His riding pants still wet from wading through the surf at Gela, Sicily, in July 1943 during Operation Husky, Seventh Army commander Patton grasps his Leica camera and neck strap and assumes a “commanding” pose. Binoculars, riding crop, and ivory-handled Colt add flair to what he considered his “best picture” in Sicily. (PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
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General George S. Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885—December 21, 1945), America’s best-known World War II battle commander, was famously nicknamed “Old Blood and Guts” for his aggressive and daring leadership style—an image deliberately cultivated through ostentatious uniforms and profanity-laced “motivational” speeches to his troops. Patton led American soldiers to victory in campaigns from November 1942 to May 1945 in North Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium, and Germany.
However, to gain some insight into how Patton himself viewed the war, the Library of Congress’s Patton Papers includes six boxes of photos and negatives that Patton personally took during the war and sent home to his wife, Beatrice.
The 11 “coffee table-sized” photograph albums Beatrice created and donated to the library provide a fascinating snapshot of what caught Patton’s eye as images worthy of capturing in personal photographs. Here’s a look at how George Patton saw World War II.