Patton’s First Victory Cover

Patton’s First Victory

How General George Patton Turned the Tide in North Africa and Defeated the Afrika Korps at El Guettar

Leo Barron

Stackpole Books, Guilford, Connecticut, 2017, 312 pages

Book Review published on: August 24, 2018

In Patton’s First Victory, Leo Barron presents a through, comprehensive, and concise overview of the Battle of El Guettar by the U.S. II Corps and the 1st Infantry Division. This book is not as much about Gen. George Patton and what he did to turn the U.S. Army around in North Africa after its defeat at Kasserine Pass as it is about what the 1st Infantry Division with some II Corps assets did to fight and win against the German and Italian forces at El Guettar, Tunisia. The historical study covers approximately ten days in March 1943, beginning with the defeat of elements of the Italian Centauro Division defending in the vicinity of El Guettar. It continues with the counterattack by the German 10th Panzer Division and its defeat in its attempt to retake El Guettar from elements of the Big Red One. The battle for El Guettar is a classic historical study of how a well-led and well-resourced light infantry division can seize terrain, secure its objectives, and defeat an armored counterattack.

For the military reader or historian, Patton’s First Victory is a necessary and relevant source to begin the process to understand large-scale ground combat and the beginnings and evolution of the U.S. Army in World War II leading to the defeat of the Afrika Korps in North Africa and the German army in the war. Patton’s First Victory is a worthwhile addition to any military library or a historian’s collection on World War II or large-scale ground combat. It is a historical example of the philosophy of mission command, leadership, decision-making at the tactical level, and the violent nature of combat at the division and corps level. It is an excellent example of the study of modern military history and the study of war.

Book Review written by: Lt. Col. Jeffrey L. LaFace, U.S. Army, Retired, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas