GENERAL PATTON’S SPEECH TO THE AMERICAN ARMY IN ENGLAND – 29 MAY 1944

Men this story we hear about America wanting to stay out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a lot of bullshit. Americans love to fight—traditionally.  All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxer. Americans love a winner, and will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win—all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost, nor ever will lose a war, for the very thought of losing is hateful to an American.



Patton 3rd army

General George S. Patton

You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you here, in a major battle will die. Death must not be feared. Every man is frightened at first in battle. If he says he isn’t he’s a God damn liar. Some men are cowards, yes, but they fight just the same, or get the Hell shamed out of them watching the men who do who are just as scared. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a few minutes under fire, some take hours. For some it takes days. But the real man never lets his fear of death overpower his honor, sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. All through your army career you men have bitched about what you called “This chickenshit drilling.” That is all for a purpose. Drilling and discipline must be maintained in an army, if only for one reason: INSTANT OBEDIENCE TO ORDERS AND TO CREATE A CONSTANT ALERTNESS. I don’t give a damn for a man who is not always on his toes. You men are veterans or you wouldn’t be here. You are ready. A man, to continue breathing, must be alert at all times If not, sometime a German son-of-a-bitch will sneak up behind him and heat him to death with a sockfull of shit.

There are four hundred neatly marked graves somewhere in Sicily, all because one man went to sleep on his job. But they are German graves, for we caught the bastards asleep before they did.

An army is a team. Lives, sleeps, eats, fights as a team. This individual heroic stuff is a lot of crap. The bilious bastard who wrote that kind of stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know any more about real battle than they do about fucking.

We have the finest food, the finest equipment, best spirit and the men in the world. Why By God, I actually pity those son of bitches we’re going up against. By God I Do.

General George Patton speaking to troops of the 5th Infantry Division in England in March of 1944.

General George Patton speaking to troops of the 5th Infantry Division in England in March of 1944.

My men don’t surrender. I don’t want to hear of a soldier under my command being captured unless he is hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight. That’s not just bullshit either. The kind of men I want is like a lieutenant in Libya, who, with a luger against his chest, jerked off his helmet, swept the gun aside with his hand, and busted Hell out of the Boche with his helmet. Then he jumped on the gun and went out and killed another German. By this time this man had a bullet through his lung. That’s a man for you.

All the real heroes are not story book combat fighters, either. Every man in the army plays a vital part. Every little job is essential to the whole scheme. What if every truck driver suddenly decided that he didn’t like the whine of those shells and turned yellow and jumped head long into a ditch? He could say to himself, “They won’t miss me—just one guy in thousands.” What if every man said that? Where in the hell would we be now? No, thank God, Americans don’t say that. Every man does his job. Every man serves the whole. Every department, every unit is very important in the vast scheme of things.

The ordnance men are need to supply the guns, the quartermaster to bring up the food and clothes for us for where we’re going there isn’t a Hell of a lot to steal. Every damn last man in the mess hall, even the one who heats the water to keep us from getting diarrhea, has the job to do. Even the Chaplain is important, for if we got killed, and he was not there to bury us, we’d all go to Hell.



Gen. Patton urinating in the Rhine River

Gen. Patton urinating in the Rhine River

Each man must not only think of himself, but think of his buddy fighting beside him. I don’t want yellow cowards in this army. They should be killed off like flies. If not they will go back home after the war and breed more cowards. We’ve got to have the fucking for the fighting men. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the God damn cowards and we will have a nation of brave men. One of the bravest men I saw in the African campaign was one of the fellows I saw on top of a telegraph pole in the midst of furious fire while we were plowing towards Tunis. I stopped and asked him what the Hell he was doing up there at that time. He answered, “Fixing the wire sir.” “Isn’t it a little unhealthy right now?” I asked.  “Yes sir, but this God damn wire has to be fixed.” There was a real soldier. There was a man who devoted his all to his duty, no matter how great the odds, no matter how seemingly insignificant his duty, may have seemed at that time. You should have seen those trucks on the road to Gabes. The drivers were magnificent. All the day, they crawled along those son-of-bitching roads, never deviating from there course, with shells bursting all around them. We got through on good old American guts. Many of the men drove over forty consecutive hours.

Don’t forget, you don’t know I’m here at all. No word of the fact is to be mentioned in any letters. The world is not supposed to know what the Hell they did with me. I’m not supposed to be commanding this Army—I’m not even supposed to be in England. Let the first bastards to find out be the Germans. Someday I want them to raise up on their hind legs and howl, “Jesus Christ, it’s the God damn Third Army and that son-of-a-bitch Patton again.”

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Shoulder insignia of the US 3rd Army

We want to get the Hell over there. We want to get over there and clean the God damn thing up. And then we’ll have to take a little jaunt against the purple pissin’ Japanese and clean their nest out too, before the Marines get all the credit.

Sure we will all want to get home. We want to get this thing over with, but you can’t win a war lying down. The quickest way to get it over is to go get the bastards. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin. When a soldier is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, the Boche will get him eventually and will probably get him first. The Hell with taking it. Give it to them first. There is no such things as a foxhole war any more. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. We’ll win this war, but we’ll win it only by fighting and by showing our guts.

There’s one great thing you men will be able to say when you go home. You may all thank God for it. Thank God that at least, thirty years from now when you are sitting around the fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the Great World War II, you won’t have to say “I shoveled shit in Louisiana”.

For More on General George Patton Check Out:

War As I Knew It


Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General




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