Arrested by General Patton

by:  RAF_Yank

In late November and early December of 1944 the allies seemed unstoppable. General Bradley had unleashed "Operation Cobra" in the Fall.  This was plan had thousands of fighter-bombers and high altitude heavies lay down an unmerciful barrage of "Carpet Bombing" on enemy positions. Then General Patton's 3rd Army punched through the hole and barreled across France.

Our squadron was one of the first fighter-bomber groups to lead the way in this attack..

After we peeled off from our attack wave after wave of ground attack fighter-bomber groups pounded enemy positions. Later about a thousand B-17's and B-24's just laid waste to the Germans. Unfortunately due to so much smoke in the air and overall poor visibility, some of the heavies bombed our guys positions. At least a hundred guys and a General were killed by friendly fire.

After that the allies moved very quickly. By late November we had moved twice. We were now occupying a hastily abandoned Luftwaffe base.  With our advances guys thought the Germans might capitulate in time for us to get home for Christmas. The Germans were also being pressed extremely hard on the Eastern Front. I wasn't so sure. It's like the more you back an angry animal back in to his den, the harder they fought. Then came the battle for the Ardennes or the "Battle of the Bulge". In Mid-December the Germans unleashed an assault that threatened to split our forces. They had in mind  to push completely through the British and American forces and secure the port of Antwerp. The weather was terrible and we were grounded most of the time.

One day I took a jeep and headed in to town. Word came through that the 3rd Army had shifted it's attack and was heading North through our area. As it turns out they were on there way to relieve the besieged town of Bastogne. As I  drove  through the muddy streets of the town, armor and troops were everywhere going in a big hurry. I pulled out from a side street and hit my brakes. There in all his polished glory was General Patton himself. I couldn't believe it. With his ivory handled pistols and crisp pressed riding slacks, straight out of a newsreel.

He was about 10 ft in front of me as he looked me up and down. I was a mess. The first thing out of his mouth was "Captain, where is your driver?" I responded lamely with "Sir, I don't have a driver." He responded more tersely" I see. Where is your necktie" I couldn't believe it. Here were thousands of dogfaces heading up to a critical battle and he was worried about some pissant pilot's necktie. I started to get testy myself. I thought about all I had been through and the buddy's I had lost and said something like " I don't have a necktie , Sir", probably with a little gravel in my voice.

At this point he gave me his full attention. "Captain you are an officer, you should have a driver and be wearing the proper uniform at all times." At that I boiled over, I didn't give a shit if he was General Patton or the Pope. I said very sternly " Sir, I am a pilot first and an officer second." Big mistake. If my luck meter hadn't been turned way up, that probably would have been the end of my military career right there. He responded, predictably, with "You know what else you are Captain? You are under arrest!" He continued to spout" You don't have a driver, you are out of uniform, you are insolent and insubordinate as well.!" He then pointed the to the local Army Headquarters and yelled " Go turn yourself in to the Provost Marshall…right there!"

He then turned on his heel and finished his walk across the street. I am positive to this day that he never gave the incident a single other thought. I just sat there with my face hanging out like some sort of imbecile. I slammed the jeep into gear and pulled up to the HQ building. I was seeing red. People were coming to an fro when I asked where the Provost Office was. I was directed to a make shift desk and some guy was rummaging around for a file or something. I started reading him the riot act about what had happened. He turned forward and I saw the gold eagles on his collar. I started thinking 'Nice one Archer, first you get smart with the General of the whole damn Army and now you are yelling at a full bird Colonel!'

He looks me up and down and says "Sit down and shut up". I did. He asked me to tell him the story. I did. When I reached the end, I was expecting the MP's and the handcuffs, he takes the serious look off his face and gets a twinkle in his eye. The next thing I know he is laughing like a hyena. He practically fell out of his chair. He calls over an aide and asks me to tell him the story. I do, then they are both busting up. I didn't know what to do, laugh or cry. The Colonel asks who my CO is and the Group Commander. It turns out the Group CO and he were Academy buddies. He reaches into his desk and pours me a Scotch. We have a drink, I was still ready to wet myself. He says "Captain Archer, get a necktie, a driver and don't talk back to busy Generals. Clear?!" I said "Yes sir!" and got my sorry ass out of there.

When I got back to the field a buddy of mine says "So how was the trip to town?" I didn't know whether to kiss him or deck him. I just shook my head and walked away. Nothing ever came of it, no paperwork reprimand nothing. Just the Archer luck holding out once more.


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