Today in History, December 22, 1944:
The 101st Airborne Division was surrounded by the Nazis at Bastogne, Belgium, after the Germans had broken through Allied lines in their last major assault of WWII. The “Battle of the Bulge” had caught the Allied command (well..not all, but thats another story) by surprise. The weather had Allied air support grounded and the German mechanized units (tanks) helped them quickly overrun the Americans. Freezing temperatures contributed to their woes.
Low on supplies and ammo, no air support due to the weather, three days before Christmas, their commander, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe received a demand from the German commander to surrender.
It took the Germans a bit to comprehend the one word, typically American vernacular,
The 101st would not surrender and fought on in desperate conditions until finally relieved by General Patton’s Army Corps and Allied Air Support when the weather broke.
Today in History, January 9, 1936:
“the greatest battle implement ever devised” – Gen. George S. Patton
1936 – The first semi-automatic rifle is issued to the US Army in the form of the M-1 Garand Rifle. Semi-automatic, meaning that a round would be fired each time the trigger was pulled.
The rugged rifle would be used by American fighting men to help win WWII.
Today in History, December 21: 1945 –
“For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph – a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A SLAVE STOOD BEHIND THE CONQUEROR, HOLDING A GOLDEN CROWN, AND WHISPERING IN HIS EAR A WARNING: THAT ALL GLORY IS REDEEMED.” Closing lines of the movie “Patton”.
On this day in 1945 Gen. George S. Patton dies of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Germany. Patton was a brilliant tactician and leader, but often a contentious figure. It probably WAS just an accident, but speculation continues about whether it really was an accident, or whether Patton’s comments about America’s response, or lack thereof, to Communist aggression after WWII led to his demise.
I would like to think the consummate warrior had served his purpose was called home.
Today in History, September 22: 1945 –
Gen. George S. Patton gets himself fired. The war in Europe was over, and establishment of civil policies underway.
While talking to reporters, Patton comments that he doesn’t see the need for “this denazification thing”. Then he went on to relate the “Nazi thing” to Republicans and Democrats.
This was the final straw in regards to Patton saying what he thought in public. He had frequently gotten himself in hot water. His gaffs had been overlooked due to his talents on the battlefield. With the war over he no longer had this cover.
Had he articulated his views better he could have proven he was correct. Most of the “Nazis” that he wanted to leave in administrative positions were only German civilians who were Nazis because they didn’t want to cross the SS or Hitler. They kept the trains running on time, etc. They were not leaders. Patton had just spent years encouraging his soldiers to kill nazis. It is not reasonable to believe he was defending nazis.
Patton would never make it home, being killed in an automobile collision. But that is another story.
Years later, long after his death, of course, Patton would be proven correct during the Iraqi war. All of the “Bathists” were removed from their administrative positions and from the Iraqi army. And many of them had been part of the Bath party to survive. The move created many problems in the Iraq War.