Patton once set cash on fire after learning his men weren't being given free coffee

Patton-General-world-war-II-tank-soldiers-messina

Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. was known for his courage and skill on the battlefield in world War II, but he was nearly as well known for his colorful character. He carried ivory-handled pistols, designed his own sword, and once burned a crate of Red Cross cash after he was offered free coffee.

Patton was moving through Bastogne, Belgium in December 1944 with one of his drivers, Francis “Jeep” Sanza. Patton spotted a Red Cross canteen truck and told Sanza to pull over.

The men got out of the Jeep and went to order food. Sanza got two crullers and a coffee, for which he was charged 10 Francs. The Red Cross worker then told Patton that he could have his snack for free. The general became angry that the Red Cross would give him special treatment but still charge his men. He demanded the woman show him the money the Red Cross had collected.

Sanza described what happened next in an interview with the Napa Valley Register:

“So she takes out this orange crate filled with money, puts it down on the ground. He took out a lighter, lit one bill, let it burn and then ignited the whole box. Then he took a shovel from the Jeep and buried the ashes.”

Patton seems to have escaped punishment for his outburst, likely because his forces broke through German lines in Bastogne at the end of the same month. His success allowed 101st Airborne Division paratroopers under German siege to escape and pushed the German forces across of the Rhine River.

NOW: 11 quotes that show the awesomeness of Gen. George S. Patton >

TOP ARTICLES
3 astonishing battles that came to be called 'Turkey Shoots'

These one-sided fights still didn't come without costs for the winners, but you have to wonder what the losing side was thinking when they started them.

6 reasons it would suck to be a rebel soldier in Star Wars

In "The Force Awakens," Finn leaves the First Order and joined the Resistance. Poor guy doesn't even know that he traded one bad assignment for another.

6 memes that immortalize the now-grounded 'sky dick' aircrew

These patriots took part in a time-honored tradition of letting the citizens of an area know they were under the protection of the United States military.

6 misconceptions civilians have about the Army

"Oh! You're in the Army? My friend's brother is in the Navy, so I know all about it." This, and many other conversations to avoid this holiday season.

This whiskey pays homage to the men of the 10th Mountain Division

The founders of a spirits company found a way to pay homage to those men who helped defeat the Nazi by handcrafting 10th Mountain Whiskey in their honor.

6 reasons 'Full Metal Jacket' should have been about Animal Mother

"Full Metal Jacket" is epic, but did you ever wonder how different the film would be if it followed Animal Mother instead of Joker? Well, we did.

US Navy helps search for submarine lost for nearly a week

On November 19th, the United States Navy joined NASA and other countries in the search for an Argentinian submarine that went missing November 15th.

Sexual assault at Fort Bragg up 28 percent over last year

A summary released by the Department of Defense shows reports of sexual assault from Fort Bragg increased by 28 percent in 2016 over the year before.

ISIS' last town in Iraq falls to Iraqi security forces

Iraqi forces backed by the U.S.-led coalition retook Rawah on Nov. 17, the last town in the country that was held by the Islamic State group.

Why Chinese bombers suddenly flew so close to Okinawa

China just sent a set of H-6 bombers and and intelligence gathering aircraft through international airspace between Okinawa and Miyoko. Here's why.