Patton Poster1970, 20th CENTURY FOX

As a movie that features the use of WWII tanks, Patton falls short.  There are three major scenes involving tanks in battle: one in Tunisia, one in France, and one in Belgium.  The battle portrayed in Tunisia was a conflation of Task Force Benson’s attacks with seven battalions at El Guettar on March 30 and 31, 1943 together with an air raid at Benson’s command post on April 1, in which aide Dick Jenson is killed.  The panorama of massed German armor and infantry going up against American armored forces, raising clouds of dust in the desert was very impressive.  However, in real life the American forces were turned back by the Germans on both days, and there was no victory over Rommel, as claimed by Patton when he shouted “Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book.” (Patton was in Germany with health problems at the time.)

The battle in France was a fictitious situation in which U.S. tanks were supposedly defeated because they ran out of gasoline.  On the contrary, some of our greatest tank battle victories such as Arracourt occurred in Lorraine during late September, 1944, when the Third Army was essentially out of gas.  At the Battle of the Bulge, U.S. tanks are shown in winter battles.  However, we never see the interior of a tank, we never see tank crew members, and, worst of all, none of the tanks in the entire movie are Shermans.  For some reason, the filmmakers opted to use post-war M41, M46, and M47 tanks.

Jim Sudmeier                                                                                                                    July 4, 2016

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