George S. Patton was not directly involved in the implementation or planning of the Invasion of Normany. But that is not to say that he did not perform his own critical part in its success.

Like the rest of the world, Patton learned of the Normandy invasion  by listening to the BBC at seven o’clock on the morning of June  6, 1944. Though he had been sidelined from the invasion, he played  an important role in it by his absence. In February 1944, Overlord planners at Supreme Allied Headquarters had formulated a plan—“Operation Fortitude South”—to deceive the Nazi commanders into thinking that the Norman landings were merely a feint to draw German defenders away from a main Allied invasion at Pas de Calais. The Germans were fed information that when the bridgehead was established by six Allied assault divisions, a huge force of fifty divisions would exploit the opening. As the official British history notes, it was “the most complex and successful deception operation in the entire history of the war.”

A month after the Normandy invasion, secretly landing at an airstrip near Omaha Beach, Patton entered a waiting jeep. When army and navy personnel rushed up to see him, Patton stood and delivered 
a short impromptu speech: “I’m proud to be here to fight beside you. Now let’s cut the guts out of those Krauts and get the hell on to Berlin. And when we get to Berlin, I am going to personally shoot that paperhanging goddamned son of a bitch just like I would a snake.” 

The troops cheered Patton’s remarks. He soon learned that he was to lead the Third Army and that his first responsibility was to clear the Brest peninsula of Germans. Patton’s presence was still a secret to the enemy. He wrote to his wife Beatrice on July 10, 1944, “Sunday I went to a field mass. It was quite impressive. All the men with rifles and helmets, the altar the back of a jeep. Planes on combat missions flying over and the sound of guns all the while. . . . There is nothing to do at the moment but be a secret weapon.” 

Eisenhower prepared to leak a story that Patton had lost his command because of “displeasure at some of his indiscretions” and that the main invasion of the continent was delayed by bad weather. This deception caused the Germans to delay a counter-attack that might have crushed or seriously set back the Allied invasion. By providing a plausible reason for Patton’s removal, the notorious slapping incidents contributed to the success of the deception. It is thus one of history’s ironies that General Patton’s greatest victory might have come in a battle in which he played no active role. 


This article is part of our larger resource meant to provide facts, information, and stories about the life of George S. Patton. Visit our more popular pages if you would like to learn more about one of the most important generals in U.S. military history.

George S. Patton’s Timeline

Patton’s Speech “God of Our Fathers”

Patton’s Message Marking the End of World War Two

Patton’s Letter to his Troops Before Fighting Rommel in Africa

Patton’s Prayer for Courage

Patton’s “Blood and Guts” Speech

The Religious Life of George S. Patton

Patton’s Near-Death Experience in World War One

Patton’s Entrance Into Germany in 1945

Patton’s Interest in Other Religions

Patton and Eisenhower’s Friendship During the Interwar Years

When Patton Enlisted the Entire Third Army to Pray for Fair Weather

Patton in the Holy Land

Patton’s Remarks on Divine Guidance

George S. Patton’s Obituary


This article is from the book Patton: Blood, Guts, and Prayer © 2012 by Michael Keane. Please use this data for any reference citations. To order this book, please visit its online sales page at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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