In the early months of 1945, the war in Europe was coming to a conclusion. 

In mid-to-late February, the Russians, driving from the east, were pushing the German army backward and had arrived less than 100 miles from Berlin. Poland, where the war had begun in 1939, was almost completely in the hands of the Soviets. After the bloody Battle of the Bulge, the American, British, French, and Canadian troops were pushing into Germany from the west and entering the Ruhr, where Germany’s industrial might was located. 

It was during this time, on March 2, 1945, when General George Patton radioed one of the most brilliant and smart-assed messages to Allied Supreme Headquarters. 

Despite the way the war was playing out in the west, all was not well within the Allied ranks. There was a distinct rivalry between the Western Allies’ top two general officers, the British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and Lieutenant General George Patton. Privately the two detested each other and were always trying to outdo the other.

With the war winding down, the Allied Supreme Commander in the West, General Dwight Eisenhower, was once again giving the main axis of attack to Montgomery’s 21st Army Group. Eisenhower’s plan called for the destruction of German forces west of the Rhine River to be followed by the British and Canadian forces of the 21st Army Group attacking northern Germany, north of the Ruhr, and across the northern plain. His thrust included having the American Ninth Army under Lieutenant General William Simpson placed under his command. 

This chafed the Americans, Patton, and his superior, General Omar Bradley, the commander of the 12th Army Group. To make matters worse, both the 95th Infantry Division and the 17th Airborne Division were taken away from the 12th Army Group and assigned to Montgomery in the north. The 95th, (the Iron Men of Metz), had taken part in the 3rd Army’s fiercest battles under Patton, in the ancient fortress city of Metz and the German border town of Saarlautern, and were some of his more experienced troops. 

Bradley and Patton, unfairly or not, pointed to how slow Montgomery had been in taking Caen in Normandy and to the failed Operation Market-Garden in Holland. 

Caen was a D-Day objective of the Canadians as the town was a major hub of roads, railways, and communications. Yet, located nine miles inland, taking Caen on June 6 was overly ambitious. The Germans also reinforced the town with Panzer divisions. Caen wasn’t finally taken until two months later.