In March 1945, against the advice of his top subordinates, Gen. George Patton created a special task force to venture more than fifty miles behind enemy lines and liberate a POW camp near Hammelburg, Germany. The camp held some 1,500 American prisoners, including Patton’s son-in-law. Hampered by ambushes and a lack of fuel and even maps, the raid was a disaster, one of the worst mistakes of Patton’s legendary career. Out of some 300 men, only three dozen returned. Based on memoirs, diaries, combat reports, and interviews with survivors, Patton’s Last Gamble vividly recounts a mission Gen. Omar Bradley later said “began as a wild goose chase and ended in tragedy.”
Duane Schultz is a graduate of Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, and American University. He is the author of Crossing the Rapido: A Tragedy of World War II and Into the Fire: Ploesti, the Most Fateful Mission of World War II, among other military history titles. He has written for such magazines as World War II, World War II History, and Military History Quarterly.