1 April 1943 - Backgrounder: Operation Torch – The Battle of El Guettar …After five months of hard, continuous combat against the renowned Wehrmacht, American GIs are no longer greenhorns- many who walked ashore on the calm beaches of Morocco and Algeria in clean, pressed uniforms. They’ve been bloodied, beaten up, and sent scurrying backward whenever the enemy chose to launch an offensive action. Even under retreat, the GIs are schooled by a wily, cagey, experienced German Army that exacts a steep, bloody price for every step backward he takes- to Tunisia. There- with any luck- a ship will evacuate the Afrika Korps- what’s left of it-to Sicily, before the pincer closes between the Allied forces.
The Axis will need that luck, because the Americans, to the astonishment of their British allies, recover with remarkable agility after the debacle at Kasserine Pass in February, clawing their way back with minimal delay, gobbling up territory, hill after hill, well beyond Kasserine and into Tunisia. The North African campaign has proven the U.S. Army’s remarkable ability to recover and learn quickly from disaster and misfortune- “to adapt and overcome.”
By the spring of 1943, the combined Italian and German forces have entrenched themselves in the foothills of the coastal Atlas mountains, with the failing hope of holding back the Allied juggernaut.
A month into the British-led “Mareth Line” offensive in Southern Tunisia… the U.S. attack plan involved the U.S. 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions, and one "Combat Command" (1/3) of the U.S. 1st Armored Division, collectively known as "Benson Force". This force attacked Hill 369 on the afternoon of 30 March but ran into mines and anti-tank fire, losing five tanks. The tanks were removed, and the 1st and 9th attacked again the next day at 06:00, moving up and taking several hundred prisoners. However, an Italian counterattack drove them back from their newly gained positions, and by 12:45 they were back where they started with the loss of nine tanks and two tank destroyers. A further attempt the next day on 1 April also failed, after barely getting started.
At this point Patton received orders to start the attempt on Hill 772, even though Hill 369 was still under Italian control. The 9th was moved to Hill 772, leaving the 1st on Hill 369. By 3 April, the 1st had finally cleared Hill 369, but the battle on Hill 772 continued. The Italian commander—General Messe then called in support from the German 21st Panzer Division, further slowing progress. The tempo of the operations then slowed, and the lines remained largely static.
Combat Operations To Include:
· Patrolling No Man’s Land to detect enemy dispositions and defensive arrangement
· Laying minefields in front of defensive fields of fire
· Locating OP for artillery spotting
· Locating and destroying enemy mortar emplacement
· Locating and destroying enemy OP and neutralizing minefields
· Blue Force: Any desert BDU pattern, if available, and modern loadout; otherwise any BDU pattern is acceptable
· Red Force: Any desert BDU pattern, if available, and modern loadout; otherwise any BDU pattern is acceptable