Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel was the son of a local schoolmaster on November 15, 1891, in the Würtemburg town of Heidenheim near Ulm. He was one of five children.
Rommel's father (Who died in 1912) chose his son to have a military career. So it was that when he was 19 he joined the 124th Infantry Regiment at Weingarten, and in March, 1911 was posted to the War Academy in Danzig. While at the War Academy, he would meet his future wife, Lucie Mollin.
In March 1914 he was attached to the Field Artillery Regiment in Ulm, but on July 31st he was recalled to the 124th, and went off to war the following day. His record in France during World War I was exemplary, and his eagerness to use surprise and bold moves to overcome the enemy would groom him for ever greater achievements. Wounded several times, he was soon promoted to 1st Lieutenant and eventually found himself posted to Austria for intensive training in mountain warfare, and then off to the Rumanian front. During this period he had slipped off to Danzig in November 1916 where he married Lucie. Shortly after, Rommel found himself probing the Italian and Rumanian positions and leading skillful attacks through the enemy lines. His reputation was known throughout the division and his men looked up to him even though he was still a 25 year old who looked even younger because of his stature. For his achievements at Monte Matajur he was awarded the Pour le Mérite which caused much jelaousy among the high ranks of aristocracy in the military. Rommel himself said that they were there was absolutely no feeling of comradeship after winning the medal.
In December 1928 Lucie gave birth to their only child, Manfred. By this time the young captain had caught the attention of his battalion commander, who promptly had him posted as a junior instructor at the Dresden School of Infantry. He was finally promoted to Major in April 1932, and in October of 1933 became a battalion commander with 17th Infantry Regiment at Goslar in the Harz Mountains district.
Shortly after his promotion to battalion commander, Adolf Hitler rose to power. Rommel caught Hitler's attention and until the beginning of World War II, he was promoted to Major General. After the invasion of Poland, he was assigned, unwillingly, to do deskwork and shortly after requested command of a panzer unit. In February 1940 his request was granted and Rommel assumed command of 7th Panzer Division. When the Western offensive opened on May 10th, the 7th Panzer crossed the frontier into Belgium at first light. By June 11th, captured St. Valéry where more than 13,000 POWs including more than a dozen generals were caught. After a short rest the 7th raced to Cherbourg capturing an additional 3000 POWs.
Following the capture and surrender of France, Rommel was sent of to North Africa which is explained quite well above.
Irving, John. On the Trail of the Fox