The Goggles of Erwin Rommel

Have you ever noticed how in (almost) every picture taken of Erwin Rommel commanding the DAK (Deutsches Afrikakorps) in North Africa he’s wearing a pair of goggles on his head?

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Okay… maybe it’s just me.

Turns out these are (actually*) British Mark II Gas Goggles. Most likely just picked up somewhere. But there is an apocryphal account on how Rommel came to own these glasses which is a much more interesting narrative.

Major General Michael Gambier-Parry, of the 2nd Armoured Division, was captured with 2,000 of his men by Rommel in Mechili, Libya, in 1941.

The German field marshal invited the British officer to dine with him in a gesture of military camaraderie. The pair shared good wine and smoked ‘excellent cigars’, according to Gambier-Parry’s granddaughter, Liza Donoghue, 67.

During the meal, Gambier-Parry complained that a German soldier had taken his hat. A furious Rommel then took it upon himself to get the garment back to his prisoner.

And when Rommel later found Gambier-Parry’s Army goggles in a staff car, he asked the British officer if he could keep them and Gambier-Parry agreed[1]

Jo  *It amuses me that Rommel found utility in British engineering, if anything it demonstrates that he he would use a superior product. Even if that product came from the ‘enemy’. Which I think is pretty cool.

I put enemy in inverted commas because I think Rommel saw the British as adversaries and less like enemies. He is after all famous for his line ‘Krieg ohne Hass’. War without hate. Yes, I realize there might be some romanticism involved…  but we still give the Alexander the moniker ‘The Great’. Even if he was a blood thirsty homicidal maniac. I think if you’re going to give someone the benefit of the doubt… might as well be Erwin Rommel.

In any event I liked this story, even if it turned out to be spurious.

[1] This text exists in on several websites and so I’m not entirely sure who to credit.

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