U.S. General Patton's grandson pens book, visits Prague

Robert Patton autographing his book 'The Pattons'

A new book on World War Two General Patton has been translated into Czech, and the author, the General's very own grandson, was in Prague this week. Tricia Deering has this report.

Robert Patton autographing his book 'The Pattons'
The spirit of "Old Blood and Guts", the outspoken U.S. General George S. Patton, is alive and well in the Czech Lands.

The anniversary of the liberation of Czechoslovakia coincides with the Czech-language publication of a new book on the controversial general. Robert Patton, the general's grandson, has penned a biography entitled, "The Pattons". During World War Two, General Patton liberated Western Bohemia from the German occupation. Mr. Patton was in Prague on Wednesday for a book signing, where he met several Czechs who were grateful for his grandfather's efforts:

"I am very glad you are here!" said an elderly woman, handing Mr. Patton a book to sign.

"I am privileged to be here. I am proud to be here. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming," Mr. Patton said.

"I like your grandfather very much!" the woman said.

"I hope so! Enjoy the book, ma'am," Mr. Patton said.

Czech is the first foreign language in which the book has been published -- perhaps due to the American liberation of Plzen. Czechoslovakia, Mr. Patton explained, was an important part of the general's campaign.

"One of the most interesting things I did discover was, late in his diaries during the war, he expressly said that he thought some of his most important operations were in the last weeks when he was in then-Czechoslovakia, and how it was such a source of frustration for him not to be able to liberate more of the country, and more of the people.

"And as well all know, a few miles to the west or east made a difference for generations in this country. He regretted that greatly, but would be so pleased now, to see the country in its rebirth," Mr. Patton said.

About 100 Czechs crammed into the tiny Old Town bookstore, each with a personal tale as to why they were Patton fans or aficionados. Many traveled from villages outside Prague, to ask Mr. Patton to sign photographs of their relatives with American soldiers during the liberation of Plzen, and during the post-war euphoria in Prague.

General Patton was barred from liberating Prague by President Eisenhower, who left Prague to Russian troops due to an agreement with Joseph Stalin. Many autograph seekers lamented this.

Karel Bartos, a Plzen native, was one of them: "Too bad he couldn't go further in the Czech Republic. They stopped him - too bad! The Russians came a bit later, and everyday, people were dying. And the Americans were just waiting in Plzen - doing nothing."

A squadron of Czechs who are American Army fanatics turned out for Wednesday's event as well. Sgt. Mirko Trubka, a Czech Army retiree, drove a U.S. Army Jeep to the bookstore - and volunteered to drive Mr. Patton back to his hotel. Sgt. Trubka sported aviator goggles and "Top Gun" mirrored sunglasses, and was fully cloaked in U.S. Army fatigues.

Sgt. Trubka recalled that as a boy in Plzen, he witnessed General Patton's troops shooting back at Nazi snipers in Plzen's Bartolomejska Square. But his most vivid memory, he said, was the American Jeeps. He purchased his for $750 after the war.

Author: Tricia Deering
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