APRIL 25 2014 – a somewhat ordinary, run-of-the-mill day for many Knutsfordians but a very important date in the town’s history.
On Friday, exactly 70 years ago, famed General George S Patton opened a welcome club for officers of the American Third Army in the Ruskin Rooms.
It was while opening the ‘Welcome Club’ in the Ruskin Rooms on April 25 1944 that General Patton made a speech that almost caused his downfall and became known as the ‘Knutsford Incident’.
In an off-the-record short speech, he mentioned ‘it is the evident destiny of the British and Americans (and, of course, the Russians) to rule the world’.
This appeared in papers on both sides of the Atlantic – omitting reference to the Russian allies, which created a diplomatic incident. All witnesses to the event said he included the Russians.
The episode was recreated in the Oscar-winning film ‘Patton – Lust for Glory’ (1969)
General George S Patton – A brief history
• Was born in San Gabriel, California, on November 11 1885.
• Represented the USA in the Pentathlon at Stockholm Olympics in 1912.
• Described as ‘America's greatest combat general of the Second World War’.
• Led the Third Army in a very successful sweep across France during World War II in 1944. He was skilled at tank warfare.
• Nicknamed ‘Old Blood and Guts’.
• Patton’s association with Knutsford came about in the first half of 1944 when Third Army, under his command, set up HQ at nearby Peover, with many of his troops being based at Toft.
• His ‘local’ was The Bells of Peover, where he once lunched with General Eisenhower.
• After the war, on May 27 1945, Patton kept a promise to return to Peover for a service of thanksgiving. His standard was presented to St Lawrence’s Church and a plaque mentions that he and the American Third Army worshipped there.
• Died December 21 1945. Suffered fatal injuries in a car crash in Mannheim, Germany and died 12 days later.
Sourced from leaflet compiled by Knutsford Heritage Centre, information from Ken Oultram’s ‘Patton, the Longest Day’ and Joan Leach’s ‘Knutsford, a History’.