The Full Wiki

Battle of Sidi Bou Zid: Wikis

  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Sidi Bou Zid
Part of Tunisia Campaign
Date 14 February 1943–17 February 1943
Location 34°52′N 9°29′E / 34.867°N 9.483°E / 34.867; 9.483Coordinates: 34°52′N 9°29′E / 34.867°N 9.483°E / 34.867; 9.483
Sidi Bou Zid, Tunisia
Result German Victory
Belligerents
United States United States Nazi Germany Germany
Commanders
United States Lloyd Fredendall
United States Orlando Ward
Nazi Germany Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
Nazi Germany Heinz Ziegler
Sketchmap of Tunisia during the 1942 - 1943 campaign

The Battle of Sidi Bou Zid was a World War II battle that took place during the Tunisia Campaign. The battle was fought between forces of Nazi Germany and forces of the United States. The German forces included the 10th Panzer Division and the 21st Panzer Division of the Fifth Panzer Army commanded by Colonel General (Generaloberst) Hans-Jurgen von Arnim. The American forces included the 1st Armored Division of the II Corps commanded by General Lloyd Fredendall. The battle was fought around Sidi Bou Zid in northeast Tunisia near Tunis.

Contents

Background

The battle of Sidi Bou Zid was part of the Tunisia Campaign, a series of battles fought between Axis forces and Allied forces for control of Tunisia. The Axis forces consisted primarily of Nazi German and Fascist Italian units. The Allied forces consisted primarily of American, British, and Free French units.

The Allied effort to capture Tunis in late 1942 following Operation Torch had failed and since the year end a stalemate had settled on the theatre as both sides paused to re-build their strength. Hans-Jürgen von Arnim commanded the Axis forces defending Tunisia. By this time, his command was strengthened to become the Fifth Panzer Army (5.Panzer-Armee). Von Arnim chose to maintain the initiative gained when the Allies had been driven back the previous year by making spoiling attacks to keep his intentions hidden.

In January 1943, the German-Italian Panzer Army (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee) under command of Erwin Rommel (also known as Desert Fox) had retreated to the Mareth Line, originally a French line of defensive fortifications near the coastal town of Medenine in southern Tunisia[1]. They thus linked up with von Arnim. At this point Rommel's army was redesignated Italian First Army with General Giovanni Messe in command while Rommel formed a new army group command, Army Group Africa (Heeresgruppe Afrika), responsible for controlling both Messe and von Arnim's armies. In the Sidi Bou Zid area there were elements from both armies, notably 21st Panzer Division transferred from Italian First Army's Afrika Korps and 10th Panzer Division from the Fifth Army.

Most of Tunisia was in German hands but since November 1942, the area surrounding Sidi Bou Zid had been under the control of the Allies.[2] The Allied front around Sidi Bou Zid was held by the inexperienced U.S. II Corps under Lloyd Fredendall and the poorly equipped French XIX Corps under Alphonse Juin. Fredendall neither visited the front nor considered input from commanders farther forward. He was settled in Tebessa 80 miles (130 km) away from the battlefield.[3] In the absence of clear intelligence as to Axis intentions, he had dispersed his forces to cover all eventualities. However, this left his units generally isolated and unable to support each other if threatened with a concentrated attack. At Sidi Bou Zid he had bypassed his divisional commanders and ordered the defensive dispositions himself, without having seen the terrain in person. U.S. infantry were scattered between two distant hills (Djebel Lessouda and Djebel Ksiara) where mutual support was very difficult.[3]

Rommel was very conscious of the threat posed by these forces if they were to make an eastward thrust towards the coast some 60 miles (97 km) to the east and isolate the two Axis armies and cut Italian First Army's line of supply from Tunis.

On 30 January von Arnim had sent 21st Panzer to attack the Faid Pass, held by French XIX Corps. Called to assist, Fredendall had reacted slowly and von Arnim's troops had overcome fierce French resistance and achieved their objectives while inflicting heavy casualties.

Battle

Tunisia30Janto10Apr1943.jpg

At 04:00 on 14 February four battle groups totalling 140 German tanks drawn from 10th and 21st Panzer Divisions and under the leadership of Lieutenant General Heinz Ziegler[4], the deputy to Arnim, advanced through Faïd and Maizila passes, sites that General Dwight D. Eisenhower had inspected three hours earlier, to attack Sidi Bou Zid, the U.S. communications and supply centre for the Eastern Dorsale of the Atlas Mountains.[5]

The attack started with tanks belonging to the 10th Panzer Division under the cover of a sandstorm advancing in two battle groups (the Reimann and Gerhardt groups) from Faïd to the west.[6] The 1st Armored Division troops tried to delay the German advance by firing a 105 mm. M101 howitzer semi-fixed installed in an M4 Sherman tank. This tactical move was in vain because they were shelled by German 88mm guns.[3][7] By 10 a.m. they had circled Djebel Lessouda (defended by Lessouda Force, an armoured battalion group[6]) and joined up north of Sidi Bou Zid.[8]

Meanwhile the two battle groups of the 21st Panzer Division (Schütte and Stenckhoff groups) had secured the Maizila Pass to the south and the Schütte group headed north to engage part of the 168th RCT on Djebel Ksaira while Stenckhoff headed northwest to Bir el Hafey in order to swing round and make the approach to Sidi Bou Zid from the west during the afternoon.[8] Under heavy shelling from the Schütte group, Colonel Thomas Drake leading 1,900 men of his 3rd Battalion 168th RCT requested permission to retreat. This request was denied by Fredendall who ordered them to hold their positions and wait for reinforcements until the help arrived. This never happened.[3] By 5 p.m. Stenckhoff and 10th Panzer had made contact and the tanks and artillery of CCA had been driven nearly 15 miles (24 km) west to Djebel Hamra with the loss of 44 tanks and many guns. The infantry were left marooned on the high ground at Djebel Lessouda, Djebel Ksaira and Djebel Garet Hadid.[8]

During the night General Ward moved up Combat Command C to Djebel Hamra to counter attack Sidi Bou Zid on 15 February. However, the attack was over flat exposed country and was bombed and strafed early in the movement and then found itself in a pincer from the two German armoured Divisions employing more than 80 Panzer IV, Panzer III and Tiger I tanks.[9] They were forced to retreat, losing 46 medium tanks, 130 vehicles and 9 self-propelled guns, narrowly regaining the position at Djebel Hamra.[10] By the evening von Arnim had ordered three of the battle groups to head towards Sbeitla. They were engaged by the battered CCA and CCC who were forced back. On 16 February, helped by intensive air support, they drove back the fresh Combat Command B and entered Sbeitla.

Aftermath

The Germans handled the battle with ease and caused heavy U.S. losses before the U.S. withdrew on 17 February. The poor performance of the Allies during the actions of late January and the first half of February as well as at the subsequent Battle of the Kasserine Pass led the Axis commanders to conclude, notwithstanding that American units were generally well equipped, they were facing inferior opposition, both in terms of leadership and tactical skills. This became received wisdom among the Axis forces and resulted in a later underestimation of Allied capabilities as units became battle-hardened and poor commanders were replaced.

Lieutenant Colonel John K. Waters, who was General George S. Patton's son-in-law, and was later was held as POW at the OFLAG XIII-B camp, joined many other U.S. infantry on 19 February to fight the Battle of the Kasserine Pass.[11]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ The Oxford Companion to World War II (Oxford University Press 2001) edited by I.C.B. Dear. ISBN 0-19-860446-7
  2. ^ Linwood W. Billings (1990). "The Tunisian Task Force". Historicaltextarchive.com. http://historicaltextarchive.com/sections.php?op=viewarticle&artid=190. Retrieved 2007-03-28.  
  3. ^ a b c d Brian John Murphy (April 2006). "Facing the Fox". Americainwwii.com. http://www.americainwwii.com/stories/facingthefox.htm. Retrieved 2007-03-28.  
  4. ^ Watson, p.75
  5. ^ Robert A. Newton. "Battle for Kasserine Pass: 1st Armored Division Were Ambushed by the Afrika Corps at Sidi Bou Zid". Historynet.com. http://www.historynet.com/wars_conflicts/world_war_2/3033536.html. Retrieved 2007-03-28.  
  6. ^ a b Playfair, p. 290.
  7. ^ "Worst Defeat". Time Magazine (1 March 1943). http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,932925,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-28.  
  8. ^ a b c Playfair, p. 291.
  9. ^ Watson, p. 77.
  10. ^ Playfair, p. 292.
  11. ^ A. D. Bedell; A. Arregui; D. J. Boccolucci; M. H. Cassetori; R. V. Chandler (1984). Battle analysis of the battle of Sidi Bou Zid ; 14 February 1943, Tunisia, North Africa : defensive, encircled forces. Fort Leavenworth Kan.: U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute. OCLC 12570970.  

References

External links


Battle of Sidi Bou Zid
Part of Tunisia Campaign
Date 14 February 1943–17 February 1943
Location 34°52′N 9°29′E / 34.867°N 9.483°E / 34.867; 9.483Coordinates: 34°52′N 9°29′E / 34.867°N 9.483°E / 34.867; 9.483
Sidi Bou Zid, Tunisia
Result German Victory
Belligerents
United States Germany
Commanders and leaders
Lloyd Fredendall
Orlando Ward
Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
Heinz Ziegler

[[File:|thumb|310px|Sketchmap of Tunisia during the 1942 - 1943 campaign]]

The Battle of Sidi Bou Zid was a World War II battle that took place during the Tunisia Campaign. The battle was fought between forces of Nazi Germany and forces of the United States. The German forces included the 10th Panzer Division and the 21st Panzer Division of the Fifth Panzer Army commanded by Colonel General (Generaloberst) Hans-Jurgen von Arnim. The American forces included the 1st Armored Division of the II Corps commanded by General Lloyd Fredendall. The battle was fought around Sidi Bou Zid in northeast Tunisia near Tunis.

Contents

Background

The battle of Sidi Bou Zid was part of the Tunisia Campaign, a series of battles fought between Axis forces and Allied forces for control of Tunisia. The Axis forces consisted primarily of German and Italian units. The Allied forces consisted primarily of American, British, and Free French units.

The Allied effort to capture Tunis in late 1942 following Operation Torch had failed and since the year end a stalemate had settled on the theatre as both sides paused to re-build their strength. Hans-Jürgen von Arnim commanded the Axis forces defending Tunisia. By this time, his command was strengthened to become the Fifth Panzer Army (5.Panzer-Armee). Von Arnim chose to maintain the initiative gained when the Allies had been driven back the previous year by making spoiling attacks to keep his intentions hidden.

In January 1943, the German-Italian Panzer Army (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee) under command of Erwin Rommel (also known as Desert Fox) had retreated to the Mareth Line, originally a French line of defensive fortifications near the coastal town of Medenine in southern Tunisia[1]. They thus linked up with von Arnim. At this point Rommel's army was redesignated Italian First Army with General Giovanni Messe in command while Rommel formed a new army group command, Army Group Africa (Heeresgruppe Afrika), responsible for controlling both Messe and von Arnim's armies. In the Sidi Bou Zid area there were elements from both armies, notably 21st Panzer Division transferred from Italian First Army's Afrika Korps and 10th Panzer Division from the Fifth Army.

Most of Tunisia was in German hands but since November 1942, the area surrounding Sidi Bou Zid had been under the control of the Allies.[2] The Allied front around Sidi Bou Zid was held by the inexperienced U.S. II Corps under Lloyd Fredendall and the poorly equipped French XIX Corps under Alphonse Juin. Fredendall neither visited the front nor considered input from commanders farther forward. He was settled in Tebessa 80 miles (130 km) away from the battlefield.[3] In the absence of clear intelligence as to Axis intentions, he had dispersed his forces to cover all eventualities. However, this left his units generally isolated and unable to support each other if threatened with a concentrated attack. At Sidi Bou Zid he had bypassed his divisional commanders and ordered the defensive dispositions himself, without having seen the terrain in person. U.S. infantry were scattered between two distant hills (Djebel Lessouda and Djebel Ksiara) where mutual support was very difficult.[3]

Rommel was very conscious of the threat posed by these forces if they were to make an eastward thrust towards the coast some 60 miles (97 km) to the east and isolate the two Axis armies and cut Italian First Army's line of supply from Tunis.

On 30 January von Arnim had sent 21st Panzer to attack the Faid Pass, held by French XIX Corps. Called to assist, Fredendall had reacted slowly and von Arnim's troops had overcome fierce French resistance and achieved their objectives while inflicting heavy casualties.

Battle

[[File:|thumb|320px|right]] At 04:00 on 14 February four battle groups totalling 140 German tanks drawn from 10th and 21st Panzer Divisions and under the leadership of Lieutenant General Heinz Ziegler[4], the deputy to Arnim, advanced through Faïd and Maizila passes, sites that General Dwight D. Eisenhower had inspected three hours earlier, to attack Sidi Bou Zid, the U.S. communications and supply centre for the Eastern Dorsale of the Atlas Mountains.[5]

The attack started with tanks belonging to the 10th Panzer Division under the cover of a sandstorm advancing in two battle groups (the Reimann and Gerhardt groups) from Faïd to the west.[6] The 1st Armored Division troops tried to delay the German advance by firing a 105 mm. M101 howitzer semi-fixed installed in an M4 Sherman tank. This tactical move was in vain because they were shelled by German 88mm guns.[3][7] By 10 a.m. they had circled Djebel Lessouda (defended by Lessouda Force, an armoured battalion group[6]) and joined up north of Sidi Bou Zid.[8]

Meanwhile the two battle groups of the 21st Panzer Division (Schütte and Stenckhoff groups) had secured the Maizila Pass to the south and the Schütte group headed north to engage part of the 168th RCT on Djebel Ksaira while Stenckhoff headed northwest to Bir el Hafey in order to swing round and make the approach to Sidi Bou Zid from the west during the afternoon.[8] Under heavy shelling from the Schütte group, Colonel Thomas Drake leading 1,900 men of his 3rd Battalion 168th RCT requested permission to retreat. This request was denied by Fredendall who ordered them to hold their positions and wait for reinforcements until the help arrived. This never happened.[3] By 5 p.m. Stenckhoff and 10th Panzer had made contact and the tanks and artillery of CCA had been driven nearly 15 miles (24 km) west to Djebel Hamra with the loss of 44 tanks and many guns. The infantry were left marooned on the high ground at Djebel Lessouda, Djebel Ksaira and Djebel Garet Hadid.[8]

During the night General Ward moved up Combat Command C to Djebel Hamra to counter attack Sidi Bou Zid on 15 February. However, the attack was over flat exposed country and was bombed and strafed early in the movement and then found itself in a pincer from the two German armoured Divisions employing more than 80 Panzer IV, Panzer III and Tiger I tanks.[9] They were forced to retreat, losing 46 medium tanks, 130 vehicles and 9 self-propelled guns, narrowly regaining the position at Djebel Hamra.[10] By the evening von Arnim had ordered three of the battle groups to head towards Sbeitla. They were engaged by the battered CCA and CCC who were forced back. On 16 February, helped by intensive air support, they drove back the fresh Combat Command B and entered Sbeitla.

Aftermath

The Germans handled the battle with ease and caused heavy U.S. losses before the U.S. withdrew on 17 February. The poor performance of the Allies during the actions of late January and the first half of February as well as at the subsequent Battle of the Kasserine Pass led the Axis commanders to conclude, notwithstanding that American units were generally well equipped, they were facing inferior opposition, both in terms of leadership and tactical skills. This became received wisdom among the Axis forces and resulted in a later underestimation of Allied capabilities as units became battle-hardened and poor commanders were replaced.

Lieutenant Colonel John K. Waters, who was General George S. Patton's son-in-law, and was later held as a POW at the OFLAG XIII-B camp, joined many other U.S. infantry on 19 February to fight the Battle of the Kasserine Pass.[11]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ The Oxford Companion to World War II (Oxford University Press 2001) edited by I.C.B. Dear. ISBN 0-19-860446-7
  2. ^ Linwood W. Billings (1990). "The Tunisian Task Force". Historicaltextarchive.com. http://historicaltextarchive.com/sections.php?op=viewarticle&artid=190. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  3. ^ a b c d Brian John Murphy (April 2006). "Facing the Fox". Americainwwii.com. Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20070205180150/http://www.americainwwii.com/stories/facingthefox.htm. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  4. ^ Watson, p.75
  5. ^ Robert A. Newton. "Battle for Kasserine Pass: 1st Armored Division Were Ambushed by the Afrika Corps at Sidi Bou Zid". Historynet.com. http://www.historynet.com/wars_conflicts/world_war_2/3033536.html. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  6. ^ a b Playfair, p. 290.
  7. ^ "Worst Defeat". Time Magazine (1 March 1943). 1 March 1943. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,932925,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  8. ^ a b c Playfair, p. 291.
  9. ^ Watson, p. 77.
  10. ^ Playfair, p. 292.
  11. ^ A. D. Bedell; A. Arregui; D. J. Boccolucci; M. H. Cassetori; R. V. Chandler (1984). Battle analysis of the battle of Sidi Bou Zid ; 14 February 1943, Tunisia, North Africa : defensive, encircled forces. Fort Leavenworth Kan.: U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute. OCLC 12570970. 

References

External links








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message