PATTON, the movie , was a masterpiece of entertainment. It is not historically accurate on many points and that is a problem with respect to Ukraine. What? I suspect some of you believe I have really crossed over to crazy land, but hear me out. Remember that scene when the Germans launched the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and Patton saved the day by “immediately” diverting his Army 90 degrees to head north and rescue the beleaguered paratroopers of the 101st and 82nd airborne regiments (note, the paratroopers insisted they did not need to be rescued, but that’s another story for another day)?
That cinema account of how Patton planned and shifted the axis of attack of his troops is presented as something hastily put together. The German offensive started on 16 December and Patton met with Eisenhower on the 19th of December and received orders to relieve Bastogne. Patton’s troops moved out on the 22nd of December and reached Bastogne on the 26th. What the movie account fails to convey is that the planning for moving his Army north began on December 9, ten days before the emergency conference with Eisenhower.
Patton’s J-2 (i.e., his intel chief) briefed the following on 9 December :
> By the end of October four panzer divisions had been identified refitting near Paderborn, far north of the Third Army’s left boundary.
By November 10 the Germans had pulled five more panzer divisions out of the line.
Of the fifteen panzer divisions in the west, only five remained in contact in mid-November.
Starting November 17, aerial reconnaissance detected huge German rail movements to the north of the Third Army’s projected zone of advance—226 trains on November 18 alone.
By November 23 Koch had identified the newly established Sixth Panzer Army, including five of […]
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