| SHADOWLAND'S DOWAGER QUEEN, Louella the wise,
says 20th Century Fox will make a picture play name "Blood and Guts." a
life story of Massachusetts' Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. with Robert Allen
doing the script.
I do so hope Bob won't smear our lusty old hero over with gooey-glory, like Hollywood did to B. C.'s Frank Cavanaugh in the "Iron Major" and the "Great John L" and the "Jim Thorpe Story" and Lou Gehrig in the :Pride of the Yankees." There should be a law to protect the masculine integrity of such fine old he-man.
I SAW A LOT OF PATTON in two world wars, first in the infant U.S. tank corps (War 1) when I was one of his early line sergeants and again in War 11 as a combat correspondent with the Third Army. Each time he was the same curiously tough-gentle, prayerful-cussing, shrewd show-boater who knew his men and machinery down to the last corpuscle and bolt.
He was a soldier's general' despite his love of swank and glitter' and the wonder of it is that Boston and Massachusetts haven't raised a monument to his memory worth the mention. So I trust that Hollywood's confectioners will not candy-coat the hard and gusty realism of Patton story with his bravura and his cock-struttings as well as a masterful quarterbacking in War II.
For war was Patton's dish. He genuinely loved it as a career coach loves football.
I knew the man at close focus-the Meuse, Aisne, Argonne, Ardennes, Moselle, Metz, Bastogne. And by odd circumstances, the locale where I last saw him in War I-the Argonne Forest-was the same place I first saw him in War II.
WE HAD CREPT THROUGH that sinister woodland in 1918, bush by tree clump, and it was there that old Jawg got hit in the fleshy part of a hip by shrapnel. But on the second occasion the 4th Armored ambulant pillboxes had churned through the leafy hell at 40 mph, and this time his shoulders carried three stars. But he was the same lean erect austere albino with the same grim mask and falsetto sulfur on his tongue.
I wonder if Bob Allen, a former G-2 leaf colonel who lost his arm in the pellmell drive, will tell the but long hidden, facts about the five distinct "Stop Patton" plots in World War II. For somewhere in the secret archives of the Pentagon there is a mess of controversial, never told data about the major occasions when SHEAF, the Supreme HQ, immobilized Patton, and I challenge either Dwight Eisenhower or Omar Bradley, who new the truth, to add a postscript to their memoirs, revealing the fulsome details of how, why, when and how the Third U. S. Army was halted.
(1) After it had encircled Paris. (2) When it was about to invest the fortresses around Metz. (3) When it was obliged to serve as a stationary "hinge" for British Gen. Montgomery's abortive swing into Flanders. (4) In April of 45 when it was prevented from storming over a virtually clear road straight to Berlin, and (5) On April 17 1945. when it was stopped a scant 15 miles short of making initial contact with the Russian army. I was there when it happened.
IT WAS NO SECRET in American G-2 circles or the military press, that certain Kudo-minded politicians such as Winston Churchill and Generals, U. S. and British, did not want George S. Patton to add more laurels to his list of North Africa and Sicily. Indeed, there is a real unborn book still to be written on THAT subject. Ask Lucius Clay. Ask Maj. Gen. Creighton Abrams. For there is politics in warfare, too, and the history books hide of lot of sneaky stuff. Gen. Douglas MacArthur could write a whole library on that subject.
AND ANOTHER THING: Will 20th Century Fox depict the stark, naked truth of how Patton impulsively detached 301 men and 53 vehicles (tanks, half trucks, trucks, jeeps) from the 4th Armor's equipment-shy force on April 10, 1945, to go spearheading deep into the Nazi heartland to liberate his son in law Col. (now Major Gen.) John A. Waters, who was a POW in Hammelberg Stalag. All the soldiers were killed, captured or wounded and all the 53 vehicles were destroyed in that aimless foray.
I could keep you here all day with off-cuff stuff about The Patton Legend; how he like to ride through the combat zone in a jeep decorated like a Good Humor ice cream bus--flashing red blinkers, nickeled stars, fancy seat cushions, sirens and four motorcycle out-riders.
O Mamma Mia: It was something to see and hear as Patton wooshed up to some luckless roadside outfit, and stopped with a scream of brakes.
HEAVEN HELP THE POOR officer who was doing something he hadn't oughter. But if old Jawg couldn't find anything wrong, he would invented something. Ah, there was a maestro of purple prose. But I never heard him cuss a noncom.
And now I think of a way he stood watching a platoon of U. S. Combat Engineers raising a timber traffic trestle over the shallow between Belgium and Germany, under a sky filled with shrapnel bursts that hung there like black cabbages.
"Thank God," he said reverently, for our American non-coms." But that is another story.
Reprinted from an article from the Boston Record American 2/21/63, by Austen Lake