German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel – The Desert Fox who earned the respect of the British


Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was perhaps the only German leader during the Second World War who was regarded with honour by the British. Rommel gained his reputation due to his famous sense of fairness and amazing tactical skills during the battle of North Africa.

Nicknamed the ‘Desert Fox’, Rommel gained respect among his foes and made his name as an iconic figure of the war. His unmatched battlefield skills were complemented by his distinctive looks, especially his famous goggles worn across his cap.

The story behind Rommel’s reputation among the British and also his distinctive goggles came into the spotlight very recently and is truly heartwarming. Rommel received his goggles from a British prisoner as a gift to thank him for retrieving his cap. The prisoner Rommel ‘befriended’ was Major General Michael Gambier-Parry of the 2nd Armoured Division. Field Marshal Rommel had captured Major General Gambier-Parry along with his 2,000 men in Mechili, Libya, in 1941.


Gambier-Parry’s granddaughter, Liza Donoghue, has revealed the details of the first meeting between the two commanders. Rommel had invited Gambier-Parry to have dinner with him shortly after the capture in Mechili. They shared a very nice meal and expensive wine and smoked some excellent cigars. Later that evening during their conversation, Gambier-Parry hesitantly mentioned that his cap was taken away by a German soldier. Rommel got furious and assured Gambier-Parry that he would look into the matter and would make sure he got his cap back.

Shortly after their amazing exchange, Rommel went to retrieve Gambier-Parry’s cap from the German soldier. He was furious with the soldier for taking a commander’s cap and told him his act was a disgrace to Rommel’s unit.

Field Marshal Rommel then brought Gambier-Parry’s cap to him with a big smile on his face. Major General Michael Gambier-Parry offered him his favourite goggles as a thank you gift for his fairness and effort, which he gladly accepted. Rommel wore the goggles till the day he died, the Mail Online reports.

It was obvious that Rommel did not belong to the Nazi ranks, and Gambier-Parry did mention this to him on a few occasions, although Rommel did not respond. There was no shortage of soldiers and officers in the Nazi ranks who did not totally agree with Nazi doctrine but had no choice but to follow it.

Rommel was suspected of being involved in an attempt to kill the ‘Fuehrer’ in 1944, and after that plot had failed, he was forced to committed suicide.

Major General Michael Gambier-Parry’s granddaughter said that her grandfather always respected Rommel and regarded him as a fair general.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE