7th Panzer Division led by the famous Erwin “Desert Fox” Rommel got the nickname “Ghost Division” in 1940 in the France campaign. They were given the nickname because they advanced so fast that they appeared were they weren’t expected, and even German high command didn’t always knew where they were.
Generalmajor Rommel, commander of the 7th Panzer Division, accepting the surrender of Major General Victor Fortune (center), commander of the 51st Highland .General Fortune spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. As senior British officer in captivity in Germany, he worked to improve the conditions of the men under his command. He suffered a stroke in 1944 but refused repatriation. He was finally liberated in April 1945 and made KBE shortly after. He died 02-01-1949, aged 65 in Dalswinton, Scotland.
7th Panzer corps took part in the campaign in Poland, and was after that strengthened and became a full panzer division. Erwin Rommel was asked b y Hitler which command he wanted for the battle of France, and Rommel-having no tank experience choose a panzer division, and 15.february 1940 he was given command of the 7th Panzer Division which was part of the 15th Panzer Corps under General Hermann Hoth.
Ghost Division in France:
Erwin Rommel lead his division from the front, often from the top of a tank, earning him great respect from his men. This also aloud him to make decisions much faster then commanders who stayed behind the frontline. His results and his relationship to Hitler made him immune to the critism from the High Command who sometimes ment he was to independent in his decisions.
Timeline for Ghost Division in France:
10 May 1940 – Fall Gelb, the invasion of France, is launched. 7th Panzer advances through the Ardennes.
25 June 1940 – Fighting ends for 7th Panzer Division in France.
At the end of the campaign, the Germans suffered 156,000 casualties (27,074 killed) The Allied casualties figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000, including 2500 dead. Broken down by nationality, the usual D-Day casualty figures are approximately 2700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6603 Americans.
7.th Panzer Division since 10th May had captured:
The Admiral of French Navy (North) André Marguis and 4 other admirals, 1 Corp Commander, 4 Divisional commanders with their staffs, 277 artillery and 64 anti-tank guns, 458 trucks and armoured cars, 1,500-2,000 cars,
1,500-2,000 horse- and mule-drawn wagons, 300-400 buses, and 300-400 motorcycles. About 30 000 prisoners of war were captured
Apart from this it had brought down 52 aircraft, captured 15 more on the ground, and destroyed another 12. There was much more booty which could not be counted because the division moved too fast.
Its own casualties during the period were: 48 officers killed and 77 wounded; 108 sergeants and above killed and 317 wounded; 526 other ranks killed and 1252 wounded. While missing included 3 officers, 34 sergeants and above and 229 other ranks
The 7th Panzer Division started Operation Barbarossa with 400 officers and 14,000 men. By January 1942, six months from the start of the offensive, the division had suffered 2,055 killed, 5,737 wounded, with 313 missing and another 1,089 sick with frostbite and louse bound diseases. Total casualties were 9,203.
Ghost Division after France:
From 1941 the Ghost Division 7th Panzer was mainly in action in Russia, being one of the forced that came closest to Moscow. In the end, they surrendered to British troops in Germany.