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.(09)…

LORRAINE…

General Patton’s offensive, however, came to a screeching halt on August 31, 1944, as the Third Army literally ran out of gas near the Moselle River, just outside of Metz, France. One explanation for this was that Patton’s ambition was to conquer Germany, and refused to recognize that he was engaged in a secondary line of attack. Others suggest that GeneralJohn C.H. Lee, commander of the Zone of Communication, chose that time to move his headquarters to the more comfortable environs of Paris. Some 30 truck companies were diverted to that end, rather than providing support to the fighting armies.

Patton expected that the Theater Commander would keep fuel and supplies flowing to support successful advances. However, Eisenhower favored a „broad front” approach to the ground-war effort, believing that a single thrust would have to drop off flank protection, and would quickly lose its punch. Still, within the constraints of a very large effort overall, Eisenhower gave Montgomery and his 21st Army Group a strong priority for supplies for Operation Market Garden. The combination of Montgomery being given priority for supplies, and diversion of resources to moving the Communications Zone, resulted in the Third Army running out of gas in Alsace-Lorraine while exploiting German weakness. In late September, a large German panzer counter attack sent expressly to stop the advance of Patton’s Third Army was defeated by the 4th Armored Division at the Battle of Arracourt. Despite the victory, the Third Army stayed in place as a result of Eisenhower’s order. Ironically, the Germans believed this was because their counterattack had been successful.

Patton’s rapid drive through the Lorraine demonstrated his keen appreciation for the technological advantages of the U.S. Army. The major US and Allied advantages were in mobility and air superiority. The U.S. Army had a greater number of trucks, more reliable tanks, and better radio communications, which all contributed to a superior ability to operate at a high tempo. However, probably the key to Patton’s success compared to all of the other U.S. and British forces, which had similar advantages, was his intensive use of close air support; the Third Army had by far more G-2 officers at headquarters specifically designated to coordinate air strikes than any other army. Third Army’s attached close air support group was XIX Tactical Air Command, commanded by Gen. Otto P. Weyland. Developed originally by Gen. Elwood Quesada of IX TAC for the First Army at Operation Cobra the technique of „armored column cover” whereby close air support was directed by an air traffic controller in one of the attacking tanks was used extensively by the Third Army. In addition, because Patton’s rapid drive resulted in a salient that was vulnerable to flanking attacks and getting trapped by the Germans, Weyland and Patton developed the concept of using intensive aerial armed reconnaissance to protect the flanks of this salient. Microwave Early Warning (MEW) radar, another technique pioneered by Quesada, was also used by XIX TAC to both cover against Luftwaffe attacks and to vector flights already in the air to new sites as an air traffic control radar. As a result of the close cooperation between Patton and Weyland, XIX TAC would end up providing far more air sorties for ground support for the Third Army than the other attached Tactical Air Commands would for the First and Ninth Armies. Despite their success, however, Eisenhower had faith only in the traditional method of advancing across a broad front to avoid the problem of flanking attacks, which most account for the decision to halt the Third Army.

The halt of the Third Army during the month of September was enough to allow the Germans to further fortify the fortress of Metz. In October and November, the Third Army was mired in a near-stalemate with the Germans, with heavy casualties on both sides. By November 23, however, Metz had finally fallen to the Americans, the first time the city had been taken since the Franco-Prussian War.

BATTLE of THE BULGE…

In late 1944, the German army launched a last-ditch offensive across Belgium, Luxembourg, and northeastern France, popularly known as theBattle of the Bulge, nominally led by German Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt. On December 16, 1944, the German army massed 29 divisions (totaling some 250,000 men) at a weak point in the Allied lines and made massive headway towards the Meuse River during one of the worst winters Europe had seen in years.

Patton disengaged his forward attacking units when he became aware of the scope of the attack, and re-directed a corps-sized element toward the North before setting out for a strategic meeting with Eisenhower, Bradley and the rest of the allied high command. Thus, he was able to tell Eisenhower that his forces would be in position to counter-attack almost immediately.

Needing just 24 hours of good weather, Patton ordered the Third Army Chaplain, Colonel James O’Neill, to come up with a prayer beseeching God to grant this. When the weather did clear soon after, Patton awarded O’Neill a Bronze Star on the spot.

Patton turned the Third Army abruptly north (a notable tactical and logistical achievement), disengaging from the front line to relieve the surrounded and besieged U.S. troops holding the Belgian crossroads town of Bastogne. Many military historians remark that this complicated maneuver was Patton’s (and the Third Army’s) greatest accomplishment during the war. (John MacDonald, a management consultant specializing in operations and quality control, cites it as one of the greatest examples of logistics, stating, „General Patton is extolled as one of the greatest battlefield commanders and motivators of military troops, yet probably his greatest military achievement, unsurpassed at the time, was the logistic repositioning, within twenty-four hours, of a whole army corps at the Battle of the Bulge.”) By February, the Germans were in full retreat and Patton had pushed units into the Saarland. Elements of the Third Army crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim on March 22, 1945.

On March 26, 1945, Patton sent Task Force Baum to liberate his son-in-law from a POW camp OFLAG XIII-B, 50 miles behind the German lines near Hammelburg. Patton later reported it was the only mistake he made during WWII.

Patton’s operations staff was drafting plans to take the city of Prague, Czechoslovakia, when Eisenhower, under pressure from the Soviets, ordered American forces in Czechoslovakia to stop short of the city limits. Patton’s troops liberated Pilsen, on May 6, 1945, and most of western Bohemia.

JUNE 1945 VISIT To CALIFORNIA…

Largely overlooked in history is the warm reception that Patton received on June 9, 1945, when he and Army Air Forces Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle were honored with a parade through Los Angeles and a reception at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before a crowd of over 100,000 people. The next day, Patton and Doolittle toured the metropolitan Los Angeles area. Patton spoke in front of theBurbank City Hall and at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. He wore his helmet with a straight line of stars, chest full of medals, and two ivory[36] handled trademark pistols (not pearl, as is often incorrectly asserted). He punctuated his speech with some of the same profanity that he had used with the troops. He spoke about conditions in Europe and the Russian allies to the adoring crowds. This may be the only time in America when civilians, en masse, heard and saw the famous warrior on the podium.

During this visit, Patton quietly donated an original copy of the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, which he had smuggled out of Germany in violation of JCS 1067, to the Huntington Library, a world-class repository of historical original papers, books, and maps, in San Marino. Patton instructed physicist Robert Millikan, then the chairman of the board of trustees of the Huntington Library, to make no official record of the transaction, and to keep their possession of the materials secret during Patton’s lifetime. The Huntington Library retained the Nuremberg Laws in a basement vault in spite of a legal instruction in 1969 by the general’s family to turn over all of his papers to the Library of Congress. On June 26, 1999, Robert Skotheim, then the president of the Huntington Library, announced that the Library was to permanently lend the Nuremberg Laws to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where they are currently on display…

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