“War Stories” producers Cyd Upson and Michael Weiss take you inside this Sunday's episode, "Remarkable Life and Mysterious Death of General Patton."
|Cyd Upson & Michael Weiss|
CYD UPSON AND MICHAEL WEISS: We were surprised that Patton’s wife Beatrice had suspicions about her husband’s death and even went so far as to hire private investigators.
FF: What made Patton such a controversial figure?
CU/MW: George Patton was very outspoken and had a tumultuous relationship with the press. His words and actions made headlines and good copy, but he was often misquoted and misunderstood.
FF: In your opinion, what was Patton's most valuable contribution?
CU/MW: Patton has received little recognition for the amazing manner in which he prepared and trained his soldiers in both World War I and World War II. He was no armchair general. In battle he led from the front and inspired his troops.
FF: Much mystery surrounds the death of Patton. Some think it was more than just an accident that took the General's life. Were you able to uncover anything that helped to clarify this mystery one way or the other?
CU/MW: As we delved deeper into the car crash in which the Patton was the only passenger injured, our investigation uncovered very few records of the accident. In fact, when we examined Patton’s military personnel file at the National Archives, out of more than 1300 pages of documents, barely 15 were devoted to the car crash. Ultimately, we didn’t find any conclusive evidence. There was never an autopsy performed, the accident report is missing, and the alleged assassin is dead. We may never know if it was merely a traffic accident, as the Army concluded, or if Patton was murdered.
FF: Patton struggled with a learning disability. What was the disability?
CU/MW: Undiagnosed at the time, Patton suffered from what is now called dyslexia. While he proved to be a brilliant military strategist and historian, his diaries and letters show that he struggled with grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
FF: What is the best way to describe Patton to someone who may only know him from history books?
CU/MW: A veteran we interviewed, Brig Gen Albin Irzyk who served in Patton’s Third Army, summed up the General this way, “He’s the purest warrior we’ve ever had, I think he’s by far the greatest field commander we’ve ever had. He couldn’t have been a Marshall, he couldn’t have been an Eisenhower, he was Patton. He climbed his mountain. There was nothing left for him to conquer."