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After that trip Lucie was allowed a respite, because she was expecting a child. The baby was born in December , a boy. Rommel called him Manfred and had great hopes for him. In Rommel’s confidential personnel file are several of the annual evaluations of him written by his superiors with ponderous Teutonic thoroughness. How different his personality at this    time seems from that of his later years. ” He went on to laud Rommel’s “very great military gifts,” particularly his sure eye for terrain.

Silence was the only reply. This disappointment did not affect Rommel’s fighting zeal. He stayed hard on the heels of the retreating Italians. His Abteilung was at the head of Sproesser’s battalion of Swabians, and that battalion was the spearhead of the whole Fourteenth Army. On November  the river Tagliamento was reached. Now Rommel began a relentless pursuit of the demoralized Italians, using the same tactics of bluff, bravado, surprise attack and rapid pursuit that were to distinguish him later as a tank commander.

He was in fact very lucky to be able to stay in the army; many officers were being let go. A civilian existence would have been unthinkable for Rommel. The army was his life. The few existing photographs of him in plain clothes show him an awkward, shambling misfit, a figure somewhat reminiscent of a small-time hoodlum. Without that uniform, helmet and, above all, the blue enamel medal, he was not one tenth the man. In these last years before Hitler, the German army was in the doldrums, but Rommel was busy.

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