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Omar Bradley Options · View
Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:51:07 AM
 Field Major

Joined: 2/28/2007
Posts: 5,949
Location: Heart of Europe
cueball wrote:
The reality is that the qualities that it takes to lead a division are not necessarily the same as those it takes to command an Army.

I think this best characterizes Rommel. He was most probably excellent soldier and sub-division commander. Aggressive and tricky, but his perspective was probably too close to the frontline. Not as wide as it should be for corps/army commander, rather narrow and sharp.
Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 12:35:37 PM

One Year Membership MedalTwo Year Membership MedalAuthor of 18000th Post

Joined: 1/27/2008
Posts: 1,331
Location: Pau, France
I don't agree with Cueball for his thoughs about Erwin Rommel,even if he's right for some points, this guy made some things that few Generals have achieved at war :

-Rommel won many battles in Africa, both during 1941 and 1942, against British forces that always outnumbered him and had better supply lines, through aggressive attacks (which on several occasions violated direct orders not to attack), but his eagerness to drive for Egypt, despite not having the logistical "tail" to support it, meant that these drives were stopped, with great losses in men and materiel. Rommel perceived "unique opportunities" in capturing Egypt and perhaps the Middle East, a result which would definitely have had a huge impact on the Allies' capabilities of waging war, but his grand vision was never supported by Hitler nor the General Staff in Berlin to the extent that Rommel desired.

-F.W. von Mellenthin, who served on Rommel's staff during the Africa campaign, says Rommel took great chances on several occasions, gambling entire battles on decisions made almost on the spur of the moment and with incomplete information, citing Rommel's counterattack during Operation Crusader as just one such instance. Others who served under him in Africa, most notably General Fritz Bayerlein, said he took risks, but only after carefully weighing the potential dangers and rewards

- in despite of a constant lack of supplies due to his overextended supply lines (El Alamein movie is an excellent show of this and as you said the willingness of italians to fight till the end) he pushed deep, if he had to size the physical situation of his troops before to verse in every battle he would have probably told his units to rest, not move their butts at all an wait for the allies to come get them and give them supplies as prisonners LOL

-Rommel's military successes earned the respect not only of his troops and Adolf Hitler, but also that of his enemy Commonwealth troops in the North African Campaign, he scared them at some point, and most of his offensives was feared, patton himself when he arrived in Tunisia was reading Rommel's book about his strategy, he admirated him for those goals he achieved : keep initiative when it was not possible, fool his enemies, scare them, supply his tanks One Tooth Grin

- An enduring legacy of Rommel's character is that he is also considered to be a chivalrous and humane military officer in contrast with many other figures of Nazi Germany. Most captured commonwealth soldiers during his Africa campaign report to have been largely treated humanely, and orders to kill captured Jewish soldiers and civilians in all theatres of his command were defiantly ignored.

The last thing is about the battlefield, it was completly different from others,almost no civil population implicated, lots of deserts this front was much more under spotlights than others since it looked more to a napoleonic war with no civils than a butchery like Stalingrad, it was easier for the commanders to draw lines on the map and follow them.This battlefield in fact gave Rommel a popularity he could maybe not have had in East front, but in despite of this, his achievements, few guys in WW2 made it.

The fact of the matter is that Rommel, despite all the hoopla about his daring, in fact only played a decisive roll in two clear German victories (in Italy in WW1 and in France in WW2 -- as a junior officer I might add) and lost every single campaign that he was the overall commander of.

Rommel asked Hitler for command of a panzer division and, on 6 February 1940 only three months before the invasion, Rommel was given command of the 7.Panzer-Division for Fall Gelb ("Case Yellow" ), the invasion of France and the Low Countries. This string-pulling provoked resentment among fellow officers. The Chief of Army Personnel had rejected Rommel's request on the grounds of him having no experience with armour, instead suggesting Rommel was more suitable for commanding a mountain division lacking a commander. Rommel had, however, emphasised the use of mobile infantry, and had come to recognise the great usefulness of armoured forces in Poland. He set about adapting himself and learning the techniques of armoured warfare rapidly and with great enthusiasm

On the other hand someone who was always defying fate, and pressing his troops to go the extra mile was in fact one of the greatest failures of WW2.

The Ghost Division

7.Panzer-Division was later nicknamed Gespenster-Division (the "Ghost Division" ), due to the speed and surprise it was consistently able to achieve, to the point that even the German High Command lost track of where it was. He also set the record for the longest thrust in one day by Panzers up to that point, covering nearly 200 miles.

Rommel received both applause and criticism for his tactics during the French campaign. Many, like General Georg Stumme, who had previously commanded 7th Panzer Division, were impressed with the speed and success of Rommel's drive, others were more reserved, some out of envy, others because they felt Rommel took needless risks.

Rommel's technique of pushing forward boldly, ignoring risks to his flanks and rear and relying on the shock to enemy morale to hinder attacks on his vulnerable flanks, paid large dividends during his rapid march across France. When encountering resistance, Rommel would simply order his tanks forward, all guns blazing, relying on the shock of the sudden assault to force the enemy to surrender.

quotations about rommel :

The British Parliament considered a censure vote against Winston Churchill following the surrender of Tobruk. The vote failed, but in the course of the debate, Churchill stated:

* "We have a very daring and skilful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general."

Churchill again, on hearing of Rommel's death:

* "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."

Theodor Werner was an officer who, during World War I, served under Rommel:

* "Anybody who came under the spell of his personality turned into a real soldier. He seemed to know what the enemy were like and how they would react."

British General Claude Auchinleck, one of Rommel's opponents in Africa, in a letter to his field commanders:

* "There exists a real danger that our friend Rommel is becoming a kind of magical or bogey-man to our troops, who are talking far too much about him. He is by no means a superman, although he is undoubtedly very energetic and able. Even if he were a superman, it would still be highly undesireable that our men should credit him with supernatural powers."

Bradley rocks !
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