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View Full Version : Canadian Spitfire ace given credit for shooting Rommel



jensenpark
04-27-2004, 01:43 PM
From today's paper...interesting read.

A Canadian pilot long recognized for his Second World War heroics -- including three sorties on D-Day alone -- is now being credited with knocking legendary German field marshal Erwin Rommel out of action in the crucial weeks following the invasion of Normandy.

The story of how Spitfire ace Charley Fox strafed Rommel's staff car as it sped through the French countryside on July 17, 1944, is finally becoming clear after almost 60 years of uncertainty over who wounded the man known as "the Desert Fox," the Nazis' greatest field commander.

A U.S. air crew initially claimed to have fired on Rommel's car. Many historical accounts say South African pilot J.J. Le Roux carried out the strike.

But a Quebec historian researching the controversy at the Library and Archives of Canada says the official operational record book of Mr. Fox's unit, 412 Squadron, puts the Ontario-born pilot in the air at the right time and place to have taken out Rommel.

"Charley Fox is probably the guy that fired at Rommel's car," concludes Michel Lavigne, author of several books about the Second World War. "This is the official account from the time, usually filled out by a clerk with the squadron, recording when planes took off and came back. It's very precise, very exact."

Mr. Lavigne's findings confirm Mr. Fox's own log entry from that day and his recollections of swooping down on a German staff car and watching the bullet-riddled vehicle veer off the road.

"We took off late in the afternoon," recalls Mr. Fox, 84, who lives in London, Ont., and is to be installed as honorary colonel of his old war-time unit, 412 Squadron, at a ceremony this week in Ottawa.

"As soon as we got airborne at Bernieres-sur-mer, we started heading towards Caen and we split up into three sections of four, and we were to look for 'targets of opportunity' -- anything that was moving. It was the other side of Caen, and I saw this staff car coming along between a line of trees on a main road," says Mr. Fox. "I made no motion until it was just about 9 o'clock, and I did a diving, curving attack down and I probably started firing at about 300 yards. I saw hits on it and I saw it start to curve and go off the road -- and by then I'm on my way."

Mr. Fox says the incident remains "very clear in my mind." And the July 17 entry in his own wartime log book records "1 staff car damaged" along with the destruction of a transport vehicle. At the end of the entry, Mr. Fox had written: "? Rommel -- Yes."

The attack ended Rommel's brilliant career. While still recovering from severe head injuries suffered in the car crash, he was implicated in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and forced to swallow poison pills in October, 1944.

Mr. Fox ended the war with credit for nine enemy aircraft and 153 vehicles and locomotives destroyed or damaged. He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar -- equivalent to a second DFC -- for "exceptional courage and skill."

Mr. Fox says initially he wasn't interested in pushing a claim for the attack on Rommel. "The day that this happened, July 17, that evening the Americans claimed that they got him with a P-47," he recalls. "As far as I was concerned, end of story."

Recently, though, Mr. Fox was approached by artist and Spitfire enthusiast Lance Russwurm about helping him depict the attack on Rommel in a painting. Around the same time, Mr. Lavigne told Mr. Fox about his archival findings.

Mr. Fox compared notes with the historian and agreed to offer his input on the artwork. At his investiture on Friday as honorary colonel, Mr. Russwurm's painting of Rommel Under Attack will be presented to 412 Squadron.

http://www.corsair-web.com/thistler/rtfoxint.jpg
Buzz Beurling flying his last sortie over Malta, Oct.24, 1942

jensenpark
04-27-2004, 01:43 PM
From today's paper...interesting read.

A Canadian pilot long recognized for his Second World War heroics -- including three sorties on D-Day alone -- is now being credited with knocking legendary German field marshal Erwin Rommel out of action in the crucial weeks following the invasion of Normandy.

The story of how Spitfire ace Charley Fox strafed Rommel's staff car as it sped through the French countryside on July 17, 1944, is finally becoming clear after almost 60 years of uncertainty over who wounded the man known as "the Desert Fox," the Nazis' greatest field commander.

A U.S. air crew initially claimed to have fired on Rommel's car. Many historical accounts say South African pilot J.J. Le Roux carried out the strike.

But a Quebec historian researching the controversy at the Library and Archives of Canada says the official operational record book of Mr. Fox's unit, 412 Squadron, puts the Ontario-born pilot in the air at the right time and place to have taken out Rommel.

"Charley Fox is probably the guy that fired at Rommel's car," concludes Michel Lavigne, author of several books about the Second World War. "This is the official account from the time, usually filled out by a clerk with the squadron, recording when planes took off and came back. It's very precise, very exact."

Mr. Lavigne's findings confirm Mr. Fox's own log entry from that day and his recollections of swooping down on a German staff car and watching the bullet-riddled vehicle veer off the road.

"We took off late in the afternoon," recalls Mr. Fox, 84, who lives in London, Ont., and is to be installed as honorary colonel of his old war-time unit, 412 Squadron, at a ceremony this week in Ottawa.

"As soon as we got airborne at Bernieres-sur-mer, we started heading towards Caen and we split up into three sections of four, and we were to look for 'targets of opportunity' -- anything that was moving. It was the other side of Caen, and I saw this staff car coming along between a line of trees on a main road," says Mr. Fox. "I made no motion until it was just about 9 o'clock, and I did a diving, curving attack down and I probably started firing at about 300 yards. I saw hits on it and I saw it start to curve and go off the road -- and by then I'm on my way."

Mr. Fox says the incident remains "very clear in my mind." And the July 17 entry in his own wartime log book records "1 staff car damaged" along with the destruction of a transport vehicle. At the end of the entry, Mr. Fox had written: "? Rommel -- Yes."

The attack ended Rommel's brilliant career. While still recovering from severe head injuries suffered in the car crash, he was implicated in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and forced to swallow poison pills in October, 1944.

Mr. Fox ended the war with credit for nine enemy aircraft and 153 vehicles and locomotives destroyed or damaged. He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar -- equivalent to a second DFC -- for "exceptional courage and skill."

Mr. Fox says initially he wasn't interested in pushing a claim for the attack on Rommel. "The day that this happened, July 17, that evening the Americans claimed that they got him with a P-47," he recalls. "As far as I was concerned, end of story."

Recently, though, Mr. Fox was approached by artist and Spitfire enthusiast Lance Russwurm about helping him depict the attack on Rommel in a painting. Around the same time, Mr. Lavigne told Mr. Fox about his archival findings.

Mr. Fox compared notes with the historian and agreed to offer his input on the artwork. At his investiture on Friday as honorary colonel, Mr. Russwurm's painting of Rommel Under Attack will be presented to 412 Squadron.

http://www.corsair-web.com/thistler/rtfoxint.jpg
Buzz Beurling flying his last sortie over Malta, Oct.24, 1942

Huckebein_UK
04-27-2004, 01:47 PM
Nice! It's always cool to have stuff like this cleared up...

Huckebein
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SeaFireLIV
04-27-2004, 01:49 PM
Fascinating. Interesting news, thanx.
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TgD Thunderbolt56
04-27-2004, 02:05 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Huckebein_UK:
Nice! It's always cool to have stuff like this cleared up...

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>



Agreed.



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worr
04-27-2004, 02:08 PM
Thnks for the story, jensenpark.

Worr, out

http://www.spitcrazy.com/015453Large-copy.jpg

Cossack_UA
04-27-2004, 03:29 PM
Canadians are known to get in a way of German military legends http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Red Baron was killed while fighting two Canadians.

[This message was edited by Cossack_UA on Tue April 27 2004 at 07:00 PM.]

UB6MEB9
04-27-2004, 05:29 PM
Jensen and Worr.. you two from the lower mainland BC? Same exact article and pic in todays paper here.

Just curious.

jensenpark
04-27-2004, 05:35 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by UB6MEB9:
Jensen and Worr.. you two from the lower mainland BC? Same exact article and pic in todays paper here.

Just curious.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Grew up there, but live in Ottawa now. This was from the National Post, but also carried in the local (CanWest) paper.
All these years I had thought it was Richard Rohmer (who later became quite the prolific author and dignitary and is leading the Cdn contigent for the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landings) who shot up Rommel. Turns out he was in the recon Mustang that called in the strike.

"Major-General Richard Rohmer began his military career in 1936, serving in the ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) at Eagle Rock High School in Pasedena, California. He served with the RCAF as a fighter-reconnaissance pilot during 1942 V 1945. He took part in the D-Day Operation; served in France, Belgium and Holland, completing a 135 mission tour of operations in November of 1944. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. At 5:05 p.m. on July 17, 1944, while leading a section of four Mustang fighter aircraft on a low level reconnaissance, General Rohmer caught Field Marshal Rommel in his staff-car southeast of Caen and called in Spitfires that shot up Rommel's vehicle, seriously injuring the Field Marshal, taking him out of the Battle of Normandy. He served in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve in 1944 V 1948. In 1950 he returned to the RCAF flying Vampire jets and commanded the 400 Squadron (City of Toronto) and 411 Squadron (County of York) in 1952 V 1953. He retired in 1953 as a Wing Commander. In 1971 he again associated with the Canadian Armed Forces as Honorary Lieutenant Colonel and later Honorary Colonel of 411 Air Reserve Squadron."

http://www.corsair-web.com/thistler/rtfoxint.jpg
Buzz Beurling flying his last sortie over Malta, Oct.24, 1942

worr
04-27-2004, 09:16 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by UB6MEB9:
Jensen and Worr.. you two from the lower mainland BC? Same exact article and pic in todays paper here.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

No, live in North Dakota...which is darn near close. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

The pic, actually a painting, is old...and has been signed by Charley Fox for some time. The markings are his squadron...the 412.

Worr, out

altstiff
04-27-2004, 10:25 PM
Hmmm, it was always speculated that Rommell had conspired to assassinate Hitler and that Hitler had him executed for this.

As part of the execution deal Rommell would leave with out a fight and would be given full military honors with his family being looked after. The story would that Rommell was killed in a ground strafing.

See you in the fence....

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Ruy Horta
04-27-2004, 11:05 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by altstiff:
Hmmm, it was always speculated that Rommell had conspired to assassinate Hitler and that Hitler had him executed for this.

As part of the execution deal Rommell would leave with out a fight and would be given full military honors with his family being looked after. The story would that Rommell was killed in a ground strafing.

See you in the fence....
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You mix up events.

1. Rommel was wounded during a strafing run
2. Rommel was at home when the Von Stauffenberg failed to blow up Hitler
3. Rommel was mentioned as one of the conspirators during the subsequent crack down.
4. He was given the choice to commit suicide and die as a hero, or be arrested for treason along with his family who would be deported to a concentration camp (S.O.P).
5. As he choose the "honorable" way he was treated as a hero and officially died of wounds caused by that air attack.

Its nice to tie down ends, but since the TAF shot up vehicles wholesale, its probably just another interpretation. I'd need to read his case and about the other claims from different sources before I personally take this as THE strafer.

With the Red Baron its different its now 99% certain that he was shot down from the ground by an Australian MG gunner - however not yet conclusive which one.

Ruy Horta

Hawgdog
04-28-2004, 03:39 AM
Again and again, the real heroes are just doing their job, more concerned with the end game results than their 'one' play

~S~

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Franzen
04-28-2004, 03:54 AM
Interesting read but as a Canadian and from my experience of living with Canadians it probably will never be fully investigated. In a case like this, it's not our style. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

Fritz Franzen

Ruy Horta
04-28-2004, 04:38 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Hawgdog:
Again and again, the real heroes are just doing their job, more concerned with the end game results than their 'one' play<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Words like heroism and genocide have become so cheap today that they are losing their impact. Anyone who does a profesional job is nowadays automatically a hero. Murder one hundred civilians and we have a genocide.

Only serves to cheapen the real thing in the eyes of the public.

Recently there was a program about the VC on the BBC which at least to ME (edit) reaffirmed the true meaning of the word heroism.

There are enough examples of true genocide in the twentieth century without inflating the list for political purposes.

I am not a hero.

My father served a tour in a lesser known war of the 60-ies - he isn't a hero either (although being "Special Forces" would automatically entitle him to such a tag nowadays). Do I respect my dad? As a man yes, for his past, not really, since he actually fought for the wrong side - the side fighting against the right of a people to be independant and free. The most heroic act he did was accepting that fact himself.

Don't know why I post this but words are cheap and so are mine.

Ruy Horta

EDIT
PS. Nice post non the less Jenssen, nothing against the original message of the post and although I risk doing so, not an attempt at spoiling the thread. If you feel strongly opposed to my view I suggest a PT or a new OT thread (with a short life!).

[This message was edited by rhorta on Wed April 28 2004 at 04:44 AM.]

Franzen
04-28-2004, 05:01 AM
Interesting that you brought up the meaning of "hero". I have put some thought into this before. I think real heros exist but are rarely heard of. These are the people who sacrifice something of themselves to better the life of others. All to often the modern leaders are using the term to justify their decisions, persuede the public, or reward followers as some sort of justification for actions. Today's popular "heroes" are people put in situations where they had to act without choices. Given the freedom of choice they probably would have choosen something different. Today's "heros" are better described as "survivors".

I doubt the Canadian pilot feels he is a hero for attacking Rommel's car. It was the luck of the draw. He sacrificed nothing to make the attack. He is a hero though for going to war and defending his ideals.

Fritz Franzen

SeaFireLIV
04-28-2004, 05:07 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Franzen:
Today's "heros" are better described as "survivors".

Fritz Franzen<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Very, very good points. The REAL heroes of today have probably gone unnoticed. Often the hero people need is not necessarily the Hero people want...

IL2Canuck
04-28-2004, 07:53 AM
...so now...as a good Canadian, I go to the Full Mission Builder in Forgotton Battles and select a black commanders car to put on a road and...(heh, heh)

Great info! What day was that in the paper, maybe I can grab it here in Toronto!

PS. just finished reading "Malta Spitfire"
on Mr Buerling...Fantastic read.

CHEERS (eh?)

IL2Canuck
04-28-2004, 07:56 AM
...Apr/27/04's paper!...duh...Sorry.

Hope I can find one,CHEERS.

DuxCorvan
04-28-2004, 08:12 AM
Rhorta is a well-informed man.

His description on the events surrounding Rommel's death -BTW, Admiral Canaris, leader of the Abwehr, met a similar fate- and the truth about Richtofen's end -intentionally conceded to Cpt. Brown to enhance the Allies' moral by having the invencible Red Baron defeated in the air, and not by ground fire- are IMO fully accurate.

I also find his reflexions about the nature of heroic actions very interesting. We tend to take murder victims as martyrs for their causes -but a martyr has to have a chance to escape or live by renouncing his/her ideals, to be considered a martyr- and duty servers as heros -even if they don't do nothing beyond their duty.

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niklamort
04-28-2004, 11:57 AM
Well gentlemens I remember have seen that it was Jacques Remlinger a free-french pilot of 602 sqdrn who was credited for straffing Rommel's command-car...

I have seen an interview of him and he wasn't very proud of having done this. He respected Rommel as a fair ennemy and couldn't claim to have been Rommel's fate.

Well so a canadian pilot or a french one I don't think that records at that time could confirm or infirm who clearly straffe Rommel's car.