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General Patton’s Prayer

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At the beginning of the ’Battle of the Bulge ’ the weather conditions were poor. To boost the morale of his troops, General Patton had a short version of ’Patton’s prayer for good weather’ be printed on cards to be distributed to every soldier of the Third US Army.

It is known that General Patton had already ordered his Third Army Chaplain Col. James Hugh O`Neill to compose a prayer for good weather for battle. This was whilst still in the Metz-Saar area, to end the continuous rain and sleet that considerably hampered the American operations. With the beginning of the ’Bulge’ General Patton’s Third Army was the only sizeable force in the area that was combat-ready and interfere with the German advances in the Ardennes.

The weather shortly before Christmas was terrible with rain, sleet, and snow. Therefore, the dominant USAAF and RAF Second Tactical Air Force could not provide the needed air support at the beginning of the offensive.

General Patton remembered his Army’s Chaplain working on a prayer for fine weather for battle. Already established at the ’Pescatore Foundation’, he had Chaplain O`Neill come see him urging him for that prayer, which was now even more needed. “Chaplain, because of your very intimate relationship with the Almighty, if you write a good prayer, we’ll have good weather. And I want that prayer in three hours”.

Though Chaplain O`Neill had some arguments about the intention and contents of the prayer itself, General Patton reminded him of his duties as the Third Army´s Chaplain. He got the prayer and changed some of it to ’Patton style‘ and addressed the Lord at the chapel of ’Fondation Pescatore’. Further, General Patton ordered a short version of the prayer and a personal ’Christmas greeting‘ be printed on cards to be distributed to every soldier of the Third Army on 22 December 1944.

The prayer worked, the weather cleared up within hours, the snowing stopped, the temperatures went sub-zero, the grounds froze enabling Patton’s tanks to keep moving north to break up the encirclement of Bastogne. As early as 24 December, the urgently needed supply for the city could be carried out by the USAAF as the skies began to clear.

Patton thereafter decorated Chaplain O’Neill with the bronze star for his great accomplishment stating “Chaplain you are the most popular man in this Headquarters. You surely stand in good with the Lord and the soldiers”.