During the years between World War I and World War II, George Patton Jr. was demoted from temporary colonel to major and spent 20 years in the peacetime cavalry. The German Blitzkrieg in Europe in late 1939 convinced the War Department and Congress that the United States lagged in the new technology of armor. Patton was ready with ideas and plans. Once again a full colonel, Patton was sent back to tanks in August 1940 by U.S. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall to oversee the formation of the Armored Force. He was transferred to the Second Armored Division at Fort Benning, Georgia and named Commanding General on 11 April 1941.
During the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers, he dominated the action with daring tactics that outflanked and outclassed officers of the mock opposing forces. In early 1942, Patton was promoted to the command of the First Armored Corps and established the Desert Training Center in southern California where the U.S. Army armored forces honed their skills.
During his rapid rise, Patton came to national attention and on 7 July 1941 appeared on the cover of a Life magazine issue devoted to the suddenly important topic of national defense. According to Steven Zaloga's book on the M3 and M5 Stuart, this tank was Patton's personal vehicle, an M1A1 Light Tank, specially painted for him as Commander of the 2nd Armored Division.
Copyright to this magazine cover is owned by Time Warner Inc.
Today in WW II: 21 Jun 1942 With a surprise attack, Rommel captures Tobruk, Libya. More↓