Patton in Korea: A TL

Part I, Chapter 1
On December 23, 1950, a tragedy occurred in a land that had suffered a tragic six months. Korea, once colonised, now divided, was again a battlefield as the great powers fought for control of East Asia. Having consumed the lives of thousands of soldiers, and untold numbers of local civilians, one of the Korean War’s top commanders was now dead, killed as his jeep collided with an Army truck. Six years prior, he had been part of the spearhead of Patton’s Third Army as it triumphantly stormed across Western Europe. There, he had earned the nickname ‘Bulldog’ for his aggressive approach to warfare, and that same aggression had seen his armies drive most of the way to the Yalu. Perhaps he had been too aggressive. Surprised by the entry of Red China into the war, his Eighth Army had been forced into a headlong retreat. As Seoul came under threat for the second time, Walker’s last words were “I wonder what George would have done?”

This is that story. What if General George S. Patton had fought in the Korean War?

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PART I: DUTY

CHAPTER 1


Through the travail of the ages,
Midst the pomp and toil of war,
Have I fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star.

June 25, 1950


For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honour of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting...

Willie struggled on his lead, straining to break free and smell whatever it was that he found so interesting. He must have walked past this patch of grass a thousand times since he came to his new home in California, but every day brought with it new smells. Less loud scary noises than his old home in the back of a command truck had had too. The dog was more than satisfied with life.
His master, the now-retired General George Patton, didn’t give a damn about the smell of the grass. He felt like a dog on the end of a long rope all the same. He had ever since Marshall had told him that there was no chance of him seeing a combat command against Japan before the end of the war. The day that had happened, he had been in Boston for the start of a temporary leave. Temporary soon became permanent, as he decided to retire from the army rather than bore himself to death with peacetime service. Even in the early June of 1945, it was becoming apparent that peacetime service in Germany would be a much more political job than anything he had done before it. Patton knew he was a terrible politician. Someone else could have that role. He had come home, intending to write a book about Third Army’s accomplishments. His thoughts had drifted back to the Roman conquerors almost every day since.
The Republican Party had obviously never been told about his lack of political skills, because six months after he returned, they were calling for him to run for Congress in a desperate attempt to unseat the longtime Democratic incumbent. It was an offer that he declined at Beatrice’s urging, but one he wished he had taken when the election came along a year later. Richard Nixon looked like a real piece of work. When 1948 came around, he considered running as a Democrat, only to be cautioned against it again.
“If you get a debate with that man, he’ll fight dirty. He’ll make the people remember a lot of things you did in Europe that we’d rather they forget.” Beatrice had warned that day. “If you want a chance to get back into the Army, stay away from him.”
Her advice had likely prevented him from doing anything stupid in the dark days that had been the 1930s, and she had sworn to do everything possible to get him back into command should another war break out. He was determined not to ruin whatever chances he had. War had looked possible a couple of years ago when that incident happened in Berlin, but things had calmed down a fair bit since. Glory was fleeting indeed: apart from the polo teams he coached, he felt forgotten by the world. That was until Beatrice came running out to him.
“Georgie!” she called. “The man on the NBC is saying that North Korea has just invaded the South!”
South Korea was an American ally. If this flare-up didn’t quieten down soon, US troops would surely be sent to fight. This was his chance. As he walked – almost dragged – the reluctant Willie back into the house, he remembered that it was June 24th, 1950. The 25th on the other side of the date line. Technically he was past the official retirement age, but only by a few months. Someone, likely the president, would have to be convinced if he was to go to Korea.
He asked Beatrice to write a letter to Truman.

***

July 5, 1950

Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Smith looked through his field glasses somewhere to the north. The day was a wet one, drizzling now after an hours-long downpour during the night. It was also the day after the Fourth of July, but there was little cause for celebration. A week ago the frontline had still been near the 38th parallel, whereas now his ‘Task Force’, a glorified understrength battalion, was twenty miles south of it. As the first US troops to fight in South Korea, their official role was to give moral support to their allies. Unofficially, there were a few dozen T-34 tanks up ahead, and something had to be done about them.
Smith was no stranger to military disaster: nine years earlier he had been at Schofield Barracks, not far from Pearl Harbour, when the Japanese had launched their fateful attack. Someone had screwed that one up really bad. But if his superiors hadn’t screwed up the situation in Korea just as badly as they did in Hawaii, they had managed to do even worse. The border on the 38th had been something close to an active war zone for months before the In Min Gun came charging south, yet here he was with half a dozen bazooka rounds, no anti-tank mines and too few infantry to have a prayer of accomplishing anything. Matters weren’t helped by the fact that only a handful had seen combat before.
While his own radio looked to have given out, someone else in the unit appeared to still be able to contact the artillery battery further down the road, as shells began falling around the enemy tanks. Not on the enemy tanks – evidently that was too much to hope for – but close enough that the North Koreans were forced to take notice. Some of their infantry dove for cover in the rice fields. Too many others joined the tanks in shooting at his position.
Although he had only been here for a few hours, Smith could see that not much more could be accomplished by his unit. Like every other unit that had come in contact with the North Koreans, Task Force Smith was being forced to retreat. Soon he would return to his command post, where communications still worked, and order the company commanders to get their men into trucks. Optimists among them would say his unit was buying time. A lot of others were convinced that the retreats would not end until Kim Il-sung’s troops reached the Sea of Japan.

***

July 12, 1950

Walton Walker looked out the window of the C-54 transport plane as he unfolded a well-worn map. The map was practically brand new, having come off a printing press only a month ago, but had been folded and unfolded so many times that it could pass as a relic of World War II like everything else the Army had in East Asia. The plane and the general had both had extensive experience in that war. So did the tanks and small arms being sent in today’s transport runs to Pusan. Even the airbase they were leaving, not far from Tokyo, counted as old. Before the Stars and Stripes was flown from its flagpole, there had been the Japanese Rising Sun or their Army’s flag in its place. New equipment was supposed to be coming from the States, but until it did, Walker’s Eighth Army had to hang on to their half of Korea with whatever leftovers happened to be hanging around.
“You are cleared for takeoff” a voice announced through the radio, and the plane began to accelerate.
Walker looked at his map again. In a couple of hours, he would be back on the ground, trying to salvage something from the disaster unfolding in Korea. Already the Communists had conquered about a third of the country, and were showing no signs of slowing down. To stop them, the 24th Division had been rushed from Japan, and the 25th was set to reach the front shortly. Half a dozen or so ROK divisions were also supposed to be manning the lines, but Walker’s confidence in them was basically gone by now. Their constant retreats were serious problem.
“General, sir, we’re having a few problems getting off the ground,” Captain Mike Lynch said. Lynch was a good pilot, and Walker was confident he would get through whatever issues the plane was having.
It was the last thing he heard before the C-54 burst into flames.

Four hours later, Walker lay in hospital covered in burns and bandages. Everything hurt like hell, and it wasn’t too surprising when a doctor came in saying that he was lucky to be alive at all. He would probably lose his right leg, and God only knew what else had been damaged in that mess. The C-54 was still apparently strewn all across the runway, broken into dozens of pieces, and Captain Lynch was badly injured as well. The piece of map that had somehow survived lay on a small table next to him, prompting him to ask “When will I go back to the front?”
“Never.” The doctor said flatly. “As I said, you’re lucky to be alive at all. I expect you’ll be getting an honourable discharge in a few weeks, and when you’re well enough they’ll send you back home. The front is your successor’s job now.”
Walker’s mind immediately flicked back to the chaos of setting up the EUSAK command in the previous few days. “I don’t have a successor named.” he realised. General Dean from the 24th Division was handling things on the ground for now, but Dean had enough responsibilities. He didn’t need Eighth Army added to the list.
“Sir, if you’d like to name one now, I can have someone pass the message on to Washington.” the doctor offered.
One name came to Walker’s mind before he even tried to think. “Tell them to send Patton.” Beatrice had sent him a Christmas card last year, so he was sure George was still alive. If his old boss was anything like he had been back in Europe, he would be itching for another command.
The doctor’s face lit up as soon as the words were out of his mouth. “My brother was at Bastogne, sir.” he explained. “Still says that serving under Patton was the finest thing he ever did.”
Unable to move anything below his neck, the injured general had to content himself by staring out the window, where he saw a butterfly flying past.

- BNC
 
Patton in Korea? Cool!!!
Where Mac in all of this? Given how... “flamboyant” those two are, I can just imagine how badly they’d get along.
 
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So, TTL's Korean War is going to end with Patton taking Vladivostok, I take it?
x'D Wouldn't want to give a plot point that big away too early!

Where Mac in all of this? Given how... “flamboyant” those two are, I can just imagine how badly they’d get along.
Tokyo. You'll be seeing a lot of him fairly soon.

Interesting start.
Another BNC timeline? Huzzah!
Welcome to the timeline :)

- BNC
 
Instant Watch and like :)

It's pretty rare to see a Korean TL on the forum! Looking forward to see how this goes!
Thanks!
Shame about there not being more Korean War TLs... it's an interesting war and with MacArthur there's no shortage of drama to discuss!

With Patton still alive, is the M46 Patton still named as such (originally named after him posthumously)?
Perhaps they name it after Roosevelt (following Britain naming the Churchill tank and Russians the IS Tank - Ioseph Stalin)?
I had been thinking to name it after Winfield Scott, but I do quite like the idea of calling it the Roosevelt. They don't appear until September, so we'll see :)
Seeing as Walker will live as well, I guess the M41 also needs a new name... have to decide what I'm going to do there.

- BNC
 
Thanks!
Shame about there not being more Korean War TLs... it's an interesting war and with MacArthur there's no shortage of drama to discuss!



I had been thinking to name it after Winfield Scott, but I do quite like the idea of calling it the Roosevelt. They don't appear until September, so we'll see :)
Seeing as Walker will live as well, I guess the M41 also needs a new name... have to decide what I'm going to do there.

- BNC
There already was the M8 Scott in WW2, so that name is taken.
 
With Patton still alive, is the M46 Patton still named as such (originally named after him posthumously)?

My guess is they would keep calling them Pershing's. The M-46 was really an M-26 Pershing, with a new drive train, and engine. Most early M-46's were rebuilt Pershing's. If Patton is still around when the M-48 is fielded they could call it the Sheridan, following the tradition of naming tanks after generals, particularly Civil War Generals. Like Sherman, Grant, Stuart, and Lee, Sheridan has a good ring to it, a simple, and strong name.
 
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Looks like Patton got to go on that pheasant hunt after all on Dec. 8th 1945.
But here's the big question.
How did he deal with the whole mess involving his niece Jean Gordon?
He and his wife seem to have a good relationship, so I suppose he found a way to solve it?
 
Thanks!
Shame about there not being more Korean War TLs... it's an interesting war and with MacArthur there's no shortage of drama to discuss!



I had been thinking to name it after Winfield Scott, but I do quite like the idea of calling it the Roosevelt. They don't appear until September, so we'll see :)
Seeing as Walker will live as well, I guess the M41 also needs a new name... have to decide what I'm going to do there.

- BNC

Well, I’m Korean American (born in Korea) and I wrote a number of Korean TLs back when I first joined the website... I’m pretty tempted to start up one of my old ones (an improved version, since my writing quality and historical knowledge was subpar back then).

But best of luck on your TL! I’ll watch closely :)
 
I‘ve read several articles stating that the “Cambridge 5” provided Stalin with very accurate assessments of US military capabilities and intensions, just prior to the NK invasion. One of the biggest was the VERY small chance that the US would/could deploy a nuclear weapon there. As a result, Stalin green-lighted the NK invasion (Stalin passed this same information to Mao when he was contemplating intervention).

It would be interesting in this TL to see if somebody ”smelled a big commie rat” (to quote General Buck Turgidson😜), and that spy ring is exposed earlier than IOTL.

ric350
 
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