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Detailed description of Erwin Rommel’s wounding

Rommel and his driver Daniel


On July 17, 1944, at approximately 18:30, according to testimony, the Horch car of General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was machine-gunned by Allied aircraft on the N179 (today D579) in the direction of Vimoutiers in La Gossinée.

On this day, Erwin Rommel visited successively the headquarters of the 277th and 276th regiments, then in the afternoon he went to the headquarters of the 1st SS Panzer Corps in Urville, where he met with SS Oberstgruppenführer Josef Dietrich. At 16:00, the meeting was over and Rommel urgently set off on a long journey to his headquarters of the Army Group "West" in connection with the breakthrough of the front in another place.

Rommel's car route on July 17, 1944


There were five people in the car: the driver Karl Daniel, Rommel was sitting in the passenger seat next to the driver, Major Neuhaus was behind the driver, feldwebel Holker was sitting in the center to his right and further, behind Rommel, Adjutant Hauptmann Hellmuth Lang. Rommel's car carefully advanced along narrow roads, where wrecked cars and military equipment met along the way, since constant allied air raids were conducted in the area. On highway D579, the car left between the cities of Livarot and Vimoutiers, after which it turned south. Moving along the highway near the exit to road D268 at about 18:30, Adjutant Lang heard the sound of aircraft. He turned and began to look back at the sky, informing everyone that he was watching two Allied aircraft approaching from behind. Rommel ordered the driver to speed up and drive to a shelter under the trees to the right of the road 300 meters away.

Spitfires attack Erwin Rommel's car


The Spitfires were already very close. Rommel turned and looked at them at the moment when the planes began to fire. The first burst of fire hit the car on the port side. The driver, Daniel, had his left arm blown off and his left shoulder shattered by a grenade explosion, causing him to lose consciousness. The uncontrolled car left the road to the right side, crashed into a stump, after which it returned to the road and rolled over into a ditch on the left side of the road.

It was after a collision with a stump that Rommel received serious bruises and injuries, as a result of which he lost consciousness. At this moment, Rommel held on to the door handle with his right hand, and when the car returned to the road, following the left side of the road, the door opened and the field marshal fell out of the car unconscious. He remained lying on the highway 20 meters from the overturned car.

Neuhaus had a fractured pelvis after his holster was torn open by a 20mm bullet and was unable to move. Lang and Holker, who suffered minor bruises, carried Rommel on the way back to the entrance to the Laniel laundry. Rommel lay at the entrance without regaining consciousness for 45 minutes while Lang looked for a new transport. As a result, the field marshal was saved. Unfortunately, despite a blood transfusion, Daniel, the driver, died the same night.

Erwin Rommel's car crash location


The very next day, Rommel was diagnosed with a fracture of the base of the skull, a fracture of the cheek bone, two fractures of the temporal bone, the left temple was cut and severely depressed, the left eyeball was punctured, the left eardrum was bleeding, broken glass severely cut his face.

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