France. Under his decisive leadership, the Third Army took the lead in relieving beleaguered American troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, after which his forces drove deep into Nazi Germany by the end of the war.
During the Allied occupation of Germany, Patton was named military governor of Bavaria, but was relieved for making aggressive statements towards the Soviet Union and trivializing denazification. He commanded the United States Fifteenth Army for slightly more than two months. Severely injured in an auto accident, he died in Germany twelve days later, on December 21, 1945.
Patton's colorful image, hard-driving personality, and success as a commander were at times overshadowed by his controversial public statements. His philosophy of leading from the front, and his ability to inspire troops with attention-getting, vulgarity-laden speeches, such as his famous address to the Third Army, was received favorably by his troops, but much less so by a sharply divided Allied high command. His sending the doomed Task Force Baum to liberate his son-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel John K. Waters, from a prisoner-of-war camp further damaged his standing with his superiors. His emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action proved effective, and he was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command. An award-winning biographical film released in 1970, Patton, helped popularize his image.
Wikipedia, last update 2023.03.01.
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