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Tank Warfare: Tunisia 1943


Author Topic: SIDI BOU ZID OOB  (Read 2566 times)

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Online Asid

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« on: May 01, 2017, 06:18:34 PM »

Field Marshall Albert Kesserling was the overall commander of Axis forces in the Mediterranean. General Juergen Von Arnim commanded the Fifth Panzer Army. He placed General Heinz Zeigler, his deputy, in direct command of FRÜHLINGSWIND - the pincer operation at Sidi bou Zid. Ziegler's force included more than two hundred tanks, halftracks and guns [1].

Pic.1 - Sidi Bou Zid Map [2]

DJ.KSAIRA on the south and DJ.LESSOUDA on the north are the key terrain features in the defense (US Army) of FAID. These two features must be strongly held, with mobile reserve in the vicinity of SIDI BOU ZID which can rapidly launch a counter attack. Plans for all possible uses of this reserve should be prepared ahead of time. A battalion of infantry should be employed for the defense of DJ.KSAIRA and the bulk of battalion of infantry together with a battery of artillery and company of tanks for the defense of DJ.LESSOUDA. Remainder of artillery is at present satisfactorily located. It should, however, furnish ith own local protection, and be prepared to shift rapidly [3].

General Fredendall (US Army) fully expected the enemy to continue their offensive through Faid Pass. On 10 February he approved highly detailed orders assigning Ward’s 1st Armored Division to the defense of the Sidi Bou Zid area [4]. The orders required Ward to defend two hill masses west of Faid Pass, Djebel Ksaira and Djebel Lessouda, maintaining a mobile reserve at Sidi Bou Zid. To the soldiers on the ground, the weakness of this plan was obvious. The positions on the Djebels were too distant to be mutually supporting, and were likely to be quickly surrounded if the enemy attacked. Not only were the Americans outnumbered and outgunned by the enemy, they were ordered to hold indefensible positions and await the attack they all knew was imminent [4].
Concealment and cover was limited in the battle area. With the exception of the wadis, the terrain was flat providing good long range acquisition. Fast moving vehicles raised dust which gave away positions and added to recognition problems. Trees could be found in irrigated groves in and around the town of Sidi bou Zid. Due to a lack of cover and concealment the American forces suffered casualties from frequent German air attacks [1].

Sand became a natural obstacle to the German forces as they attempted to push through the Maizila Pass. When forced to deploy from the roads, sand slowed their movement [1].

The two avenues of approach available to the Germans were along roads leading through the Faid Pass and the Maizila Pass. These two avenues were large enough to accommodate attacking forces once they had cleared the passes. Trafficability off the existing roads was not much of a problem, but some delays could be expected when large wadis cut across the route of march. This situation could dramatically change however if significant rainfall occurred. Off road trafficability would then be a nightmare of mud and rain swollen wadies [1].

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Online Asid

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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2017, 06:19:13 PM »
US Army

The 2nd Battalion (168th Infantry Rgt, 34 Infantry Division), less Company E, with two platoons of Company H attached, was placed mt DJ.LESSOUDA, eight miles north of the city of SIDI BOU ZID and by General McQuillin’s orders directly under the command of Lt.Colonel John K.Waters, 1st Armored Division. Company E, with two platoons of Company H, were placed with Armored Artillery as local protection [5].

Pic.2 - US Army, north group

He further directed that the 3rd Battalion (168th Infantry Rgt, 34 Infantry Division) would garrison DJ.KSAIRA and would be under the direct orders of General McQuillin; that Colonel Drake would command the Service Company and HQ Company; that the 17th Field Artillery would be attached to his Artillery and be would issue orders to it. Orders were also issued that the ground must be defended to the last man [5].

Pic.3 - US Army, reserve and south group

Combat Command Headquarters was in SIDI BOU ZID, while the 168th Infantry CP was a mile and half farther east in a small olive grove. The 3rd Battalion of the 168th Infantry and the 17th Field Artillery were at DJ.KSAIRA, about for and one-half miles farther east. The remainder of the artillery of the armored command was out on the plains between the 168th Infantry CP and DJ.KSAIRA. One company of tanks under Lt. Colonel Hightower was in SIDI BOU ZID with the armored CP [6].

Pic.4 - OOB of US Forces in the area [1]

Pic.5 - OOB of Command Combat A [1]

Pic.6 - 155 mm M1918 Howitzer from Field Artillery Regiment (17 FA)

Pic.7 - M3 APC from Armored Infantry Regiment (6 AIR)

Pic.8 - M2 Artillery Transporter

Pic.9 - 37 mm M3 AT Gun from Infantry Regiment (168 IR)

Pic.10 - M3A1 “Stuart” Light Tank from Armored Regiment (A/1/1 AR)

Pic.11 - 75 mm T30 HMC

Pic.12 - 105 mm T19 HMC from Armored Field Artillery Battalion (91 AFA)

Pic.13 - 75 mm M3 GMC from Tank Destroyer Battalion (701 TD)

Pic.14 - 37 mm T28E1 CGMC from Coastal Artillery Battalion (443 CA)

Pic.15 - 37 mm M6 GMC from Tank Destroyer Battalion (A/701 TD)

Pic.16 - M4A1 “Sherman” Medium Tank from Armored Regiment (3/1 AR)

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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2017, 06:30:32 PM »

The 10th Panzer Division was a proud and veteran formation. It had long years of experience in France and Russia before arriving in Africa. The 10th's mission was to attack Sidi bou Zid through Faid Pass. For this battle, the division would consist of four maneuver battalions [1].

Pic.17 - OOB of 10 Pz [1]

The 21st Panzer Division had been the first German division in Africa and had perhaps more desert experience than any other unit on either side. The 21st Panzer Division, had a mission to attack through Maizila Pass, about 15 miles to the south of Faid Pass, and attack Sidi bou Zid from the rear. For this battle, the division consisted of seven maneuver battalions [1].

Pic.18 - OOB of 21 Pz [1]

Pic.19 - Pz IV ausf. F/2 Medium Tank

Pic.20 - Pz IV ausf. F Medium Tank

Pic.21 - Pz III (Bef) Command Tank

Pic.22 - Pz III ausf. J (lg) Medium Tank

Pic.23 - Pz III ausf. J (kz) Medium Tank

Pic.24 - Pz VI ausf. H Heavy Tank

Pic.25 - Pz III ausf. N (early) Medium Tank

Pic.26 - Pz II ausf. F Light Tank

Pic.27 - PzB-41 Heavy AT Rifle

Pic.28 - Pak-36(r) Medium AT Gun

Pic.29 - Sdkfz 251 ausf. C Armored Personnel Carrier

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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2017, 06:31:11 PM »

1.   CSI BATTLE BOOK: THE BATTLE OF SIDI BOU ZID. Combat Studies Institute, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, AD-A151-626.

2.   George F. Howe. United States Army in World War II. Mediterranean Theater of Operations. Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative In the West. Office of the Chief of Military History Department of the Army, Washington D.C., 1957.

3.   HEADQUARTERS II CORPS APO#302, 11 February 1943. To: Commanding General, 1st Armored Division.


5.   L.R FREDENDALL Major General, U.S.A., Commanding, 11 February 1943.

6.   Factual Account of Operations 168th Infantry, 34th Division, from 24 December 1942 to 17 February 1943. Colonel Thomas D. Drake, War Department General Staff, Washington, D.C., 1945.

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Sidi Bouzid Map

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