One of my very interesting readers, War Pig, was inspired by the General Patton quotes this week to provide a personal remembrance of General Patton the Younger in the comments. On hearing that he had more stories I asked if he’d provide them and allow me to post them here. He kindly agreed and here is the third and final installment.
I saw an example of Patton’s care for the troops. After the mock battle a brigade commander went to see Patton. A spec 4 (equivalent to a corporal, more or less), a very good tank gunner had gone home on emergency leave as his parents had died in a car crash and his minor brother was now an orphan. The young man buried his parents and sent his brother to live with their grandparents, their mother’s parents. He had to borrow money from Army Emergency Relief and used up all his accrued leave as he had to settle the estate and all.
The gunner got back and no more than two weeks later the grandparents were killed in a car wreck and now there were no more living relatives able to care for the younger brother. Patton was shocked, as anyone would be over such a horrible coincidence. He called the division Chaplain to get over to his office, pronto. He asked if the kid wanted a hardship discharge. The brigade commander said he did not, as he had no other job prospects to support his little brother, and that both of them were going to need mental health counseling, especially the brother. They held a skull session and Patton ordered the young man promoted to sergeant, wiped out his AER debt, got him a bigger loan and somehow took care of that, too, making it a grant, gave him 90 days “free” leave and said there would be housing available when he got back. Then Patton called base housing, demanded a two bedroom quarters for the pair, fully furnished down to towels and sheets, and to be full of groceries when the young man returned with his brother. From what I gathered, Patton paid for the groceries himself but I was back at DivArty before the kid got back so I never heard what happened.
But Patton did love the NCOs. When he was getting ready to leave for Germany the division NCOs threw him a party. There was barbecue and beer, lots of beer. Patton was there and we presented him with various sentimental gifts. As the party progressed, we were running low on beer. Patton sent two aides back to base (we were at a rec area away from the barracks areas) and had them return with several kegs of beer, for which he paid.
I did see him later, in (then) West Germany, at the Graffenwoehr training facility. He remembered me and shook my hand. He was the Deputy Corps Commander of VII Corps by then. He retired a little over a year after we shook hands. His old injuries were getting the best of him, and he developed Parkinson’s disease later. He retired in 1980 and died in 2004, aged 80. He was known as a soldier’s general. All I know for sure is that if the Soviets and Warsaw Pact had attacked West Germany in VII Corps’ sector, they would have been in for a hell of a surprise and one HELL of a fight.