Hey! Randy

Sighted In

Posted by heyrandy on August 5, 2009

Target: Patton Robert Wilcox, Regnery, 2008.  444 p., end notes, index

There are a lot of famous generals in American history.  One can think of Washington, Lee, Grant, Pershing.  When one mentions George Patton, there is often a silence.  No one is quite like George S. Patton.  After reading Target: Patton I know why.

Patton was a class apart.  Outspoken, prescient, irascible,  Patton did not well tolerate the political machinations that accompany the conduct of war.  Patton did not tolerate incompetence.  Patton was very good at making enemies.

Wilcox raises some serious issues about Patton’s death.  The rumors have long swirled about how Patton died.  Wilcox suggests that what is commonly known about the general’s death is a mixture of the true and the false.

The evidence that Wilcox presents is intriguing.  But much of the evidence is that there is a lack of evidence.  The mystery is one of what does a missing report mean.  In the case of Patton’s death it is a matter of missing reports–all of them.  All of the official reports about the car crash that injured General Patton are missing.

Wilcox has sifted through a mountain of material  to come up with mostly second hand sources.  The primary players are mostly dead.  Some of the witnesses vanished without a trace.  Many of those witnesses still alive are of questionable probity.  One claims that he was a gunman that tried to assassinate Patton at the crash scene by using a special rifle that shot a piece of debris as a bullet.

The nature of any investigation into the matter is hampered by the passage of time, the confusion of the area just after the war, and the secrecy of the various governments involved.

Why kill Patton?  Patton was finished as a general.  He knew it.  He had been relieved as commanding officer of the Third Army and given an administrative post in Bavaria.  Here he created controversy by using former low level Nazis to man administrative posts in the province.  Patton’s reasoning was that they had the experience, and their former affiliation with the Nazi party was merely a matter of convenience.   Patton objected to using the Communists as Washington wanted to do because he saw Stalin as a brutal monster.  This incurred Stalin’s wrath.

It is well known that the Russians wanted to control post war Europe.  They used every means without any regard to legitimacy.  Assassinations by them were common.  Truck accidents were a common method.

Wilcox is not the first researcher to discover all the problems in investigating Patton’s death.  But he did aid future researchers by discovering that the car on display in the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky is not the real car.  It is a 1939 model, not 1938.  He also discovered that the true name of the sergeant driving the jeep that accompanied Patton’s car is Scruce, not Spruce as everyone else writes.

The story is intriguing, but the evidence does not compel one to the conclusion that Patton was murdered.  It is odd that all the reports are missing, but this does not prove assassination.  It is not unusual that most of the witnesses are dead, even if some of them died odd deaths.  The phony car could be attributed to someone making a quick profit on the black market.  The claim that the OSS and the NKVD conspired to kill Patton is impossible to prove.  Such a conspiracy would not be written down.  In the end I think that Target: Patton is a miss.

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