7 Comments

Before He was “Old Blood and Guts”

I seem to recall a Bill Mauldin cartoon featuring the iconic GIs Willie and Joe making comments as General George Patton passes by.

Willie says, “there goes old blood and guts” and Joe says, “yeah, our blood and his guts.”

I could not find the cartoon I remembered but this one illustrates Mauldin's contempt for Patton and his petty rules for combat soldiers like Willie and Joe.

I could not find the cartoon I remembered but this one illustrates Mauldin’s contempt for Patton and his petty rules for combat soldiers like Willie and Joe.

George Patton is certainly a legend but there was a time when he was relatively unknown-a time well before he became “old blood and guts.”

Life Magazine, July 7th, 1941

Life Magazine, July 7th, 1941

I found the above issue of Life Magazine featuring Patton on the cover at the 100 Mile Rummage Sale along the Mississippi river boundary between MN and WI.

The gal wanted $10.00 but she took $8.00.

Finding Life Magazines from the WW2 years at $10.00 a copy is indeed something rare and this example is in excellent condition.

It’s dated July 7th, 1941 exactly five months prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the US into WW2.

The issue is titled “Defense Issue” and “U.S. Arms” clearly indicating that sooner or later the US would be in the war. The feature article is written in such a way to convey the message and to reassure Americans we were prepared.

The cover features Patton in the turret of a light tank (misidentified in the article as a medium tank). The tank appears to be a M3 or M2A2 Stuart named for Jeb Stuart the legendary Confederate cavalry commander (would not be pc today to name a tank after a Confederate).

Jeb Stuart. At the start of WW2 American tanks were named after Civil War Generals. The "Stuart" was a light tank while the "Lee\Grants and Shermans were medium tanks. Later a tank destroyer was named after Confederate General "Stone Wall Jackson."

Jeb Stuart. At the start of WW2 American tanks were named after Civil War Generals. The “Stuart” was a light tank while the “Lee\Grants and Sherman’s were medium tanks. Later a tank destroyer was named after Confederate General “Stone Wall Jackson.”

At the time Patton was the commander of the 2nd Armored Division which according to the article featured 385 tanks and 1900 other vehicles. Patton is quoted in the article titled “Armored Force” as saying the 2nd Armored Division is “the strongest force ever devised by man.”

The article goes on to say that the point of the US armored forces (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Armored Divisions) is to be a match for the German Panzer Divisions which at the time had just invaded Soviet Russia.

The creation of the armored divisions was only about a year old; no doubt spurred on by the German successes in Poland, the Low Countries, France and the Balkans where blitzkrieg warfare led by the panzers paved the way for victory after victory.

The article goes on to detail a mock war-game between the US 1st Armored and 2nd Armored Division modeled after the German crossing of the Meuse River the previous year.

The article is a 18 page spread of the war-game featuring the tanks, scout cars, armored cars, infantry, airplanes, and artillery; all designed to impress the reader with American power.

The article isn’t so much about Patton as it is bragging about the tank component of the newly formed armored divisions. Below is a YouTube video featuring a war-game with Stuart M2A2 tanks from 1938.

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7 comments on “Before He was “Old Blood and Guts”

  1. Once again, Bruce, you hit on a story I never knew! Thanks.

    • Glad you enjoyed it. That is high praise coming from someone as knowledgeable as you.

      • I’ve always loved history but I’m afraid my major concentration (as you may have guessed) has been the Pacific of the 20th Century. Great historians such as yourself help to educate me or remind me of other episodes in our violent histories – and I thank you for that.

      • You are too kind. Your blog enlightens me on the Pacific War and the Korean War series was amazing. Oddly, the things I know the most about like the Civil War I rarely write about. Please keep up your good work GP.

  2. A descendant of Bill Mauldin comes to our cigar lounge on occasion. Of course, since I am the only one at the shop who researches WWII stories, I am the only one who appreciates his forefather. Have you read Patton’s letters? Fascinating.

  3. I also recall that cartoon, by the way, of Willie and Joe. But the scene depicted in the blockbuster movie Patton is how everyday folks now are given a flavor of WWII.

    • Thank you Mustang for your comments. I found your posts on firebombing interesting and was hesitant to “like” given the hardship and horror of it all. Nevertheless, the remembrances were interesting and it’s great you are preserving them.

      I had a book some time ago with many of Mauldin’s cartoons and I think that’s where I saw it and never forgot it. I have read O’Riley’s Killing Patton but not his letters.

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