Dec 23, 1944 – American Soldiers were facing their worst Christmas for the American Army since Valley Forge in 1777.
General George S. Patton when to a chapel in Luxembourg during the dark days following the beginning of the German onslaught in the Ardennes and offered a prayer to God. I relate that prayer here on the 72nd anniversary of his visit to that chapel. I copied this from one of the old Military Journals where it was printed. Please forgive the brashness of the prayer and do not let it offend you, evidently it did not offend the Lord.
General Patton’s Prayer:
Sir, this is Patton talking. The last fourteen days have been straight hell. Rain, snow, rain, more snow—and I’m beginning to wonder what’s going on in your headquarters. Whose side are you on, anyway?
For three years my chaplains have been telling me that this is a religious war. This, they tell me, its the Crusades all over again, except that we’re riding tanks instead of chargers. They insist we are to annihilate the German army and the godless Hitler so that religious freedom may return to Europe.
Up until now, I have gone along with them, for You have given us Your unreserved cooperation. Clear skies and a calm sea in Africa made the landings highly successful and helped us to eliminate Rommel. Sicily was comparatively easy, and You supplied excellent weather for our armored dash across France, the greatest military victory that You have thus far allowed me. You have given me excellent guidance in difficult command decisions and You have led German units into traps that made their elimination fairly simple.
“But now, you’ve changed horses in midstream. You seem to have given von Rundstedt every break in the book and frankly, he’s been beating the hell out of us. My army is neither trained nor equipped for winter warfare. And as you know, this weather is more suitable for Eskimos than for Southern cavalrymen.
But now, sir, I can’t help but feel that I have offended you in some way. That suddenly you have lost all sympathy for our cause. That you are throwing in with von Rundstedt and his paper-hanging god [Hitler]. You know without me telling you that our situation is desperate.
Sure, I can tell my staff that everything is going according to plan, but there’s no use telling You that my 101st Airborne is holding out against tremendous odds in Bastogne, and that this continual storm is making it impossible to supply them even from the air. I’ve sent Hugh Gaffey, one of my ablest generals, with his 4th Armored Division, north toward that all-important road center to relieve the encircled garrison, and he’s finding Your weather much more difficult than he is the Krauts.
I don’t like to complain unreasonably, but my soldiers from the Meuse to Echtemach are suffering the tortures of the damned. Today I visited several hospitals, all full of frostbite cases, and the wounded are dying in the fields because they cannot be brought back for medical care.
But this isn’t the worst of the situation. Lack of visibility, continued rains, have completely grounded my air force. My technique of battle calls for close in fighter bomber support and if my planes can’t fly, how can I use them as aerial artillery? Not only is this a deplorable situation, but worse yet, my reconnaissance planes haven’t been in the air for fourteen days and I haven’t the faintest idea of what’s going on behind the German lines.
Dammit, Sir, I can’t fight a shadow. Without Your cooperation, from a weather standpoint, I am deprived of an accurate disposition Of the German armies, and how in hell can I be intelligent in my attack? All this probably sounds unreasonable to You, but I have lost patience with Your chaplains who insist that this is a typical Ardennes winter and that I must have faith. Faith and patience be damned! You have just got to make up Your mind whose side You’re on. You must come to my assistance so that I may dispatch the entire German army as a birthday present to Your Prince of Peace.
Sir, I have never been an unreasonable man. I am not going to ask You for the impossible. I do not even insist upon a miracle, for all I request is four days of clear weather. Give me four clear days so that my planes can fly; so that my fighter bombers can bomb and strafe; so that my reconnaissance may pick out targets for my magnificent artillery. Give me four days of sunshine to dry this blasted mud, so that my tanks may roll, so that ammunition and rations may be taken to my hungry, ill equipped infantry. I need these four days to send yon Rundstedt and his godless army to their Valhalla. I am sick of the butchery of American youth and in exchange for four days of fighting weather, I will deliver You enough Krauts to keep Your bookkeepers months behind in their work.
On December 27, Patton returned to offer a thank-you at the same Pescatore chapel, anticipating that the Bulge was the enemy’s final counteroffensive—as it proved to be: (I love this prayer)
“Sir, this is Patton again, and I beg to report complete progress. Sir, it seems to me that you have been much better informed about the situation than I was, because it was that awful weather which I cursed so much which made it possible for the German army to commit suicide. That, Sir, was a brilliant military move, and I bow humbly to a supreme military genius.”