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Erwin Rommel

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He also deserves our respect, because, although a loyal German soldier, he came to hate Hitler and all his works, and took part in the conspiracy to rescue Germany by displacing the maniac and tyrant. For this, he paid the forfeit of his life. In the sombre wars of modern democracy, there is little place for chivalry
~ Winston Churchill

Erwin Rommel also known as The Desert Fox, was born on November 15, 1891 in Heidenheim an der Brenz, Germany, and was a German Field Marshal during World War II.

DescriptionEdit

He was, for a short while, one of the commanders of Hitler's elite bodyguard, the SS or Schutzstaffel, he was charged with the FuhrerBegleitbatallion. Rommel later commanded the Afrikakorps in the assault in the African theater. Later in the war, Rommel was charged with the defence of the Atlantic Wall. Rommel was accused of being a conspirator in the July 20, 1944 plot to kill Hitler and given the choice of being tried in a people's court and losing all military honors, or suicide. He took cyanide to poison himself and was buried with full military honors.

World War IIEdit

During the Blitzkrieg, Rommel commanded the 7th Panzer Division. On May 13th 1940, this unit crossed the Meuse river at Huy, driving a wedge into the thinly held front of the French Ninth Army.[1] On May 21st, Rommel and the 7th Division halted a British Expeditionary Force counterthrust south of Arras, which had been intended to isolate the Panzer Corps commanded by General Heinz Guderian. The Allies were forced to halt all major offensive actions, and retreated westward to the Lys river.[2]

On February 6th 1941, Rommel was named commander of the two German divisions that would form the basis of the Afrika Korps, the 5th Light (later redesignated 12th Panzer) and the 15th Panzer.[N 1]

Over the following months, Rommel's reputation as a master tactician led to a Commando raid against his headquarters on November 19th 1941, which failed to kill him. On the same day, Commonwealth forces advanced to Sidi Rezegh in Libya, triggering a four day battle which ultimately halted the Allied advance. The fighting became so confused that on one occasion, Rommel slept in the desert behind the British line, only a short distance from an Allied command Headquarters![4]

Following his victories in North Africa, Rommel was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal on June 28th 1942,[5] only to be defeated by Bernard Montgomery at El Alamein in November. Withdrawn from North Africa in March 1943, at the insistence of Mussolini,[6] Rommel was dispatched to Greece by Hitler on July 25th 1943, in the belief that the Invasion of Sicily was a deception to divert Axis attention from an Allied invasion of Greece.[7]

On December 12th 1943, Rommel was placed in command of German forces deployed along the Channel coast of occupied Europe, with orders to oversee the defence against an Allied invasion.[8] On January 1st, 1944, Rommel was given command of Army Group B, which covered the area from Brittany to the Netherlands.[9] Rommel was seriously wounded on July 17th 1944, when the car he was traveling in was strafed by an attacking Allied aircraft,[10] identified as a Supermarine Spitfire assigned to 602 Squadron.[N 2]

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. Rommel's Wehrpass (official record) does not actually list him as commander of the Afrika Korps. The register of commands list him as leader of the Deutschen Truppen in Libyen between February 15th to August 14th 1941. He was successively listed as leader of Kommando der Panzergruppe Afrika, Oberkommando der Panzer Armee Afrika, Oberkommando der Deutsch Ital Panzeramee and Oberkommando der Heeresgruppe Afrika. At it's fullest, Rommel's command would comprise these two divisions together with the German 90th Light and six Italian divisions[3]
  2. According to Heinz Nowarra's book Aircraft & Legend - Bf 109,[11] and the graphic novel Montgomery of Alamein in 'High Command',[12] Rommel's car was passing a village named Sainte Foy de Montgomery (The Sacred Faith of Montgomery) when the attack took place. (The latter depicts the attacking aircraft as a Hawker Hurricane).

SourcesEdit

  1. Goralski, Robert. World War II Almanac 1931-1945. Hamish Hamilton Ltd. 1981. ISBN 0 241 10573 0 Page 113
  2. Goralski, Robert. Page 115
  3. Goralski, Robert. Page 146
  4. Goralski, Robert. Page 181
  5. Goralski, Robert. Page 223
  6. McGovern, Una - Editor. Chambers Biographical Directory 7th Edition. Chambers Harrap publishers Ltd. 2002. ISBN 0550 10051 2 Page 1303
  7. Goralski, Robert. Page 273
  8. Goralski, Robert. Page 295
  9. Goralski, Robert. Page 300
  10. Goralski, Robert. Page 333
  11. Nowarra, Heinz. Aircraft & Legend Messerschmitt Bf 109, English Edition. Haynes Publishing Group (1989), ISBN 0 85429 729 4 Page 262
  12. Makins, Clifford. High Command. Dragon's Dream. 1981. ISBN 90 6332 851 6.

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