May 1, 1944
In spite of possible execution this morning I slept well and trust my destiny. God has never let me, or the country, down yet. Reported to Ike at 1100. He was most cordial and asked me to sit down, so I felt a little reassured. He said, “George, you have gotten yourself into a very serious fix.” I said, “Before you go any farther, I want to say that your job is more important than mine, so if in trying to save me you are hurting yourself, throw me out.” He said, “I have now got all that the army can give me—it is not a question of hurting me but of hurting yourself and depriving me of a fighting army commander.” He went on to say that General Marshall had wired him that my repeated mistakes have shaken the confidence of the country and the War Department. General Marshall even harked back to the Kent Lambert incident in November 1942—certainly a forgiving s.o.b.
Ike said he had recommended that, if I were to be relieved and sent home, I be not reduced to a Colonel, as the relief would be sufficient punishment, and that he felt that situations might well arise where it would be necessary to put me in command of an army.
I told Ike that I was perfectly willing to fall out on a permanent promotion so as not to hold others back. Ike said General Marshall had told him that my crime had destroyed all chance of my permanent promotion, as the opposition said even if I was the best tactician and strategist in the army, my demonstrated lack of judgment made me unfit to command. He said that he had wired General Marshall on Sunday washing his hands of me. (He did not use these words but that is what he meant). I told him that if I was reduced to a Colonel I demanded the right to command one of the assault regiments; that this was not a favor but a right. He said no, because he felt he would surely need me to command an army. I said, “I am not threatening, but I want to tell you that his attack is badly planned and on too narrow a front and may well result in an Anzio, especially if I am not there. He replied, "Don't I know it, but what can I do?” That is a hell of a remark for a supreme commander. The fact is that the plan which he has approved was drawn by a group of British in 1943. Monty changed it only by getting 5 instead of 3 divisions into the assault, but the front is too short. There should be three separate attacks on at least a 90 mile front. I have said this for nearly a year. Ike said he had written me a “savage” letter but wanted me to know that his hand is being forced from United States. He talked to the Prime Minister about me and Churchill told him that he could see nothing to it. That “Patton had simply told the truth.” Ike then went on to excuse General Marshall on the grounds that it was an election year etc. It is sad and shocking to think “fear of They”, and the writings of a group of unprincipled reporters, and weak kneed congressmen, but so it is. When I came out I don't think anyone could tell that I had just been killed. I have lost lots of competitions in the sporting way, but I never did better. I feel like death, but I am not out yet. If they will let me fight, I will; but if not, I will resign so as to be able to talk, and then I will tell the truth, and possibly do my country more good. All the way home, 5 hours, I recited poetry to myself.
“If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk them on one game of pitch and toss
And lose, and start at your beginning
And never breathe a word about your loss”
“I dared extreme occasion and never one betrayed.”
My final thought on the matter is that I am destined to achieve some great thing—what I don't know, but this last incident was so trivial in its nature, but so terrible in its effect, that it is not the result of an accident but the work of God. His Will be done.
General Leroy Lutes of the U.S. Service of Supply was here when I got back after supper and we gave him a briefing and entertained him. I hope to get some equipment as a result.