Heroes: the Army
"...Rain, snow, more rain, more snow - and I'm beginning to wonder what's going on in Your headquarters. Whose side are You on, anyway?..."
On December 23,1944 Patton said his famous prayer for fair weather in the chapel of the Pescatore foundation in Luxembourg City.
"Sir, this is Patton speaking. The last fourteen days have been straight from hell. Rain, snow, more rain, more snow - and I'm beginning to wonder what's going on in Your headquarters. Whose side are You on, anyway?
For three years my chaplains have been explaining that this is a religious war. This, they tell me, is the Crusades all over again, except that we're riding tanks instead of chargers. They insist we are here to annihilate the German Army and the godless Hitler so that religious freedom may return to Europe. Up until now I've gone along with them, too. You have given us Your unreserved cooperation. Clear skies and a calm sea in Africa made the landings highly successful and helped us to eliminate Rommel. Sicily was comparatively easy and You supplied excellent weather tor our armored dash across France, the greatest military victory that You have thus far allowed me.
You have led German units into traps that made their elimination fairly simple. But now, You've changed horses in midstream. You seem to have given von Rundstedt every break in the book and frankly he's been beating hell out of us. My army is neither trained nor equipped for winter warfare. An as You know this weather is more suitable for Eskimos than for southern cavalrymen.
But now, Sir. I can't help but feel that I have offended You in some way. That suddenly You have lost all sympathy with our cause. That You are throwing in with von Rundstedt and his paperhanging-god. You know without me telling You that our situation is desperate. Sure, I can tell my staff that everything is going according to plan, but there's no use telling You that the 101 st Airborne is holding out against tremendous odds in Bastogne, and that this continual storm is making it impossible to supply them even from the air.
I've sent Hugh Gaffey, one of my ablest generals, with his 4th Armored Division, north toward that all-important road center to relieve the encircled garrison and he's finding Your weather much more difficult than he is the Krauts. I don't like to complain unreasonably, but my soldiers from the Meuse to Echternach are suffering the tortures of the damned. Today I visited several hospitals, all full of frostbite cases and the wounded are dying in the fields because they cannot be brought back for medical care.
But this isn't the worst of the situation. Lack of visibility, continued rains have completely grounded my air force. My technique of battle calls for close-in-fighter support, and if my planes can't fly, how can I use them as aerial artillery? Not only is this a deplorable situation, but, worse yet, my reconnaissance planes haven't been in the air for fourteen days, and I haven't the faintest idea of what's going on behind German lines.
Damn it Sir, I can't fight a shadow. Without Your cooperation from a weather standpoint I am deprived of an accurate disposition of the German armies and how in hell can I be intelligent in my attack? All this probably sounds unreasonable to You, but I have lost all patience with Your chaplains who insist that this is a typical Ardennes winter, and that I must have faith.
Faith and patience be damned! You have just got to make up Your mind whose side You're on. You must come to my assistance, so that I may dispatch the entire German Army as a birthday present to Your Prince of Peace.
Sir, I have never been an unreasonable man; I am not going to ask You for the impossible. I do not even insist on a miracle, for all I request is four days of clear weather.
Give me four clear days so that my planes can fly, so that my fighter-bombers can bomb and strafe, so that my reconnaissance may pick out targets for my magnificent artillery. Give me four days of sunshine to dry this blasted mud, so that my tanks may roll, so that ammunition and rations may be taken to my hungry, ill-equipped infantry. I need these four days to send von Rundstedt and his godless army to their Valhalla. I am sick of this unnecessary butchery of American youth, and in exchange for four days of fighting weather, I will deliver You enough Krauts to keep your bookkeepers months behind in their work. Amen"
P.S. He got his request for fair weather.
(Editor's note: Attempts were made throughout the text of the following story to place full names to the men listed in the story. For the most part, this is an educated guess and some names may very well be mistaken in their identy. The names were all taken from the division history book: With The 102d Infantry Division Through Germany, edited by Major Allen H. Mick. Using the text as a guide, associations with specific units were the basis for the name identifications. We are not attempting in any to rewrite the story. Any corrections are gladly welcomed.)
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division
102 Infantry Division
History of the 102nd Infantry Division
Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf - 29 Nov -- 4 Dec 1944
Gardelegen War Crime
Gardelegen: April 13, 1945:
Massacre at the Isenschnibbe Barn
American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll
National World War II Memorial
The above story, "Patton's Prayer", was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 52, No. 2, Jan/March 2000, pp. 25.
The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the 102d Infantry Division Association, Ms. Hope Emerich, Historian. Our sincerest THANKS for the 102d Infantry Division Association allowing us to share some of their stories.
We would also like to extend our sincere THANKS to Mr. Edward L. Souder, former historian of Co. F., 405th Regiment. His collection of stories of the "Kitchen Histories Project" series entitled, Those Damn Doggies in F, were responsible for bringing the stories of the men of the 102nd Division to the forefront.
Original Story submitted on 19 October 2004.
Story added to website on 21 October 2004.
September 5, 2002.
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