General George Patton: Speech on the eve of the D-Day Invasion
General Patton arose and strode swiftly to the microphone. The men snapped to their feet and stood silently.Patton surveyed the sea of brown with a grim look. "Be seated", he said. The words were not a request, but acommand. The General's voice rose high and clear.
"Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is acrock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. You arehere today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, youare here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here becauseyou are real men and all real men like to fight. When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired thechampion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-Americanfootball players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards.Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's whyAmericans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American."
The General paused and looked over the crowd. "You are not all going to die," he said slowly. "Only two percent ofyou right here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. Yes,every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he's not, he's a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight thesame as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared asthey are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minuteunder fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of deathoverpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificentcompetition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.Americans pride themselves on being He Men and they ARE He Men. Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen."
"All through your Army careers, you men have bitched about what you call "chicken shit drilling". That, likeeverything else in this Army, has a definite purpose. That purpose is alertness. Alertness must be bred into everysoldier. I don't give a fuck for a man who's not always on his toes. You men are veterans or you wouldn't be here.You are ready for what's to come. A man must be alert at all times if he expects to stay alive. If you're not alert,sometime, a German son-of-an-asshole-bitch is going to sneak up behind you and beat you to death with asockful of shit!" The men roared in agreement.
Patton's grim expression did not change. "There are four hundred neatly marked graves somewhere in Sicily", heroared into the microphone, "All because one man went to sleep on the job". He paused and the men grew silent."But they are German graves, because we caught the bastard asleep before they did". The General clutched themicrophone tightly, his jaw out-thrust, and he continued, "An Army is a team. It lives, sleeps, eats, and fights as ateam. This individual heroic stuff is pure horse shit. The bilious bastards who write that kind of stuff for theSaturday Evening Post don't know any more about real fighting under fire than they know about fucking!"The men slapped their legs and rolled in glee. This was Patton as the men had imagined him to be, and in rareform, too. He hadn't let them down. He was all that he was cracked up to be, and more. He had IT!
"We have the finest food, the finest equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world", Patton bellowed. Helowered his head and shook it pensively. Suddenly he snapped erect, faced the men belligerently and thundered,"Why, by God, I actually pity those poor sons-of-bitches we're going up against. By God, I do". The men clappedand howled delightedly. There would be many a barracks tale about the "Old Man's" choice phrases. They wouldbecome part and parcel of Third Army's history and they would become the bible of their slang.
"My men don't surrender", Patton continued, "I don't want to hear of any soldier under my command beingcaptured unless he has been hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight back. That's not just bull shit either. The kindof man that I want in my command is just like the lieutenant in Libya, who, with a Luger against his chest, jerkedoff his helmet, swept the gun aside with one hand, and busted the hell out of the Kraut with his helmet. Then hejumped on the gun and went out and killed another German before they knew what the hell was coming off. And,all of that time, this man had a bullet through a lung. There was a real man!"
Patton stopped and the crowd waited. He continued more quietly, "All of the real heroes are not storybook combatfighters, either. Every single man in this Army plays a vital role. Don't ever let up. Don't ever think that your job isunimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain. What if everytruck driver suddenly decided that he didn't like the whine of those shells overhead, turned yellow, and jumpedheadlong into a ditch? The cowardly bastard could say, "Hell, they won't miss me, just one man in thousands".But, what if every man thought that way? Where in the hell would we be now? What would our country, our lovedones, our homes, even the world, be like? No, Goddamnit, Americans don't think like that. Every man does hisjob. Every man serves the whole. Every department, every unit, is important in the vast scheme of this war. The ordnance men are needed to supply the guns and machinery of war to keep us rolling. The Quartermaster is needed to bring up food and clothes because where we are going there isn't a hell of a lot to steal. Every last man on K.P. has a job to do, even the one who heats our water to keep us from getting the 'G.I. Shits'."
Patton paused, took a deep breath, and continued, "Each man must not think only of himself, but also of hisbuddy fighting beside him. We don't want yellow cowards in this Army. They should be killed off like rats. If not,they will go home after this war and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off theGoddamned cowards and we will have a nation of brave men. One of the bravest men that I ever saw was a fellowon top of a telegraph pole in the midst of a furious fire fight in Tunisia. I stopped and asked what the hell he wasdoing up there at a time like that. He answered, "Fixing the wire, Sir". I asked, "Isn't that a little unhealthy rightabout now?" He answered, "Yes Sir, but the Goddamned wire has to be fixed". I asked, "Don't those planesstrafing the road bother you?" And he answered, "No, Sir, but you sure as hell do!" Now, there was a real man. Areal soldier. There was a man who devoted all he had to his duty, no matter how seemingly insignificant his dutymight appear at the time, no matter how great the odds. And you should have seen those trucks on the rode toTunisia. Those drivers were magnificent. All day and all night they rolled over those son-of-a-bitching roads, neverstopping, never faltering from their course, with shells bursting all around them all of the time. We got through ongood old American guts. Many of those men drove for over forty consecutive hours. These men weren't combatmen, but they were soldiers with a job to do. They did it, and in one hell of a way they did it. They were part of ateam. Without team effort, without them, the fight would have been lost. All of the links in the chain pulled togetherand the chain became unbreakable."
The General paused and stared challengingly over the silent ocean of men. One could have heard a pin dropanywhere on that vast hillside. The only sound was the stirring of the breeze in the leaves of the bordering treesand the busy chirping of the birds in the branches of the trees at the General's left.
"Don't forget," Patton barked, "you men don't know that I'm here. No mention of that fact is to be made in anyletters. The world is not supposed to know what the hell happened to me. I'm not supposed to be commandingthis Army. I'm not even supposed to be here in England. Let the first bastards to find out be the GoddamnedGermans. Some day I want to see them raise up on their piss-soaked hind legs and howl, 'Jesus Christ, it's theGoddamned Third Army again and that son-of-a-fucking-bitch Patton'."
"We want to get the hell over there", Patton continued, "The quicker we clean up this Goddamned mess, thequicker we can take a little jaunt against the purple pissing Japs and clean out their nest, too. Before theGoddamned Marines get all of the credit."
The men roared approval and cheered delightedly. This statement had real significance behind it. Much more than met the eye and the men instinctively sensed the fact. They knew that they themselves were going to play avery great part in the making of world history. They were being told as much right now. Deep sincerity and seriousness lay behind the General's colorful words. The men knew and understood it. They loved the way he put it, too, as only he could.
Patton continued quietly, "Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it overwith is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. Theshortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin", he yelled, "I am personally going toshoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I'd shoot a snake!"
"When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a German will get to him eventually. The hellwith that idea. The hell with taking it. My men don't dig foxholes. I don't want them to. Foxholes only slow up anoffensive. Keep moving. And don't give the enemy time to dig one either. We'll win this war, but we'll win it only byfighting and by showing the Germans that we've got more guts than they have; or ever will have. We're not going tojust shoot the sons-of-bitches, we're going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease thetreads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is abloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them inthe guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirtit's the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you'll know what to do!"
"I don't want to get any messages saying, "I am holding my position." We are not holding a Goddamned thing. Letthe Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except theenemy's balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan ofoperation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through theenemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose; like shit through a tin horn!"
"From time to time there will be some complaints that we are pushing our people too hard. I don't give a goodGoddamn about such complaints. I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon ofblood. The harder WE push, the more Germans we will kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men willbe killed. Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that."
The General paused. His eagle like eyes swept over the hillside. He said with pride, "There is one great thing thatyou men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twentyyears from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what youdid in the great World War II, you WON'T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, "Well, yourGranddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana." No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, "Son, yourGranddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-Goddamned-Bitch named Georgie Patton!"