Generalfeldmarschall Gerd Von Rundstedt
after the war had ended, certain prisoners were allowed to be escorted out of
the camp to work in the surrounding areas. Rundstedt was allowed the privilege
of being escorted to Bridgend. The shopping crowds in Nolton street and Caroline
Street took no notice of the ageing man but would most certainly have done had
he not been dressed in civilian clothes.
Some people remembered, though, how in certain shops he would jostle his way
to the front of the queue and demand preferential treatment which left many
Von Rundstedt was allowed to go to church in Bridgend. The guards used
to escort him to Nolton Church and on certain occasions he went to Merthyr Mawr
Von Rundstedt appreciated the fellowship that he received at St Mary's Nolton
for, on his departure back to Germany he sent the following note:
To Enlarge Pictures:
Modern Day Pictures Of Nolton Church (St Mary's)
Front Of Church
Rear/Side Profile Of Church
Mrs Lees !
I thank you sincerely
for your kindness to send
me the delicious food-
parcel ! I hope that I
can send the 2 tinned
cans to my grand-chil
dren in Germany. The
eggs I have very en-
Yours very sincerely
- Field Marshal
February 2005, I corresponded with one of the grand-children mentioned
in the above letter. Paul von Rundstedt told me: I believe that the
tins contained fruits and some drinking chocolate. They did not go far
seeing as there were 5 grand children, but we were very grateful, "However,
the selfish swine kept the eggs for himself!".
- 12 January 1948:
Son Hans Gerd (previously a POW at Island Farm) died of throat cancer in Hannover.
May 1948: Transferred to No. 231 Prisoner of War Hospital at Redgrave Hall.
July 1948: Departed the United Kingdom aboard an aircraft
bound for Germany. After a brief stay in Nürnberg, von Rundstedt was transferred
to No. 6 PW Hospital at Munsterlager.
August 1948: The British Government formally declared its intent to try
Generalfeldmarschall Walther von Brauchitsch, Generalfeldmarschall von Rundstedt,
Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Lewenski genannt von Manstein and Generaloberst
Adolf Strauß as war criminals. Effective that date, all four generals were
discharged from the Wehrmacht and no longer considered prisoners of war.
September 1948: The four generals were transferred to No. 94 British Military
Hospital at Hamburg-Barmbeck.
January 1949: The British Government formally charged von Rundstedt with
20 counts of war crimes including involvement
in the Commando Order, the Commissar Order, ill-treatment and killing of
Russian civilians, partisans and prisoners of war and captured French resistance
members, and the ill-treatment, killing and deportation of Polish, Dutch,
Belgian and French civilians.
May 1949: The British Government declared von Rundstedt and Strauß medically
unfit to stand trial and ordered their release.
(During the last years of his life, von Rundstedt suffered increasingly
from insomnia, chronic arteriosclerosis, osteo-arthritis and some short
term memory loss. Period photographs from his captivity clearly illustrate
von Rundstedt’s frail physical appearance and his dependence on canes for
mobility due to a painful, arthritic right hip.)
May 1949: Released from captivity
and returned to Germany. He died in Hanover on the 24th February 1953 aged
Regarded by both Eisenhower
and Montgomery as the best of the German commanders, Rundstedt was, in truth,
well past his prime by 1942. Never an original thinker, as he was the first
to admit, he was a pragmatist, possessed of much common sense, and a believer
in decentralised command. His strength lay in his adherence to the Prussian
military code of duty, honour, and loyalty, which also made him incapable of
actively opposing Hitler and his regime.
Cross of the Iron Cross: 30 September 1939, Generaloberst, Commander-in-Chief
of Army Group South.
(No. 519): 1 July 1944, Generalfeldmarschall, Commander-in-Chief West.
(No. 133): 18 February 1945, Generalfeldmarschall, Commander-in-Chief
Crown Order, 4th Class (pre-World War I award)
Royal Hohenzollern House Order, Knight’s Cross with Swords
Iron Cross, 1st Class (1914)
Iron Cross, 2nd Class (1914)
Clasp to the Prussian Iron Cross, 1st Class: 21 September 1939.
Clasp to the Prussian Iron Cross, 2nd Class: 16 September 1939.
Military Merit Order, 4th Class with Crown and Swords
Albert Order, Knight 1st Class with Swords
House Order of Vigilance or the White Falcon, Knight 2nd Class (without
Swords – pre-World War I award)
Ducal House Order, Knight 1st Class (without Swords – pre-World War I
Honor Cross, 3rd Class (without Swords – pre-World War I award)
War Merit Cross
Merit Cross, 4th Class (without Swords – pre-World War I award)
of Honor for Combatants 1914-1918
Officers’ Long Service Cross (Not authorized for wear after the establishment
of the Third Reich-era Armed Forces Long Service Awards on 16 March 1936.)
Forces Long Service Award, 1st Class with Oakleaves (40-year Service Cross)
Forces Long Service Award, 3rd Class (12-year Service Medal)
Kaiser Wilhelm Centenary Medal, 1797-1897
Medal of 1 October 1938
Military Merit Cross, 3rd Class with War Decoration
War Medal (“Iron Crescent”)
Order of Merit, 1st Class: 11 August 1937.
of the Crown of Italy, Grand Cross: 7 June 1938.
Yugoslav Order of Heisen, 2nd Class: 6 July 1938 (This decoration is listed
in The Last Prussian: A Biography of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt,
1875-1953 by Charles Messenger. It remains
uncertain what this order is supposed to be; possibly an error/incorrect
Order of Michael the Brave, 1st Class: 1 September 1942 (Royal Decree
Order of Michael the Brave, 2nd and 3rd Classes: 19 September 1941 (Royal
Decree No. 2628).
in the Wehrmachtbericht [Armed Forces Communiqué]:
6 August 1941; 8 August 1941; 19 September 1941; 11 October 1941; 12 October
1941; 10 September 1943.
In The Last Prussian: A Biography of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt,
1875-1953, author Charles Messenger lists the Prussian Red Eagle Order
4th Class among von Rundstedt’s decorations. However, this decoration does
not appear in the 1 May 1926 or 1 May 1930 editions of the Rangliste des
Deutschen Reichsheeres. Messenger also caveats von Rundstedt’s World
War II (1939-1945) list of decorations with the statement, “And, possibly,
Rumanian, Hungarian, Slovak and Italian decorations.”
ON ANY PICTURE TO ENLARGE
Photos courtesy of Al Holland
- Padeniye Berlina (1-r seria) or The Fall of Berlin, Part One (1949),
Desert Fox (1951), Leo G. Carroll.
Longest Day (1962), Paul Hartmann.
Bridge Too Far (1977), Wolfgang Preiss.
and Remembrance (1988 TV miniseries), Anthony Bate.
Corelli (editor). Hitler’s Generals. Weidenfeld and Nicholson,
United Kingdom, 1989.
Charles. The Last Prussian: A Biography of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt,
1875-1953. Brassey’s, London, United Kingdom, 1991.
Samuel W. Jr. Hitler’s Field Marshals and their Battles.
Scarborough House, Lanham, Maryland, 1994.
Telford. The March of Conquest: The German Victories
in Western Europe, 1940. Simon and Schuster, Inc., New York, New York,
four generals were held for varying amounts of time at Island Farm Special
Camp 11 during their captivity.
 As Walther von Brauchitsch had died on 18
October 1948, Erich von Lewenski
genannt von Manstein proved to be the only one of the four generals previously
indicted that actually went to trial. On 19 December 1949, he was
sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for war crimes (later reduced to 12
years). However, he was released in May 1953.