George Patton

 

Who is George Patton?

 

George Patton, whose full name is George Smith Patton Jr., was an American general who is best known for being one of the key leaders of the Allied forces in World War II.

 

Early Life

 

George S. Patton was born into a wealthy family in California on November 11th, 1885. Patton’s family had a long history with the military. In fact, Patton’s grandfather and great uncle were killed in the American Civil War, while fighting for the Confederacy. Patton grew up living a privileged lifestyle. While he was a child, he developed a particular interest in military history and the military in general.

 

For this reason, he decided to attend the Virginia Military Institute. He spent a year there before transferring to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, where he graduated in 1909. George Patton was also a great athlete and was selected to compete in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden in the Modern Pentathlon. He came in fifth out of 42 contestants.

 

Early Military Career

 

When Patton left West Point, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the cavalry, and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. Patton’s first combat mission was a raid against a Mexican revolutionary named Pancho Villa who had led an attack against Columbus, New Mexico. Soon after this, Patton was involved in World War I. He was the first U.S. army officer to be appointed to the brand-new Tank Corps.

 

During this time, Patton developed great skill as a tank commander and amassed a large amount of knowledge about tank warfare that would serve him the rest of his life. In World War I, he proved to be a highly effective tank commander and won the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery under fire. He was also promoted to colonel.

 

World War II

 

Patton remained in the army after World War I ended. He also attended the Army War College. In 1940, he was promoted to brigadier general. In 1941, he was appointed commander of the 2nd Armored Division. In 1942, when the Allied forces began fighting in North Africa, Patton oversaw the landings in Casablanca, Morocco. Patton led his forces through many battles in North Africa against the Nazis before he led the U.S. 7th Army into Sicily and other parts of Italy.

 

He developed a reputation for being extremely capable, tough, and effective as a military leader. He placed a great deal of emphasis on speed and tenacity. This speed and tenacity proved to be highly valuable when Patton was put in charge of commanding the Third Army in France following the Normandy invasion. Patton’s Third Army moved quickly and with great ferocity across France, recapturing territory from the Nazis very quickly. In fact, within just one month after Patton’s Third Army was put into action in France, they had recaptured Mayenne, Laval, Reims, Le Mans, and Chalons.

 

Patton and his Third Army chased the retreating Nazis all the way across France, but they had to stop before entering Germany because of supply line issues. In December of 1944, Hitler and the Nazis launched a huge counter-offensive which came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge.

 

In this battle, the 101rst Airborne Division of the U.S. army became encircled by the German Army. It became Patton’s task to break through the German army to rescue the 101rst Airborne. Patton and his third army succeeded and rescued the 101rst Airborne troops before they were wiped out or forced to surrender. Patton was major reason why the Allied Forces won the Battle of the Bulge and forced the German army to retreat once more.

 

By the end of the war, Patton’s Third Army had suffered 137,000 casualties, but it inflicted ten times that many on the enemy, thus proving to be a crucial part of what would become an overall Allied victory in World War II.

 

Death

 

After the War in Europe ended, Patton was involved in a bad car accident on December 9th, 1945. He died twelve days later as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. Some people speculate that he was actually assassinated. This is still debated to this day. 

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