Rommel In North Africa

Rommel In North Africa

David Mitchellhill-Green
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
This is another book in the ‘Glossy images style’, but with a difference, it has really good first class information and excellent rare images. It covers the Desert Campaign and gives excellent briefs on various aspects of the bitterly fought battles, all the information is there, it is far better than having to read a thick history book.

There are about 300 detailed images, most of them showing Rommel at work and at rest. He had his own Leica Camera, a gift from his illegitimate adopted daughter. He used to hand the camera to his driver or a member of staff to take his photograph so he could send them home to his wife, Rommel had an ego, not so great as Montgomery’s but he certainly had one!

Rommel’s method of command was quite ruthless, his sackings of battalion, Regimental and divisional officers following many of the battles with the British was quite a regular event. There are some nice anecdotes of his conversations with British Divisional commanders. One in particular with the British General Gambier-Parry who Rommel invited to supper in his tent. It was Gambier –Parry who gave Rommel his British Gas Goggles that Rommel wore on his hat for most of the Campaign.

Rommel’s style of battle leadership drove his staff to exasperation, Rommel would dash off in the direction of the sounds of battle and not be seen again for 24 hours, and then arrive back and demand a sound briefing of the all- round battle situation. He would then be sharp with criticism or praise whatever he thought was deserved. However to his own staff or to the more senior staffs in Berlin; Rommel was certainly no diplomat.

Rommel was admired at home in Germany and by the British opposing him, he possessed Chivalry which was apparent on many occasions especially the distribution of rations and water to British prisoners, they got the same water as the German solder, half a German mess can per day. Rommel also incinerated Hitler’s ‘Shoot to Kill’ order for the execution of ‘behind the lines’ SAS style troops.

The reason for the British Malta Convoys which fed, watered and fuelled the 8th Army is apparent in this book, so is the German’s complete distrust of the Italians. The Italians gave Rommel so many decorations that he told them to stop, most probably because they were ‘garish’ and perhaps neither did he value them. Though the Italian Navy comes out good in the book and were a definite threat to the Royal Navy supporting the campaigned in the Med.

For those interested in wartime soft skin and armoured vehicles they will find this book interesting. As on the Russian front, here on the desert you will see British Vehicles of all sorts captured, modified, painted up and with German Markings.

A thoroughly good readable book which I enjoyed and which I shall read again in the future. I award it five stars.

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