** World War II -- fight for Tunisia norther bastion

World War II: Fight for Tunisia: German Northern Bastion (March-May 1943)

World War II Tunisia
Figure 1.--Field Marshall Alexander assigned the American II Corps to take Bizerte which required a complicated movement from the south. Notice the Arab boys tagging along with the Americans, even carrying their equioment. The American soldiers who landed in Morocco were green and not battle hardened. The baptism of fire at Kassarine was the begging of a transformation that would prepare the Americans for the fierce battles to come.

The German forces rushed into Tunisia were deployed into northrrn and central Tunisia and made no effort to link up with Rommel's retreating Afrika Korps in Libya. The germans managed to stop the British coastal attack from Algeria (November-Secember 1942). The bothern fiorce was organized as the Fifth Panzer Army, nominally ubn=nder Rommel's command. It was led by Hans-Jürgen von Arnim who had fought in Poland, Framce, and the Soviet Union. Von Arnim did not, however, get along with Rommel. And attacks into the eastern Dorsels led to nothing in part because the two could not cooperate (February 1942). Von Arnim had a poor understanding of the Allied forces arained against him. He perceived that the Kasserine and other attacks into the Eastern Dorsals had significantly weaked the Allies, causing the British to weaken their northern front to back up the Americans in the central front. As a result, hev lauched Operation Unternehmen Ochsenkopf (Operation Ox Head) against the British V Corps in the north (February 26). This woukd prove to be the last significant German offensive in North Africa. They made some progress, but the British position had not been weakened. And the Germnans suffered signficant losses in men and equipment, including most of their Tiger tanks. Rommel was medevaced out of Tunisia and Von Arnim took command of Army Group Africa (March 10). At this point the Allies resumed the offensive. What then transpired is Von Arnim set up a strong norther bastion to defend the ports od Bizerte and Tunis in the hope that Axis reinforcements and supplies could reach him. What was left of the Afrika Korps fter the fight for the Mareth Line raced north to join him so as to not be cut off by the Americam II Corps. Then Field Marshal Alexander oversaw the reduiction of Von Armim's bastion by the American II Corps, and the British 1st (V and IX Corps) and Eighth Armies. This was aided by Allies naval and air forces which comletely shut off Axis supply efforts. After heavy fighting ,the Americans took Bizerte and the British took Tunis (May 7). Hitler's decession to hold Tunisia delayed the Allied victory a few months, but it also meant that he had deployed substantial forces that he could not supply because of overwealming Allied naval and air supperority. This significantly reduced the dwindling German strategic reserve. Thus the final surrender was much more costly than it might have been.


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Created: 7:55 AM 11/21/2019
Last updated: 7:55 AM 11/21/2019