General George S. Patton Jr. Memorial Museum - April 2010

The museum is located on I5 less than 5 miles east of the south entrance to the Joshua Tree National Park near the former location of the Desert Training Center headquarters established in March 1942 to train American soldiers to fight in a desert environment similar to what they would encounter in North Africa during WWII. The museum website is

Denise and I took about two hours to tour the museum and its tank yard located to the left of the main entrance below. On display are memorabilia from through out Patton's career. I took no pictures inside the museum, however, here are a couple websites that show some of the museum displays: and

The Desert Training Center (DTC) encompassed more than 18,000 square miles of the southern California and western Arizona deserts, making it the largest military training center in history. It's headquarters in Chiriaco Summit was named Fort Young. There were also 10 division headquarters scattered throughout the training center reporting to Fort Young. Major General George Patton personally surveyed and established the training center boaders and and divisional headquarters. Approximately 1,000,000 men were trained there between March of 1942 and when the training center was shut down in May 1944. Patton personally commanded the DTC from March until August of 1942 when he was transferred to combat duty in North Africa.

This map is courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (

Front and center of the museum stands a statue of General George S. Patton, Jr. standing on broken tank treads alongside his pet bullterrier William the Conqueror, known as "Willie". Willie was a famous coward, to Patton's chagrin, except for a famous fight where he got the better of General Dwight Eisenhower's pet scottie Telek during a strategy meeting in 1944. According to Kay Summersby (Eisenhower's aid), "It took four generals, the Theater's top brass, to separate Willie and Telek. And even then they had to throw water on the fighters."

To the left of the museum building is located the tank yard where there appeared to be a score or so of tanks in various states of decay of mainly WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War vintage, i.e. the M4, M26/M46, M47/48 and M60 tanks. Some did appear to be freshly painted. Others looked as if they had been dumped there by the Army National Guard or nearby USMC Air Ground Combat Center after having been stripped of anything useful. Nevertheless, we found it fascinating to wander amongst the old tanks.

M4A1 "Sherman" HVSS Medium Tank

The M4 Sherman, in various versions, was the backbone of the Allied Armored Forces throughout WWII. Over 50,000 were produced during the war. The M4 was very reliable and very effective against the German and Italian tanks it encountered during the North African,Sicilian, and Italian campaigns, but was badly outgunned and out-armored by the heavier German Panther and Tiger tanks that it met in Western Europe in 1944/5. Nevertheless, with an experienced crew and room to maneuver it was still a potent weapon. Main armament was a 75mm M3 L/40 gun (later upgunned to a higher velocity 76mm M1 gun) and it had a 5 man crew. Note what are probably anti-tank round hits in the mantlet, glacis plate, and both sides of this particular tank. It appears to have been used for target practice at some point. Or battle damage?

M26A1 "Pershing" Heavy Tank

The M26, named after "Black Jack" Pershing of WWI fame, was developed to supply the Army Ground Forces with a tank of sufficient firepower and armor to be able to stand up to the German Panther and Tiger tanks.  Unfortunately, disagreement on the tank specifications (mainly the caliber of the main gun) by the army leadership delayed delivery so that the first M26 tanks did not enter combat until Feb. 1945 just prior to the end of the war in Europe.  Later it did see considerable action in Korea along with its successor the M46, that had an increased horsepower engine, the major issue with the M26 since it used the same engine as the M4 Sherman though it weighed 12 tonnes more.  Main armament of the M26 was the 90mm M3 L/53 gun and it had a 5 man crew.  Though of WWII technology, the M26 is considered the progenitor for all future American designs through the M60.  Note, that like the Sherman above, this M26 has anti-tank round damage, in this case, two hits on the lower side of the gun mantlet.

M47 "Patton" Medium Tank

Developed from the M26 and M46 tanks, and redesignated as a medium tank, the M47 entered service in 1952 but arrived too late to see any action during the Korean War. Its main armament was a 90mm M36 gun and it had a 5 man crew. The M47 design was considered a stopgap solution to provide a tank that could counter the Warsaw Pact heavy tanks. It was soon replaced by the much improved M48 "Patton" medium tank in 1953 that included a redesigned turret among other significant changes. The M47 remained in service with the Marine Corps until 1959.

M60 Main Battle Tank (MBT)

A complete redesign of the M47 and M48 tanks, though it bore a considerable likeness to them, the M60 was fitted with a 105mm M68 rifled main gun and was manned by a four-man crew. It was criticized for its high profile and limited cross-country mobility, but in practice it proved to be a very reliable, well armoured and effective weapon, and served as the US Main Battle Tank until the introduction of the Abrams M1. It underwent many updates over its service life from its introduction in 1960 until Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm where the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force fielded 210 M60A1s to support the Saudi-Marine effort in Kuwait City.

Another M60 MBT in desert colors.

A mock tank skeleton that would have been covered with canvas and placed on a jeep for training purposes. The Desert Training Center was always short of tanks and often had to make do with creative substitutes.

The remains of the Desert Training Center chapel.

Yours truly racing across the deserts of North Africa in a Sherman tank. I hope you've enjoyed the pictures.

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