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GEORGE SMITH PATTON JR.

1885 -1945



American General and tank commander, whose bold
armored advance across France and Germany in
1944 and 1945 made a significant contribution to
Allied victory in WORLD WAR II . He was born in
San Gabriel, Calif., on Nov. 11, 1885, into a family
with a long tradition of military service. He attended
the Virginia Military Institute and graduated from the
United States Military Academy in 1909, when he
was commissioned a 2d Lieutenant in the 15th
Cavalry. He graduated from the Mounted Service
School, Fort Riley, Kans., in 1913, and a year later
from the Advanced Course at the Cavalry School,
Fort Riley. In 1916 he went as acting aide to Gen.
John J. Pershing in the Mexican expedition, and in
1917 Pershing took him to France as commander of
his headquarters troops.

In November 1917, Patton was one of the first men
detailed to the newly established Tank Corps of the
United States Army and was assigned the task of
organizing and training the 1st Tank Brigade near
Langres, France. He led this unit in the St. Mihiel
drive in mid-September 1918 and was wounded later
in the month at the opening of the Meuse-Argonne
offensive. He was awarded the Distinguished Service
Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal and
promoted temporarily to the rank of Colonel.

Between the two world wars Patton graduated from
the Command and General Staff School in 1924 and
from the Army War College in 1932. His assignments
during this period included two tours in Hawaii, a tour
in the office of the Chief of Cavalry, War Department,
and three tours with the 3d Cavalry at Fort Myer, Va.

In July 1940, Patton was appointed to the command
of a brigade of the 2d Armored Division at Fort
Benning, Ga. Less than a year later he was given
command of the division and promoted temporarily to
the rank of Major General. Early in 1942 he became
commander of the 1st Armored Corps, which he
trained at the Desert Training Center, near Indio, Calif.

Patton played a leading role in the Allied invasion of
North Africa in November 1942, commanding the
ground elements of the western task forces that
entered Casablanca and soon occupied French
Morocco. When in March 1943 the United States 2d
Corps in Tunisia was reorganized following an earlier
rebuff at Kasserine Pass by Gen. Erwin Rommel's
forces, Patton became its commander. Within a
month he was promoted temporarily to the rank of
Lieutenant General and put in charge of American
preparations for the invasion of Sicily. On July 10 he
commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in its assault on
that island. In conjunction with the British Eighth
Army, he cleared Sicily of the enemy in 38 days. His
victory was marred by an incident in which he struck
an Army hospital patient being treated for shell
shock, an action for which he later made a public
apology.

In March 1944, Patton assumed command of the
Third Army in Britain and began to plan future
operations in northwest Europe. Shortly before the
invasion he was reprimanded by Gen. Dwight D.
Eisenhower for indiscreet political statements.
On August 1 his army became operational in France,
and he began the exploitation of the breakthrough
near Avranches made by the First Army a few days
before. He thrust one corps westward into Brittany
toward Brest, while his other three corps pushed
southward toward the Loire and then swung eastward
in a series of broad sweeps toward the Seine. In one
of the most spectacular actions of the campaign in
northern France, he drove toward Paris, bypassed it,
and reached the area near Metz and Nancy before
being stopped by dwindling supplies and stiffening
enemy resistance.

While Patton was preparing an attack eastward into
the Saar area, in conjunction with the Seventh Army,
the Germans launched their Ardennes
counteroffensive of December 16. In an action
characterized by Gen. Omar N. Bradley as "one
of the most astonishing feats of generalship of our
campaign in the west", Patton turned his forces quickly
northward against the southern flank of the bulge and
helped contain the enemy.

By the end of January 1945, the Third Army was
ready to drive against the Siegfried Line between
Saarlautern (now Saarlouis) north to St. Vith. Patton's
four corps had pierced these defenses by the end of
February, and by mid-March had pushed forward
through the Eifel to gain control of the Moselle from
the Saar River to Coblenz and of the Rhine from
Andernach to Coblenz. In the following week his
forces raced through the Palatinate region to the Rhine
south of Coblenz. On the evening of March 22/23,
units crossed the river near Oppenheim. Frankfurt am
Main fell three days later. By the third week in April
his forces had driven across southern Germany to the
Czechoslovak border, and some of his units were in
Austria before the month's end. During the first week
in May, Third Army columns pushed into
Czechoslovakia, and (Pilsen) was freed just before
the armistice.

Patton was promoted to temporary four-star rank in
mid-April. Shortly after the end of the war he entered
on his duties as military governor of Bavaria. His
outspoken criticisms of denazification policies led to
an outcry in the United States, followed in October
1945 by his relief as Third Army commander and
assignment to the Fifteenth Army, then a small
headquarters engaged in studying miliary operations in
northwestern Europe. Near the end of the year Patton
was seriously injured in an automobile accident near
Mannheim. He died in a nearby hospital in Heidelberg
on Dec. 21, 1945.

Profane, impetuous, and flamboyant, Patton was
easily the most colorful of the United States Army's
commanders in the west, and its leading genius in tank
warfare. Behind his showmanship and audacity lay the
imaginative planning and shrewd judgment that made
him one of the great combat commanders of World War II.





Gen. George S. Patton Jr.'s
Decorations, Citations, and Medals

(* Indicates a Medal, Medallion, Badge, Pin, or other Device without ribbon)



United States:

American Defense Service Ribbon
Bronze Star

Distunguished Service Cross with
One Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster

Distinguished Service Medal with
Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters

Distinguished Service Medal (U.S. Navy)

European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbon
with One Silver Star and Two Bronze Stars

Legion of Merit
Mexican Service Badge
Purple Heart
Silver Life Saving Medal
Silver Star with One Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Victory medal (WWII)
Victory Medal with Four Bronze Stars (WWI)
*Sons of the Revolution Medal



Great Britain:

Most Honourable Order of the Bath
Order of the British Empire
*Enteur Pin of Malta



France:

Croix de Guerre of 1939 with Palm
Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star
Medal of the Legion of Honor
Medal of Verdun (WWI)
Metz Medal of Liberation (1944)
*Commemorative Medal, City of Nancy
*Commerative Medallion, City of Metz (1944)

*Commerative Medalion
Cities of Fontainebleau and Barbizon

*Gourmier Pin of Morocco (French)
*Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor
*Liberation of Tours "Patton" Medallion
*Liberation Medallion, City of d'Epernay
*Liberation Medallion, City of Metz (1918)
*Medallion of the City of Rheims



Belgium:

Croix de Guerre of 1940 with Palm
Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold with Palm
*Civilian Shield



Czechoslovakia:

Military Cross
Order of the White Dragon



Luxembourg:

Croix de Guerre
Order of Adolphe of Nassau, Grand Croix



French Morocco:

Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold with Palm



Russia:

*Guard's Badge
Order of Koutouzov, 1st Grade



Sweden:

Commemorative Medal of the V Olympiad (1912)
*Armiens, Under Officers Skola
*Kunge Sodermanlands Pansarregemente (Commerative Token)
*Kungl. Krigs Skolan (Commemorative Medal)
Kungl. Upplands Regemente (Commorative Token)



Vatican:

Pope Pius XII Medallion



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