General George S. Patton, widely considered one of the top combat generals in U.S. history, rose to the high point of his career in World War II. Prior to his death in December of 1945 after breaking his neck in a car crash, General Patton served the United States proudly, and his legacy lives on to this day.
Patton was born on November 11, 1885, in San Gabriel, California. From a very young age, he knew he wanted to be a war hero. Throughout his childhood, Patton heard countless stories of his ancestors’ victories in the American Revolution and the Civil War.
According to the Library of Congress, Patton once recalled his childhood and how he “used to wear a wooden sword” and refer to himself as “‘George S. Patton, Jr., Lieut. Gen.'”
The start of his career
After his education at The United States Military Academy, Patton began his military career leading cavalry troops against Mexican forces and became the first officer assigned to the new U.S. Army Tank Corps during World War I.
In 1915, Patton led calvary patrols along the border at Fort Bliss in Texas. He performed so well that John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Mexico, promoted him to Captain.
Following his service in Mexico, Patton studied long and hard to establish himself as one of the leading experts in tank warfare. In 1917, during World War I, he trained American tankers and organized the American tank school in Bourg, France. In 1918, he entered his first battle in France and was later wounded but earned a Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership in both battles and for his contribution to the tank school.
World War II- North Africa and Sicily
World War II was the turning point in Patton’s career and led him to be the character heard about today. The North African Campaign began in June of 1940 and continued for three years. When the attack of Pearl Harbor occurred in December of 1941, Patton was given command of the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions and organized a training center in the California desert.
A year later, in 1942, Patton entered Northern Africa. General Patton did so well in the region that President Eisenhower recognized his achievement personally.
World War II- France and Germany
One of the most crucial roles he played in World War II comes down to his faux military force command in southeastern England. This military force, even though it was fake, distracted the German command when the Allies landed on Normandy Beach on (June 6, 1944).
One of his most famed battles is “The Battle of the Bulge,” which was Hitler’s plan to overthrow the Allies and remove their access to Antwerp, which is their supply port. This was a major success for Patton because he quickly turned the Third Army north and relieved the besieged 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne. With the German offensive contained, Patton advanced and reached Czechoslovakia at the end of the war in May.
In April 1945, he was promoted to four-star general in command of the Third United States Army, which had raced across southern Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.
Remembering General Patton
In 1970, the film “Patton” showed the general during World War II on the big screen. The film features his wartime activities and accomplishments, starting with his experience in the North African campaign and ending with his removal from command after criticizing the United States’ post-war military strategy.