ARCHIVE

  • Last modified 4186 days ago (March 8, 2006)
  • Return to Checkerboard

Blood and guts told it like it was

The 99th Infantry Division served under General Courtney Hodges in the First Army during the Battle of the Bulge.

He was a brilliant officer and a quiet man who was highly regarded.

Later, after the Bulge, the 99th was transferred to Gen. George Patton's Third Army.

The opposite of Hodges, Patton was outspoken and either loved or hated by those who knew him.

Men of the 99th recalled that he won with 'our blood and his guts."

When Patton met the newly assigned 65th Infantry Division late in the war (March 2), the feisty general gave a fight talk.

At 1100 hours the troops were called to attention and Patton quickly appeared, looking over the assemblage of green solders.

"Officers and men of the 65h Infantry Division, rest.

"You now are on a winning team. But you have never played. Therefore you must listen closely.

"You think you are disciplined, but you will never know whether or not you are disciplined until you hear a bullet go past your ear.

"Now a lot of people don't know why we have discipline in the Army. The Army is discipline and that's that.

"You must act from habit, and the habit must be stronger than the fear of death."

He explained that when the enemy starts shooting, and the soldier lies down, "That's just what the enemy wants him to do." They have mortars zeroed on that spot and "the soldier gets blown to hell."

Patton suggests that a soldier keeps on advancing and keeps on shooting.

"The rifle is the deadliest goddamn weapon in the world, and the German is scared to death of it. So, use it . . ."

He recalled that a truckload of prisoners came past where he was standing. "One of them pulled a pistol from somewhere, must have had it stuck up his ass, and shot one of my captains.

"Some guns went off accidentally and every one of those prisoners was killed.

"You men are lucky," he told the 65th. "In later years when a descendant asks, 'Grandpop, what did you do in World War II?'

"You won't have to say, 'Sonny, I shoveled shit in Alabama.'"

Quantcast