Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Patton's 3rd Army and the Liberation of Europe

There are precious few Americans left who endured the hardships required to liberate Europe from the iron grip of the Nazis. We owe it to ourselves and future generations of Americans to never forget their sacrifice in the cause of liberty and democracy.

The 3rd Army holds a unique place in history. It was due to their valor and sacrifice that the war in Europe was brought to end more rapidly than anyone had believed possible. To give you some perspective of their impact let’s review a few facts from the official action reports.

“’Under the command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., the Third Army participated in eight major operations and gave new meaning to “hard charging, hard hitting, mobile warfare.’” The Third Army’s swift and tenacious drive into and through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Austria contributed immeasurably to the destruction of the Nazi war machine of Adolph Hitler’s Germany.

“Within one month of the day when the Third US Army and XIX Tactical Air Command of the Ninth Air Force began operations together in France, the armored and infantry divisions and covering fighter-bombers of this new ground-air team had broken out of Normandy into Brittany, conquered all of that peninsula except three stubborn ports, firmly secured the line of the Loire, and swept 140 miles beyond liberated Paris to within 60 miles of the German border.”

The Third Army liberated or captured 81,522 square miles of territory. An estimated 12,000 cities, towns, and communities were liberated or captured, including 27 cities of more than 50,000 in population. Third Army captured 765,483 prisoners of war. 515,205 of the enemy surrendered during the last week of the war to make a total of 1,280,688 POW’s processed. The enemy lost an estimated 1,280,688 captured, 144,500 killed, and 386,200 wounded, adding up to 1,811,388. By comparison, the Third Army suffered 16,596 killed, 96,241 wounded, and 26,809 missing in action for a total of 139,646 casualties.

This fall the Grand Orient of the United States will be holding a special event celebrating the 3rd Army and their rightful place in both American and European history. As a part of this there will be a round table discussion forum and a display of artifacts from the European war. This will be an opportunity for both Americans and Europeans to learn more about the 3rd Army and America’s contribution to the liberation of Europe.

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