World War II Diaries, 1942-1945

Patton’s World War II diaries open on August 5, 1942, when he received orders to report to London to assist with planning for Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. Patton was then commanding general of I Armored Corps and the Desert Training Center in California. The diary entries that follow chronicle the breathtaking rollout of Allied campaigns in North Africa (Nov. 1942-spring 1943), Sicily (summer-fall 1943), France (summer and fall 1944), the Battle of the Bulge (winter 1944-1945), and the final push across the Rhine into Germany. Through two and a half years of combat, Patton was unfailingly brilliant, frequently impulsive, occasionally erratic, always unfiltered in his remarks, and often in trouble with Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, a friend since the 1920s. When Germany surrendered in May 1945, Patton was appointed military governor of Bavaria. After publicly criticizing denazification orders, Eisenhower relieved him of his military governorship and command of the Third Army in October. On December 9 Patton was hospitalized in Germany following a car accident. He died on December 21st from complications.

Both Patton’s original, handwritten World War II diaries and their subsequently produced typed transcripts are available for transcription. The original diaries and typed transcripts differ in wording, yet both versions are important historical records. Transcribing the original diaries will make them accessible and searchable. There is a downloadable transcription aid in Related Links on the campaign home page with suggestions for coping with Patton’s difficult handwriting. Transcribing the typed transcripts will make them word searchable, including the handwritten corrections and additions that appear throughout the transcripts.