Patton’s Third Army, by Christopher J. Anderson, Greenhill Books, London, England, $19.95.
This is yet another part of Greenhill’s G.I.: The Illustrated History of the American Soldier, His Uniform and His Equipment series. The book will prove of value to armchair strategists, tactical historians, general readers, modelers, reenactors and other hobbyists.
Like German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s Eighth Army, Patton’s Third Army was one of the legendary forces of World War II. On August 1, 1944, almost two months after the initial Allied landings in France, Patton finally had an opportunity to lead the Third Army into combat. Demonstrating a mastery of armored warfare that stunned many of his contemporaries, Patton ended the stalemate in Normandy and broke out of the bocage country. During the next month Third Army units hounded the Wehrmacht back to the borders of Germany. Following their brilliant performance in Normandy, the Third Army served in many of the remaining battles of the war in Europe. Its finest hour came during the Battle of the Bulge when it stopped the Germans.
By the end of the war, the Third Army had reached the outskirts of Prague, Czechoslovakia. In less than a year Patton and his army had earned the admiration of friend and foe alike.
While no book about the Third Army can ignore the colorful Patton, the focus of this latest work is on the unit’s soldiers. Utilizing an impressive collection of photographs, some made available to a larger audience for the first time, the author describes in detail the uniforms and equipment used by the Third Army as it stormed across France and Germany. Unlike most similar books on the subject, however, Patton’s Third Army avoids spending too much time discussing the various armored vehicles and heavy equipment used by Patton’s men. The emphasis here is on more mundane items such as boots, helmets, uniforms and rations. While by no means the final word on the subject, studied in conjunction with other books that describe the Third Army’s strategy and tactics in greater detail, Patton’s Third Army helps provide a better appreciation of the men who still proudly boast that they “rode with George.”