The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man… Thomas Robert MALTHUS

All About Lieutenant General, Army of The United States George Smith Patton, Jr. (06)…

WORLD WAR I…

At the outset of the U.S. entry into World War I, then-Major General Pershingpromoted Patton to the rank of captain. While in France, Patton requested a combat command. Pershing assigned him to the newly formed United States Tank Corps.

In November 1917, Patton left Paris and reported to General Garrard of the French Army. At Champlieu, Patton drove a Renault char d’assault tank and tested its trench-crossing ability. Depending on the source, he either led the U.S. tanks or was an observer at the 1917 Battle of Cambrai, where tanks were first used in significant numbers. As the U.S. Tank Corps did not take part in this battle, the role of observer is the more likely. However, in The Patton Papers: 1885–1940, author Martin Blumensonmakes no mention of Patton being at Cambrai, stating only that on December 1, Patton went to Albert, not too far from Cambrai, to discuss the ongoing battle with the chief of staff of the British Tank Corps, Colonel J. F. C. Fuller. Patton received his first ten tanks on March 23, 1918 at the Tank School and Centre, which he commanded, at Langres, Haute-Marne department. The only one with tank driving experience, Patton himself, backed seven of the light, two-man Renault FT-17 tanks off the train.

For his successes and his organization of the training school, Patton was promoted to major, lieutenant colonel and then colonel, U.S.National Army. In August 1918, he was placed in charge of the 1st Provisional Tank Brigade, redesignated the 304th Tank Brigade on November 6, 1918. Patton’s Light Tank Brigade was part of Colonel Samuel Rockenbach’s Tank Corps, which was in turn part of the American Expeditionary Force. (Patton was not in charge of the Tank Corps as has often been misreported.) The 304th Tank Brigade fought as part of the First United States Army.

On September 26, 1918, Patton was wounded in the left leg while leading six men in an attack on German machine guns during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. The only survivors were Patton and his orderly Private First Class Joe Angelo, who saved Patton and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. While Patton was recuperating from his wounds, hostilities ended.

For his service in the Meuse-Argonne Operations, Patton received the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal, and was given a battlefield promotion to a fullcolonel. For his combat wounds, he was presented the Purple Heart.

INTERWAR YEARS…

While on duty in Washington, D.C. in 1919, Captain (he reverted from his wartime temporary rank of colonel) Patton met Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would play an enormous role in Patton’s future career. During their assignment at Fort Riley, Kansas, Patton and Eisenhower developed the armored doctrine which would be used by the US Army in World War II. In the early 1920s, Patton petitioned the U.S. Congress to appropriate funding for an armored force, but had little luck. Patton also wrote professional articles on tank and armored car tactics, suggesting new methods for their use. He also continued working on improvements to tanks, coming up with innovations in radio communication and tank mounts. However, the lack of interest in armor created a poor atmosphere for promotion and career advancement, so Patton transferred back to the horse cavalry.

Patton served in Hawaii before returning to Washington once again to ask Congress for funding for armored units. During his time in Hawaii, Patton was part of the military units responsible for the defense of the islands, and specifically wrote a defense plan anticipating an air raid against Pearl Harbor—10 years before the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on December 7, 1941. At the wedding of Patton’s daughter Ruth Ellen, a couple who knew Patton from Hawaii (Restarick and Jacqueline Withington) crashed the wedding, and explained they were in the area when they saw the wedding announcement and hoped Patton didn’t mind them showing up uninvited. To this Patton unsheathed his sword and replied, „Restarick, if I’d found out you were within a hundred miles and not come, I’d have shoved this sword up your behind.” This humorous encounter reflects the outlandishness and kinship Patton was known for.

In July 1932, Patton served under Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur as a major commanding 600 troops, including the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. On July 28, MacArthur ordered these troops to advance on protesting veterans known as the „Bonus Army” in Washington, D.C. with tear gas and bayonets. Ironically, one of the veterans dispersed by the cavalry was Joe Angelo, who had saved Patton’s life in World War I.

In the late 1930s, Patton was assigned command of Fort Myer, Virginia. Shortly after Germany’s blitzkrieg attacks in Europe, Major General Adna Chaffee, the first Chief of the U.S. Army’s newly-created Armored Force was finally able to convince Congress of the need for armored divisions. This led to the activation of the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions in 1940. Colonel Patton was given command of the 2nd Armored Brigade, US 2nd Armored Division in July 1940. He became the assistant division commander the following October, and was promoted to brigadier general on the second day of that month. Patton served as the acting division commander from November 1940 until April 1941. He was promoted to major general on April 4 and made commanding general of the 2nd Armored Division seven days later…

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