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Posted on Feb 14, 2004 in History News

WebWarrior: The Patton Society

Jim H. Moreno

Welcome to the first WebWarrior article for the Armchair General magazine’s web community! Each month, I, the ?WebWarrior’, will be bringing you an in depth look at the armchair historians who are responsible for propagating the growth of, and interest in, military history online. I will introduce these ?webwarriors’ in the hopes of forging a more interactive relationship between them and you, readers of the Armchair General magazine. Who knows, you may find out that that someone who is the Webmaster of you favorite military history site lives right next door! So, let’s get to it?

General George S. Patton is the man who graces the cover of the inaugural issue of our magazine. At times called "the greatest American general of all time and possibly the best general in history," 1 and at other times called things I shall not write here. Whatever you may think of him, the very fact that you do, even into this day and age, is a powerful testament to his legacy. He left a very noticeable wake as he passed through the ocean of life that naturally spilled over into the World Wide Web.

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While Brian M. Sobel wrote an excellent biography on Patton, it would have still been an incomplete piece without the fourteen photos that accompany it, right? Eleven of those awesome photos came courtesy of Mike Province of San Diego, CA. who runs The Patton Society and is its sole Webmaster ( http://www.pattonhq.com/ ). He also works in the Computer Department of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"I was stationed in Heidelberg , Germany during the time the commies PUT UP the Berlin Wall. I worked at Campbell Barracks running the old IBM punch card machines. I lived at Patton Barracks a couple of miles away. That’s where I started learning about the General", wrote Province in an e-mail. "When the Patton movie came out in 1970, I started reading more and more about him. My wife (unfortunately?) said since I like the guy so much I should start a scrapbook on him . . . and there it started."

From that scrapbook beginning, Province says he now has the largest private collection of Patton material in the world, "other than the Patton family, of course." Province founded The Patton Society back in 1970, when he realized people are more open to answering questions from someone who represented an organization than to a single individual.

No doubt you’ve visited the Armchair General’s Forum threads by now, discussing who was the best U.S. General, and who was the greatest General of all. Of course, there are as many opinions as there are people nominating their favorite, and Patton has his share of yays and nays. Province is most definitely on the side of Patton, and possibly shares the same rawboned grit that Patton exhibited.

"One of the primary reasons I like Patton is because I can understand him . . . his desires, frustrations, etc. I’ve had some issues throughout my life that are similar in nature to the barriers and obstacles he encountered. There’s nothing like working for egomaniacs, liars, and backstabbers to instruct a person in the true nature of the world."

Showing further signs on how well he has come to understand Patton through years of study, Province said Patton is one of a very few generals who reached that rank for the right reason. "A large number of generals are political shit heads who feather their own nests. They don’t care about their men, their commands, and their sworn oaths to protect and serve. Patton knew the true nature and responsibility of command and he did what was necessary in spite of many problems created by upper echelons of command. He was easily the best general we had in World War II, although many biographers and military analysts will argue that."

The Patton Society has been online in some form since at least 1995, said Province. Twice the site was run part-time by people who didn’t have the best interests in Patton, "and one of them just disappeared one day." Province added, "So, I took the bull by the horns and started working on the website myself. Everything you see there is done by me . . . no one else."

"The Society is web based only. We don’t have enough members in one place to have meetings. Membership is a waning and waxing thing. We currently have about three hundred names in the membership roster. I suppose over the years we’ve had a couple of thousand members come and go. The dues help to defray costs of maintaining the website and additional research and acquiring of Patton materials. I have yet to make a profit and never planned on it when I started the Society."

Province has written three books about Patton and the Third Army, which can be found for sale on his website. Province said he hasn’t garnered much by creating and hosting the Society online, but it’s obvious he’s become deeply touched by examining the life of Patton as one peruses the site.

"I never started the website to make any money or become famous. I did it to honor General Patton and the men who served with him."

Readers can find the link to The Patton Society in the ACG’s Links under the SpecOps section. For membership info to The Patton Society, go to http://www.pattonhq.com/member.html .

Other Patton websites that deserve mention!

The Armchair General Online Staff gives Mike Province and The Patton Society this month’s ?This is an ACG Allied General Site’ award!

1 Armchair General Magazine, March 2004, pg 42

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Stay Alert, Stay Alive!

Jim H. Moreno

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