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How the Press, TV and Hollywood Have Gotten It Wrong
(Story Below)

Enlarge Photos

Above: Gen. George Patton (left) and Gen. Courtney Hodges
Patton photo from Patton Museum, Ft. Knox.
Hodges photo by Marvin Mischnick, 3AD HQ.

  Note by the Web Editor: The article below was written one year after the German surrender by a respected and renown war correspondent, Hal Boyle of the Associated Press. It speaks volumes of how 3rd Armored Division veterans have felt over the decades about the public perception of Gen. Patton. What Boyle does not address here is fact that, during 1944-45, Patton's "Third Army" took much of the credit for the accomplishments of the "Third Armored" primarily because many press accounts never made a clear distinction between the names. But that's an entirely different story. Boyle focuses here on an abridged comparison of the accomplishments of the Third Army vs. Courtney Hodges' First Army, of which the 3rd Armored was part of. Boyle writes in 1946 with obvious passion, and one wonders how he must have felt in the years that followed as certain myths about Patton expanded into true fantasyland. There is no question of Patton's unique greatness as a commander, but, at the same time, the press, authors, television, and Hollywood have, over the years, not done their homework on the First Army and Omar Bradley, its initial commander, and Courtney Hodges, his predecessor early in the combat.


"First Army Performed Many Feats
For Which It Was Never Acclaimed"

Associated Press war correspondent, WWII

BERLIN, May 8, 1946 - (AP) - One year ago this week the finest army that ever fought under the American flag ceased battle operations, its victory won. This was the United States First Army. Because neither of the two men who commanded it had a flair for personal publicity, it never had the acclaim won by General George Patton's famous Third Army. It galls many wearers of the square black "A" shoulder patch [and the 3AD Spearhead patch] that the public and some staff officers of the Third Army still believe that Patton engineered the break through at St. Lo, took Paris, and made the initial crossing of the Rhine.

All these and many more battle feats were performed by the First Army. No outfit has suffered more from the public adulation of that great and grand figure, George Patton, than the patient First Army. Let's thumbtack the old battle maps back on the wall, and give them an anniversary gander. They show us that it was the First Army that spearheaded into Normandy in the greatest amphibious operation of the war.

It was the First Army that captured Cherbourg, first great continental port to fall. It was the First Army that broke the German defensive crust at St. Lo, turning the battle of France into a hare-and-hounds chase. Some Patton divisions were in the attack, but the main wedge was First Army troops. It was the First Army that took Paris. The American Fourth Infantry Division of the First Army had to boot skylarking French tankmen into town to claim the glory of liberating their own capital. The Third Army was miles away and heading toward Metz.

It was the First Army that first entered Germany on September 11,1944. It was the First Army that captured the first German city, Aachen. It was the First Army that first crossed the Rhine river by the epic seizure of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. It was the First Army that made the longest armored march in history in a single day during the smash from the Rhine, a feat accomplished by the late Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, Commander of the 3rd Armored Division.

It was the First Army alone that attacked simultaneously in two directions, taking more than 260,000 prisoners in the "Rose pocket" in the Ruhr to the west while driving steadily eastward toward the Elbe river. And it was on the banks of that stream that the First Army first made contact with the Russians, ending Europe's greatest squeeze play and the war.

The First Army was led in turn by Gen. Omar N. Bradley of Missouri and Lieut. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges, a gentleman from Georgia who began army life as a private.

Patton and the Third Army did a swell job. But he does not need and never wanted the credit that belongs to the First U.S. Army.

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