PATTON, George S., Jr. (1885-1945), General, U.S. Army. Printed souvenir menu signed ("G. S. Patton, Jr."), as Fifteenth Army commander, Bad Nauheim, Germany, 11 November 1945. ALSO SIGNED BY PATTON'S STAFF OFFICERS AND OTHER DIGNITARIES. 1 page, 4to (9¾ x 7¾ in.), with hand-colored Army insignia, crease at center, otherwise FINE.
PATTON'S FINAL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, A MONTH BEFORE HIS FATAL CAR ACCIDENT. A rare and poignant Patton memento. His 60th birthday dinner celebration was an all-day affair, and a combination reunion and bon voyage. Patton wanted to celebrate with his old comrades of Third Army and Seventh Army before his scheduled journey home to the U. S. on 10 December 1945. Among the 18 men who signed the attractive memo, decorated with unit insignia, are Robert B. Patterson ("R. B. Patterson"), recently elevated to Secretary of War; Hobart R. Gay, Patton's Chief-of Staff; Paul D. Harkins, deputy Chief-of-Staff and later Vietnam-era commander; Geoffrey Keyes, and Thomas H. Nixon.
This birthday dinner was a rare happy moment in this troubled, tumultuous final chapter of Patton's life. Just five weeks earlier, in September, Eisenhower stripped him of his roles as Third Army commander and military governor of Bavaria after Patton likened Nazi party members to Democrats and Republicans back home. Ike put him in charge of the Fifteenth Army, which was responsible for compiling a military history of the war. Patton was ill-suited for these duties. He opposed Washington's de-nazification policy and thought the Americans should maintain high troop levels in Europe in preparation for a possible war with Soviet Russia. With no transfer to a Pacific command forthcoming, he just wanted to say goodbye and head home. It was a trip he never made. A truck struck his jeep on 9 December, breaking his neck and paralyzing him. He lingered in a Heidelberg hospital before dying on 21 December.
Only two other Patton documents of later date have appeared on the market the last 30 years, one being a 23 November 1945 letter discussing this birthday party (sold Christie's 14 December 2000, lot 379.