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One of the most complicated military men of all time, General George Smith Patton, Jr. was born November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. He was known for carrying pistols with ivory handles and his intemperate manner, and is regarded as one of the most successful United States field commanders of any war. He continually strove to train his troops to the highest standard of excellence.

Patton decided during childhood that his goal in life was to become a hero. His ancestors had fought in the Revolutionary War, the Mexican War and the Civil War, and he grew up listening to stories of their brave and successful endeavors. He attended the Virginia Military Institute for one year and went on to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point on June 11, 1909. He was then commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the 15th cavalry Regiment.

Patton married Beatrice Ayer, whom he dated while at West Point, on May 26, 1910. In 1912 he represented the United States at the Stockholm Olympics in the first Modern Pentathlon

Patton's first real exposure to battle occurred when he served as a member of legendary General John J. Pershing's staff during the expedition to Mexico. In 1915, Patton was sent to Fort Bliss along the Mexican border where he led routine cavalry patrols. A year later, he accompanied Pershing as an aide on his expedition against Francisco "Pancho" Villa into Mexico. Patton gained recognition from the press for his attacks on several of Villa's men.

Impressed by Patton's determination, Pershing promoted him to Captain and asked him to command his Headquarters Troop upon their return from Mexico. With the onset of World War I in 1914, tanks were not being widely used. In 1917, however, Patton became the first member of the newly established United States Tank Corps, where he served until the Corps were abolished in 1920. He took full command of the Corps, directing ideas, procedures and even the design of their uniforms. Along with the British tankers, he and his men achieved victory at Cambrai, France, during the world's first major tank battle in 1917.

Using his first-hand knowledge of tanks, Patton organized the American tank school in Bourg, France and trained the first 500 American tankers. He had 345 tanks by the time he took the brigade into the Meuse-Argonne Operation in September 1918. When they entered into battle, Patton had worked out a plan where he could be in the front lines maintaining communications with his rear command post by means of pigeons and a group of runners. Patton continually exposed himself to gunfire and was shot once in the leg while he was directing the tanks. His actions during that battle earned him the Distinguished Service Cross for Heroism, one of the many medals he would collect during his lifetime.

After WWI, Patton held a variety of staff jobs in Hawaii and Washington, D.C. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1924, and completed his military schooling as a distinguished graduate of the Army War College in 1932.

The United States officially entered World War II in December 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. By November 8, 1942, Patton was commanding the Western Task Force, the only all-American force landing for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. After succeeding there, Patton commanded the Seventh Army during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and in conjunction with the British Eighth Army restored Sicily to its citizens.

Patton commanded the Seventh Army until 1944, when he was given command of the Third Army in France. Patton and his troops dashed across Europe after the battle of Normandy and exploited German weaknesses with great success, covering the 600 miles across France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. When the Third Army liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp, Patton slowed his pace. He instituted a policy, later adopted by other commanders, of making local German civilians tour the camps. By the time WWII was over, the Third Army had liberated or conquered 81,522 square miles of territory.

In October 1945, Patton assumed command of the Fifteenth Army in American-occupied Germany. On December 9, he suffered injuries as the result of an automobile accident. He died 12 days later, on December 21, 1945 and is buried among the soldiers who died in the Battle of the Bulge in Hamm, Luxembourg.

Remembered for his fierce determination and ability to lead soldiers, Patton is now considered one of the greatest military figures in history. The 1970 film, "Patton," starring George C. Scott in the title role, provoked renewed interest in Patton. The movie won seven Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Picture, and immortalized General George Smith Patton, Jr. as one of the world's most intriguing military men.

Nazi-Germany had some excellent marshalls like Erwin Rommel, Albert von Kesselring and Gerd von Rundstedt. They all respected Patton per distance. Gerd von Rondstedt (the Marshall, who after Stalingrad called Adolf Hitler for the Boemian korporal) said after WW2 to the Allied reporters with the usual sharp militarian precision: "Patton was your best!".

George S. Patton, Jr. - 1885 - 1945

Lederskab, sagde Patton, er det, der sikrer sejren. Jeg har det - men Fanden tage mig, om jeg kan definere det. Det består formentlig i at vide, hvad du vil, gøre det og blive vred, hvis nogen står i vejen. Selvsikkerhed og lederskab er tvillinger.

Den sublime ironi består i, at Pattons selvsikkerhed var skuespil, tvungen og unaturlig, naglet til hans ydre. Men hans lederskab var virkeligt og inspirerende, næsten håndgribeligt.
Det virkede!

Han var tilsyneladende sikkerheden selv i handling og havde på uforlignelig vis altid ret. Paradoksalt stammede disse egenskaber fra hans oplevelse af utilstrækkelighed grundet ordblindhed. Patton stræbte efter perfektion. Hans anstrengelser mundede ud i succes, men med ubegribelige omkostninger for ham. Aldrig tilfreds med sin egen indsats. Det, der gjorde det muligt for George Patton at nå det mål, han så brændende ønskede sig, var ikke kun hans kolossale viljestyrke og handekraft; det var også hans store held, at hans liv stillede krav om netop de kvaliteter, der er essentielle for storslået ledelse.

George Patton havde arvet sine karaktertræk fra den germanske ridder, fra korsfareren, og han var en af USA´s største feltherrer gennem historien. Hans genialiteter på kamppladsen vil altid være et mysterium, men også det er en del af legenden.

Bag hans hårde ydre var et følsomt, letbevægeligt og lunefuldt væsen. Stemningssvingende, som så mange store personligheder (næsten) altid er....

Hans nærmeste Omar Bradley, Courtney Hodges, Clark, Bedell Smith og ikke mindst Ike (Dwight Eisenhower) mærkede deres geniale og stemningssvingende kollega i forskellige situationer. Hans 3 stjerner matchede ved krigens slutning ikke de andres 4 ( og Eisenhowers 5te). Men hans fortjenester først i Nordafrika, senere og ikke mindst i Ardennerne med hhv. 7. og 3. arme kvalificerede som feltmarskal til mange flere, end hvad der var plads til på hans hjelm. - Selvom de andre generaler periodevis fandt han nærmest ulidelig, vidste og anerkendte de -
nogle i det stille - hans sjældne talent.

Lørdag d. 22.december 1945 udåndede Patton efter en trafikulykke. Hans båre blev ført fra Heidelberg det sidste stykke i særtog med æresvagter ved samtlige passerede stationer. Han døde i det land, der var en fjende, men som besad en mentalitet, som han på flere vinkler respekterede.

Den amerikanske krigskirkegaard i den lille by Hamm (LUX) indeholder en meget stor og kendt general. Tilstrømningen post mortem gjorde, at graven nu er placeret forrest ved siden af den lave mur ( også hans loyale hustru Beatrices aske (1953) blev diskret gravet ned sammesteds).

NAZI-Tysklands største feltmarskaller Erwin Rommel, Albert von Kesselring og Gerd von Rundstedt frygtede og respekterede ham. von Rundstedt (efter Stalingrad kaldte han Adolf Hitler for den bøhmiske korporal) blev efter krigen spurgt om de allierede. Hans svar kom prompte og militærisk præcist:"
Patton var jeres bedste!"

Ganske få overlevende har oplevet Patton, men den fantastiske Oscar-normerede film "George Patton" med den (afdøde) næsten lige så store geniale krukke George C. Scott visualiserer en af De forenede Staters allerstørste generaler på sublim vis. Enhver Patton ( eller Scott...) -fan, bør se denne film mindst 1 gang."
General Patton website