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Deceiving Hitler

Heroes Remember

On the air plane, we had a birdcage hood, which meant that the top when like this. This is before the Mustangs had the teardrop hood. So we had to, if you want to get out, pull all the stuff and pull the hood over this way to get out. So in any event, I was ready to bail, if the engine had stopped. It didn't stop, I knew where Thorny Island was, and that was the place where we, I had joined the flying circus just a few weeks before. Right on the edge of the water. So, I headed for Thorny Island, with Jack Taylor doing the lead, I'm doing about 150 miles per hour when usually I'm at 250, everything throttled back. I land at Thorny Island, and as I land the engine stops. So, it was very comfortable. And it was, it was a good thing I knew where Thorny Island was. Anyway, that was D-Day morning. I then did one more trip in the afternoon and then that was the beginning of what we call the Battle of Normandy. So there are many trips everyday from that point on. That was the beginning of one of the most vicious and difficult battles of World War Two. Fortunately Hitler was asleep when he got word that there had been landings in Normandy and... also involved at this point was General Patton heading up an operation called "Fortitude", it was a deception. The Germans regarded Patton as the best of the Allied generals and so there was constructed in the south-east corner of England a fictitious army of tanks, vehicles, ready to come across at the Pas de Calais area. And the man who fictionally headed it up was General Patton. And the Germans believed this, and on D-Day they thought, and Hitler's people told him that in effect the Normandy operation was just a sort of decoy, but that the real thrust was going to come across, under General Patton in that Pas de Calais area. The exercise was intended to cause Hitler to keep in that area at least three Panzer divisions. Because if they had been turned loose, and come down to us, which wasn't that far, they would have shredded the, what our army had done on the ground in the first few days. So that worked very well. And Hitler did keep the Panzer divisions in the Pas de Calais area while Rommel, who was the commander, was trying to get us, get our troops off the beach.

Mr. Rohmer talks about making it back to an island that he'd known about from his experiences with the flying circus. He then goes on to talk about how D-Day ended up being just the beginning of the Battle of Normandy.

Richard Heath Rohmer

Major General Rohmer was born in Hamilton, Ontario on January 24, 1924. He enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force on his eighteenth birthday. He had received some training in Canada before being shipped overseas to Bournemouth for further training on both Spitfires and Mustangs. He chose to fly a Mustang and was finally able to get into operations in the Fall of 1944.

General Rohmer provided reconnaissance for D-Day, the Falaise Gap and the Liberation of the Netherlands.

After the war, General Rohmer instructed Spitfire pilots on how to attack in the air at Gunnery Instructor School and later went back to college in Ontario, Canada. After graduating from college he went on to practice law. General Rohmer has received several awards throughout his illustrious career including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Canada Defence Medal and is an Officer of the Order of Canada just to name a few. General Rohmer is also a best selling author.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Richard Heath Rohmer
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
403 Squadron

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