Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 25: Patton, Victory And Defeat

Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.

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Alex Nicholson, Nick Mason, Hank Oslo, Adam Smith, and Hans Lander

Notes:

George Patton, one of America’s most famous and controversial generals of WWII, died in a hospital in Heidelberg after his car was rammed by a military truck during the Allied occupation of Germany in December, 1945. After an Academy-Award winning 1970 film made Patton into an American hero, later work began to focus on the details of Patton’s death – and suspicions surrounding his possible murder – by a conspiracy of both the Russians and his own countrymen.

Timeline:

1885- George Patton Jr. born in San Gabriel, California.
1915- Asks Pershing if he can join him for the Pancho Villa expedition, made Pershing’s personal assistant.
1916- Personally wounds three of Villa’s men.
1917- Trains troops until September in Paris. Later was the first U.S. serviceman to know how to drive a Renault tank. Began training tank crews.
1918- Involved in major action using tanks against Imperial German positions. Lead from the front, stood on a tank to motivate his men. Was shot terribly through the leg. Evacuated to recuperate in September. Later had a son, so it could have been worse.
1920-30- Patton is involved in all sorts of tank-related things. He insists on the formation of all-tank forces.
1940- U.S. Army starts two new armored divisions. Patton is tasked with running one of these. Fully mobile divisions with loads of tanks. Engages in tank maneuvers and develops doctrine.
1942- Captures Casablanca, Morocco from Vichy France. Leading a host of 33k men.
1943, March- Put in command of U.S. II Corps which had been beaten by Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Corps. Patton drilled the men into a rigorous condition.
1943, July- Starts his command of forces as part of the invasion of Sicily.
1944, August- Breakout from Normandy, He went for Brittany, then was redirected and pushed for Metz, in the Lorraine Campaign. Then in Battle of the Bulge, he saved the day and relived Bastogne in short order.
1945-Feb- Finishing moves on Germany, crosses into Saarland. Easily takes the Siegfried Line. Crosses the Rhine unopposed.
1945, May- War is done. Patton prevented from taking Prague and found out the leadership wasn’t interested in beating the Soviets to Berlin. Overall, he was not in particularly hard fighting, lost 2k KIA and 8k WIA going form the Rhine to the Elbe. Their main task was to have Germans surrender to them, saving them from slavery in the USSR.
1945, December 8- His car hits a U.S. Army truck, he is badly wounded wounded–the only person in the accident to be harmed.
1945, December 21- Patton dies in a Heidelberg hospital.

References:

– Patton (film), Schaffner (1970)
– Target Patton: The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton, Wilcox (2008)
– Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General, O’Reilly (2014)
– American Pravda: Was General Patton Assassinated?, Unz (2016) – http://www.unz.com/runz/was-general-patton-assassinated/

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9 Comments

  1. Patton, supposedly, hit a square clock on the back of the front seat.

  2. The writing style of this episode’s Timeline was markedly less professional than those past.

    1. Alex Nicholson July 15, 2017 at 1:31 am

      Pretend that I was extremely rude to you

  3. I am the author of Target:Patton. I notice you have my book’s publication date as 2014. That is wrong. The book was originally published in hardback in 2008. The paperback edition was published in 2014. Hopefully you will correct. Thanks.

  4. I think you’re estimate of the fighting capacity of the USSR at the end of the world is overly optimistic. They’re supply lines also began in New York city. They were dependent on Western supplies to exist. Whatever fighting capabilities they would be able to field could have been easily neutralized by Western air power. So Patton was in some sense correct. But there is much more to war than material domination, which was lost on Patton.

    The Allies were a coalition, so the question is: would the coalition have held? How would France and Britain reacted? I think that question answers itself: the governments of those nations could never have gone along. The populations were fought out and ready for peace in any form. France narrowly missed embracing communism outright. Britain booted Churchill and adopted a weaker form of communism. But certainly, there was no stomach for a new conflict.

    1. Alex Nicholson July 15, 2017 at 1:39 am

      I said in the episode, and I think this point was missed by some, that “most people aren’t psychopaths”. Why the hell would you want to fight your ally, to lose millions of men, to take control of a devastated Russia you have no connection to or interest in? The west had already taken the choice parts of Europe. No one wanted to die in some treasonous war against a USSR that many admired. That’s few understand: English speakers of that generation admired the soviet people for all they’d suffered through and for their heroism. What the hell would they want to fight them?

      Glory to Russia

      1. It’s i,possible to imagine the NSDAP coming to power without the pre-existing conditions of Communist thuggery and mass murder.

  5. I was nitpicking. Good podcast.

  6. Interesting episode. Coincidentally, I just ordered Wilcox’ book to read.

    The conversation at the end regarding the eastern bloc was extremely fascinating and will probably go down as one of the greatest paradoxes of history. I would be interested to hear you guys discuss this more.

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