Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Friday, January 31, 2020

Killing Rommel and saving a bird

KILLING ROMMEL by Stephen Pressfield

The Long Range Desert Group was a real British commando unit of World War II. 
The LRDG fought against Rommel and the Afrika Korps in the North Africa campaign of 1940-1943. They drove unarmored Chevrolet trucks, in which they carried everything they needed—petrol, ammo, food, fuel, spare parts—to strike hundreds of miles in the rear of the German forces, crossing deserts and “sand seas” that not even the native tribesmen dared venture into.

Killing Rommel is the story of one fictional mission (though others like it took place in real life), an attempt to infiltrate the Afrika Korps in the field and eliminate its invincible general.

Books have a way of becoming more, and different, than you think they will when you start to read them. Killing Rommel became more about its narrator, a fictional British lieutenant named Chapman, than about the raid itself. Chapman’s story was about the kind of fighter we don’t have any more—like Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) in Saving Private Ryan– the citizen-soldier who takes up arms reluctantly and wishes only for the day when he can lay them down in peace but who proves, under fire, to be the equal and even the superior of troops and officers who have trained their whole lives for war.

Yes, I was totally drawn into this story and you might enjoy how it happened
"Recently, the new editors of the Minnesota Ornithological Unions, Minnesota Birding magazine asked their members to submit "Real Stories of Minnesota Birders." So I did. It was a post from Sept 23, 2008 titled "Bird Rescue." Imagine my surprise when reading the March/April, 2011 issue of the magazine I came across a story titled "Baron to the Rescue." While somewhat abbreviated from the original, I recognized the hero dog immediately. Here's the original post......

I was sitting in my reading chair in the living room, deep into Steven Pressfield’s new novel, "Killing Rommel." The LRDG (Long Range Desert Group) was about to set out on their desperate mission, as new 8th army commander Bernard Law Montgomery was attempting to hold the line against Afrika Korps, less than 80 miles from Alexandria. There was the thump of heavy artillery and ooops... it was something that just hit the window. I rushed outside to find Baron (my GSD) mouthing a tiny bird. "Drop it," I ordered. Like a good soldier he complied.
I picked up the tiny creature stunned but still alive (barely). Walking into the garage I found a rag and placed it and then the bird into an empty beer cooler. With a cat in the house and a curious dog that followed my every move, I determined the safest temporary refuge for the bird was to place it into a empty  cooler.Heading back into the house, I found my trusty Peterson birding book and began searching for an identification. Probably a warbler I thought. I had narrowed it down to several LBJ’s but nothing conclusive. I decided to wait an hour or so and then check to see if the bird was still alive. I took the cooler out into the garden and carefully opened the lid. The bird had previously been laying on its side barely breathing. Now to my utter astonishment, it was sitting perfectly upright with a "I just woke up and where in the heck am I" look about him. I took several pictures. Here he is looking at me in mutual astonishment.

Then he tried to fly but kept crashing into the side of the cooler. I carefully picked him up and set him on the ground. We looked at each other for a few seconds . I took another picture.

Then he just flew away into the woods. When I downloaded the digital pictures I saw the conclusive proof. He had pink legs. It was an ovenbird. The first one I had ever seen....."
Later,  I received a comment about my post from a lady who belongs to a group who during there morning walks in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, counts and sometimes rehabs birds who have crashed into the windows of tall buildings.  The most numerous victims tend to be ovenbirds, who being a "woodsy" species tend to be unfamiliar with the dangers of big city life.

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@Barrie Summy


  1. That post was before my time. I've never heard of ovenbirds. And thanks for another book for my list.

  2. Aww, poor thing! Glad it recovered.

  3. You blended the two things together very well.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your magazine article as well as the book review. Well done on both.

  5. Your description of Lieutenant Chapman makes me think I'd really like this book. I enjoyed the ovenbird story. So glad it had a happy ending. Also, I didn't have problem setting up your link. Yay! Thank you for reviewing!

  6. Oh, that sweet little bird. You were truly a life saver !

  7. Killing Rommel sounds really interesting. My dad was in North Africa during the war, in the Army Air Corps, though, not the LRDG. Also, my mom's maiden name was Rimmel, and she used to get teased about her Uncle Erwin in North Africa.

    How wonderful that you saved the bird! Good job.

  8. Well done.. and thank you for another book for my To Read list.

  9. While I probably not read a book about Rommel, I really did enjoy your bird story. - Margy