View Full Version : Just came accross this today....

11-05-2008, 04:30 PM
...thought some of you may want to know.

The following article that appeared in today's Ottawa Citizen is reproduced under the fair comment provision of the copyright act.

Decorated pilot dies in crash
Fighter ace credited for wounding Rommel in July 1944

Jack Spearman and Randy Boswell
Canwest News Service

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Canadian Spitfire pilot often credited with seriously wounding storied German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in a strafing attack in the critical weeks after D-Day, has died. Charley Fox was 88.

The much-decorated flyer from London, Ont., was killed in a weekend automobile crash near Tillsonburg, Ont.

It took years before Mr. Fox was cited for the attack on Rommel -- there were counterclaims by the Americans that one of their aircraft was responsible. As well, a South African pilot is also thought to have carried out the attack.

Rommel was Germany's leading field commander during the Second World War, earning the nickname "Desert Fox" for his African campaign. He had been summoned to France to prepare for the expected Allied invasion.

The strafing effectively ended Rommel's career. While still recovering from severe head injuries suffered in the incident, he was implicated in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler and forced into suicide in October 1944.

How history might have unfolded had Rommel not been incapacitated by the Spitfire remains one of the great "what ifs" of the history.

"He was badly, badly hurt," Mr. Fox said during a 2004 interview with the Citizen.

"I end up thinking, 'What if I hadn't been airborne at the time? What if I hadn't shot him up? Would that have changed the war? Or would it have lengthened it?'"

On July 17, 1944, Mr. Fox and his squadron left their airfield at Bernières-sur-Mer in Normandy.

"As soon as we got airborne at Bernières-sur-Mer, we started heading toward 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," said Mr. Fox.

"I made no motion until it was just about nine 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 said the incident remains "very clear in my mind."

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

But a Quebec historian researching the controversy says the official operational record book of Mr. Fox's unit, 412 Squadron, puts him 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.

Mr. Fox had an outstanding record as an airman. He ended the war with credit for nine enemy aircraft and 153 vehicles and locomotives destroyed or damaged, according to a 412 Squadron description of his exploits.

He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar -- equivalent to a second DFC -- for "exceptional courage and skill."

Tillsonburg is 45 kilometres southeast of London.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

11-05-2008, 05:27 PM
Sad to see another vet pass. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

Rest in peace, Mr. Fox!

11-05-2008, 06:31 PM
I'm from London Ont and this made headlines when it happened. Sad news indeed. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

11-05-2008, 09:19 PM
Vancouver BC. It was national news. Sad way for him to go.

11-06-2008, 02:47 AM
sad it is that of all the german high command people one of the few Not Nazi's had to die. would have been better if it was hitler that they maneged to kill in 1944.

11-06-2008, 02:13 PM
It is always a sad day to hear of things like this. I think of the day when the last combat veteran of that time will pass, and no longer will we say to ourselves, "We've lost another one", rather, all we can do is remember those brave souls.

11-08-2008, 02:06 PM
Well, he made a good job keeping one of the best German military minds out of the field.

But to be sincere, the days of Rommel were doomed. Wounded or not, he was to share the fate of all the other conspirators against Hitler, just a few months later.

Rommel was notoriously fed up with the nazi regime, and he had many mighty enemies -like everybody in those unsafe times.