the fascinating story of a young Newfoundlander’s journey to hunt the infamous
General Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox,” at his headquarters in the Libyan
Desert in North Africa. Included are excerpts from numerous letters to his
parents back home, which give great insight into his life as a soldier and
prisoner of war.
Joseph Francis Kearney of St.
John’s was eighteen when he enlisted in the First Royal Artillery Contingent
during World War II and deployed to England. After the arrival of two other
contingents, they became the 57th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment, Royal
Artillery. Kearney then applied and was accepted into the elite 11th (Scottish)
Commando, the brainchild of Sir Winston Churchill. The Scottish Commando merged
into “C” Battalion Layforce under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Robert
From 1941 to 1945,
Joseph Kearney was in and out of prisoner of war camps in North Africa, Italy,
and Austria. After repeated attempts to escape, he finally succeeded. His fortunes
improved when he intercepted American troops chasing the retreating German
He returned home to a
hero’s welcome in Newfoundland.