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George S. Patton
George S. Patton as a lieutenant general
|Nickname(s)||Bandito, Old Blood and Guts, The Old Man|
November 11, 1885|
San Gabriel, California
|Died||December 21, 1945
Heidelberg, Occupied Germany
|Place of burial||
American Cemetery and Memorial( )
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
|Allegiance||United States of America|
||United States Army|
|Years of service||1909–1945|
Beatrice Banning Ayer (m. 1910)
George Patton IV
|Relations||Major General George Patton IV (son)
General John K. Waters (Son in law)
George Smith Patton, Jr. (also George Smith Patton III) (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a U.S. Army officer. He was in the army from 1909 until he died in 1945. He was in charge of many soldiers and he worked to defeat Germany during World War II in Europe.
Patton was born on November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. Patton was married to Beatrice Banning Ayer from 1910 until his death in 1945. They had three children.
George Smith Patton Jr. was born on November 11, 1885, in San Gabriel, California, to George Smith Patton Sr. and his wife Ruth Wilson, the daughter of Benjamin Davis Wilson. Patton had a younger sister, Anne, who was nicknamed "Nita."
As a child, Patton had difficulty learning to read and write, but eventually overcame this and was known in his adult life to be an avid reader. These early reading difficulties may have been because he had dyslexia.
Patton was described as an intelligent boy. He was also a good horseback rider.
Patton married Beatrice Banning Ayer, the daughter of Boston industrialist Frederick Ayer, on May 26, 1910, in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. They had three children, Beatrice Smith (born March 1911), Ruth Ellen (born February 1915), and George Patton IV (born December 1923). Beatrice Patton died in 1953 when she was thrown from her horse.
He attended the Virginia Military Institute from 1903 to 1904 and, though he struggled with reading and writing, performed exceptionally in uniform and appearance inspection as well as military drill. While he was at VMI, a senator from California nominated him for West Point.
At West Point he excelled at military drills though his academic performance remained average. He was cadet sergeant major during his junior year, and the cadet adjutant his senior year. He tried out for the sword team and track and field and specialized in the modern pentathlon. He competed in this sport in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, and he finished in fifth place—right behind four Swedes.
Patton first saw combat during 1916's Pancho Villa Expedition, America's first military action using motor vehicles.
He saw action in World War I as part of the new United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces: he commanded the U.S. tank school in France, then led tanks into combat and was wounded near the end of the war.
In between World War I and World War II, Patton helped develop the armored warfare doctrine for the army, serving in numerous staff positions throughout the country. At the American entry into World War II, he commanded the 2nd Armored Division.
Patton led U.S. troops into the Mediterranean with an invasion of Casablanca during Operation Torch in 1942, and soon he was regarded as an effective commander.
At the start of the Western Allied invasion of France, Patton was given command of the Third Army, which conducted a highly successful rapid armored drive across France. Under his decisive leadership, the Third Army took the lead in relieving American troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, after which his forces drove deep into Nazi Germany by the end of the war.
He commanded the United States Fifteenth Army for slightly more than two months.
- Battle of San Miguelito
World War I
- Saint Mihiel Campaign
- Meuse-Argonne Campaign
World War II
- Distinguished Service Cross* * Distinguished Service Medal
- Silver Star
- Legion of Merit
- Bronze Star
- Purple Heart
- Companion of the Order of the Bath
- Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- Legion of Honor (Fr)
- Order of the White Lion (Cz)
Accident and death
Observing derelict cars along the side of the road, Patton said, "How awful war is. Think of the waste." Moments later his car collided with an American army truck at low speed.
Gay and others were only slightly injured, but Patton hit his head on the glass partition in the back seat. He began bleeding from a gash to the head, and complained that he was paralyzed and having trouble breathing. Taken to a hospital in Heidelberg, Patton was discovered to have a broken neck and cervical spinal cord injury that rendered him paralyzed from the neck down.
Patton spent most of the next 12 days in spinal traction to decrease the pressure on his spine. Twelve days later he died in his sleep of pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure at about 6:00 pm on December 21, 1945.
Patton was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in the Hamm district of Luxembourg City, alongside some wartime casualties of the Third Army, in accordance with his request to, "be buried with [his] men."
Patton's colorful image, hard-driving personality and success as a commander were at times overshadowed by his controversial public statements. His philosophy of leading from the front, and his ability to inspire troops with attention-getting speeches was met favorably by his troops, but much less so by the Allied high command. His emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action proved effective, and he was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command.
Several actors have portrayed Patton on screen, the most famous being George C. Scott in the 1970 film Patton. Scott's iconic depiction of Patton earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor, and it was instrumental in bringing Patton into popular culture as a folk hero. He would reprise the role in 1986 in the made-for-television film The Last Days of Patton. Other actors who have portrayed Patton include Stephen McNally in the 1957 episode "The Patton Prayer" of the ABC religion anthology series, Crossroads, John Larch in the 1963 film Miracle of the White Stallions, Kirk Douglas in the 1966 film Is Paris Burning?, George Kennedy in the 1978 film Brass Target, Darren McGavin in the 1979 miniseries Ike, Robert Prentiss in the 1988 film Pancho Barnes, Mitchell Ryan in the 1989 film Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White, Lawrence Dobkin in a 1989 episode of the miniseries War and Remembrance, Edward Asner in the 1997 film The Long Way Home, Gerald McRaney in the 2004 miniseries Ike: Countdown to D-Day, Dan Higgins in a 2006 episode of the miniseries Man, Moment, Machine, and Kelsey Grammer in the 2008 film An American Carol.
Images for kids
Patton's boots at a museum in Malmedy
George S. Patton Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.