Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt (1875-1953) was one of the foremost German commanders of the Second World War. After service on both the Western and Eastern Fronts during 1914-1918 he rose steadily through the ranks before retiring in 1938. Recalled to plan the attack on Poland, he played a leading part in this and the invasion of France in 1940. Thereafter he commanded Army Group South in the assault on Russia before being sacked at the end of 1941. Recalled again, he was made Commander-in-Chief West and as such faced the 1944 Allied invasion of France, but was removed that July. He resumed his post in September 1944 and had overall responsibility for the December 1944 Ardennes counter-offensive. Captured by the Americans, he was handed over to the British, who wanted to try him for war crimes. Only his ill health prevented this from coming about.
CHARLES MESSENGER served for twenty years in the Royal Tank Regiment before retiring to become a military historian and defence analyst. He is the author of some forty books, mainly on twentieth century warfare. Some have been published in several languages and have been widely acclaimed. He has also written and helped to direct several TV documentary series and carried out a large number of historical studies for the Ministry of Defence.