Rommel’s last report on the battle in France

Field Marshals Gerd von Runstedt and Erwin Rommel pictured together early in 1944.

Field Marshals Gerd von Runstedt and Erwin Rommel pictured together early in 1944.

German troops bring a Nebelwerfer into action, somewhere in France,summer 1944.

German troops bring a Nebelwerfer into action, somewhere in France,summer 1944.

Germans Fallschirmjäger - parachute troops fighting as Infantry.

German ‘Fallschirmjäger’ – parachute troops fighting as Infantry.

While some amongst the Allies started to worry that their advance was not going as swiftly as expected, the situation within the German High Command was a great deal worse. At the beginning of July Field Marshal von Rundstedt had told Fuhrer HQ that it was ‘time to make peace’. He had promptly been relieved of his command.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had seen his predictions come true – Allied air power had severely curtailed German freedom of movement around the battlefield. While the Allies were able to make good their losses the Germans were not. He felt that an Allied breakout was imminent – but he was more circumspect about his recommendations than von Rundstedt “so the end of this unequal battle is in sight. In my view we should learn a lesson from this situation.”

This was the report that he sent to Hitler:

ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION, JULY 15, 1944

The position on the Normandy front is becoming daily increasingly difficult, and it is rapidly approaching its crisis. Owing to the fierceness of the fighting, the enormous amount of material in the enemy’s possession, especially their artillery and armour, and the undisputed mastery of the air obtained by the enemy air forces, our losses are so great that the battle potential of our divisions is rapidly deteriorating.

Reinforcements from home come in very small quantities, and take weeks in arriving because of the bad transport situation. We have lost about 97,000 men, including 2,360 officers — which means an average loss of 2,500 to 3,000 men per day — and we have received until now 10,000 men as replacements, of which 6,000 have already been sent to the front.

Also the losses in supplies for the troops have been extraordinarily high, and it has not been possible to provide more than very meagre replacements, as for example 17 tanks up till now to replace about 225.

The divisions which have been newly brought in are not used to battle conditions and with their small consignments of artillery, anti-tank weapons, and means of engaging tanks in close combat they are not able to offer effective resistance to enemy large-scale attacks for any length of time, after being subjected to concentrated artillery fire and heavy air raids for hours on end. It has been proved in the fighting that even the bravest unit is gradually shattered by the well-equipped enemy and loses men, weapons and territory.

The destruction of the railroad network, and the great danger of enemy air attacks on all the roads and paths for 150 kilometres behind the front has made the supply position so difiicult that only the absolutely essential things could be brought up, and above all artillery and mortar ammunition was at a premium.

These conditions are not likely to improve, as convoy vehicles are decreasing as a result of enemy action, and with the enemy capturing airfields in the bridgehead it can be expected that their air activities will increase.

No forces worth mentioning can be brought in to the Nor- mandy front without weakening the 15th Army on the English Channel, or the Mediterranean front in southern France. The 7th Army front alone requires most urgently 2 fresh divisions, as the forces there are worn out.

The enemy are daily providing new forces and masses of materials for the front; the enemy supply lanes are not chal- lenged by the Luftwaffe and enemy pressure is continually increasing.

In these circumstances it must be expected that the enemy will shortly be able to break through our thinly-held front, especially in the 7th Army sector, and push far into France. I should like to draw attention to the attached reports from the 7th Army and II Parachute Corps.

Apart from local reserves of Panzer Group West, which are about to be sent to the Panzer Group’s sector, and which in the face of the enemy air forces can only march during the night, there are no mobile reserves at all at our disposal to counter any breakthrough on the 7th Army front.

Our own air force has hardly entered the battle at all as yet.

Our troops are fighting heroically, but even so the end of this unequal battle is in sight. In my view we should learn a lesson from this situation. I feel it is my duty as C. in C. of the Army Group to point this matter out.

(signed) Rommel

Whatever Hitler felt about the report he did not have to trouble himself about replacing Rommel. On the 17th July Rommel was badly injured when his staff car was attacked by an Allied fighter. He was flown back to Germany for treatment and never returned.

Panzer VI "Tiger II" (Königstiger) or King Tiger parked under trees in Normandy.

Panzer VI “Tiger II” (Königstiger) or King Tiger parked under trees in Normandy.

German soldiers with MG 34, somewhere on the Normandiefront, their bicycles on the ground behind them.

German soldiers with MG 34, somewhere on the Normandiefront, their bicycles on the ground behind them.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pierre Lagacé July 15, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Hitler was not listening…
Was he ever?

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