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Patton’s Mobile Headquarters
3rd Army HQ in Europe
Patton’s Mobile Headquarters
3rd Army HQ in Europe
Sometime in March or April in England, the orders were given to convert several CCKW Shop Trucks (General Motors CCKW six-wheel drive 2 1/2 ton cargo truck. Known by the nicknames "Jimmy" and "deuce and a half," the CCKW was constructed in two different models, the 354 with a wheelbase of 145" and a 9' body, and the 353 with a 164" wheelbase and a 12' body.) to mobile command Headquarters.
Photo Left: The shop van on the far left might be Patton's
Photo Below: Patton's own picture of three HQ shop vans assigned to 3rd Army
It is unknown how many were made and for who but it is known that at least three of them went to
the soon to be activated 3rd Army. One of them was to become General Mobile Command Center.
This is the only known picture of General Patton coming out of his mobile HQ. No Wartime pictures have been found of the inside of it. This picture was colorized to add realism.
June 10th 1944
In a letter to his wife, while still stationed in England, he wrote Beatrice and said
"I have a truck to sleep in. It is quite swell-like the cabin in a cruiser only you can
stand up. There is a bed with an air mattress, a wash stand, cloths closet, desk map
board, heater, and a 110 electric circuit with a built-in radio; also a sort of canvas
porch effect The horrors of war are fast departing and the far of bobby traps are gone.
It can also black out and has a huge map board so one can work at night. It is made out
of an obsolete truck body and runs well or at least well enough."
This is the first mention of a rare one of a kind traveling headquarters assigned
exclusively to Patton. The Army had technical designations for their vehicles; so
officially, he was assigned a 1942 CCKW GMC ST 5 Shop Van; truck ordinance, maintenance,
2 and ½ ton truck. A 270 4 cycle 6 cylinder engine powered it. Fully loaded is grossed
at 13,265 pounds. It could go about 240 miles on a 40 gallon gas tank. The Army said it
averaged 7.5 miles a gallon. It had a maximum allowable speed of 45 mph. 6 volts
powered the electrical system. It was modified on the inside rear portion of the van
to accommodate his needs.
The original is still in existence today and is on display in The Patton Museum at Fort Knox Kentucky.
There are almost no WWII pictures of the van except some outside shots and none have
yet to be found showing an inside view during the war. The display at Fort Knox is not
complete in that it does not have all that would have been in it during the war. Most
all of his personal belongings or either on display elsewhere or gone. The radio set
up, above his desk, remains a mystery.
There is evidence that at least two more shop vans were assigned to HQ of Third army.
One was assigned to his Chief of Staff General Hobart Gay. The other was most probably
assigned to Major General Hugh Gaffney who also served as his chief of staff also.
Patton's 3rd Army was and had always been designated as the army to take the war to
the Germans after D Day under a plan called Operation Cobra. On the morning of July
6th 1944 Patton's C47 landed on an airstrip near Omaha Beach in France, and Patton was
now back in the War to command his army.
(This original picture was taken in August 1944 in front of Patton HQ Van.
Pictured left to right are: Major General Hugh Gaffey, Chief of Staff, Gen Patton
and Intelligence Officer Major M.C. Helfers)
As Patton was waiting for 3rd Army to become operational his field headquarters was
organized. His mobile office and quarters had a large camouflage net over it. Under
the net were his Jeep, ¾ Dodge Command Car and his Mobile HQ truck. In the rear of
the truck was a canvas canopy just under the camouflage netting. Just out from there
was plywood, laid on the ground to walk on, a field desk and several director style
chairs. The ladder leading up to the rear entrance had been modified with wood slats
over the star s so Willie would not catch his toe nails on the wire mesh covering the
stairs. Patton often moved a small map board to the table and discussed pending
operations with his staff out side the van.
The first mention of its use in combat during WWII was in his diary.
July 8th 1944
Patton liked the truck and it was comfortable enough for him to write home and say…
"The sleeping truck is really too comfortable. I fear I will get soft."
Patton had dropped a map board on his toe in England and it had become infected. He
wrote home and mentioned the truck after he was in France and waiting for 3rd Army to
July 11th Diary
"Stayed in the truck all day resting my toe"
July 12th 1944 Letter to Beatrice
"My toe is much better and I can wear my shoe. As there is nothing I can talk about I
drew you the plans of the truck. It is quite roomy and has lots of storage space."
Patton kept his dog with him in camp named Willie (William the Conqueror) and the dog
traveled and slept with him in his truck.
Diary July 15th 1944
"Willie is crazy about me and almost has a fit when I come back to camp. He snores too
and is company at night."
Patton also had guards (sentinels) post near his truck. He wrote on August 9th when
interrogating a captured German general that… "I had two sentinels with fixed bayonets
at my truck-usually I have more. I had one table and one chair and he had to stand."
The Patton Museum Display
"The George Patton Museum has been an excellent source for of information. I asked them
if they would mind sending me some inside pictures of the Patton HQ Shop Van on display
in the museum. They send me asset of them that was invaluable to restoring my own shop
van" said Denny Hair who has played Patton since 1984 and was looking to re-create an
exact duplicate of Patton's Hq Shop Van. They sent a wealth of information by sending
the high resolutions images.
Inside the original HQ Van showing desk and phones George Patton Museum
Original shows Morris chair and Map Board
Show different veiws of the Original Vanity inside Patton Van
Photo on Right:
The sink has water storage above it gravity operated.
The Recreation of the Patton Van by 3rd Army Living Historians
In January of 2008 a conversation was held between Denny Hair and his good friend Carlos
Manning and the idea of reproducing the Patton HQ Van surfaced and that set the wheels
in motion. Carlos is a long time re-enactor and facilitator in the hobby. Once he got
a notion of what Denny had in mind, he became a strong advocate of the idea and helped
Denny find the right truck to begin the project. The pictures show the progress that
has been made in the last few months. Carlos remembered an article and believed that
Art Pope has recreated a Patton HQ Van.
Photo Left: The day of arrival and was unloaded under it's own power.
The search began when he heard of Art Pope's efforts to reproduce a copy of the original
HQ shop van. Denny contacted Art through the MVPA and he assisted Denny in many aspects
of the restoration. The hardest part was to locate a shop van. There was a time that
they were not hard to find but that day has long since passed. Art had a lead on one,
as did Brent Mullins of Texas. Denny finally contacted the owner that Brent knew and
that Art had contact with. A 1942 CCKW GMC ST5 shop van was located in Pennsylvania.
A deal was struck and the truck was tailored for its long journey from Pennsylvania to
Hockley, Texas in March of 2008. Art supplied Denny with his restoration plans and
the restoration and recreation of history began in earnest. The truck had sat for some
time so the gas tank was cleaned and coated. Remarkably, the engine and running component
s were in good shape. A local church youth group took on the van as a youth project and
cleaned and masked the truck off in preparation for sandblasting. Some 12 young people
spent a whole day on top, underneath and in every nook and cranny taping it off.
Sandblasted down to the bare metal May 2008
The vehicle was sand-blasted and primed. Denny was fortunate and military enthusiasts
came to help and lend their talents to what would become a large group effort.
Chris & Bill work on camo netting.
Carlos Manning, Ken Spencer and Homer Thomas clean Gas Cans.
Mario Vaca does much needed welding
What had started out as an idea was now a tangible project of love
to duplicate a piece of history and use it to educate the public.
Brent Mullins was able to help and donated a very hard to find
part that would have otherwise made the project a lot harder to
complete. Many CCKW owners who are members of CCKW organization lent
advice and help online in locating manuals, specifications and
sharing their expertise. Robin Silva is busy building the web
site that will tell the story of Patton's charge across Europe
and help us all keep this part of American history alive and
unforgotten by today's and tomorrow's generations. Just as
America pulled together from all parts of the country to defeat
Hitler's forces, so, too have many Americans donated their time,
efforts and resources to make this project a success.
Those that have worked on the van in one form or another are Carlos Manning,
Homer Thomas, Will Bickers, Ken Spencer, Mario Vaca, Ken Rose, George Lindsey,
Bill Warren, Mike and Andrew Sabota, Bill McKown, and Cris Storms all have spent
countless hours working on the van. Brent Mullins donated some rare and much needed
Special thanks go to:
Art Pope who donated quite a bit of time looking for a shop van to restore and
donating plans, photographs and expertise to he project. Without his help this project
would not have come off.
George S. Patton Museum Fort Knox Kentucky
Librarian MS. Candace "Candy" Fuller, George S Patton Museum for providing the high
resolution photographs of the inside of the original Patton Van
Left to right:
Andrew Sabota and his Father Mike Sabota. Master wood craftsman and military historian
Mike Sabota spent many many hours reprod-ucing the the interior of the Patton Van
exactly as it was built in the original van. His continuing involvement in the
replication of the furniture has been on going for well over a year.
Not pictured is Bill Warren, a superb and experienced military vehicle restorer
who lent many hours his time to paint the truck. He spent several weekends painting
Drawing of cabinet specifications on Patton's Van - Read/Download copy.
The Patton Van Debut
November 11 Veterans Day Weekend 2008
In was only fitting that the 3rd Army Living Historians were able to complete Patton HQ
Van in time for the Veterans Day Parade in Bryan, Texas. In a coincidence of history,
Patton was born on November 11, 1885.
Photo Below: (Left side original Patton Van-Right side our Recreation)
Every effort was made to have an exact duplicate of the original. Even the original tooth powder can was found (above right).
The Patton HQ Van was taken by trailer to the event and it was unloaded and placed on
Denny Hair as General Patton during Veterans Day Celebration.
Photo Left: Pictured to the left there is a map that is covered
with a plastic cover. We were extremely fortunate to find this very
rare and valuable map.
It is an original 3rd Army general staff
officer's map that actually belong to third army headquarters during
WWII. It is marked with the Third Army HQ at a town called "Bad Tolz"
where Patton had his HQ at the end of the War. The covering on the map
was used so it could be marked on with a grease pencil and erased when
Photo Below: He had a small library and lots of cigars
Photo Below: Patton's Desk was recreated as he may have had it
Then it was show time and Patton and 3rd Army went about what they do best…. Having fun with family and friends, teaching history and honoring the veterans on their day!!!
Denny as Patton
(L to R):
MP George Lindsey
CWO Ken Spencer
MP Mike Sabota
Lt. Homer Thomas
SMAJ Joe Nobles
SGT Will Bickers
Ken Rose played the part of Major General Maurice Rose, 3rd Armored Division and Brent Mullins from the Museum of the American G.I., far right enjoys a much-needed break.
Brig General Hap Gay (Bill McKown) and USAAC Test Pilot Chris Storms
The lions share of credit for all that we accomplished and this project goes to
Col. Carlos Manning;
Chief of staff,
who plays the part of Col. Oscar Kotch,
officer for 3rd Army HQ.
Col. Carlos Manning(left) as Col. Oscar Kotch and Denny Hair as Patton.
To download a pdf copy of the
Patton Van Story...Click Here