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Q: General George Patton's advance in the South of France ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: General George Patton's advance in the South of France
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: dortmund-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 05 Jul 2005 15:26 PDT
Expires: 04 Aug 2005 15:26 PDT
Question ID: 540293
I have heard that General Patton, at one point during World War II,
attempted to attack the German Army on a long front, and did not
succeed until he massed his forces in one small area and broke through
their lines to great success.  Is this true, and if so, what were the
details of this campaign?  How wide was the German front he was
engaged against, what happened before he concentrated his forces, and
where did he break through, time periods, details of the change in
strategy that lead to this success, etc.

Request for Question Clarification by justaskscott-ga on 25 Jul 2005 23:48 PDT
While this description could possibly refer to the Battle of the
Bulge, I believe it is closer to the Lorraine Campaign:

"Even though greatly outnumbered, the Germans took advantage of
Patton's weaknesses in neglecting to practice economy of force and
were able to wage several counterattacks into the Allied forces. 
Patton believed that he should spread out his Third Army over a vast
front so that he would be strong in all areas.  This philosophy
backfired on him, however, because the forces were spread too thin and
were not particularly strong anywhere.  As a result of this error,
heavy doctrine changed after the war from fighting dispersed to
marching dispersed but fighting concentrated and tight.  Patton's
Third Army suffered many casualties for not realizing this sooner
against the German armies."

"Refuel on the Move: Resupplying Patton's Third Army," by Captain
Daniel G. Grassi (Quartermaster Professional Bulletin - Summer 1993)
Quartermaster Foundation

Do you think I'm on the right track?

Request for Question Clarification by justaskscott-ga on 25 Jul 2005 23:54 PDT
Incidentally, "massing of forces" and "great success" seems more
applicable to Patton's achievement in the Battle of the Bulge than to
the Lorraine Campaign.  The commentators on Patton's eventual capture
of Metz don't seem too impressed by it.

So perhaps what you have heard is a combination of events from late
summer to early winter 1944.

Clarification of Question by dortmund-ga on 26 Jul 2005 04:50 PDT
Yes, I do believe you are on the right track. I originally read about
this in an advertising book by Al Ries and Jack Trout, who were using
it to make the point that forces must be massed at a point to overcome
 obstacles in advertising wars, and obstacles in human wars.

What happened when Patton corrected his error of being spread thin?
Where did he focus and what was the result?

Please continue your line of thinking.

Clarification of Question by dortmund-ga on 26 Jul 2005 05:01 PDT
How long (wide) was Patton's original front compared to when he drew
his forces in tight and made progress?
Subject: Re: General George Patton's advance in the South of France
Answered By: justaskscott-ga on 26 Jul 2005 21:36 PDT
Rated:3 out of 5 stars
Hello dortmund,

A detailed book on the Lorraine Campaign is found at:

"The Lorraine Campaign," by Hugh M. Cole (1950)
U.S. Army Center of Military History

At the time the Third Army stalled:

"General Patton's 'eastern' front was about ninety miles in width. 
But in addition the Third Army held the line of the Loire River,
marking the right flank of the Allied armies in northern France, which
gave the Third Army front and flank a length of some 450 miles."

"The Lorraine Campaign -- Chapter I: The Halt at the Meuse" [p. 4.]
U.S. Army Center of Military History

You can see the situation illustrated on the following map.  (If you
double click on the map, you will see a symbol at the bottom right, on
which you can click to expand the map to full size.)

"The Lorraine Campaign -- Map No. I: Western Front, 1 September 1944"
U.S. Army Center of Military History

By the end of the Lorraine Offensive, the Third Army's front was
narrower.  I don't have a figure on precisely how many miles the front
was at that time.   But the narrowing is clear from the following map.
 (From eyeballing the map, my estimate would be that the front was
under 70 miles wide, with no flank.)

"The Lorraine Campaign -- Map No. XLIII  Western Front, 20 December 1944"
U.S. Army Center of Military History

I hope that this information is helpful.

- justaskscott

Search strategy --

Found basics of Patton's career on Wikipedia.

Found page that I cited in my initial request for clarification by
searching on Google for:

patton "lorraine campaign" thin

Searched on Google for:

"lorraine campaign"

[There were actually many more steps in my research, mainly involving
trial and error -- but I have described the key steps.]

Clarification of Answer by justaskscott-ga on 27 Jul 2005 15:12 PDT
Incidentally, I didn't find a map (or text) in between those two dates
that would better illustrate the narrowing of the front.  For much of
the time, the Third Army (and more specifically XII Corps and XX
Corps) were operating in ways that make it difficult to draw a line
and say how wide the front was.  You can browse the maps collected on
the main page of "The Lorraine Campaign" to see what I mean.

Request for Answer Clarification by dortmund-ga on 27 Jul 2005 18:54 PDT
Would Patton's breakthrough at Lessay constitute the severe narrowing
of the front  (a massing of force at a small point, to be specific)
that I was thinking of,  and which I believe was part of Operation
Cobra, an attempt to break the containment by German forces in the
Contentin Peninsula (which juts into the English Channel from

Clarification of Answer by justaskscott-ga on 27 Jul 2005 21:45 PDT
Personally, I don't think so.  The peninsula, and thus the American
front, was not that wide to start with:

"St-Lo (7 July - 19 July 1944) -- Map I Normandy Front, 2 July 1944"
(War Department, Historical Division, 1946)
U.S. Army Center of Military History

"St-Lo (7 July - 19 July 1944) -- Map II First Army Zone, 2 July 1944"
U.S. Army Center of Military History

This work, incidentally, doesn't treat Lessay as a major incident.

"St-Lo (7 July - 19 July 1944)"
U.S. Army Center of Military History

Clarification of Answer by justaskscott-ga on 27 Jul 2005 22:04 PDT
Also, the Lorraine Campaign better matches "the South of France" from
the title of your question.
dortmund-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Satisfactory for my purpose, but not great answer. I believe I have
had much better depth of answers from Google on other occasions. It
could be that in an area like this, person knowledge of the history,
as from a veteran of W.W. II, or from a family member, might have made
a difference.

There are no comments at this time.

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