July 6, 1944 ~ Patton Heads to France
LTG George S. Patton departed England for Cherbourg, France today in 1944.
For the past 11-months Patton had been out of action. After sweeping victories in North Africa and Sicily in 1943, Patton was relived of command of the U.S. Seventh Army after a series of self-inflicted public relations SNAFUs made him a pariah.
Then, in January, 1944, he got the call he had been waiting for. Eisenhower needed him in England. But, he wasn’t being tapped to command the invasion of France, he was going to be a professional DECOY … on steroids.
He was given of a paper army tasked with making as much noise as possible so that the Germans stayed focused on him rather than the real players in the invasion of France.
Patton played his role brilliantly and when the allies landed at Normandy on June 6th, the Germans kept waiting for Patton to he the hammer blow at Calais: It never happened.
In point of fact, the ruse was so effective, the Germans kept two armored divisions and 19 infantry divisions in reserve through July and August 1944.
Now he was returning to France ahead of his new Third U.S. Army. He took a moment to write his wife Beatrice. “Today history repeats its self. I hope the results will be as good and be more free of incidents.”
Patton had missed the invasions of Italy and France. At various points over the previous year he wasn’t sure if he would ever get back into the fight. But he persevered, performed his duty, and played the role he had been assigned.
In the end, he never lost the unconquerable certainty of his perceived divine mission.
He was finally going to have his chance to get into the fight.