On the anniversary of my Father’s passing, (Three years ago today) I found myself thinking about the movie Patton. For those who have not seen it or know who General Patton was, he was one of the greatest army generals in the history of the United States. My Father was a Corporal in General George Patton’s Third Army during the war.
The movie followed Patton in the European theater during World War II as the alliance battled the German army. Many quotes and actions of Patton were portrayed in the movie but all of them were not entirely accurate. Take for instance the scene in which Patton, (Played by actor George C. Scott) asked the army Chaplin to write a prayer for weather so his army could get on with the war and kill the Germans.
The movie scene went something like this:
Patton: Chaplin, I’m sick and tired of the 3rd army having to fight the Germans in this ungodly weather. I want a prayer, a weather prayer.
Chaplin: Weather prayer sir?
Patton: Yes, let’s see if we can’t get God working with us.
Chaplin: It would take a pretty thick rug for that kind of prayer General.
Patton: I don’t care if it takes a flying carpet.
Chaplin: I don’t know how this is going to be received General, praying for good weather so we can kill our fellow man.
Patton: I can assure you, because of my intimate relationship with God Almighty, that if you write a good prayer, we’ll have good weather. I expect that prayer in an hour.
Chaplin: Yes sir…. As Patton leaves the army tent.
Scene Change: Patton standing outside the tent in the snow as men load equipment and drive army vehicles preparing for battle, Patton stops and takes out the prayer the Chaplin wrote. With the snow swirling, he reads the prayer. The next day, the sky is clear and the 3rd army advances further against the German army enjoying superior air support.
But, as entertaining as that scene was, it was not very accurate. Yes, Patton did request a weather prayer from the Chaplin, and yes, it was intended to have good weather so the army could push forward against the German army, but the prayer came about a little bit differently.
On Dec. 8, 1944, General George Patton made a phone call from his office to the Chaplain James H. O’Neill, the 3rd army Chaplin. Patton asked him if he knew of any good prayers for weather. Patton stated that if we are to win this war, we must have fair weather.
Chaplin O’Neill wrote the following prayer:
“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”
But there is more to the story. Researching the Patton prayer online, I found Chaplin O’Neills website and his first person recounting of the actual events that took place.
Chaplin O’Neill typed the prayer onto an index card, and on the front side he typed a Christmas greeting from General Patton to his men in the third army. O’Neill showed Patton both the prayer and the Christmas greeting and Patton was impressed with both. Patton ordered O’Neill to have 250,000 copies of the prayer and greeting printed and distributed to every man in the 3rd Army. Patton himself signed the index card.
The Christmas Greeting was as follows:
To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I Wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God’s blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. G.S. Patton, Jr, Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.
I have that postcard letter that my father received.
Rest in peace Father. I know the weather is perfect for golf where you are at.
For the complete version of the Patton Prayer, please visit Chaplin O’Neill’s Webpage. You will find it quite entertaining and informational.
LURKING ON THE GRASSY KNOLL