Canadian fighter pilot remembered for taking out Nazi commander
As ceremonies across the world honour those who died on D-Day 75 years ago, one of Canada’s most prolific fighter pilots is being remembered for his own acts of courage.
Charley Fox, a flight lieutenant with the Royal Canadian Air Force from Guelph, Ont., flew three patrols on D-Day and was responsible for destroying or damaging at least 153 enemy vehicles during the Second World War.
But Fox is arguably best known for an attack that happened about one month after the invasion on German-occupied France. On July 17, 1944, Fox was in the cockpit of his Spitfire aircraft when a German staff car was spotted on the ground carrying Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
Rommel, who is often referred to as the Desert Fox, was a notorious military theorist and one of Adolf Hitler’s top military commanders.
Upon spotting the car, two Canadian Spitfires from the 412 Squadron pursued the vehicle. With a single shot, Fox hit the car, causing it to crash.
Rommel did not die, but he was seriously wounded. He never returned to active duty.
Fox went on to receive military awards for his bravery and years of service, including the Distinguished Flying Cross honour. He was known for narrow escapes – 14 of his planes were no longer usable after being struck by enemy fire.
After retiring from the military, Fox went on to speak at schools and military events to draw attention to Canada’s wartime contributions. He also founded Torch Bearers, an organization that educates young people about the Canadian military and its history.
Fox died in 2008 in a car crash. He was 88.