Genius. Jerk. Call him what you will, General George Patton managed to do the impossible while alienating peers and subordinates alike.
By Richard Sassaman
“[Patton’s] nervous energy, his drive, his sense of history, his concentration on details while never losing sight of the larger picture combined to make him the preeminent American army commander of the war.”
—Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany (1997), Stephen Ambrose
“[Patton was] a swaggering bigmouth, a Fascist-minded aristocrat…brutal and hysterical, coarse and affected, violent and empty…quite mad.”
—Dwight MacDonald, America social critic quoted in The New York Review of Books, December 31, 1964
“Everything that everyone has ever said about George S. Patton, Jr., is probably true.”
—The Patton Papers (1972), Martin Blumenson
George S. Patton, Jr., first became a national hero as a cavalry officer chasing Mexican revolutionaries with future General of the Armies John J. Pershing in 1916. He sealed his iconic status during World War II, commanding armored troops racing to victory across North Africa, Sicily, France, and Germany from 1942 to 1945.
That didn’t mean everyone was ready to crown him with laurels.
A man of many contradictions, Patton aroused intense emotions in admirers and detractors alike throughout his life. When his French counterpart Major General Paul Girot de Langlade called him “an offensive warrior of high class who seems to have no equal among his compatriots for exploitation warfare,” offensive could have been taken either way.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the only World War II figure whose speeches attracted as much attention as Patton’s, could just as easily have been talking about Patton when he referred to Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” For example, Patton was a cavalry officer steeped in the romantic traditions of his Confederate ancestors, yet he was the first to make moves to push the US Army into modern, motorized warfare. He was a wealthy aristocrat—his mother’s father was the first mayor of Los Angeles and had a 14,000-acre ranch that later became several California towns, including Pasadena—yet the common men under his command adored him. He was considered an anti-Semite, yet he fought furiously to save Jews from death in the concentration camps of Europe. He hated the Germans he fought against, but aroused controversy after the war when, as military governor of Bavaria, he retained former Nazis in key government positions.
A bigot, Patton was the only major American general to request more black soldiers, the first American general in history to integrate rifle companies, and the first to use black tank units. “I would never have asked for you if you weren’t good,” Patton told the all-black 761st Tank Battalion. “I have nothing but the best in my Army. I don’t care what color you are as long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sons of bitches.”
The contradictions only continued. Deeply religious, he was perhaps the most profane man in the military. Martin Blumenson, editor of The Patton Papers, writes, “He was unpredictable, capricious, at the same time dependable, loyal. He was brutal yet sensitive. He was gregarious and a loner. Enthusiastic and buoyant, he suffered from inner anguish…. Throughout his lifetime he prompted intense devotion as well as instant dislike.”
Many considered Patton to be an oaf (though it’s now assumed he was dyslexic, which could have helped create that perception). But according to military historian Victor Davis Hanson, he was “without question the best-educated, most experienced, and most widely read general in the American army.” Some use the term “genius.” Carlos D’Este titled his Patton biography A Genius for War. “What made Patton so remarkable was his willingness to take risks and to make crucial life-and-death decisions no one else would dare…,” he wrote. “[He had] that intangible, instinctive sense of what must be done in the heat and chaos of battle: in short, that special genius for war that has been granted to only a select few.”
Others are convinced that, far from being a genius, Patton was mentally ill, having suffered permanent brain damage thanks to his reckless lifestyle and long history of injuries. The index to the first volume of The Patton Papers lists almost 40 entries under “sicknesses and accidents.” Over the years, Patton fell off of or was kicked or butted in the head by horses, fractured numerous bones, was shot in battle, and had a gasoline lamp blow up in his face and set his tent on fire. The traffic accident that would finally kill Patton in late 1945 was minor compared to others. “I had my usual yearly accident,” he wrote to his wife, Beatrice, from France in 1917. “The car ran into a closed railroad gate and I carelessly put my head through the front window….”
Patton thrived on publicity, but it brought him low after he slapped two soldiers suffering in Sicily from battle fatigue. Known as Old Blood and Guts—“his guts, our blood,” some GIs said—he was criticized for his viciousness, but also scorned because he raced his troops in swift flanking movements around an enemy, trying to save lives by avoiding bloody frontal assaults.
Patton did have a temper. And he did love war, “but not the death and destruction,” writes Blumenson in The Patton Papers. “The concentration camps and the ruined cities sickened him, and the losses of his soldiers hurt him…. He loved the excitement of war, the responsibility of war, the prerogatives of his position, and, most of all, the opportunity that war presented to use the skill, leadership, and courage required by his profession—in the same way that a surgeon loves his calling but not the disease, illness, and injury he treats.”
“Never take counsel of your fears.”
“Pursue the enemy with the utmost audacity.”
—inscriptions on the Patton statue at West Point
Patton described war as “very simple, direct, and ruthless.” In one of his earliest preserved writings, he outlined his creed: “Attack, push forward, attack again until the end.” Blumenson explains that “the principles he utilized in armored warfare came from the cavalry. He constantly sought surprise, mobility, maneuver…and the relentless pursuit.” According to Hubert Essame, a British major general in WWII and the author of Patton: A Study in Command (1974), Patton worked “in the light of the cavalry tradition—quick decision, speed in execution, calculated audacity; better a good plan violently executed now than a perfect plan next week.”
At the end of July 1944, just before the Third Army became operational with Patton as commander, the general reminded his men, “Forget this goddamn business of worrying about our flanks…. Flanks are something for the enemy to worry about, not us. I don’t want to get any messages saying that, ‘We are holding our position.’ …We’re not interested in holding on to anything except the enemy. We’re going to hold on to him by the nose and we’re going to kick him in the ass.”
Digging a foxhole, Patton believed, was the same as digging a grave. He considered hiding behind fortifications demoralizing; it made a soldier think “the other man must be damned good, or I wouldn’t have to get behind this concrete.” For Patton, speed was essential, a continual forward motion that demoralized the enemy while energizing yourself. This came naturally to the Americans, wrote Australian war correspondent Chester Wilmot, for they “had in their blood a longing for adventure and an instinct for movement, which they inherited from those pioneers who had broken out across the Alleghenies and opened up the Middle West. To the American troops driving across France, distance meant nothing.” Patton felt that troops sitting still, while in contact with the enemy, began brooding and finding their thoughts turning to what could go wrong. “Action, and offensive action at that, alone brings release,” Essame writes. “This, allied with the concept of speed, was the very heart of the Patton approach to battle.”
In the same manner, Patton preached to his Third Army platoons the idea of marching fire, moving forward while everyone shot off a round every two or three steps. “Shooting adds to your self-confidence because you are doing something,” he told them. And the constant noise of the bullets and their ricochet kept the enemy cowering and unable to return fire.
“Truly in war: ‘Men are nothing, a man is everything.’ …The leader must be an actor…. He is unconvincing unless he lives his part.”
—The Secret of Victory (1926), George S. Patton, Jr.
“Drama and Corn. Patton the General is also Patton the Actor. Showmanship is instinctive in him.”
—Time magazine cover story, April 9, 1945
“For Patton, leadership was never simply about making plans and giving orders,” writes Alan Axelrod, author of Patton: A Biography (2006). “It was about transforming oneself into a symbol, a kind of totem or talisman with which the group identified. His message was never we must succeed but always we will succeed.”
Patton worried that his high-pitched speaking voice would not inspire confidence among his troops and would keep him from being the powerful symbol he wanted to be. And annoyed that “for so fierce a warrior, I have a damned mild expression,” he practiced what he called his “war face” before public appearances.
One of the keys to being a successful leader, Patton believed, was to be everywhere, leading by example. To that end, he even went into the skies. Hoping to understand how enemy aircraft would approach a tank squadron, he bought a small plane, took flying lessons, and at age 55 earned his pilot’s license. “Whenever air and armor can work together,” he said, “the results are sure to be excellent. Armor can move fast enough to prevent the enemy having time to deploy off the roads, and so long as he stays on the roads the fighter-bomber is one of his most deadly opponents.”
Coordinating with airpower also meant that Patton would not have to destroy enemy infrastructure, as earlier raiding parties in history had. As he crossed the Rhine, American and British planes blasted German cities. The Third Army was free to concentrate on opposing troops.
“We’re not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks….
“When we get to Berlin, I am going to personally shoot that paper-hanging Goddamned son of a bitch just like I would a snake….”
“The quicker we clean up this Goddamned mess, the quicker we can take a little jaunt against the purple-pissing Japs and clean out their nest, too.”
—excerpts from a Patton speech on the eve of the Normandy invasion, June 5, 1944
Typically, Patton improvised his famous orations. After giving a speech in May 1944, he wrote in his diary, “As in all my talks, I stressed fighting and killing.” It seems fair to say, as Hanson writes, that “Patton never understood [the] rhetorical responsibilities of a public figure.” His words often jarred Americans, whose censors had kept away from them images of death. The first photo of war dead in the immensely popular Life magazine—three dead soldiers on a New Guinea beach—didn’t appear until September 1943, seven months after the shot was taken. Of the 61 war movies made in America during the latter part of 1942, only five showed anyone being killed in combat. Yet there was Patton, during a Memorial Day speech in 1943, saying, “To conquer, we must destroy our enemies…. We must kill devastatingly. The faster and more effectively you kill, the longer you will live to enjoy the priceless fame of conquerors.”
Patton also offended public sensibility by acting on his conviction that “you can’t run an army without profanity…. When I want my men to remember something important, to really make it stick, I give it to them double dirty.” Hanson thinks Patton used his “tirades and crudity” to gear himself up for playing the role of leader. As “efforts to mask the embarrassment of [having] an aesthetic sense,” he writes, Patton’s “often vulgar outbursts about killing, war, sex, and race” put forth “an image of a general who was a warrior always, not a keen student of the arts and sciences.” Patton himself was blunter: “Sometimes I just get carried away with my own eloquence.”
Patton’s best-known speech, delivered in England on the eve of the Normandy invasion, was later sanitized for public consumption and made immortal in that version by George C. Scott as the opening of the movie Patton. Even in its cleaned-up form, it was so strong that Scott worried it would overshadow his performance in the rest of the film. So, director Franklin J. Schaffner reportedly lied and told Scott he wouldn’t place it at the beginning.
Even when his language was clean, Patton himself got into trouble for his frankness. Hanson points out, however, that although the general was criticized for just plain being too blunt—whether about the brutality necessary to defeat the Nazis, the evils of Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union, the need to protect Eastern Europe from Communism, or his hope for a strong, united Germany—“it is difficult to find evidence…that any of Patton’s major political pronouncements were fundamentally wrong.” He also believes, “In every tactical crux of the Normandy campaign, Patton alone offered the correct advice.”
“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”
—the Patton Prayer, December 1944
Patton achieved even more notoriety at the end of 1944 when he decided to address a greater audience: God. As James O’Neill, a Catholic priest serving as chief chaplain of the Third Army, tells the story in a 1950 government document, Patton called him in early December and asked, “Do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about [the rain that had been falling for months] if we are to win the war.” O’Neill quickly composed a prayer and showed it to Patton, who then asked for 250,000 copies to be printed, so it would be available to every soldier in the Third Army. “I am a strong believer in prayer,” he told the chaplain. “There are three ways that men get what they want: by planning, by working, and by praying.”
The prayer cards, along with Patton’s Christmas greeting to his troops, were passed out during the following week, before the Battle of the Bulge began on December 16. As Patton’s men, now tramping through snow, hurried to the relief of besieged American paratroopers at Bastogne, the heavy cloud and fog cover finally let up enough for hundreds of Allied planes to provide air support. Apparently God was listening.
As O’Neill told it, the next time he saw Patton, in late January 1945, the general smiled and said, “Well, Padre, our prayers worked. I knew they would.” Patton then swung his riding crop and smacked it against the side of the chaplain’s steel helmet. O’Neill explains, “That was his way of saying, ‘Well done.’” Patton would go farther: for writing the seemingly successful prayer, O’Neill received the Bronze Star.
“I am convinced that the best end for an officer is the last bullet of the war.”
—Patton diary entry, August 19, 1944
“…All joking aside I don’t expect ever to be sixty not that it is old but simply that I would prefer to wear out from hard work before then.”
—letter from Patton to his future wife Beatrice, February 21, 1909
Patton survived long enough to make it to V-E Day and, six months later, to age 60. In early December 1945, however, having survived two world wars and a civil war in Mexico, he suffered the last of what he termed his “usual yearly accidents.” One day before he was scheduled to leave Germany for America, while he was on his way to hunt pheasants, his chauffeured 1938 Cadillac staff car rammed into a 2.5-ton truck that suddenly turned into its path. The car was traveling about 30 miles an hour, the truck only 10. Patton’s driver and another passenger in the Cadillac were unhurt, but the general, thrown forward into the roof and the partition behind the driver, suffered severe scalp lacerations and a broken neck. This tank commander who believed in ceaselessly pushing forward was paralyzed, unable to move his arms or legs. He died 13 days later.
General Omar Bradley, who had started as Patton’s subordinate but became his superior (and, eventually, senior military advisor for the movie Patton), thought, “It was better for Patton and his professional reputation that he died when he did. The war was won; there were no more wars left for him to fight…. In time he probably would have become a boring parody of himself—a decrepit, bitter, pitiful figure, unwittingly debasing the legend.” As Axelrod writes, “Dead heroes make the best heroes.”
General George Patton was indeed a hero, even among the best heroes—except to those who thought the contrary. Like most of history’s famous and infamous politicians and generals, he was both revered and reviled. But whether it was friend or foe observing and evaluating him, Patton stayed on course, remaining true to the creed he’d scribbled quickly in his West Point notebook: “Never stop until you have gained the top or a grave.”
Richard Sassaman of Bar Harbor, Maine, has written about Nazi spies, Bob Hope, the battle for Bataan, and Generals Jimmy Doolittle and Joseph Stillwell for America in WWII. This article first appeared in the April 2010 issue of America in WWII. Purchase a copy of the issue here.To get more articles like this one, subscribe to America in WWII magazine.
Photos, from top:
• In Tunisia in March 1943, Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., keeps an eye on his II Corps as it battles German and Italian forces for control of the El Guettar Valley. Patton had just taken over command of the corps from Major General Lloyd Fredendall, bringing an aggressive leadership style that resulted in victories. NATIONAL ARCHIVES
• Patton was known for racist remarks and attitudes. But when it came to battlefield performance, he valued brave and hard-fighting troops of any skin color or ethnicity. Here, Patton (wearing his famous pearl-handled revolvers) pins the Silver Star on Private Ernest A. Jenkins of New York City, a Quartermaster Corps soldier in Patton’s Third Army. In August 1944, Jenkins and an officer he was driving discovered a German machine-gun nest at Chateaudun, France, and eliminated it, killing three enemy soldiers, wounding others, and capturing 15 Germans hiding in a cave. NATIONAL ARCHIVES
• Patton was a driving force behind development of a substantial modern tank force for the US Army on the eve of American involvement in World War II. Before he was sent overseas to North Africa, Patton (then a major general) commanded the army’s I Armored Corps, leading it in extensive exercises in California’s vast Desert Training Center, which he established. Here, during 1942 maneuvers there, he shoots an azimuth with his compass, standing next to a M3 Stuart tank. NATIONAL ARCHIVES
• Patton’s journey through World War II led him from Tunisia all the way to Czechoslovakia. DREAMLINE CARTOGRAPHY/DAVID DEIS
• With the war won and over, Patton, a master horseman, enjoys a chance to ride Favory Africa, from the world-renowned Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria. It’s August 22, 1945, at St. Martin, Austria, where the US Army has returned the horse, a bit of living war plunder. Nazi German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had seized the horse as a future gift for Emperor Hirohito of Japan. NATIONAL ARCHIVES
Links to More Information
GEORGE PATTON AND THE CAMERA
See more images of the much-photographed General George S. Patton, Jr.
PATTON’S GHOST ARMY
Find out about the secret project handed to Patton before he publicly took command of the Third Army.
Patton was sharply criticized for a pair of incidents in August 1943, when he physically struck hospitalized soldiers who exhibited no outward signs of injury. On August 3 Patton visited the 15th Evacuation Hospital outside Nicosia, Sicily, where he encountered Pvt. Charles Kuhl, who appeared to be unwounded.What did the Germans think of Patton? ›
According to Farago, after his campaign in Sicily, Patton was the Allied general the Germans regarded as “their most dangerous adversary in the field,” which led them to watch his comings and goings “like rubbernecked spectators following a tennis ball at Wimbledon. ” The problem is, notes Yeide, that “there does not ...What did General Patton say about MacArthur? ›
According to Patton's account, which he wrote four days after the encounter: “I met General MacArthur commanding a brigade, he was walking about too. I joined him and the creeping barrage came along towards us, but it was very thin and not dangerous.Who was higher rank Patton or MacArthur? ›
Many military historians would probably rank MacArthur ahead of either Eisenhower or Patton, and would likely rate several other World War II generals at least as highly as Patton, to include George C.What did Omar Bradley think of Patton? ›
Had Bradley had his way, Patton would not have commanded an army in the European Theater. Bradley considered Patton profane, vulgar, too independent, and not a team player.Did Eisenhower reprimand Patton? ›
It was during the Sicilian campaign that Patton generated considerable controversy when he struck a hospitalized G.I. whom he accused of being a malingerer. For this act, the general was forced to issue a public apology. Such miscues forced General Eisenhower to reprimand the outspoken and colorful general.What did soldiers think of Patton? ›
Known as Old Blood and Guts—“his guts, our blood,” some GIs said—he was criticized for his viciousness, but also scorned because he raced his troops in swift flanking movements around an enemy, trying to save lives by avoiding bloody frontal assaults.Was Patton considered a good general? ›
The General of All Generals
Boasting bravery like no other general and with skilled military prowess, General Patton was a force to be reckoned with during WWII.
[on the Soviets] They are a scurvy race and simply savages. We could beat hell out of them. The difficulty in understanding the Russian is that we do not take cognizance of the fact that he is not a European, but an Asiatic, and therefore thinks deviously.Who was the most feared general in ww2? ›
Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery was one of the most prominent and successful British commanders of the Second World War (1939-45). Affectionately known as 'Monty', he commanded the Allies in North Africa and in the subsequent invasions of Italy and Normandy.
1. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Born in 1887, Bernard Law Montgomery was a British general who served in the First World War and the Irish War of Independence before rising in prominence to become one of the most talented generals of World War II.Did General Patton want to invade Russia during World War II? ›
He proposed invading the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, in order to drive the Soviets out of eastern Europe.Why was Patton such a great general? ›
He produced more results, in less time, with fewer casualties than any other general, in any army during WW2. His bold tactics and impressive ability to instill trust in his troops were instrumental in turning the tides of the decisive Battle of the Bulge.Did Patton and Rommel ever meet? ›
Patton never faced his nemesis, Rommel, but he had defeated the Germans in battle and restored faith in the American soldier that he could face the enemy and best him on the battlefield. Patton had turned the II Corps around, and, in the process, American fortunes in North Africa.Who is the only 6 star general in American history? ›
Grant joins George Washington and John J. Pershing as the only generals to achieve the rank. This honor has been informally referred to as being a "six-star general." The highest official star rank in the U.S. Army is a five-star general, called the General of the Army.Who was the greatest military officer of all time? ›
1. Alexander the Great (356 bc-323 bc). Alexander was king of Macedonia who conquered the Persian empire, invaded India and spread Grecian culture across much of the ancient world.Who is the greatest general of all time? ›
Yes, you might have guessed by now, but the number one spot belongs to l'Empereur. Napoleon is so far ahead of the normal distribution curve created by the data for these 6,000-plus generals, it's not even close. After 43 battles, he has a WAR score of more than 16, which blows the competition away.
Eisenhower very sadly had to fire his friend Patton. He relieved him from command of the Third U.S. Army, and that really ended their relationship as friends. And Eisenhower hated to be the one holding the ax, but he felt that was what the Allies needed in the interest of political harmony.Who turned down the role of Patton? ›
Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Lee Marvin, Rod Steiger and even Ronald Reagan, all of them turned down the title role.Did General Patton have mental issues? ›
It is true that Patton was unpredictable and often angry (more so in the 1920s than later). He suffered periods of what was certainly depression, usually the result of a personal or professional setback. But his mood swings did not last long. Nor did he ever become incapacitated.
United States General George Patton made his reputation in North Africa and Sicily. The Germans feared his skill and bravura. Therefore he was put in charge of the fictional 1st U.S. Army Group, a successful ruse to convince the Germans that the invasion of Europe would take place in Calais, and not in Normandy.Was Patton a 5 star general? ›
Patton achieved four-star rank for his battlefield exploits as one of the best commanders of mechanized forces on either side during the War. He succeeded Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Military Governor of the U.S. Occupation Zone in Germany, when Ike -- a five-star general -- was promoted to Army Chief of Staff.Did Patton help in the battle of the bulge? ›
On December 26, General George S. Patton employs an audacious strategy to relieve the besieged Allied defenders of Bastogne, Belgium, during the brutal Battle of the Bulge.Who was the best German general in ww2? ›
Erich von Manstein, original name Erich Von Lewinski, (born Nov. 24, 1887, Berlin, Ger. —died June 11, 1973, Irschenhausen, near Munich, W. Ger.), German field marshal who was perhaps the most talented German field commander in World War II.Who did the German army soldiers fear the most? ›
By 1944, they feared US artillery barrages, Partisans, the Soviet Katyusha's rocket launchers, Allied airpower, US Destroyers equipped with sonar, B-24 Liberator Submarine Hunters, the Soviet T-34, and the Red Army which was out for massive, horrible, bloody revenge.How tall was George Patton? › What was General Patton's famous quote? ›
“Lead Me, Follow Me or Get Out of My Way. “ Perhaps one of the most famous quotes that people don't realize originated with Patton, this mantra summed up his style.What personality type was Patton? ›
He may have been an autocratic / hard nosed type with an orientation towards strong discipline, however he seemed to also use a situation leadership style. General Patton had certain principles that guided him in his life.Was Patton a genius? ›
Patton was an authentic and flamboyant military genius whose entire life was spent in preparation for a fleeting opportunity to become one of the great captains of history. No soldier in the annals of the U.S. Army ever worked more diligently to prepare himself for high command than did Patton.What did Patton think of Stalin? ›
At the time of his death, Patton had been relegated to a desk job, overseeing the collection of Army records in Bavaria. That he had been an outspoken critic of Stalin and a vocal proponent of liberating Berlin and the German people from certain communist aggression triggered his sudden removal from the battlefield.
Eisenhower ended the meeting by telling Patton that he felt he should get back to Bad Tölz as quickly as possible and that his personal train was ready to take him at 1900 hours. Patton's diary entry ended with the words, “I took the train.”What did Churchill say about Russia after ww2? ›
In one of the most famous orations of the Cold War period, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill condemns the Soviet Union's policies in Europe and declares, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” Churchill's speech is considered one of the ...Who killed the most enemy soldiers in ww2? ›
|Conflict||World War II Winter War Battle of Kollaa ( WIA )|
Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1925 – 28 May 1971) was an American soldier, actor, and songwriter. He was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available from the United States Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism.Who was the best soldier in ww2? ›
After receiving the Medal of Honor, Murphy was widely celebrated as the most decorated American soldier in World War II and was featured on the cover of Life magazine. After the war, Murphy's national celebrity status brought him to the attention of Hollywood.Who was the good side in ww2? ›
In World War II, the three great Allied powers—Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union—formed a Grand Alliance that was the key to victory. But the alliance partners did not share common political aims, and did not always agree on how the war should be fought.Who was the best tank commander in ww2? ›
Volume 1, 2021 Edition. German Panzer ace Michael Wittmann was by far the most famous tank commander on any side in World War II, destroying 138 enemy tanks and 132 anti-tank guns with his Tiger.Who was Hitler's best general? ›
Field Marshal Erich von Manstein is widely regarded as the greatest of the German generals in the Second World War. He was not widely known in the West for his battles were almost exclusively fought on the Russian front.What caused General Patton's death? ›
At 5:55 p.m. on December 21, 1945, General George S. Patton, Jr. passed away in his sleep. A blood clot in his paralyzed body had worked its way to his heart, stopping it and ending the life of one of America's greatest battlefield commanders.Did Patton fight in Germany? ›
In early 1945, Patton led his army across the Rhine River and into Germany, capturing 10,000 miles of territory and helping to liberate the country from Nazi rule.
Patton was not directly involved in the implementation or planning of the Invasion of Normany. But that is not to say that he did not perform his own critical part in its success. Like the rest of the world, Patton learned of the Normandy invasion by listening to the BBC at seven o'clock on the morning of June 6, 1944.Why was Patton disgraced? ›
Patton was sharply criticized for a pair of incidents in August 1943, when he physically struck hospitalized soldiers who exhibited no outward signs of injury. On August 3 Patton visited the 15th Evacuation Hospital outside Nicosia, Sicily, where he encountered Pvt. Charles Kuhl, who appeared to be unwounded.What was Patton's greatest achievement? ›
Patton is perhaps best known for his World War II feat of speeding his Third Army to relieve besieged Americans around the town of Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. D'Este called it his “finest hour.” Blumenson called it the “sublime moment of his career.”Did Patton ever meet Macarthur? ›
The Lieutenant Colonel, George S. Patton, had been in the Army for nine years, and the Brigadier General, Douglas Mac-Arthur, for fifteen, but the two West Pointers had never met. Their careers had taken them in different directions until this day during the First World War.What Churchill said about Rommel? ›
Churchill on Rommel's defeat at El Alamein: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."Who was the oldest general in ww2? ›
Historical Vignette 079 - The Oldest U.S. Army Officer to Serve in World War II Was an Engineer. Brig. Gen. Charles Keller decorated with "Officier de Legion d'Honneur" by General Requichot, Commanding the 6th French Military Region, in le Palais de Justice, May 1919.Who was the only 7 star general? ›
No person have ever been awarded or promoted to a seven-star rank, although some commentators might argue that General George Washington posthumously became a seven-star general in 1976 (see Part Seven).What is the salary of a 5 star general? ›
He is also the only person to have ever held a five-star rank in two branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. These officers who held the rank of General of the Army remained officers of the United States Army for life, with an annual $20,000 in pay and allowances, equivalent to $308,000 in 2021.Who was last 5 star general? ›
In September 1950, Omar N. Bradley became the fifth Army general to be promoted to five-star rank. The five-star rank still exists, although no U.S. officers have held it since the death of General Bradley in 1981.Who never lost a battle in world history? ›
In antiquity, no one stands taller than Alexander the Great - the young military genius who never once lost a battle and established a vast empire that heralded a new historical era.
He was nine years old. Lieutenant Audie Murphy posed for this portrait after receiving the Medal of Honor for heroism on the battlefield in France. Murphy remains the most highly decorated soldier in U.S. history.Who is the greatest soldier in American history? ›
Audie Murphy (1924–1971) was the most decorated soldier in US history, winning 24 medals from the Congressional Medal of Honor down. His exploits were the subject of To Hell and Back (USA, 1956), in which he starred as himself.Who is the most successful general alive? ›
Mr Kagame is perhaps the most successful general alive, and this is only part of his claim to renown. The boy whose first memories included watching his village burn, and who went to school in a refugee camp, grew up to stop a genocide. As a rebel, he said he had no political ambitions.Who is bigger than general? ›
|Equivalent ranks of Indian military|
|Indian Navy||Indian Army||Indian Air Force|
|Admiral||General||Air chief marshal|
|Vice admiral||Lieutenant general||Air marshal|
|Rear admiral||Major general||Air vice marshal|
In spite of his questionable temperament and a long history of harsh decisions, Patton would go through both World Wars making his impressive marks on the battlefront during WWII and come to be known as the top battlefield commander the United States Army had ever produced.What did general Bradley think of Patton? ›
Had Bradley had his way, Patton would not have commanded an army in the European Theater. Bradley considered Patton profane, vulgar, too independent, and not a team player.What did Eisenhower say to Patton? ›
Eisenhower's letter to Patton, dated August 17, 1943: I clearly understand that firm and drastic measures are at times necessary in order to secure the desired objectives. But this does not excuse brutality, abuse of the sick, nor exhibition of uncontrollable temper in front of subordinates. ...What did George C Scott think of Patton? ›
Judy Sloane: What was your reaction when they approached you about playing General Patton? George C. Scott: I said, “It's a helluva part.” When I read the script, I was fascinated by it, because (Francis Ford) Coppola had done a wonderful job.Why did Patton hit a soldier? ›
In reply to Patton's usual question of what was wrong with him, the soldier replied "it's my nerves." The general yelled "What did you say?" Bennet repeated himself. Then Patton angrily swore at the soldier, calling him a coward. He hit the soldier and told him he had to return to the front lines.Why was Patton such a good leader? ›
Patton had the utmost confidence and trust in his “managers” and employees to accomplish his audacious goals. Patton had unwavering willpower to pursue these goals and the fortitude to ignore those who believed it impossible.
[on the Soviets] They are a scurvy race and simply savages. We could beat hell out of them. The difficulty in understanding the Russian is that we do not take cognizance of the fact that he is not a European, but an Asiatic, and therefore thinks deviously.Who turned down Patton? ›
Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Lee Marvin, Rod Steiger and even Ronald Reagan, all of them turned down the title role.Did Rommel respect Patton? ›
“We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us,” Churchill declared, “and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general.” George Patton, Bernard Montgomery and other top Allied generals likewise expressed their respect for him, and Rommel responded in kind, saying of Patton that “we saw the most ...Did Patton want to fight the Soviet Union? ›
He proposed invading the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, in order to drive the Soviets out of eastern Europe.Is there a 6th Star general? ›
Grant to the rank. The grade is sometimes speculated to be a six-star general, as being senior to the five-star grade of General of the Army, but no six-star insignia was ever officially created and Pershing, the only person to be General of the Armies during his own lifetime, never wore more than four stars.What did Patton say about the Battle of the Bulge? ›
Patton and the Battle of the Bulge: 'As soon as you're through with me, I can attack the day after tomorrow morning'Did Patton really save Bastogne? ›
The siege was lifted on 26 December when a spearhead of the 4th Armored Division and other elements of General George Patton's Third Army opened a corridor to Bastogne.Did General Patton ever lose a battle? ›
The attack on Fort Driant was the only battle ever lost by General George Patton. Questions linger as to why the fort was attacked when the Third Army had little or no gasoline and could have been spending the time resting, regrouping, and preparing for the coming invasion of Germany.Why was Patton one of the greatest generals? ›
A brilliant battlefield commander and inspiring and colorful leader, Patton was admired by his troops for his great determination. In a series of masterful campaigns, Patton led American forces in World War II to decisive victories in the deserts of North Africa, the fields of Sicily and the plains of Europe.Was George Patton Religious? ›
Better known for his profanity than for his prayers, George Patton was actually a devout and religious man. His profanity was merely a device to capture the attention of his soldiers. Patton's prayers, however, reflected his deep and sincere faith in God.
“Lead Me, Follow Me or Get Out of My Way. “ Perhaps one of the most famous quotes that people don't realize originated with Patton, this mantra summed up his style.Did Patton really defeat Rommel? ›
Patton never faced his nemesis, Rommel, but he had defeated the Germans in battle and restored faith in the American soldier that he could face the enemy and best him on the battlefield. Patton had turned the II Corps around, and, in the process, American fortunes in North Africa.What happened to the soldier that Patton hit? ›
Kuhl was discharged from the Army as a Private. Following the war, he returned to the Mishawaka area and obtained a job as a floor sweeper for Bendix Corporation in South Bend, IN. Patton's encounter with Kuhl was later depicted in the 1970 film Patton, where the slapped soldier was played by Tim Considine.Who is the greatest military general of all time? ›
Yes, you might have guessed by now, but the number one spot belongs to l'Empereur. Napoleon is so far ahead of the normal distribution curve created by the data for these 6,000-plus generals, it's not even close. After 43 battles, he has a WAR score of more than 16, which blows the competition away.
General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. 3rd Army, dies from injuries suffered not in battle but in a freak car accident. He was 60 years old.