Infantry Attacks

Infantry Attacks

Erwin Rommel
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
No-one can reach my age without knowing who Erwin Rommel is, what he achieved, or the means of his untimely death. This book, with a foreword by his son, emphasises that he was one of life’s ‘good eggs’, a caring father, a formidable and insightful warrior, a good officer who cared for his men, and a man who learned from experience.

This book analyses his campaigns as a junior officer during the Great War, on the Western Front and in Romania and Italy. It describes each action in detail, including his intelligence gathering, level of preparedness, and reservations about particular risks. It is written clearly from notes made at the time, and includes many diagrams, so even a non-military person like me can understand what is being discussed. It was used as a text book for infantry training during the 1930s and published publicly in 1937.

In my opinion, this book is essential reading for everyone who aspires to lead, whether in a military or civilian role. His understanding of his men, their morale and how to maintain it, can be applied in any field. His knowledge of supply lines and their infallibility, and his insistence on proper reconnaissance and preparation, meant that even in the few actions where his troops failed in their objectives, losses were slight. The flexibility shown during a series of ‘hot’ actions, even when seriously wounded, meant that actions were successful which on the surface should have failed.

His description of the willingness of Italian troops to surrender, often to tiny groups of Germans and without a shot being fired, made me smirk, but he describes an underlying skill in making the enemy believe you are stronger than you are, from which many leaders today could learn.

The blurb on the back of this book says that it provides an indispensable guide to the art of war written by one of its greatest exponents. I cannot argue with that. I can, however, argue with the sentiment expressed by his son Manfred in the moving foreword, that in order to be a hero, one must survive. Despite his not surviving the Second World War due to the madness that enveloped the Third Reich, Erwin Rommel remains a hero.

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