Military History/George S. Patton and World War 2
Can you explain the background of George S. Patton, and World War 2. During world war 2 what paved the way for George S. Patton to take charge. Why was George S. Patton important or significant. How did George S. Patton show leadership in American History. What Impat did George S. Patton have on history.
Okay, to start, Patton was a cavalry man, and he had as his tutor some of the best officers in the Army. He was a protégé of Black Jack Pershing who as a colonel had been promoted over the heads of literally hundreds of senior officers to brigadier general based on his performance in the Philippines. Patton served as an aide in the Mexican Expedition with Pershing prior to WWI. Pershing almost married on of Patton's sisters or cousin, can't recall which, but they were close. I believe in Mexico, Patton saw the inherent advantages of the vehicle over the horse for pursuit and saw the handwriting on the wall. When he went to Europe with Pershing in WWI as a colonel he got command of a brigade of tanks, the Renault FT French built light tanks and I believe that experience was seminal in his later fame. He worked with infantry but saw the potential for the tank in break out and pursuit. The Renault was probably the best tank to come out of WWI with better mobility and with all the features of what we later could come to think of as a tank, with a revolving turret, mounted with machine guns or cannon, crew in front, engine in the back. It was the first modern tank.
Patton was selected to form the American Expeditionary Force Light Tanks School in France to train American soldiers in use of the Renault tank. He led his brigade from the front until seriously wounded in the thigh during an attack. He and his orderly who saved his life were was awarded the distinguished cross, Patton was awarded the distinguished service medal.
Patton was an innovator likely driven by the personal idea that he was destine for greatness. He single handedly redesigned the US cavalry saber doctrine, based on his experience with fencing and his competition in the Pentathlon in the Olympics. So that shows he was driven and an innovator, he later focused that drive on trying to advance and improve the US army doctrine involving armored vehicles. A cavalryman through and through, he was not as rigid in his thinking as his superiors and saw that the time of horse mounted cavalry was about through. When he threw his saddle on the armored vehicle he did it completely, even designing his own uniform for armored tank crews, which was not accepted by the army.
During the interwar years, Patton continued to be an advocate for independent tank units, but the Army still saw tanks as a supporting arm to the Infantry and broke them up much as the French and British did and assigned them to the infantry divisions. Only the Germans concentrated them in divisions and that was the key to their later success in the early years of WWII. The US eventually did both. Our productive capacity allowed us to form numerous armored divisions, plus HUNDREDS of independent tank and tank destroyer battalions which were assigned to infantry divisions.
During the interwar years he fought the fight for an independent tank arm. He also wanted to adopt the Walter Christie tank design, that would later be rejected by the British, French and US but adopted by the Russians and evolved into the famous T-34 tank.
Patton pushed for changes in doctrine that mirrored what the Germans used for Blitzkrieg, combined arms forces that by the end of WWII were the hallmark of armored division combat commands ( infantry, armor and artillery combined units of regiment size). He knew both Eisenhower, Marshall and MacArthur which influenced his later career. Eisenhower was indebted to him for his assistance in helping him graduate from General Staff college. Patton was the wealthiest General office in the army, his wife had money, as her family owned a great deal of Catalina Island off of southern California.
During the great maneuvers in Louisiana in 1939 he demonstrated what an armored force could do even paying for parts and fuel out of his own pocket.
His demonstrated command performance leading both invasions of North Africa and Sicily showed he was a great combat leader who got results. Despite setbacks in the press that force Eisenhower to sideline him and promote Bradley over him to Army group command, both Marshall and Eisenhower knew they needed Patton because of his proven performance of command of combat troops at the Army level. His lack of political finesse made him unsuitable for a command position where he was likely to have to work directly with the British who he held in distain after his involvement with them in North Africa and Sicily.
Once in France in July 1944 he helped lead the breakout from the Normandy landing salient, breaking the German lines and liberating Paris by encircling a large portion of the German 15th Army. He was a hard charging leader who led from the front, and got results. His operational area was south central France and Germany and he liberated large swaths of France and captured large areas of central Germany. Several divisions of his army were used to relieve Bastogne during the battle of the bulge, turning 90 degrees, and attacking north, instead of their planned attack to the east, in a short time, in the dead of winter. Patton's attack threatening the German southern flank halted the German attack an led to the recapture of the last ground. Like most great leaders he was able of see identify the weaknesses of his enemies and exploit them, while getting the most out of his own forces, and doing more with less, while limiting the casualties of his own forces. It is believed that Patton was one of the best Operational combat leaders of the war. He was highly respected by his enemies the Germans which says a lot.