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  #1  
Old 06-01-2004, 12:20 PM
Santos L. Halper Santos L. Halper is offline
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What became of the soldier that Patton slapped?

This Memorial day, AMC showed the movie “Patton” several times (among other war themed movies).

I began to wonder whatever became of that infamous soldier that Patton slapped. Who was he? Did he get sent to the front like Patton promised? Did he get discharged? Did he go home in disgrace?

I did a web search, and could find no information about him.
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  #2  
Old 06-01-2004, 12:56 PM
JeffB JeffB is offline
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Here is an interesting account of the slapping incidents (there were two) from The Unknown Patton by Charles M. Province. While it doesn't say specifically what happened to the soldiers, it does provide some details about the incidents. It appears that incident with Private Paul Bennet is the one that the movie version is based on.
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  #3  
Old 06-01-2004, 03:31 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santos L. Halper
... whatever became of that infamous soldier that Patton slapped.
Surely you must mean the soldier that Patton infamously slapped.
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  #4  
Old 06-01-2004, 05:47 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simmons
Surely you must mean the soldier that Patton infamously slapped.
I dunno. Maybe his infamy is why Patton slapped him.
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  #5  
Old 06-01-2004, 05:53 PM
Chastain86 Chastain86 is offline
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Found this cite online, which explains the slapping incidents:

Quote:
Patton's Sicilian campaign was marred by the infamous "slapping incidents." While visiting the 15th Evacuation Hospital on Aug. 3, 1943, the general confronted an American soldier, Private Charles H. Kuhl, resting on a box of supplies. Patton asked him what his problem was. "I guess I just can't take it," the soldier replied. Enraged, Patton slapped the enlisted man's face with his gloves, and angrily ordered him back into combat at once. Army medic's later found the soldier was suffering from dysentery and malaria. A week later, on August 10th, Patton confronted another American soldier, Private Paul G. Bennett, at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital and asked him the same question. "It's my nerves. I can't stand the shelling anymore," the soldier said. Once again, Patton lost his temper. He slapped the man several times, cursed at him, called him a coward and reached for his ivory-handled revolvers. Within a week a detailed report of the incident had worked its way from the hospital through channels to Eisenhower's headquarters in Algiers. Eisenhower, ordered Patton to apologize personally to the soldier, the hospital staff, the other patients, and every unit in his 7th Army command. Patton tried to explain his actions in a letter to Eisenhower so he could avoid public humiliation, but Ike made it clear who was in charge. Eventually, the incident was reported on the radio, by Drew Pearson, in the United States. Pearson's "scoop" caused a furor with his allegations that the Army, in general, and Eisenhower, in particular, had made an attempt to "cover-up" the whole story.

The public was outraged, and even some members of Congress called for Patton's dismissal.

Patton made his "apologies", as he had been ordered to do, and waited for his next assignment.
As to the fate of either Bennett or Kuhl, I couldn't say. Perhaps someone with more Googling prowess than I can say.
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  #6  
Old 06-01-2004, 06:08 PM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Well, they weren't killed in the fighting.
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  #7  
Old 06-01-2004, 09:46 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers
I dunno. Maybe his infamy is why Patton slapped him.
Surely you jest. It is not up to even a three star general to administer summary punishment. There are undoubtedly several sides to the story including some allegations that one of the slapees was AWOL at the time. But that is immaterial. You just plain don't do it.

This website which is quite obviously partial to Patton has the following:

[my note: These are the texts of doctors' reports of the incidents]

"Exhibit 1 - Pvt. Charles H. Kuhl, L Company, 26th Infantry, 1st Division, was seen in the aid station on August 2, 1943. A diagnosis of 'Exhaustion' was made. He was evacuated to C Company, 1st Medical Battalion. There was a note made on the patient's Emergency Medical Tag that he had been admitted to Company C three times for 'Exhaustion' during the Sicilian Campaign. From C Company he was evacuated to the clearing company and there was put in 'quarters' and was given sodium mytal. On 3 August 1943, the following note appears on the E.M.T. 'Psychoneurosis anxiety state - moderate severe' (soldier has been twice before in hospital within ten days. He can't take it at the front, evidently. He is repeatedly returned). He was evacuated to the 15th Evacuation Hospital. While he was waiting in the receiving tent, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., came into the tent with the commanding officer and other medical officers. The general spoke to the various patients in the receiving tent and especially commended the wounded men. Then he came to Pvt. Kuhl and asked him what was the matter. The soldier replied, 'I guess I can't take it.' The general immediately flared up, cursed the soldier, called him all types of a coward, then slapped him across the face with his gloves and finally grabbed the soldier by the scruff of his neck and kicked him out of the tent. The soldier was immediately picked up by corpsmen and taken to a ward tent. There he was found to have a temperature of 102.2 degrees F and he gave a history of chronic diarrhea for about one month, having at times as high as ten or twelve stools a day. The next day his fever continued and a blood smear was found to be positive for malarial parasites. The final disposition diagnosis was chronic dysentery and malaria. This man had been in the Army eight months and with the 1st Division since about June 2d."

"Exhibit 2 - Pvt. Paul G. Bennet, C Battery, 17th Field Artillery, was admitted to the 93rd Evacuation Hospital on 10 August '43. This patient was a 21 year old boy who had served four years in the regular Army. His unit had been with II Corps since March and he had never had any difficulties until August 6th, when his buddy was wounded. He could not sleep that night and felt nervous. The shells going over him bothered him. The next day he was worried about his buddy and became more nervous. He was sent down to the rear echelon by a battery aid man and there the medical officer game him some medicine which made him sleep, but still he was nervous and disturbed. On the next day the medical officer ordered him to be evacuated, although the 'boy' begged not to be evacuated because he did not want to leave his unit. Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., entered the receiving tent and spoke to all the injured men. The next patient was sitting huddled up and shivering. When asked what his trouble was, the man replied, 'It's my nerves,' and he began to sob. The General then screamed at him, 'What did you say?' The man replied, 'It's my nerves, I can't stand the shelling anymore.' He was still sobbing. The General then yelled at him, 'Your nerves, hell; you are just a Goddamned coward, you yellow son of a bitch.' He then slapped the man and said, 'Shut up that Goddamned crying. I won't have these brave men here who have been shot at seeing a yellow bastard sitting here crying.' He then struck the man again, knocking his helmet liner off and into the next tent. He then turned to the admitting officer and yelled, 'Don't admit this yellow bastard; there's nothing the matter with him. I won't have the hospitals cluttered up with these sons of bitches who haven't got the guts to fight.' He then turned to the man again, who was managing to sit at attention though shaking all over and said, 'You're going back to the front lines and you may get shot and killed, but you're going to fight. If you don't, I'll stand you up against a wall and have a firing squad kill you on purpose. In fact,' he said, reaching for his pistol, 'I ought to shoot you myself, you Goddamned whimpering coward.' As he left the tent, the general was still yelling back to the receiving officer to send that yellow son of a bitch back to the front line. Nurses and patients attracted by the shouting and cursing came from adjoining tents and witnessed this disturbance. The deleterious effects of such incidents upon the well being of patients, upon the professional morale of hospital staffs, and upon the relationship of patient to physician are incalculable. It is imperative that immediate steps be taken to prevent a recurrence of such incidents."

Text of Eisenhower letter to Patton:

"In the two cases cited in the attached report, it is not my present intention to institute any formal investigation. Moreover, it is acutely distressing to me to have such charges as these made against you at the very moment when an American Army under your leadership has attained a success of which I am extremely proud. I feel that the personal services you have rendered the United States and the Allied cause during the past weeks are of incalculable value; but nevertheless, if there is a very considerable element of truth in the allegations accompanying this letter, I must so seriously question your good judgement and your self discipline as to raise serious doubts in my mind as to your future usefulness. I am assuming, for the moment, that the facts in the case are far less serious than appears in this report, and that whatever truth is contained in these allegations reports an act of yours when under the stress and strain of winning a victory, you were thoughtless rather than harsh. Your leadership of the past few weeks has, in my opinion, fully vindicated to the War Department and to all your associates in arms my own persistence in upholding your pre-eminent qualifications for the difficult task to which you were assigned. Nevertheless, you must give to this matter of personal deportment your instant and serious consideration to the end that no incident of this character can be reported to me in the future, and I may continue to count upon your assistance in military tasks."

"In Allied Headquarters there is no record of the attached report or of my letter to you, except in my own secret files. I will expect your answer to be sent to me personally and secretly. Moreover, I strongly advise that, provided that there is any semblance of truth in the allegations in the accompanying report, you make in the form of an apology or other such personal amends to the individuals concerned as may be within your power, and that you do this before submitting your letter to me."
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  #8  
Old 06-02-2004, 08:59 AM
brix11 brix11 is offline
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I found the following November 10, 2002 South Bend Tribune article using LexisNexis. Working for a college does have some perks, including free access to this huge periodical database.


Quote:
By PETER DEKEVER

More than 4,000 people from Mishawaka served in the armed forces during World War II. Among these was Pvt. Charles H. Kuhl, who unwillingly became a participant in an incident that affected the career of one of America's most important generals.

In the summer of 1943, the 27-year-old Kuhl was in Gen. George S. Patton's Seventh Army, which was engaged in an arduous, month-long campaign to seize control of Sicily from the Germans and Italians in preparation for the invasion of the Italian peninsula. Narrow mountain roads, strong German defenses and the dust and heat of summer added to the difficulty Patton faced in his drive to be the first to take Messina. The Allies took Sicily, but only after Axis forces successfully withdrew to the Italian mainland. The campaign frustrated Patton, and he wrote he was eager "to get out of this infernal island."

On the afternoon of Aug. 3, Patton made one of his frequent hospital visits, this time to the 15th Evacuation Hospital near Nicosia. As Patton made his rounds among the wounded soldiers, he came across Kuhl, a 1st Division infantryman who showed no apparent wound or injury.

In a 1970 interview withthe South Bend Tribune, Kuhl remembered that when Patton entered the hospital tent, "all the soldiers jumped to attention except me. I was suffering from battle fatigue and just didn't know what to do."

After asking each soldier what his injury was, Patton questioned Kuhl about why he had not stood and saluted. Kuhl told The Tribune, "I told him my nerves were shot and, of course, I didn't feel like getting up to salute him."

The furious general began swearing at Kuhl, calling him a coward and ordering him to leave the hospital tent occupied by brave soldiers who had "real" battle wounds. The frightened Kuhl did not move, which only further enraged Patton. Patton then, according to an eyewitness, slapped Kuhl's face with a glove, raised him to his feet by the collar of his shirt and pushed him out of the tent with a final "kick in the rear." Patton ordered the private to return to his unit and told the doctors not to readmit him to the hospital.

Kuhl fled from the tent and hid until Patton left the hospital. Kuhl then returned and was admitted for acute anxiety, chronic diarrhea, malaria and a high fever. Two days later, Patton ordered that Seventh Army soldiers alleging shell shock not be admitted to hospitals and that those who refused to fight would be court-martialed "for cowardice in the face of the enemy."

While the slapping incident soon became widely known in Sicily, it was not until later in the year that the media back in the United States began to report what occurred. Realizing that striking an enlisted man was a court-martial offense, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Patton's senior commander, needed to both punish Patton and prevent the incident from causing a stir back home. He feared that such a backlash would result in Patton being relieved of his command. Eisenhower would thus lose a general whom he felt was crucial to the war effort.

As part of Patton's punishment for the slapping, Eisenhower strongly censured him, saying he could not condone brutality or uncontrollable temper in front of the enlisted men. Eisenhower ordered Patton to publicly apologize for his actions. On Aug. 22, Patton summoned all of the Seventh Army to Palermo to publicly apologize for his actions. Beyond his public apology, Patton also personally apologized to Kuhl. He told the private that his slapping and verbal abuse were intended to motivate Kuhl to fight, out of anger towards Patton. He admitted that he had used the wrong psychology and asked Kuhl to shake his hand in forgiveness. An observer noted that Kuhl grinned enthusiastically and shook Patton's hand.

The slapping incident nearly ended Patton's career. Most likely, it cost Patton command of the American ground forces during Operation Overlord, the invasion of France in 1944. Patton died in December 1945 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident in Luxembourg. Charles Kuhl returned to the Michiana area and worked at Bendix. He died in Mishawaka on Jan. 31, 1971, and is buried in Mishawaka's Fairview Cemetery.
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  #9  
Old 06-02-2004, 09:37 AM
astro astro is offline
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Well there was an interview with Kuhl here, in a History Channel documentary aired in January of this year.

Quote:
World Premiere!
PATTON
(January 24):
This Oscar-winning epic is a revealing look at the man and the myth of General George S. Patton-whose stature grew to epic proportions as a result of George C. Scott's dramatic portrayal. Although extensive research gathered in the pre-production process enabled filmmakers to restage the general's military exploits with impressive historical accuracy, when the truth threatened to derail the narrative thread, what dramatic license was taken? Clips from Patton family home movies, as well as interviews with Robert Patton (his grandson), studio executive Richard Zanuck, and Charles Kuhl (the real-life victim of the infamous "slapping incident") reveal the Patton not seen on the screen
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  #10  
Old 06-03-2004, 10:52 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simmons
Surely you jest.
I do jest.

And don't call me Shirley.
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  #11  
Old 06-13-2011, 01:40 PM
deebee631 deebee631 is offline
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Paul G Bennett served for another 30 years in the army. The part of the movie/book that is not explained is that he was a forward observer trapped in a foxhole for days before finally being able to rejoin his unit
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  #12  
Old 06-15-2011, 02:34 AM
Wizard One Wizard One is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simmons View Post
Surely you jest. It is not up to even a three star general to administer summary punishment. There are undoubtedly several sides to the story including some allegations that one of the slapees was AWOL at the time. But that is immaterial. You just plain don't do it.

This website which is quite obviously partial to Patton has the following:

[my note: These are the texts of doctors' reports of the incidents]

"Exhibit 1 - Pvt. Charles H. Kuhl, L Company, 26th Infantry, 1st Division, was seen in the aid station on August 2, 1943. A diagnosis of 'Exhaustion' was made. He was evacuated to C Company, 1st Medical Battalion. There was a note made on the patient's Emergency Medical Tag that he had been admitted to Company C three times for 'Exhaustion' during the Sicilian Campaign. From C Company he was evacuated to the clearing company and there was put in 'quarters' and was given sodium mytal. On 3 August 1943, the following note appears on the E.M.T. 'Psychoneurosis anxiety state - moderate severe' (soldier has been twice before in hospital within ten days. He can't take it at the front, evidently. He is repeatedly returned). He was evacuated to the 15th Evacuation Hospital. While he was waiting in the receiving tent, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., came into the tent with the commanding officer and other medical officers. The general spoke to the various patients in the receiving tent and especially commended the wounded men. Then he came to Pvt. Kuhl and asked him what was the matter. The soldier replied, 'I guess I can't take it.' The general immediately flared up, cursed the soldier, called him all types of a coward, then slapped him across the face with his gloves and finally grabbed the soldier by the scruff of his neck and kicked him out of the tent. The soldier was immediately picked up by corpsmen and taken to a ward tent. There he was found to have a temperature of 102.2 degrees F and he gave a history of chronic diarrhea for about one month, having at times as high as ten or twelve stools a day. The next day his fever continued and a blood smear was found to be positive for malarial parasites. The final disposition diagnosis was chronic dysentery and malaria. This man had been in the Army eight months and with the 1st Division since about June 2d."

"Exhibit 2 - Pvt. Paul G. Bennet, C Battery, 17th Field Artillery, was admitted to the 93rd Evacuation Hospital on 10 August '43. This patient was a 21 year old boy who had served four years in the regular Army. His unit had been with II Corps since March and he had never had any difficulties until August 6th, when his buddy was wounded. He could not sleep that night and felt nervous. The shells going over him bothered him. The next day he was worried about his buddy and became more nervous. He was sent down to the rear echelon by a battery aid man and there the medical officer game him some medicine which made him sleep, but still he was nervous and disturbed. On the next day the medical officer ordered him to be evacuated, although the 'boy' begged not to be evacuated because he did not want to leave his unit. Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., entered the receiving tent and spoke to all the injured men. The next patient was sitting huddled up and shivering. When asked what his trouble was, the man replied, 'It's my nerves,' and he began to sob. The General then screamed at him, 'What did you say?' The man replied, 'It's my nerves, I can't stand the shelling anymore.' He was still sobbing. The General then yelled at him, 'Your nerves, hell; you are just a Goddamned coward, you yellow son of a bitch.' He then slapped the man and said, 'Shut up that Goddamned crying. I won't have these brave men here who have been shot at seeing a yellow bastard sitting here crying.' He then struck the man again, knocking his helmet liner off and into the next tent. He then turned to the admitting officer and yelled, 'Don't admit this yellow bastard; there's nothing the matter with him. I won't have the hospitals cluttered up with these sons of bitches who haven't got the guts to fight.' He then turned to the man again, who was managing to sit at attention though shaking all over and said, 'You're going back to the front lines and you may get shot and killed, but you're going to fight. If you don't, I'll stand you up against a wall and have a firing squad kill you on purpose. In fact,' he said, reaching for his pistol, 'I ought to shoot you myself, you Goddamned whimpering coward.' As he left the tent, the general was still yelling back to the receiving officer to send that yellow son of a bitch back to the front line. Nurses and patients attracted by the shouting and cursing came from adjoining tents and witnessed this disturbance. The deleterious effects of such incidents upon the well being of patients, upon the professional morale of hospital staffs, and upon the relationship of patient to physician are incalculable. It is imperative that immediate steps be taken to prevent a recurrence of such incidents."

Text of Eisenhower letter to Patton:

"In the two cases cited in the attached report, it is not my present intention to institute any formal investigation. Moreover, it is acutely distressing to me to have such charges as these made against you at the very moment when an American Army under your leadership has attained a success of which I am extremely proud. I feel that the personal services you have rendered the United States and the Allied cause during the past weeks are of incalculable value; but nevertheless, if there is a very considerable element of truth in the allegations accompanying this letter, I must so seriously question your good judgement and your self discipline as to raise serious doubts in my mind as to your future usefulness. I am assuming, for the moment, that the facts in the case are far less serious than appears in this report, and that whatever truth is contained in these allegations reports an act of yours when under the stress and strain of winning a victory, you were thoughtless rather than harsh. Your leadership of the past few weeks has, in my opinion, fully vindicated to the War Department and to all your associates in arms my own persistence in upholding your pre-eminent qualifications for the difficult task to which you were assigned. Nevertheless, you must give to this matter of personal deportment your instant and serious consideration to the end that no incident of this character can be reported to me in the future, and I may continue to count upon your assistance in military tasks."

"In Allied Headquarters there is no record of the attached report or of my letter to you, except in my own secret files. I will expect your answer to be sent to me personally and secretly. Moreover, I strongly advise that, provided that there is any semblance of truth in the allegations in the accompanying report, you make in the form of an apology or other such personal amends to the individuals concerned as may be within your power, and that you do this before submitting your letter to me."
I'll give the old SOB one thing, he DID follow orders somewhat.
He DID make an apology to an unrelated unit, as the unit in question was not specified. That DOES admit guilt on his part, in that rather interesting logic.

I served for over 27 years in the US military. During that career, I've done a few dozen things, to include being a medic, a final and special position for me.
Honestly, were I present that day, the good general would've faced my sidearm and be advised that I swore an oath to protect my patients, from the enemy or from others and he was fully qualifying as the latter AND that my trigger WAS depressed and I was holding the hammer back by my thumb. He should consider those facts before my thumb got more tired and I really didn't give a damn if he ordered his men to shoot, it'd be a craps roll, but my honor would be satisfied.
I suspect that he'd apologize and disengage. Then screw me to the 7th degree on the front, where I was ALWAYS more comfortable, even in THIS war.
And yes, I'm serious.
I also spend nearly 5 years downrange in this war. I've met the enemy and captured more than a few. It was my uncompromising nature in some things and compromising manner in others that usually won the day in vocal issues. Because, people are people and the vast majority are middle of the road. The remainder are either insane or an odd offshoot of honor that is universally respected, in MY experience.
I've been proved the last case.
And SOMEHOW, people automatically KNOW that part. Hanged if I could quantify it, because I'd patent it and sell it.
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  #13  
Old 06-15-2011, 04:39 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Note that these soldiers he slapped had been brought to the hospital from the front lines, where they had been fighting for some months. Gen. Patton was taking time off from his behind-the-lines headquarters to visit this hospital. He wasn't at the front lines, he hardly ever visited them. He generally stayed far behind the front lines, where it was safe.

I've never thought much of Patton.
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  #14  
Old 06-15-2011, 05:21 AM
madmonk28 madmonk28 is offline
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Bill Mauldin didn't think much of him, either. In his autobiography The Brass Ring, Maulding described a meeting he had with Patton at the order of Eisenhower to get Patton to make peace with Mauldin over his 'mutinous' cartoons. It's pretty cool that a Sargeant cartoonist was able to stand up to Patton.
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  #15  
Old 06-16-2011, 01:52 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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This thread is more of a zombie than Patton ever was....
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