Did you know that a British piece of gear became a hit with the Germans?

Rommel wearing British military googles (Photo: Unknown photographer)

If you’re a World War II buff, you probably already knew that German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was often photographed wearing a pair of British military goggles (technically “anti-gas eyeshields”) in North Africa. It is often recounted that he received the goggles as a gift from British Major General Michael Gambier-Parry, whom he captured in Libya in 1941. Rommel invited the captured officer to a dinner with wine and cigars as a gesture of respect and military camaraderie. During the meeting, Gambier-Parry complained that his hat was stolen by a German soldier. Incensed, Rommel took it upon himself to get the hat back. Later, he found Gambier-Parry’s desert goggles in his staff car and asked if he could keep them as a memento, a request Gambier-Parry readily agreed to.

That’s as far as the story goes. What it fails to mention is that Rommel was far from the only German officer to wear such British goggles. There are numerous photos of German soldiers sporting the item, some taken in France even before the North African campaign began. It would seem that this piece of gear, normally looted rather than gifted, became a popular item with German officers.

Rommel with several officers, two of whom are wearing the same type of goggles (one of which is tinted) (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

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