Erwin Rommel: The Desert Fox
Erwin Rommel was born on Sunday, November 15, 1891 in Heidenheim an der Brentz,
Wuerttemberg, Germany. Originally Rommel planned to become an engineer, but his father
encouraged him to enlist in a local infantry regiment instead. During World War I, he served
on the Western, Italian, and Romanian fronts. Rommel was wounded three times and received
the Iron Cross, First and Second Class. He was also awarded the Pour le Merite, Germany's
highest medal for his fighting in Italy. During the war, Rommel married Lucie Mollin in 1916.
He had one son, Manfred Rommel in 1928. During the years between wars, he taught at the
Dresden Infantry School (1929-1933) and the Potsdam War Academy (1935-1938). In 1937,
Rommel also published a book on infantry tactics entitled Attacks. After World War II broke
out, Rommel commanded the 7th Panzer division in Operation Fall Gelb (invasion of France).
His division was nicknamed the ghost division because it always showed up were it was least
expected. Then in March of 1941, Rommel was sent to Libya to aid the poorly equipped Italian
army against the British forces stationed in Egypt. His forces were designated "Afrika Korps". It
was in this theater of war where he gained the nickname "The Desert Fox". The war in the
desert see-sawed back and forth between the Germans and the British. After a British
offensive (Operation Crusader) in late 1941, Rommel launched a counter-offensive, driving the
British back into Egypt. Eventually, the Americans joined the war in Africa on the western side
of Rommel's forces which lead to the descruction of the Afrika Korps in Tunisia in 1943. He
was then sent to the Atlantic Wall in France, where he bore witness to the Allied invasion of
Normandy, also known as D-Day. From there, everything went sharply downhill for Rommel.
Convinced that the war was lost, and that Hitler wanted to take Germany down with him,
Rommel became a part of a group who wanted to remove Hitler from power. On July 20,
1944, a bomb was set off in an assassination attempt to kill Hitler. At the time, Rommel was in
a hospital after his staff car had been strafed by a British aircraft. Since Rommel was involved
with the group in charge of the assassination plot, he was forced to commit suicide by cyanide
poison, or face charges of high treason and have his family ruined. Rommel chose the poison
and died on Saturday, October 14, 1944. He was 52 years old.
George Patton: Old Blood and Guts
George S. Patton was born on November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. Patton's
military training took place at Virginia Military Institute and at West Point Military Academy. His
first major combat situation took place in 1916 during the Mexican Border Campaign under
Brigadier General John Pershing. After the United States entered World War I in 1917, Patton
was given command of the US Tank Corps and later the First US Army. In September of 1918,
he was wounded during the St. Michel Offensive. Between wars, Patton wrote articles about
how tanks and other armored vehicles could be used in combat. In 1942, Patton was given
command of the Western Task Force of the US Army as a part of Operation Torch (Invasion of
North Africa). In 1943, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant General. However, during the Sicilian
campaign, Patton slapped a soldier who was having a mental break down for cowardice. This
made many people upset, and Patton was relieved from his command and was kept out of the
public eye for awhile. While Operation Overlord (D-Day) was being planned, Patton was in
charge of Operation Fortitude. Operation Fortitude was a false operation used to deceive
German intelligence into thinking that the Allies were planning to land at Calais. This was
successful, and after the Normandy landings, Patton was put in charge of the Third US Army.
The Third Army played a key role in the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944. That
included saving soldiers from the besieged city of Bastogne. Sadly, on December 9 1945,
Patton sustained wounds from an auto accident. He died from those injuries on December 21,
1945. He was 60 years old.