Patton’s Weather Prayer

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“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.”


The famous “weather prayer” of General Patton was written by a Catholic Chaplain, Colonel James H. O’Neill.  Here is his article on the incident written in 1950.  Unfortunately the famous weather prayer sequence from the film Patton is not available online. The trailer to this magnificent film biopic is at the top of this post.

If any of you have not seen this masterpiece, you should remedy that as soon as possible.

Weather Prayer

Patton was an interesting mixture of contradictions in his spiritual life.  Foul mouthed even by the standards of an army known for profanity, and much too fond of war for a Christian, he also read the Bible and prayed each day.  A firm Episcopalian, yet he also firmly believed in reincarnation.    While in command in Sicily he began attending mass, initially largely for political reasons to build a bridge to the Catholic population, but then found that he enjoyed worshipping at mass.

Some may view a prayer for success in a war as blasphemous.  The troops that saw what General Patton saw at Ohrdruf would no doubt respectfully disagree as to the war they fought in.

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  1. I fully understand how and why today’s most active members of the so-called “peace and social justice movement” within the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations would initially find Patton’s prayer totally at odds with their beliefs and what they believe Christianity teaches in general about war, peace and our personal responsibilities to give witness to God’s word.

    Without wanting to give the wrongful, (okay, almost sinfully false wrong opinion that God is a moral relativist insofar as war is concerned, or that God winks n’ nods at who’s violating Jesus’ admonition against justifying the ends by the means.

    We were at war, however; a most viscious war which had not only seen at this development (the Battle of the Bulge and its aftermath) … not to mention our worst single battle/campaign count of lives sacrificed… but Germany soon found itself enmeshed in a civil war between the Nazi super hardliners, the regular Wehrmacht that wanted to simply say “Alles Kaput” and go home and what the Soviets were doing as they pushed in from Poland. General Patton, for all the raps he took for his militaristic spirit, was just asking for a prayer for his soldiers and those of our allies to have the conditions fvorable to being able to burst through the Nazi “bulge” and sweep through Germany enroute to final victrory. We’d just suffered losses from an atrocious war crime committed at Malmedy, not far from Bastogne high up in the Belgian Ardennes forests. Patton wanted peace as much as any of our solidiers and airmen involved in that epic struggle; but he wanted the people who wrecked it and untold murders and damage they caused to be the ones who paid the bill. The only way that could have happened then was for a break in the clouds.
    It’s tempting for well-meaning historians or avocational historians of our time to pull our chins and wonder if “negotiations” couldn’t have saved more lives after the Battle of the Bulge was won and the Reich’s situation was “alles kaput.” No, sorry to say. Trapped people, be they a few members of a small platoon or a whole army or nation in its death throes will fight even harder. Did the Germans show any sign of seriously tossing it in until Hitler committed suicide in April, several months later?

    I’m fully aware my views might not bring comfort or a sense of historical resolution to those who genuinely believe the pacifist position provides the superior alternative. And while I applaud their consistency to defend their positions, I can only ask that they give the last paragraph more than a respectful nod. As a kid, I visited Dachau and know for sure that more lives there would’ve been taken if our soldiers had been delayed longer. The SS did it’s worst just as the war was winding down and they began to lose whatever “cover” a rapidly deteriorated Wehrmacht would’ve bothered to offer had it not been thrust into a last ditch civil war initiated thanks to Hitler’s plans to burn Germany into the ground as “punishment” for not being strong or “worthy” enough to defeat the Allies.

  2. Negotations? With the Soviets?? They wouldn’t have stopped even if the US and Britain did.

    The Allies had announced it would be unconditional surrender PERIOD.

    The German general staff apparently believed the winter offensive would deal a heavy blow to the western Allies’ supplies and battle formations. They shot the bolt and lost.

    The Wehrmacht fought to the end because of Hitler’s policy: “Zippenschaft(?).” If a general didn’t fight it out, his entire family was “liquidated.”

    That also was Stalin’s MO. It has been documented that about 13,500 Russians — an entire division — were executed by the NKVD for desertion and cowardice during the battle of Stalingrad alone.

    In Atkinson’s first WWII book, when Patton was being reassigned to replace the general in charge in North Africa, one of his officers reportedly stated that “Patton hates Germans more than the devil hates holy water.”

    Likely, all that was Patton’s histrionics and Hollywood stuff. Gen’l. Patton was a professional leader of large numbers of men in desperate combat. I think he knew that, aside from necessary drama, it makes no sense to hate men whom you’re forced to kill.  

  3. General Patten instructed his men going into battle:”to kill them with kindness” and make sure that their mothers got the gold star for the loss of her son and to return home in safety. (I think Patten used the “b” word) Patten’s prayer, as Steven Barrett says, was also the prayer of the victims in Hitler’s concentration camps. I remember ferocious hatred for anybody of German descent in our neighborhood, yet there was the German underground headed by Bosc and our wonderful Joseph Ratzinger.

  4. I find World War II to be one of the most fascinating events in world history. To be clear, I am not making light of the massive suffering, death and destruction that took place.

    World War II, in and of itself, refutes the obnoxious internet atheist meme that religion caused more killing than anything else in history.

    Patton, if I am correct, had no love for the Soviet Union and was willing to march into Berlin and then through Warsaw and into Moscow – not that this wish of Patton’s was ever going to occur.

    My dad’s Uncle Mike fought in this battle – I do not know what unit or division he was in.

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