Patton (1970)

 

 

 

Director:  Franklin J. Schaffner

Starring:  George C. Scott (Patton), Karl Malden (Gen. Omar N. Bradley), Stephen Young (Capt. Chester B. Hansen), Michael Strong (Brig. Gen. Hobart Carver), Carey Loftin (Gen. Bradley's driver), Albert Dumortier (Moroccan Minister), Frank Latimore (Lt. Col. Henry Davenport), Morgan Paull (Capt. Richard N. Jenson), Karl Michael Vogler (Field Marshal Erwin Rommel), Bill Hickman (Gen. Patton's driver), Pat Zurica (1st Lt. Alexander Stiller), James Edwards (Sgt. William George Meeks), Lawrence Dobkin (Col. Gaston Bell), David Bauer (Lt. Gen. Harry Buford), John Barrie (Air Vice-Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham).

Story of the very colorful U.S. Army general actions during World War II.  Patton was an outstanding practitioner of mobile tank warfare in the European and Mediterranean theatres.

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

1885  --  born in San Gabriel, Calif., U.S., descendant of a Virginia family with a long military tradition.

1909 --  graduates from  the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Patton becomes a keen student of the American Civil War (1861-65), especially its great cavalry leaders, an interest that likely contributed to his strategy of bold, highly mobile operations.

WWI  --  serves with the U.S. Tank Corps in World War I, Patton became a vigorous proponent of tank warfare. 

1940 (September 13)  --  Italian forces stationed in Libya launch a small invasion into British-held Egypt; they set up defensive forts at Sidi Barrani.  The British counter-attack, Operation Compass, and win a decisive victory with massive surrenders of Italian forces.  The British get as far as El Agheila.  Germany responds by sending in German troops, the Deutsches Afrikakorps under Rommel (The Desert Fox).  Rommel pushes the British back to their original positions (with the exception of Tobruk).  Then the British attack and reach as far as El Agheila again. 

1941 (Dec 7)  -- bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  The US enters WWII.

1942 (May 11)  -- the US begins to supply directly the British in North Africa. 

1942 (May 26-June 21)  --  Rommel takes Tobruk, winning the Battle of Gazala.  He was finally stopped at the Egyptian border at the first Battle of El Alamein. 

British General Bernard Montgomery took over as commander of Allied forces in North Africa.  He won the battle of Alam Halfa.

1942 (Oct 23 - Nov 3)  --  Montgomery stops Rommel at the second Battle of El Alamein.  He pushes Rommel back, capturing Tripoli.

1942 (Nov 8-11)  --  the Algeria-French Morocco Campaign.  Americans arrive in north west Africa in the Allied Operation Torch landings.  The French Vichy government put up a bloody resistance in Oran and Morocco, but in Algiers the French resistance had succeeded in neutralizing the French XIX Army Corps of Algiers before the landing.

1943 (Feb. 19 - Feb. 22)    --  Americans defeated by Rommel at the Kasserine Pass.  The battle was actually a series of battles fought around Kasserine Pass, a 2 mile wide gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the Atlas Mountains in west central Tunisia.

1943 (Feb. 25)  -- the British and Americans take back the Kasserine Pass. 

1943 (March 6)  --  General Patton placed in command of II Corps. He shakes the army into shape.  His strict discipline, toughness, and self-sacrifice gets him the nickname "Old Blood-and-Guts."

1943 (March 19-27)  --  American forces under Patton and British forces take the Mareth Line, a system of fortifications built by the French prior to WWII near the coastal town of Medenine in southern Tunisia.  (Gen. Omar Bradley then takes over so Patton could plan the attack on Sicily.)

1943 (May 13)  --  Axis resistance in Africa collapsed with the surrender of over 275,000 prisoners of war. 

1943 (July 9-10)  --  an Allied armada of 2,590 vessels were used to invade Sicily.  Patton commands the U.S. 7th Army in Sicily, employing his armor in a rapid drive that takes Messina and then captures Palermo.

1943, August  --  Patton's military achievements cause authorities to overlook strong civilian criticism of some of his methods, including his widely reported striking of a hospitalized, shell-shocked soldier. (Given a severe dressing down by Eisenhower, Patton publicly apologized for the incident.) There were actually 2 separate incidents in Sicily.  Slaps Pvt. Charles Kuhl across the face and boots him in the fanny.  Then slaps another soldier in a hospital.  

1944 summer  -- dramatic sweep of his 3rd Army across northern France in a campaign marked by great initiative, ruthless drive, and disregard of classic military rules.

1944, August  --  Patton's armoured units capture Mayenne, Laval, Le Mans, Reims, and Châlons.

1944, December --  his forces play a strategic role in defending Bastogne in the massive Battle of the Bulge.

1945, January --   Patton's forces reach the German frontier.

1945, March 1 --  they take Trier and in the next 10 days clear the entire region north of the Moselle River, trapping thousands of Germans. They join the 7th Army in sweeping the Saar and the Palatinate, taking 100,000 prisoners.

1945, October  --  his public criticisms of the Allied postwar denazification policy in Germany leads to his removal from the command of the 3rd Army.

1945, Dec. 21  --  dies in a Heidelberg hospital twelve days after an automobile accident near Mannheim.

1947  --  memoirs, War As I Knew It, appears posthumously.

 

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