Having just finished General Omar Bradley’s “A Soldier’s Story”, I am now reading General George S. Patton’s “War As I Knew It”. Both books are original somewhat musty editions, found by my dear wife in a used book store.
General Patton kept a detailed diary from July, 1942 until 5 December 1945, 5 days before his fatal car crash. At the conclusion of the conflict he himself wrote the short book “War As I Knew It”, based on personal recollection and heavy extracts from his diary. Due to his untimely death his wife, Beatrice Ayer Patton, edited the book, along with annotation and footnoting by Patton’s Chief of Staff throughout the war, Col. Paul Harkin. The book was published in 1947. Like General Bradley (and, for that matter, other Generals such as Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant), Patton was an excellent, erudite and engaging author, and his work is a pleasure to read.
I thought I would share with you some snippets which caught my eye; both are from the North African campaign in late 1942, and take place in Morocco. Keep in mind that the French forces in Morocco initially opposed the American landings; there was brief but intense land and naval combat prior to the French agreeing to an armistice. Gen. Patton was quite proficient in the French language.
“Nov 2, 1942 (aboard USS Augusta, prior to the Morocco landings)
“This is the best mess (“mess”=chow hall for you USMC types, galley for you Navy types, TC) I have ever seen. I fear I shall get fat… Just finished reading the Koran – a good book, and interesting…
“Nov 24, 1942
REQUIEM MASS, HONORING FRENCH AND AMERICAN DEAD, HELD AT CASABLANCA, November 23, 1942
General Keyes, Admiral Hall, and I met General Nogues and Admiral Michelier, and … proceeded with a police escort to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The streets were lined with French and American soldiers … the Cathedral was crowded to the doors.
The Bishop of Morocco, in full red robes and wearing a four-sided red cap, met us at the door and conducted us to the front of the Cathedral. Here there were two biers: the American on the right, covered with an American flag, and with a guard of six American soldiers, and the French on the left, with a French flag and a similar guard.
At the termination of the Mass we followed the clergy out … A rather incongruous feature to me was the fact that in front of the people, when we entered and when we left, was a guard of Mohammedan cavalry on foot, Armed with sabres.”
I just thought it was an interesting vignette. The Novus ordo invention was some 25 years in the future. The Cathedral building (built 1930) still exists, but is now a museum.