Patton takes command in North Africa
11th March 1943: Promoted in his first week in command of US II Corps, he is candid on the state of the Army that he takes over and his views on Fredendall
After the US II Corps came unstuck at the Kasserine Pass the Allied commander Dwight D. Eisenhower moved quickly to replace Lloyd Fredendall with George S. Patton. He did not tell him he was also to be promoted - and Patton learnt of this over the radio on the 12th.
Patton moved with a determination to shake things up - and was completely disparaging about his predecessor, Fredendall. He only had a short time to get his command prepared for battle - but everything we can read in his diary and in his communications with his troops shows that he was confident he would be ready.
Of course, we are willing to die but that is not enough. We must be eager to kill, to inflict on the enemy - the hated enemy - wounds, death and destruction. If we die killing, well and good, but if we fight hard enough, viciously enough, we will kill and live. Live to return to our family and our girl as conquering heroes - men of Mars.
The only troubling aspect for him at this time was that he did not know of the fate of his son-in-law, John K. Waters, who was Missing in Action. Waters was in fact a POW. Later, in 1945, Patton would cause some controversy by launching a mission to rescue him from a POW camp.
John A. Crane says that I am the oldest general in Africa and that he is next. I am the best anyhow.
Patton’s uncompromising and forthright views are readily apparent from the diary that he hastily scribbled every day.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to World War II Today to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.