Intermission Stories (18)

Once we get back into WWII, we will mainly have Pacific Theater information here.  So, during this intermission time, I’ll take this opportunity to include another European Theater story.

X-Troop, George Lane is standing, back row center

X-Troop, George Lane is standing, back row center

 

Mr. X Meets the Desert Fox

George Lane aka: Lanyi Gyorgy

British Commando, No. 10 X Troop

In the spring of 1942, Lord Mountbatten created a commando unit made up of 10 troops.  No. 10 consisted of European born Jewish volunteers to be described as “unknown warriors,” false identities included.  To prove their loyalty, these men were required to perform extremely dangerous operations behind enemy lines.

Lanyi Gyorgy, Hungarian-born, was in England in 1939 and married Miriam Rothschild in 1943; it was through her connections that he was able to enlist in the army at all.  On 15-17 May, before D-Day, the newly named “George Lane” and “Roy Woolridge” were sent to Normandy Beach to search for mines.  They brought back an old corroded sample.  They were sent back to locate and photograph the anti-tank obstacle known as Element C.

George Lane

George Lane

Upon eluding capture on shore, a German patrol boat caught them in their dory and brought them back to the beach.  Lane’s interrogator insisted he was a saboteur and a member of the special services.  (An interpreter was used because Lane insisted he did not speak German).  Lane continued to state he had been on a troop ship that sunk in the Channel and he knew nothing.  He had his hands bound and a blindfold applied, but it was not done correctly – he could see out of the bottom.

George was led to a car and saw Roy sitting in the rear, he was put in the front.  During the drive, he pretended to sleep, head tilted back to view the route and memorize the French street signs.  At a large castle, an English-speaking German officer gave him food and tea and requested he was up to meet someone; he said, “…can I count on you to act like an officer and a gentleman?”  Lane agreed that he was indeed a gentleman.

He was brought into a vast ballroom and a slim, impressive general walked up to greet him.  Lane recognized him at once – the legendary “Desert Fox”, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.  “So you are one of those gangster commandos?”  Lanes replied that he heard the commandos were the best in the world.  “So, you are a commando?  And a saboteur too, I suppose?”  Lane answered that he wouldn’t have been invited to the castle if that were true.

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel; The Desert Fox

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel; The Desert Fox

“You call this and invitation, do you?” Rommel snorted.  “Of course,” Lane said to the interpreter, “But also a privilege,” and then he smiled.  Rommel began to laugh and the discussion went on for about 20 minutes.  The general promised he would be treated fairly as a POW.  Lane and Woolrige both agreed that they were.

At the POW camp, Lane reported to the English senior officer, Col. E. Miller and admitted he was a commando in X-Troop.  A coded message was sent to England to confirm his identity along with the name of a road sign he remembered by the castle.  17 July, Rommel’s car was strafed by a Typhoon fighter-bomber, the driver killed and the general injured so badly he was forced to relinquish his command.  There is no proof that Lane’s info caused the attack, but he was awarded the Military Cross for his services.

Military Cross

Military Cross

He returned to the castle 40 years later and asserted that he always believed General Rommel had saved his life.

George Lane passed away on 19 March 2010 at the age of 95.  His story here was derived from one that appears in “True Stories of D-Day” by Henry Brook and The Telegraph.co.uk.  These are the only 2 photos of George Lane I was able to locate.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Fred Bickley, Jr. – Birmingham, AL; US Army, WWII

John Boyle – Farmingdale, NY; US Air Force, Korea

A Farewell Salute

A Farewell Salute

David R. Clare – Westfield, NJ & No.Palm Bch., FL; US Navy, WWII

Charles Garrison III – Long Beach, CA; US Army, Ranger

Anne Jarvie – Rotorua, NZ – RAF # 2145065 & RNZ Air Force # 73299, WWII

Sydney Johnson – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, Korea, Military photographer

David Lake – Buhl, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, flight engineer, B-17’s

John Niceley – Front Royal, VA; US Navy, WWII

Richard Parrish, Jr. – No.Palm Beach; US Army Air Corps, Lt., B-17 pilot

Walter Shackel – Port Washington, NY; US Army, WWII, 86th Mountain Infantry

George Thomas – Toronto, Can; RCAF, WWII, Squadron 435-436, Burma/India Theater

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 19, 2014, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 86 Comments.

  1. The Desert Fox was an implacable enemy, but this is a new side to him. Interesting story!

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  2. Rommel had a habit of wanting to meet the top tier of Allied forces, both flag officers and any kind of special forces. It was purely due to his fascination with military warfare, whomever was practicing it. After capturing a British General in North Africa, he actually sat down with him over a map where they both re-enacted each others strategic and tactical moves on it, with Rommel admitting to the general where and when he could have won the battle had he known how weak Rommel’s forces were in certain areas. What’s also little known about Rommel is that he was never a Nazi and absolutely detested Hitler.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rommel’s attitude toward Hitler I did know and aided in my respect for the man. I always felt Hitler knew it too and was only too happy to threaten his family to get the general to commit suicide. Actually the only fault I have ever found about the man is his parents gave birth to him in the wrong country.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I would have loved to have read a complete history of this remarkable soldiers exploits.
    Wonder if a book was ever written
    Great post.
    Ian

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    • I acquired the story and condensed it from “True Stories of D-Day” by Henry Brook, published 2006. But, there is plenty on the internet, I went to double-check the facts, perhaps another book is listed on one of them.

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  4. I didn’t realize how much I missed sharing your wonderful/insightful blogs with the veterans and others that I meet. It’s amazing how someone refuses to return your greeting for over a year and then one day they practically run you over with their wheelchair and it’s because of something that was discussed from your blog:)

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  5. That was quite a story! Always learning pretty fantastic stuff here. Thanks, Gp!

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  6. What a most fascinating experience… I would have been shaking in my boots…or as Old Man Jack would have said, “I would have _hit in my pants.” Hard to believe he had to prove his loyalty in this manner… Incredible.

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  7. What an interesting story. To have that kind of courage–memorizing street signs, verbal tennis with Rommel–I’m impressed.

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  8. Thank you. God bless you. Please keep up your good work.

    Senior Pastor/Equipping the Saints
    Philip 3:10, “That I May Know Him”
    http://gravatar.com/cchurchchurchblog
    http://cchurchchurchblog.wordpress.com/

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  9. Reblogged this on History Stuff That Interests Me and commented:
    Interesting story from my friend gpcox.

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  10. Thanks for sharing that wonderful story about Lane. BRAVO your effort with this blog! 🙂

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  11. Excellent post. My grandfather fought Rommel’s Afrika Corps in North Africa while with the British 8th.

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  12. Another great WWII tale. Keep them coming.

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    • We’re close to the end of the intermission, Bev. But, there will be more eye-witness accounts during the WWII posts. I want some more humor from that error too! Thank you for being such a loyal reader for so long!

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  13. Rommel is one of my favourite generals – all the more so because he turned against Hitler and was forced to commit suicide. This little snippet reinforced my belief that Rommel was a good man on the bad side.

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    • My sentiments exactly, Eric. Just as I’ve been telling the people who previously commented. I can’t help but wonder how far he would have gotten if he had been born in a free country and not had to die to save his loved ones.

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  14. Really enjoying these intermission stories about personal bravery – thanks!

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  15. Such an enjoyable story. I have always regarded Erwin Rommel as an enemy officer, but still held him in high regard because of his military professionalism, and his chivalry. At first, I think he was influenced by the attentions Hitler gave him, but he learned in time that der Fuhrer was a madman. Insofar as the Atlantic Wall is concerned, I do not think that it would have mattered if Rommel was present on D-Day. He could not possibly have stopped us—although I doubt if Eisenhower was as confident of this in 1944 as I am in 2014. ☺

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    • I can see your point, I feel Rommel went forward as a man doing his job, and he would have done the same if he had been born in the US, England or wherever. I’m glad you enjoyed Lane’s story and had the time to read it.

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  16. I have always been fascinated by General Rommel. Interesting man. Enjoyed the post.

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    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Joel. Yes, Rommel was a brilliant officer and gentleman who just happened, by the twist of fate, to have an insane leader.

      Like

  17. Amazing story, indeed! Rather ironic if his information had, in fact, led to that strafing.
    Rommel was wasted on the Nazi cause.

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  18. I am looking forward to your Pacific theater posts. I am in the home stretch for my fathers Navy story, about 12 months from his discharge but still have Pacific theater events to tell.

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    • I am too, Maryann. It’s the first few I have trouble with – too much in the way of politics – which I really can not get into – but are necessary.

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  19. George Lane was an amazing character , combining courage , quick thinking , bravado , etc. , and luck . What a story !

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  20. These intermission posts are great stories. Thanks for posting.

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    • My pleasure, Tish. I’ve been enjoying it. Or maybe I’ve been putting off starting the WWII posts because of so much politics in first few, UGH!

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  21. Absolutely fascinating!

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  22. The courage of the men in your stories is astounding,

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  23. Pierre Lagacé

    Reblogged this on Lest We Forget and commented:
    Another great untold story of brave men.

    Like

  24. Pierre Lagacé

    Great story GP that I will have to reblog on Lest We Forget.

    Like

  25. Thank you for the story. I was fascinated. A Jew meeting Rommel. I sometimes wonder if Rommel bought into Hitler or just was a loyal soldier to the Fatherland. I get the drift that he had severe thoughts to the madmen.

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  26. Amazing story. I have just been watching some TV coverage of our veterans at the Monte Cassino memorial. One of the stories there had me in tears.

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  27. If only all adversaries could know each other as human beings first.

    I am looking forward to your posts on the Pacific Theater. My dad spent most of the war in New Guinea and the Philippines. I don’t know much about those years of service other than what I’ve read.

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  28. Looking forward to the Pacific theatre stories as my dad was peripherally involved there as a Royal Navy officer.

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  29. I bet he never got to meet another person for tea

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