I don't think Patton had enough substance when you got beyond all the aggression and noise. His great sweep through Sicily was strategically pointless, and since there were only 57 US dead incurred during it, largely a pleasant stroll. The breakout looks impressive, but was largely an exercise in traffic management (which Patton did excel at), as was the headlong charge through France.
Patton's sweep through Sicily was strategically pointless?
There were only 57 American dead?
It was a pleasant stroll?
Here is some info:
9 July-17 August 1943
On the night of 9-10 July 1943, an Allied armada of 2,590 vessels launched one of the largest combined operations of World War II: the invasion of Sicily. Over the next thirty-eight days, half a million Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen grappled with their German and Italian counterparts for control of this rocky outwork of Hitler's "Fortress Europe."
With the exception of those units which had taken part in the Tunisia Campaign, especially the 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions, few American formations employed in Sicily began the campaign with any combat experience, and their abilities were still unknown. But the American troops had done well. After landing on a hostile shore, they had repelled several counterattacks, forced the enemy to withdraw, and relentlessly pursued him over sun-baked hills until the island was theirs. In thirty-eight days the Americans and their British colleagues had killed or wounded approximately 29,000 enemy soldiers and captured over 140,000 more. In contrast, American losses totaled 2,237 killed and 6,544 wounded and captured. The British suffered 12,843 casualties, including 2,721 dead.
Patton in particular, without orders, drove to Palermo, thereby cutting off 53,000 Italian soldiers, and then headed east. Had the Allied planners listened to Patton in the beginning, he probably could have bagged all the Germans and Italians on Sicily. But because of Allied cautiousness, tens of thousands of Axis troops escaped, who would later fight Allied troops in Italy.
One has to consider how many more casualties the Americans might have taken, and how many MORE Axis troops might have escaped to Italy, had Patton followed orders and covered Monty's flank, instead of pushing to Palermo and then Messina.
A full examination of the Sicily Campaign can be found here:
As for Bastogne, my understanding was that Patton already had plans prepared for the change of his axis of advance before he told Eisenhower he'd only need 48 hours. I understand his chief of Staff had become suspicious the Germans were up to something and prepared them in advance. His actual drive into the German flank wasn't especially impressive. If memory serves, he drove on a fairly broad front against a weak German front line, that contained a number of Volksgrenadier units. He also took a few days to do it, I think it is famous, but does not display any particular tactical or operational genius.
A brilliant commander always prepares; thus Patton already had a plan in place for this maneuver.
Everyone outside of Third Army thought what Patton wanted to do was impossible. So it seems your assessment of Patton's achievement is far, far less than that of almost every other Allied Commander. Most historians who have studied this period, consider Patton's achievment to be brilliant. Patton achieved his victory in the worst winter weather to hit that area in a hundred years.
I suspect Patton would have fared a lot worse in more even circumstances.
Well, this is your opinion.
However, Patton had faced the German soldier (on defense) in North Africa, Sicily and Europe, who were led by Rommel, Kesselring, and von Kluge, among others, and had bested them all.
And remember, Patton accomplished all of this with relatively inexperienced troops. However, he trained them well, instilled in them a tough discipline, and imbued in them a fighting spirit and a will to win.
< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/5/2004 3:47:10 AM >