World War Two: North Africa (5-19); New Situation: Axis Reaction

Revision of Axis Plans: In January the Axis powers like the Allies were obliged to revise their operational objectives in Northwest Africa. Earlier Axis decisions, it will be remembered, were to maintain two armies there by reinforcing Rommel’s command while establishing in Tunisia the Fifth Panzer Army of four or more divisions. General von Arnim assumed command of this army on 9 December with the prospect of an aggressive campaign before him. Rommel was authorized to retire from Marsa el Brega to Buerat el Hsun if necessary to avoid being cut off, but he was expected to bold at Buerat el Hsun indefinitely while his losses were made good and his army was restored as an instrument of offensive power. To the commanders in the field it soon became evident that such plans could not be carried out without reinforcements, a radical improvement in transportation, and the provision of more equipment and supplies.

General von Arnim within a week of assuming command of the Fifth Panzer Army, reported to Commander-in-Chief, South. that the current rate of supply was far below African requirements. He estimated the volume at 12,000 tons per month for his army and an equal amount for Rommel’s. Since only half his army was then in Tunisia, shipping to transport the remainder must also be found. The opportunity to complete the building up of the Fifth Panzer Army and reach the 24,OOO-ton-per-month level of resupply for the two armies was expected to last only six to eight weeks longer, this being the period during which prevailing rains would prevent the Allies from renewing their attack. Yet at the existing rate, the concentration of Axis forces scheduled to come under his command would take several months.

Rommel at the same time was facing a critical shortage of supply and therefore, on 17 December, the very day on which he had got his army into position at Buerat el Hsun, urgently renewed his recommendation of 30 November that he be authorized to pull back into Tunisia, only to have his proposal again rejected.

When Hitler, to establish the foundations of further operations, called a conference with Italian representatives at his Rastenburg headquarters on 18-22 December, he was presented by Kesselring’s headquarters with a survey of Allied capabilities and a plan for providing the North African bridgehead with supplies and equipment. Hitler then reaffirmed his position that North Africa must be held in order to check the increasing power of the Allies, and concluded also that it was an Italian theater which would remain under Italian command.

He would send reinforcements into Tunisia, including some of his best troops, bringing the German strength there up to 130,000-140,000 men, and take measures that would insure air superiority over the line of communications from Italy. He painted an optimistic picture. But it was one which recognized the critical nature of the logistical contest.

Before the end of the year, a second factor which Hitler was bound to recognize forced adjustments in the Axis program for Northwest Africa. The battle for Stalingrad began absorbing the reserves at the disposal of OKW, taking away to an operation of the highest priority the German divisions with which Hitler might have redeemed his earlier promises to Mussolini. The only opportunity to gain the preponderance of force necessary for aggressive action in Tunisia seemed likely to take place during the few weeks intervening between the arrival of Rommel’s army and that of the pursuing British Eighth Army. Mussolini therefore issued a directive, which Marshal Bastico delivered to Rommel on 31 December at Misurata, authorizing his conditional withdrawal into Tunisia. The German-Italian Panzer Army was to move to the Mareth Position south of Gabes in several stages and at a rate which would consume at least two months. This much time would be needed to develop the Mareth Position. It was stipulated that Rommel must have the approval of Marshal Bastico for the timing of each step in the withdrawal. This restraint was a precaution against the loss of Italian foot soldiers to motorized enveloping attacks. When Rommel protested that the duration and staging of his withdrawal would have to take account of Allied maneuver, Comando Supremo, with Hitler’s concurrence, gave him freedom of action for six weeks, the length of time regarded as necessary for him to reach a position just east of Tripoli.

On 2 January, Rommel began sending back part of his non-motorized force from Buerat el Hsun. By mid-January the rest of Rommel’s forces, less the 21st Panzer Division, had been forced back to the Tarhuna-Homs position. The rate of retirement which was to have kept Tripoli in Axis possession until the middle of February was suddenly accelerated by a British maneuver which Rommel accepted as a genuine threat of envelopment at Tarhuna Homs. On the night of 19-20 January, he ordered movement to start still farther west; this step began the last stage of retreat to the next defensible position, that in southern Tunisia! Rommel sent his rear area commander to Sfax on 19 January to open a headquarters from which to regulate traffic southward through Gabcs to the retreating army. The stage was therefore set in Tunisia for the union of the Axis forces. Since early January Comando Supremo had feared an Allied offensive from the Tebessa-Gafsa area intended to prevent the junction of the two Axis armies. Retaining all of the present bridgehead and keeping open the connection to Rommel’s army was naturally the first preoccupation of the Axis.

OKW therefore concurred in Comando Supremo’s proposal to seize Gafsa to counter the Allied threat. To carry out this plan the depleted 21st Panzer Division was ordered to the Sfax area to be re-equipped and used to make the attack on Gafsa. Kesselring, more than ever anxious about the adequacy of the forces in his African theater, pointed out that the shifting of units from one of the armies to the other could not be regarded as reinforcement and requested two motorized divisions in addition to the units that had been promised him. Though he carried his views up to Hitler himself on 12 January, he could get nothing more than permission to send the Hermann Gӧring Division into Tunisia immediately.

While the seizure of Gafsa was being planned, the possibility of more far-reaching operations was kept in view. Preparations to wrest control of the Tebessa area from the Allied force by an attack through Gafsa and Sbeltla were ordered, and the possibility of driving all the way to Bone and Constantine was contemplated. It was recognized that such ambitious operations would require at least three mobile divisions, one of which would have to come from Rommel’s army, and that they would be possible only when the Fifth Panzer and German-Italian Panzer Armies had been combined and only as long as the improved Mareth Position could be counted on to protect the southern flank. The immediate decision, made in early February, was to break up the Allied concentrations at Sidi bou Zid and Gafsa.

The Axis Logistical Problem

The enemy’s capacity for offensive operations remained conditioned by the ability of the Axis to improve the logistical support of the forces defending the Tunisian bridgehead. The arrival of Rommel’s German-Italian Panzer Army in southern Tunisia on the turn of January-February did nothing to reduce the problems facing the Axis command. On 12 January Kesselring discussed the supply situation with Hitler and his staff. The combined armies in Tunisia, it was now estimated, would need 60,000 tons of supply a month. The Commander-in-Chief, South, optimistically assured Hitler that with additional shipping, which was becoming available from ports in Southern France, these increased demands could be met. Kesselring had misgivings as to surface protection for the convoys but felt that the ports of Bizerte and Tunis could handle the flow. Although abandonment of the line to Tripoli permitted a concentration of effort and a considerable reduction of mileage over the highways, to meet the new schedules the sea and air transportation systems would have to be revolutionized.

The flow of men and materiel from Europe to Tunisia ran through Italy and Sicily overseas to the ports and airfields at Bizerte and Tunis. Railroad and highway connections with these terminals permitted speedy distribution to depots at various points along the coastal plain. The shallow ports of Sousse and Sf ax were used by smaller cargo craft, but most traffic to Tunisia passed through Bizerte and Tunis. The channels into the harbors of Tunis, Bizerte, and Sfax were partially blocked by wrecks. Power cranes at the piers of Bizerte, and to a lesser degree at Tunis were damaged by Allied bombers and had to be replaced by cranes shipped from Toulon, Marseille, and after the first shipment was sunk on the way, from Germany. Meanwhile unloading was slow and cumbersome.

The transport vessels were not fitted out with heavy-lift equipment, and were forced to use their own cargo gear and improvise as best they could. The labor in the ports was not wholly reliable. Arabs fled rather than risk being caught in air raids. For the same reason few of the Tunisian Italians promised to Nehring for stevedore service ever appeared. German labor troops and Hamburg stevedores were finally imported. The turn-around rate for ships in Tunisian ports, unloading at piers from one side only, was approximately one day per 1,500 metric tons, which meant that the larger vessels remained long enough to experience one or more raids.

Transport to Tunisia by air had begun on 9 November 1942 and continued until 11 May 1943. At the peak of the operation, the daily flight consisted of an average of 200 Junkers-52 aircraft, which carried 1.8 metric tons of useful load, and 15 of the gigantic six-motored Messerschmidt 323 planes, which carried 10 tons of useful load. Since part of the Junkers-52 elements made two trips a day from Sicily to Tunisia, the average total each day in this maximum period reached 585 metric tons. The volume dropped rapidly in April, as a consequence of successful Allied countermeasures, sinking to a daily average of less than 190 tons.

These totals were achieved only by revising the emergency improvisations of November and establishing a routine intended to continue for a prolonged period. In December, Generalleutnant Ulrich Buchholz became the Air Transport Commander in the Mediterranean (LufttransportFührer Mittelmeer-LTFM) and instituted a system whereby planes were concentrated at relatively few airdromes, with dispersion to numerous airfields occurring only in temporary emergencies.

For the long pull in the Tunisian campaign, the German air transport service was organized under a central headquarters at Rome. Wing staffs were located at Capodichino near Naples and Trapani, Sicily, with control officers at the Tunisian airports of Sidi Ahmed (Bizerte) and El Aouina (Tunis), and at some of the fields in the Sicily-Calabria and Naples areas. One round trip from Naples and two from Sicily were made each day. The first Sicilian flight came in before 0700 and the second, late in the afternoon. Formations of from 80 to 120 planes each (Pulks) skimmed over the water at elevations of about 150 feet as they headed for Tunisia. Detection by radar or other means of observation was thus minimized, while attacks from below, against which the transports were defenseless, were avoided. The formations from Naples were escorted by fighters from Trapani during the crossing of the Sicilian narrows and by others based in Africa during the period of landing, unloading, reloading, and return. When these flights arrived off the Golfe de Tunis, they separated into sections for Bizerte or Tunis-sections scheduled to arrive during the normal noon lunch period for the Allied air forces-a time when hostile interference was found to be relatively unlikely.

[The principal airfields were, in the Naples area, Pomigliano, and Capua, and in the Sicily-Calabria region, Trapani, Palermo, Reggio di Calabria, and Vibo Valentia.]

The Northwest African Air Force eventually perfected the means of detecting and surprising Pulks approaching the African coast. German fighter escort was small and the speed was controlled by the slower planes, sometimes at a rate which rendered the heavy Messerschmidt 323’s so unstable that the formations had to string out. But not until April did Allied depredations pass the point of bearable loss. Meanwhile, suspension of the railroad ferry service across the Strait of Messina, or breakdown in the movement of trains on the Italian peninsula, required temporary modifications.

For supply by sea, Axis forces in North Africa could initially draw on a shipping pool of Italian and German merchant vessels with a combined tonnage of approximately 150,000 tons. The fleet consisted mostly of small merchantmen which had been used on short passages in the Mediterranean.

In November when conditions were still favorable, the Axis command was able to use 37 merchant ships. This tonnage was supplemented by employing 20 ferries (Naval ferries with 80 tons capacity and Siebel ferries with 40 tons capacity) and 14 submarines. By an agreement with Vichy France the Germans were able to utilize about 100,000 tons of French merchant shipping found suitable for providing transportation to North Africa. As a result of Allied bombings the capacity of Italian shipyards was so reduced that only a fifth of the tonnage theoretically available was actually operational at anyone time. To an even larger extent Allied sinking’s curtailed Axis tonnage. Out of 95 ships of all categories which made the passage to Africa in November, thirteen were sunk. In December, 26 ships were sunk and 9 damaged out of a total of 127.

The Italian Navy was unable to protect the lines of supply. The Luftwaffe’s effort to provide air cover proved equally inadequate. When, late in December, thirteen destroyers were diverted from escort duty to transporting- 300 to 350 troops at a time in swift passages at intervals of about three days, the practice exposed the freighters to an accelerated rate of depletion. As losses at sea and in port continued to mount, the Axis stock of cargo vessels, oil tankers, and troop transports fell so low that frantic efforts were undertaken to ship everything on small ferries.

In January the number of such craft rose to ninety, but it was estimated that to be sufficient the fleet of ferries would have to be more than quadrupled. An increasing number of small coastal vessels and barges, some culled from France’s interior waterways, were requisitioned but their total capacity was insignificant. Even before the period when almost half of all shipments to Tunisia by sea were lost en route (during the month of April) it became gradually and painfully clear to the Axis Command that adequate sea transport was an unattainable goal. Resourceful ingenuity could not outstrip Allied power.

Despite staggering losses the Axis managed to ship to Northwest Africa a surprising amount of troops and supplies. During the period from November 1942 through January 1943,81,222 Germans and 30,735 Italians, a total of 111,957 troops, arrived there. Supplies brought in by air and sea during the same period amounted to 100,594 tons.

Axis Reorganization in January

The presence in Tunisia of both Axis armies required a major alteration of the Axis command structure. Hitler, when warned in early December that the Italians would probably seek to command the Axis forces in Tunisia, declared his determination to retain effective control in German hands. He believed that the Italians would acquiesce, in view of the preponderance of German forces on which offensive action would depend, and because the Germans would be supplying most of the materiel and the supplementary (French) vessels to transport it to Africa. His expectation was not fulfilled. As a result of the conference at Rastenburg the Germans had to concede that the conduct of operations in Tunisia as in Libya would be the responsibility of Comando Supremo. OB SOUTH would become commander of all German forces in the central Mediterranean and, although relieved of responsibility for ground operations in the Balkans, would control German air forces in the entire Mediterranean. Close eo-operation in Tunisia between the Axis partners, it was agreed, would be sought by attaching a German operations staff to Comando Supremo for the purpose. Hitler accepted this arrangement. He also agreed to meet Cavallero’s proposal that when Rommel’s army had retired to Tunisia, it would be re-designated the First Italian Army, and Rommel would be replaced by an Italian commander.

The Italians and Germans agreed that the retreat of Panzer Army Africa into Tunisia would make necessary a superior authority in the field to co-ordinate the two armies. The German military authorities wanted this to be an army group (Army Group Africa) with a German commander, reporting to a German armed forces headquarters, commanded by Kesselring. Hitler rejected this plan as politically inopportune and decided that Comando Supremo should exercise direct command of both armies.

The reorganization of command could not be fully carried out until Rommel had withdrawn into Tunisia. In the meantime, the first concrete result of the discussions and maneuvers for position that went on throughout December and January was Kesselring’s reorganization of his headquarters at Frascati to carry out his new duties. During January, Kesselring reorganized his headquarters from an Air Force into an armed forces staff with operations, quartermaster, and transport sections. The first two had Army, Navy, and Air Force groups, and the last included sea, air, and administrative groups, with a general officer on special assignment as deputy transport officer. A separate staff was formed to control the Second Air Force.

As for the Tunisian theater, Kesselring, in addition to being Commander-in-Chief of the German forces, was to convey to the supreme Italian command the views of the Führer and of OKW on the conduct of operations in that theater. To implement this relationship Kesselring in late January, as previously agreed, installed the whole of his operations staff except one officer in Comando Supremo. This move further strained the relationship between the Germans and Italians and endangered Hitler’s policy of mollifying the susceptibilities of his anxious Italian partners. Marshal Ambrosio, who replaced Cavallero as Chief of Comando Supremo on 2 February, protested to Kesselring against the size of this contingent which outnumbered the whole operations staff of Comando Supremo, but he had to be content with the assurance that German influence on operations in Tunisia would be confined to recommendations and requests.

To summarize Kesselring’s position, he now had under his command:

1. The Second Air Force.

  1. The German Air Force General at Headquarters of the Italian Armed Forces.
  2. The Commander of the German Naval Forces, Italy, under the restriction that basic operational directives would be issued by the Navy High Command.
  3. The German General at Headquarters, Italian Armed Forces (Comando Supremo), under the restriction that, in his capacity as liaison officer between OKW and Comando Supremo and in his missions outside of the Central Mediterranean, he was subject to direct control of OKW. The directives issued by Hitler on 28 January indicates the complexity of on SOUTH’s responsibilities and powers.

Kesselring was to have the following tasks:

  1. Represent the Führer’s concepts of the conduct of operations in the Central Mediterranean in negotiations with the Duce and Comando Supremo.
  2. Assure German influence on the unified command of the panzer armies in North Africa which are placed under Comando Supremo’s control.
  3. Within the range of these powers, be the superior officer of thc German Commander in Chid of the central headquarters for the two armies in Tunisia.
  4. Control German Air Force and Navy operations in the Central Mediterranean, in conformity with directives from the Commanders-in-Chief of those services, as in the past.
  5. Directing the entire system of supply to German troops and the Central Mediterranean through his Chief of Supply and Administration and the Armed Forces Transportation Section under his control. Submit requests and recommendations on matters of organization, including those of Coman do Supremo, to OKW /WFSt or the High Commands of the several services. To carry out the agreements rearranging the system of command in the Tunisian theater, on 23 January Mussolini designated General Giovanni Messe to assume command of the new First Italian Army when its organization had been effected. On 26 January the Fifth Panzer Army was put under direct operational control of Comando Supremo. Until the activation of Headquarters, Army Group Africa, the conduct of operations in Tunisia was, initially, to be co-ordinated by von Arnim.

Axis air strength in Tunsia was consolidated in a single tactical air headquarters, Fliegerkorps Tunis, under Brigadier General Hans Seidemann, with headquarters at La Fauconnerie, northwest of Sfax, and with subordinate headquarters at This and Gabes. Seven principal airdromes from Bizerte to Kairouan, six near Gabes, and others at Mezzouna, Sfax, and La Fauconnerie were to be linked for maximum performance by the 53rd and 77th Fighter Wings. The Luftwaffe had expended 201 aircrews and 340 aircraft out of a total of 877 in stopping the Allied advance toward Tunis but could expect a period of at least temporary preponderance in fighters and fighter-bombers in northern and central Tunisia.”

Rommel’s relief, which he was informed on 26 January would be given him for reasons of health, was postponed for more than a month beyond the time when his army entered Tunisia in early February. This action, according to the Axis plan, was to have been the signal for transfer of command to an Italian. The plan was amended first on 22 January to defer Rommel’s departure until the army was firmly established in the Mareth Position, and’ a second time on 18 February to enable Rommel to command certain offensive operations before retiring. The commander designate of the First Italian Army, General Messe, was meanwhile familiarizing himself with the duties of his new command, and the Italian leaders waited with some impatience for Rommel’s departure.

The Axis Forces-Strength and Disposition

The strength of the Axis forces in Tunisia rose during January until it reached a total of approximately 100,000, of which 74,000 were Germans, and 26,000 Italian troops. During the transition month of January the Fifth Panzer Army was responsible for the defense of the Tunisian front sector from the sea to the thirty-fourth parallel, the February the boundary was shifted northward to run from a point on the coast ten miles northeast of Sfax through Mezzouna and Station de Sened to the Kbir river northwest of Gafsa. Initially Fifth Panzer Army’s headquarters continued operating with minimum staff and without a German corps staff intervening until von Arnim organized the provisional Headquarters, Korpsgruppe Fischer on 4 January. One reason for the activation of this headquarters was the arrival, late in December, of elements of the 334th Infantry Division (Colonel Friedrich Veber) which was inserted between Division von Broich in the north and the JOt h Panzer Division (reinforced by the 5th Parachute Regiment) in the Medjerda Valley and as far south as Pont-du-Fahs.

The Italian 1st (Superga) Division continued operating directly under Fifth Panzer Army in its sector which extended to Djebel Bou Dabouss (816) . Headquarters, Italian XXX Corps, on 12 January, assumed command over the portion of the Fifth Panzer Army front south of the Superga Division, with Group Benigni, the 47th Grenadier Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Buse), and 50th Special Brigade (General Giovanni Imperiali). The 190th Panzer Battalion was held in reserve, to be committed only on von Arnim’s orders.

Rommel’s German units when they arrived in southern Tunisia were down to about half strength. They had approximately one third of their full tank strength (129 tanks, of which less than half were operational), one third of their complement of armored personnel carriers, about one fourth of their antitank guns, and one German forces brought back by Rommel consisted of the German 15th and 21st Panzer, 90th and 164th Light Africa Divisions, supplemented by the 1st Luftwaffe Jaeger Brigade, corps troops and reconnaissance units with a combat effective strength of almost 30,000. The Italian divisions were the 131st (Centauro) Armored, 16th (Pistoia) , 80th (La Spezia) , 101st (Trieste), 13th (Young Fascists) Divisions and the Saharan Group. Italian troops numbered about 48,000.”: Of these units Rommel was about to lose the Centauro Division (temporarily) as it moved to positions guarding the El Guettar defile, and the 21st Panzer Division (on 20 January) when it passed to the direct control of Fifth Panzer Army to be rehabilitated in the area of Sfax and simultaneously serve as army reserve.

[NOTE: Fifth Panzer Army, KTB, Bands 2, 4,12 Jan 43. sixth of their artillery strength. Wheeled transport was down to roughly one third. Only in the truck category was the picture somewhat brighter. Here the Germans had managed to preserve 60 per cent of their allotted total.]

[NOTE: Panzer Army Africa, KTB, Band 2, 20 Jan 43. The main body of the panzer division crossed the Tunisian border on 20 January. The division left its tanks and most of its heavy weapons with Rommel]

None of these divisions was anywhere near full combat strength. Kampfgruppen continued to undertake operations adapted to the requirements of particular missions rather than by divisions or standard subdivisions of larger units. No new divisions could be sent to Tunisia after mid-January. Not even the normal process of replacement by allocating troops from replacement battalions to fill up depleted units could be carried out. Instead, it became a practice to fill out regiments by assigning to them Tunis Field and Africa Replacement Battalions, units numbering about 900 men each, with their full complement of officers and light weapons.

In the seven weeks which followed the suspension of the drive on Tunis, during which the operational objectives of the two coalitions were modified and their forces were reorganized for action in central Tunisia, the new situation in Tunisia had thus developed several significant aspects. The Allies had temporarily lost the advantage of numbers; they retained the advantage of position, although lacking enough forward, all-weather airfields. Neither adversary could be dislodged readily from existing positions, although the French were somewhat vulnerable because of their lack of antitank defenses. The stalemate before Tunis and the conditions of weather and terrain encouraged both sides to extend southward, and each to attempt balancing the other’s build-up along the Eastern Dorsal. Both the British First Army and the Fifth Panzer Army anticipated early reinforcement by second armies from Tripolitania, and each prepared plans and reorganized commands in order to guarantee well co-ordinated operations when the four armies faced each other at various points along the very broad front. Each coalition struggled with logistical problems, recognizing that the degree of success in this effort would control future operations. The Allies in this period confidently adopted a course of action for the next major operation in the Mediterranean, that in Sicily, for which French North Africa was to be a base, and to which the Allied Force engaged in liberating Tunisia would contribute much of the means.

The tactical initiative in Tunisia, which the Axis forces had seized near Tebourba, remained with them throughout these transitional weeks except for minor offensives by elements of British First Army and a limited success by the French.

SOURCE: Northwest Africa: Seizing The Initiative In The West; by George F. Howe (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: North Africa (5-20); Sparring Along the Eastern Dorsal

World War Two: North Africa (5-18); New Situation: Allied Reaction

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World War Two: North Africa (5-18); New Situation: Allied Reaction

The failure of the final phase of Operation TORCH required a major revision of Allied strategy in Africa and considerable modification in the Allied chain of command. The pressure for an early capture of Tunisia was intensified by an Allied decision in January at highest levels to seize Sicily. To meet their timetable, the Allies had to win Tunisia by early spring. Furthermore, they had to prepare for a Sicilian attack at the same time that they built up strength, improved efficiency, and made a final successful drive. A full-scale offensive in northern Tunisia could not be resumed until after the winter rains were over, normally about the end of March.

One of the aims in the original concept of operation in Northwest Africa-trapping Rommel’s rump army in Tripolitania between a British force in Tunisia and the westward-moving Eighth Army-had to be jettisoned. It was now apparent that Rommel would have to be driven back into Tunisia, and that the Eighth Army should itself continue west of Tripoli. The final stage of operations in Tunisia would thus become a struggle between two pairs of armies. Each adversary would be faced with hard problems in co-ordinating tactical operations and in meeting the logistical requirements of these forces. By the middle of January, decisions made at the Casablanca Conference had determined the new strategy in Africa and the changes in Allied command structure. Before those decisions were made, the Allied Force had reviewed and agreed on appropriate tactical readjustments to be executed forthwith in the form of offensive operations in central Tunisia.

Central Tunisia: The Terrain

Although some attention was paid to the terrain of central Tunisia in Chapter XV, it will be helpful at this point to look more closely at some of its features. Central Tunisia lies between latitudes 36° north and 34° 30′ north. Sousse on the coast, about ninety miles south of Tunis, and Kairouan, about thirty-six miles inland from Sousse, are near its northeastern corner. Mahares at the southeast and Gafsa at the southwest are at the border between central and southern Tunisia, closely linked with each. Djebel Zarhouan (1295), at the yoke of the inverted Y from which the Eastern and Western Dorsals flare to the south and southwest, is well within northern Tunisia, as is Le Kef near the Algerian border. The mountain chains, the intermediate plateaus between them, and the lesser hills which divide these plateaus into a series of valleys, were to be the scene of many actions before the major campaigning returned to northern Tunisia in April.

On the coastal plain, Kairouan and Sfax began serving the Axis powers as early as November as bases for defense forces which operated toward the west. Detachments were installed at vantage points in the Eastern Dorsal; beyond them in the interior, mobile patrols and a few outposts ranged the sparsely settled, semiarid region. Kairouan, a holy city and the goal of perennial Moslem pilgrimages, was the hub of many roads and tracks across the coastal plain.

The city was connected with the interior by two main roads, the most northerly of which was a route over the saddle between Djebel HaIfa (572) and Djebel Ousselat (887) to the valley and village of Ousseltia. The other road forked southwest of Kairouan, one branch climbing over Djebel ech Cherichera (462) to Pichon, the other rising more gradually to penetrate the mountain chain through Fondouk el Aouareb gap on the way to Hadjeb el Aioun. Sfax was connected with the interior by a good road through Fald pass, seventy-five miles inland.

The road branched after reaching the interior plain, one fork running northwestward to connect with Sbeltla and the other southwesterly through the village of Sidi Bou Zid and Bir el Hafey to Gafsa. Mahares, on the coast south of Sfax, was connected both by road and railroad with Maknassy and Gafsa. Few of the towns and villages were of any great size, the largest, Sfax, with about 45,000 in 1942, having almost twice the population of Kairouan, and about nine times that of Gafsa, while all the others were smaller.

The plateau immediately west of the Eastern Dorsal is generally lower than the one along the base of the Western Dorsal. It is subdivided, moreover, into four major sections, of which the northernmost is the Ousseltia valley at the apex of the triangular area between the two mountain chains. That valley is separated from the Pichon basin by higher ground which extends westward toward Maktar from Djebel Ousselat.

To the south is the area adjacent to Pichon, drained toward Kairouan by the Marguellil river and its tributaries. This section is rimmed with hills and high ground except at the southeastern corner, where the river flows near the base of the precipitous Djebel Trouzza (997) and out through Fondouk el Aouareb gap. Far more extensive is that portion of the eastern plateau which starts to widen south of Djebel Trozza, and which extends as far south as Djebel Meloussi (622) beyond Sidi Bou Zid. The fourth area of the lower plateau lies between the ridges of which Djebel Meloussi forms a part and the corner at which the Eastern Dorsal swings to the southwest toward Gafsa. Sbei’tla and Bir el Hafey are near the irregular limit between the eastern and western plateau. Sbiba, Kasserine, and Feriana lie at the other edge of the upper level, near the base of the Western Dorsal.

Five main routes through the Western Dorsal connected the interior plateaus with the mountainous area between the Western Dorsal and the Algerian border: (1) into northern Tunisia north of Djebel Bargou ( 1266) to the Rebaa Oulad Yahia valley and thence to Siliana and on to Le Kef; (2) via Maktar, northwest of Pichon, across a high basin ringed by higher hills; (3) through Sbiba and Ksour; (4) by the defile northwest of Kasserine into the Bahiret Foussana valley, and thence through the Monts de Tebessa to Tebessa, or by skirting them at the north, through Thala; and (5) by one of the gaps in Djebel Dernala (1204), northwest of Fcriana, to Tebessa. Tebessa, near the center of a high plain at the eastern edge of Algeria, was linked with Souk Ahras, seventy-five miles north-northwest by road and railroad, which continued to Bone on the coast, sixty-five miles farther.

Central Tunisia’s hills and mountains are in general barer, sharper in contour, and more varied in color than those of northern Tunisia. The plateaus and valleys are much eroded and are covered with bunch grass, with cultivated cactus patches on which the Arabs feed their animals, and with scrub growth along some of the streams. Water draining from the higher slopes across the intermediate plateaus has been impounded and since Roman times drawn to the coastal towns by aqueducts. Farms are fewer in central Tunisia than farther north, for the rainfall through much of the year is as light as, from December to March, it is plentiful.

In the wet season the powdery top soil becomes slushy mud, and the many dry stream beds fill with water and justify the bridges which at other times seem superfluous. Many ancient ruins have survived for nearly twenty centuries. Sousse has its extensive Christian catacombs; Maktar, Sbeitla, and Kasserine, their Roman triumphal arches; Sbiba, Sbei:tla, and Kasserine and innumerable other places, the remnants of many a mausoleum, Roman bath, or temple. Near Siliana is the site of the decisive Battle of Zama of the Second Punic War. In earlier centuries, the soil of central Tunisia apparently sustained a large population and was dotted at many points with olive orchards and other cultivation which no longer can be maintained. Here in this wide area of camel tracks and tarmac roads, dry fords and steel bridges, palm-fringed oases and treeless plains, the war in Tunisia was to be fought.

Operation SATIN and Related Problems At AFHQ operations possible in January and February were under study at the same time that the final winter drive down the Medjerda valley was coming to a halt. Among the moves considered likely were subsidiary attacks in northern Tunisia to pin down enemy forces and take advantage of local situations, since the Fifth Panzer Army there would be protected against a major Allied offensive for many weeks by the weather. But if the British Eighth Army adhered to the schedule reported to General Eisenhower by General Alexander from Cairo on 27 December, Rommel’s army would be pursued into southern Tunisia late in January. Allied Force operations to weaken or destroy the German-Italian Panzer Army would be in order, and central Tunisia would be the likely scene.

What form should the operations in central Tunisia take? Should a mobile American armored force attempt to disrupt Rommel’s line of supply? Although success in such a venture was likely to bring a large reward, certain hazards were involved. The Fifth Panzer Army’s line in the north might be thinned without enabling General Anderson to punch through to Tunis.

General von Arnim might be able to gather enough armored strength for an attack southwestward through the French sector to strike the American force on a vulnerable northern flank. Whether the Fifth Panzer Army did so or not, the German-Italian Panzer Army would certainly move quickly to protect its line of communications, the nature of its counterblows depending upon how much freedom of maneuver the pursuing British Eighth Army allowed. Rommel’s force might be substantial, in which case it could strike effectively either independently, or in conjunction with a force from General von Arnim’s command. The Americans would then be opposed by experienced German armored units, whose prestige at that stage of the war it would be difficult to exaggerate. Furthermore, the Americans would then find themselves engaged in a hard all-out fight against battle-seasoned veterans instead of gradually supplementing their training by small and successful actions—a method more conducive to full combat efficiency. But in spite of these hazards, Operation SATIN, for understandable reasons, remained one of the projects favored by the Americans. An outline plan for such an attack toward Sfax was approved at AFHQ on 28 December.

General Eisenhower believed that the British First Army had worked hard and “fought well,” and he intended that it should eventually “deliver the decisive blow.” This role might justify General Anderson in curtailing First Army’s local attacks in the next few weeks, thus enabling it to husband its resources rather than use them up in supporting the proposed attack farther south. After all, which would be the main effort-that toward Sfax or that toward Tunis? It might be better to abandon the American project and to concentrate American armor in a mobile force-in being on the southern flank of First Army, thus deterring Rommel’s possible aggressive inclination in that area. Despite such considerations the Commander in Chief, Allied Force, concluded that the immediate Allied objective was not the capture of Tunis and Bizerte but the destruction of Rommel’s army. He tentatively approved planning for the risky thrust to the coast. General Anderson then agreed to make the subsidiary attacks intended to aid Operation SATIN but proposed to retain Combat Team 18 of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division for the purpose. He was allowed to keep that unit until infantry of the British 46th Division (Major General H. A. Freeman-Attwood) should have arrived in the forward area to relieve it.

The Allied situation not only required a revision in theater strategy and some appropriate tactical adjustments but presented interrelated problems of command. General Giraud, it will be remembered, had proposed on 17 December that he be appointed Eisenhower’s tactical commander in chief over the whole Tunisian front. Giraud would not accept a relationship which put British First Army in command of French forces. For a time, a union of French and American forces under an American commander was considered.

Such a solution was affected by the fact that the American pre-invasion plans provided for eventual organization of American units in an American Fifth Army to be commanded by General Clark. An American Fifth Army controlling American and French troops in a zone south of British First Army would not have provided unity of command along the whole Allied line and would have created a rather exalted headquarters for an American force of the proportions contemplated.

On 30 December, while the plan was pending, General Clark and Major General Carl Spaatz (USAAF), surveyed the prospective battle area and considered the steps necessary to achieve genuinely effective co-ordination, between ground and air units. But with a decision against an American command in Tunisia of Army grade, General Clark soon went to Oujda, west of Oran, to activate the American Fifth Army there, while the American force in Tunisia was designated an army corps. General Marshall was prepared to arrange the promotion of either Patton or Fredendall to a lieutenant generalcy at once, if such action would help to meet the problem of unifying command over French-held sections of the front. In the end, General Eisenhower picked Fredendall to command the II Corps in central Tunisia and the Tebessa area, and the French remained independent. The British 139th Brigade was in the forward area by 19 January after landing at Algiers. The remainder of the 46th Division came on the next convoy and reached the forward area by 3 February.

On 1 January 1943 the Eastern Task Force was renamed British First Army and the Commander in Chief, Allied Force, assumed direct command of military operations on the entire front. He exercised that control through an advanced command post ( FAIRFIELD) at Constantine. In charge of that station as Deputy Chief of Staff, Allied Force, would be Major General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr. Between U.S. II Corps and British First Army, the Detachment of the French Army would be commanded from a forward post by General Juin, who would control two zones, that of General Barres Tunisian Troop Command at the north and that of XIX Army Corps under General Koeltz at the south. In due course, all units of the three nationalities found in areas assigned to control by the others would be sorted out and concentrated with forces of their own nationality, but during the intervening period some units would be attached to the major command of whatever zone they happened to be in. The XIX Army Corps was to turn over to II Corps the Constantine Division (General Welvert) . The Tunisian Troop Command was to make five battalions of French infantry available to British First Army and to leave one entire groupement (Colonel Bergeron) in the British zone. French units thus placed under the tactical orders of an American or British commander were to remain under control of headquarters of either XIX Corps or Tunisian Troop Command in all other respects (supply, administration, discipline).

All other French units stationed in the American or British zones were to remain entirely under the command of Generals Barre or Koeltz. In case of an unexpected inroad by the enemy, the various French or Allied Force elements in any zone would, within the intent of their missions, obey orders of the local headquarters regardless of nationality.

Headquarters, U.S. II Corps, began moving to Constantine from Oran on 4 January. One week later, its main section was operating there near Headquarters, British First Army, while an advance command post under Brigadier General Ray E. Porter opened in Tebessa. Eventually General Fredendall’s headquarters moved southeast of Tebessa to a wooded hillside in which underground corridors were constructed while the advance command post went to Gafsa. While plans for Operation SATIN were being prepared, the troops to be under Fredendall’s command shifted from northern Tunisia or came eastward from Morocco and Algeria.

Three alternative schemes for this operation were recognized. Plan A prescribed the seizure of Sfax, with the subsequent possibility of a northward advance along the coast toward Sousse; Plan B called for an initial attack farther south, at Gabes, followed perhaps by a northward move against Sfax; Plan C specified the capture of Kairouan, continuation to Sousse, wrecking its usefulness to the Axis, and withdrawing when that became necessary. Whichever the plan adopted by the Commander in Chief, Allied Force, the force to execute it was to operate directly under AFHQ, with a tentative D Day of 22 January.

Generals Eisenhower, Anderson, Juin, and Fredendall, conferring on II January at Constantine, reached final decisions on Operation SATIN. The Commander in Chief defined the mission as acting aggressively against the enemy line of communications in the direction of Sfax, interrupting its use as much as possible, and he assigned the undertaking to General Fredendall’s U.S. II Corps. The force was to be comprised of the following: the U.S. 1st Armored Division (Major General Orlando Ward); the U.S. 26th Combat Team (Colonel Alexander N. Stark, Jr.) ; the British 1st Parachute Brigade, less one battalion (Brigadier J. W. C. Flavell); the French Constantine Division (Major General Joseph Edouard Welvert). The British Middle East Command was to load ships which it would hold at Malta and send into Sfax when II Corps specified, thus supplementing the attenuated line of supply throughrebessa from Algiers. Generals Anderson, Juin, and Fredendall by further agreements at the conference clarified other points necessary for good inter-allied co-operation along the wide front.

General Fredendall planned to station a mobile force in the area between Hadjeb el Aioun and Sbeitla for the immediate support of the French should the enemy counterattack from Kairouan but to attack with the bulk of his command from Gafsa to Gabes and thence north along the coast to Sfax. This plan received General Eisenhower’s tentative approval. Detailed planning for the operation soon diverged considerably from AFHQ’s outline of 28 December.

A force at first set at 20,000 to 25,000 men rose to be more than 38,000. The axis of attack adopted by General Fredendall threatened to lengthen the line of supply to such an extent and to delay the acquisition of Sfax for so long, that a daily draught on reserve supplies accumulated at Tebessa might be necessary. AFHQ did not supervise the detailed planning closely enough to discover these deviations and attendant problems until they emerged during commanders’ conferences from 10 to 14 January, when the specter of logistical overextension raised its head.

After the Allied Force thus had worked out problems of reorganization and unified command and had formulated a plan of action to which he had given tentative approval, Eisenhower on 15 January flew to Casablanca to report to his superiors at the second conference of Anglo-American military and political leaders (SYMBOL) . The suburban community of Anfa, adjacent to the great Moroccan city, had been requisitioned for the first full-scale gather of these men in more than six months. The hotel and neighboring villas were requisitioned, a barbed wire barrier thrown

around the area, and the site officially termed the “Anfa Camp.” From 13 to 23 January 1943, the Combined Chiefs of Staff met formally at fifteen meetings, while the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the British Chiefs of Staff Committee, the two groups which made up the Combined Chiefs, met separately at other times. On three occasions during the conference, the Combined Chiefs of Staff met with the President and the Prime Minister to consider the agenda, to discuss the matters at issue, and to arrive at a final report of decisions taken.

The relatively sunny comfort which prevailed and the general atmosphere of buoyant confidence which surrounded the President and the Prime Minister contrasted sharply with conditions east of Algiers.”) The site, the fact that the security and “home-keeping” arrangements for the conference were responsibilities of the Allied Force, and the fact that some of the deliberations were connected with current operations in Africa, associated the Anfa Conference with the campaigns of Northwest Africa. Yet its major purpose was to determine the Allied objectives for 1943 in all theaters, to establish priorities among them, and to reach decisions on the preparation and allocation of means to attain them. These and other conclusions overshadowed arrangements concerned with the forthcoming battles in Tunisia.

Before a meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, and then at the first plenary session of the Casablanca Conference, General Eisenhower reported on the current and prospective operations in Tunisia. General Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the British Imperial General Staff, quickly questioned the justification for such risks as those he recognized in the projected Operation SATIN.

General Alexander, newly arrived from Cairo, indicated that the British Eighth Army would reach Tripoli before the end of January, perhaps just as the scheduled attack on Sfax was starting. No assurance could be given that Rommel’s forces would then be pinned down by the Eighth Army’s pressure and thus unable to intervene at Sfax. General Montgomery’s command might well be temporarily immobilized. Fuel and supplies would certainly be low while the port of Tripoli was being cleared and restored to service.

It was apparent that if the attack on Sfax was begun by 23 January, it might well provoke a counterthrust which the American force would have to withstand unassisted. But if it were made at a later date, Eighth Army would then have moved into Tunisia on Rommel’s heels and would be a factor limiting his action at Sfax. After a further conversation with General Alexander, therefore, General Eisenhower agreed that the attack should be canceled for the time being, and that if undertaken later it would be carefully co-ordinated with the operations of the British Eighth Army. He returned to Algiers on 16 January with the American portion of his command held on a very short leash.

On 18 January General Eisenhower prescribed at a commanders’ conference in Constantine that operations on the southern flank must be defensive and that as much as possible of II Corps, particularly the 1st Armored Division, was to be held in mobile reserve. He issued a directive to this effect at noon, 20 January.

[NOTE 515-43: (2) Anfa 1st Mtg, plenary session, 18 Jan 43, Official Casablanca Conference Book. (3) Rommel’s army was estimated by General Alexander to be reduced to less than 60 tanks and 20,000 German combat effectives, plus 30,000 German and 30,000 Italian troops from whom aggressive fighting could not be expected. (4) On 30 January, II Corps reported that 213 medium and III light tanks were “operational.” First Army Sitrp, 31 Jan 43.]

The New Chain of Allied Command The Combined Chiefs of Staff at Anfa adopted a new system of command for the Mediterranean theater, one affecting each of the three major arms. The changes would go into effect in February. They agreed that a boundary should be drawn, extending from that between Tunisia and Tripolitania to Corfu, to separate the military area under the Commander in Chief, Allied Force, from that of the British Commander in Chief, Middle East. After General Montgomery’s Eighth Army had crossed this boundary, it would pass to General Eisenhower’s control, although continuing to draw its supplies from Egypt. At the same time, General Alexander would leave Cairo to assume command over a newly formed headquarters (18 Army Group) and to succeed General Clark as Deputy Commander in Chief, Allied Force.

Allied naval forces also underwent an adjustment aimed at better direction of future operations in the Mediterranean. Admiral Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham was to change his designation from Commander in Chief, Naval Expeditionary Force, to the traditional Royal Navy title of Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, while Admiral Sir Henry Harwood, in the eastern district of the Mediterranean, became Commander in Chief, Levant. Admiral Cunningham was to retain important powers over the employment of all Royal Navy units in both parts of the Mediterranean.” The basis was laid also for creation of an American naval command in the western Mediterranean subordinate to the Allied Naval Commander in Chief, Mediterranean (Admiral Cunningham). Designated U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest African Waters, it was organized in February 1943. The U.S. Eighth Fleet under Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt began operations in March looking in particular toward the invasion of Sicily.” Allied air strength in the Mediterranean was placed under one air commander in chief directly under General Eisenhower.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder received that designation. His principal subordinates were to be General Spaatz, as Commander of the Northwest African Air Forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas as Air Officer Commander in Chief, Middle East, and the Air Officer Commanding, Malta. General Spaatz’s command was subdivided along functional lines. Pressing need to co-ordinate the air resources of the U.S. Army Air Forces and Royal Air Force in eastern Algeria and Tunisia without waiting for a more permanent arrangement brought into temporary existence on 4 January the Allied Air Forces.

General Eisenhower, with the approval of the British Chiefs of Staff, placed this force under command of General Spaatz, who had for the preceding month been the principal Allied Force staff officer for air while retraining his status as Air Officer, ETOUSA. His chief of staff at Algiers was Air Vice-Marshal J. M. Robb. The two existing major headquarters, Twelfth Air Force (U.S.) and Eastern Air Command (Bf. ), were preserved, but their responsibilities were modified in order to leave, with a single major exception, one subordinate headquarters in charge of each major type of air operations. Strategic bombing was the job of XII Bomber Command. Offshore reconnaissance, convoy protection, and the defenses of ports fell to the coastal segment of the Eastern Air Command. The exception was that support of ground operations was divided: Royal Air Force 242nd Group continued to support the British First Army while the XII Air Support Command moved eastward from Morocco to take over (on 10 January) the control of air co-operation with the U.S. II Corps.

Giraud Replaces Darlan

A flare-up of political problems bearing on the future of the whole Allied war effort in Europe came at the end of Operation TORCH. This situation was precipitated seven weeks after the landings by the assassination in Algiers on 24 December of the French High Commissioner, Admiral DarIan. The resulting emergency required General Eisenhower’s abrupt return from the Tunisian front, where he and General Anderson had been making critical decisions in connection with plans for the final try for Tunis. The new regime in Algiers, vital as it was to the Allied cause in Northwest Africa for other reasons, was even more significant as an opportunity to promote unification of all anti-Axis Frenchmen able to take up arms. Darlan’s administration rested upon a military agreement with the Allied commander in chief which had brought aid to the Allies but only after first involving the American and British governments in a torrent of adverse criticism and in the problems of French factionalism. The opprobrium with which this military arrangement was greeted began later to moderate, and as time went on some hope appeared for a working relationship between Darlan’s anti-German following and the anti-German and anti-Vichy Frenchmen in General de Gaulle’s growing organization. Darlan had begun to speak, shortly before he was murdered, of retiring from political leadership.

Up until the last moment, the Fighting French nonetheless continued to fear that the admiral would make permanent the temporary arrangements for his control over civil administration in Northwest Africa and elsewhere. At the very outset, he took the title of High Commissioner, established an Imperial Council, communicated with the diplomatic representatives of Vichy France in several countries, and sought ties with the civil governors of some French overseas territories.

Apparently he wished to make Algiers the actual center of government instead of Vichy. In the opinion of de Gaulle’s followers, Darlan’s actions were hardly consonant with a temporary military expedient; to them it seemed, moreover, that after its eventual liberation, France would be delivered to the exponents of French fascism. This was perhaps the most troublesome repercussion of what was labeled at the outset and repeatedly denounced thereafter as the “Darlan deal.”

Attempts through intermediaries to establish a basis of co-operation between the Fighting French and the pro-Allied Frenchmen in Africa began in December. General Georges Catroux, one of the outstanding military figures to join the Fighting French, on 12 December met at Gibraltar a former member of his staff then serving with Admiral Darlan. General Catroux was reliably informed that, contrary to his previous beliefs, the French in North Africa were actually mobilized and actively engaged against the Axis forces in Tunisia; he was also advised that Admiral Darlan was greatly preferred in North Africa, especially among the armed forces, to General de Gaulle and his associates. The suggestion that General de Gaulle, General Catroux, and others should soon replace Admiral Darlan in Algiers was described as certain to produce internal disturbances, annulment of the agreement by which French West Africa was being joined to French North Africa, and adverse consequences elsewhere. On 20 December, General François d’Astier de la Vigerie arrived at Algiers for discussions looking toward amalgamation of the Fighting French of London with the French fighting in Northwest Africa, but found his mission was premature.

The government in French North Africa in 1940-1942 had followed the example of Vichy in establishing press censorship, political imprisonments, and repressive treatment of native Jews. Communist delegates of the French Chamber of Deputies had been incarcerated in French North Africa on charges of hindering the war effort during the period when Stalin was allied with Hitler. Outspoken Gaullist sympathizers were assembled in concentration camps. As a further complication, the proverbial anti-Semitism of the Moslems in French North Africa intruded in the situation. Some 25,000,000 Mohammedans in the three major territories treated the 350,000 Jews with deep and inveterate hostility. Fascistic organizations of war veterans and others adopted methods of terrorism towards Jews, Communists, or Gaullists of a sort with which the world was distressingly familiar. Darlan, in his administration of French North Africa, had to deal with these kinetic facts in such a way as to allow the fighting in Tunisia to be carried on without hindrance.

Complaints that Vichy’s policies in French North Africa were kept in force under Darlan soon reached disturbing proportions. The admiral’s administration met an Allied request for information with a memorandum, “Notes on the reforms undertaken by the High Commissioner in French Africa,” which General Eisenhower forwarded to General Marshall on 13 December 1942. The commander in chief believed that Darlan, in a month’s time, had made a sincere effort to go as far as local conditions would permit in the way of reforms. The pace was deliberate in an attempt to avoid offending Arab susceptibilities, for Admiral Darlan was under pressure from Arab leaders to improve the position of their people.

Admiral Darlan assassinated

On the day preceding Christmas, Darlan explained to Murphy what changes had taken place or could be expected, after which the two men discussed at considerable length French individuals outside areas of Axis occupation who might have the talent and ability necessary to succeed Darlan if he should retire. That noon, at a luncheon, he dwelt again on the theme of his prospective retirement. In mid-afternoon, DarIan was shot down at his office in the Palais d’Ete and died at a hospital soon afterward.

General Giraud was informed of the assassination when he arrived at a French command post in Le Kef that evening to supervise the forthcoming French attack. The death of Darlan brought an end to the arrangement which had freed Giraud from political matters, and permitted complete attention to the conduct of military operations and the rebuilding of a French Army. He started back to Algiers that night, arriving on Christmas afternoon. There, as military commander in chief, he ordered an immediate court-martial of the assassin. He was condemned to death and executed early next morning.

Generals Clark and Smith, with the cooperation of Darlan’s deputy, General Bergeret, were able to cope with the situation in Algiers until General Eisenhower returned. News of the assassination was suppressed until preparations had been taken to forestall possible disorders, planned or spontaneous. American troops in Algeria and Morocco were held ready to meet any new hostilities. Members of Darlan’s Imperial Council were summoned. They met the crisis on 27 December by swiftly agreeing on General Giraud as High Commissioner.

Whatever claims might have been made for General Nogues, he showed no eagerness for the place and proposed the selection of General Giraud. The others Boisson, Chatel, and Bergeret-overcame Giraud’s objections to the post. The choice was known to be welcome to the Allied commander in chief and was probably acceptable to many Frenchmen in North Africa and West Africa who had been opposed to Giraud on 8 November.

The death of Darlan in many respects relieved the Allies of a burden in their relations outside French Africa-his co-operation with the Allies had not been able to extinguish his record as a collaborator with the Nazis. But in the theater of war, he had become, as General Eisenhower described him somewhat earlier, “the source of all our practical help. . . . All the others including Giraud await his lead and will do nothing definite until he speaks. So far he has refused us nothing. If he is playing a crooked game with us locally it is so deep that he can afford to give away initial advantages of every kind, even those upon which our existence depends in our present attenuated conditions.” Although he had caused difficulties outside French North Africa, he had kept his promises to the Allies most effectively.

At the time of Darlan’s death, another political storm was in the making because of an Allied agreement, upon Darlan’s request, to recall to Algeria the experienced colonial administrator, Marcel Peyrouton, former Resident General of Tunisia. Frenchmen equal to the tasks of governing Algeria were rare. Peyrouton had the qualifications. But he had once been directly involved in some of the most unsavory acts of the Vichy government, and although he had finally withdrawn because of his implacable opposition to Laval’s pro-German policies, he could not be put in a position of power without reviving deep antipathies and sharp distrust. His return was arranged, despite admonitions from the Department of State, on the ground of military necessity, a factor which that department later agreed was controlling.

In the bewilderingly complex role of administering territories populated by such discordant elements, both native and European, General Giraud proved less competent than his predecessor. He was not only less competent but less interested, for as indicated earlier, his paramount concern was with military measures; political problems were for him a dragging nuisance. Moreover, sensitive over the subordinate position of the French, he requested that they be treated as an ally in accordance with the promises stated to General Mast at Cherchel, repeated in Mr. Murphy’s letters to Giraud just before he consented to leave southern France, and embodied in the “North African Agreement” negotiated by General Clark with Admiral Darlan. While the Allied commander in chief was well aware of this obligation, President Roosevel held a different view. He thought that General Eisenhower should have put the Imperial Council’s selection of Giraud in the light of a nomination rather than a choice, and that he should have impressed on General Giraud that his position depended directly upon his capacity to provide the kind of government required by the Allies to support the war effort. “This misconception General Eisenhower firmly challenged in a letter to General Marshall, and it was not allowed to animate subsequent relations with Giraud in Africa.” Giraud succeeded Darlan as a leader of the French who accepted a voluntary association with the Anglo-Americans in Northwest Africa. Unlike the latter, he did not claim to be giving effect to Marshal Petain’s secret thought. Nor could he hold the Allies to promises which had once been made to him in return for undertaking leadership since Darlan, and not he, had actually filled that role. The North African Agreement remained in force and regulated the relations between the Allied Force and the French North African civil and military administration.

French Factionalism Persists Giraud had been in office less than one month when another crisis occurred in Anglo-American relations with the French. This crisis arose from the fact that the Allies still maintained separate relations both with the French in Algiers and with de Gaulle’s organization in London, despite the manifest desirability of unifying all anti-Axis French forces. Efforts in this direction were under way. Darlan’s death had stopped de Gaulle on the very brink of departure for a conference in Washington with President Roosevelt. The meeting was postponed by the President until after the conference of Allied leaders near Casablanca. In the meantime de Gaulle made overtures to Giraud looking toward a merger of the French empire in a single organization for the achievement of victory. He proposed that they meet on French soil to discuss the problem. Giraud, although well disposed toward the idea, parried de Gaulle’s proposal by asking him to wait until the military situation in French North Africa had become less demanding and political conditions less disturbed. Both men were invited to Casablanca by the Allies. Giraud accepted at once and arrived on 18 January. De Gaulle refused, then came there under some duress on 22 January.

The basic contrast in their positions promptly became evident. The Fighting French were addicted to recrimination; they wished to sweep from office high officials who had accepted Marshal Petain’s authority, and they regarded as traitors those who had resisted or injured the Gaullists. Even Giraud was expected by de Gaulle to defend his patriotism. In contrast with such views, Giraud believed in rallying any kind of Frenchmen who could contribute to liberation, postponing accountability for earlier actions until France had been freed. It seemed likely that most of the French nation could be unified behind de Gaulle only at the cost of rigorous and even unfair measures against much of the population, while they could follow Giraud only at the risk of internal strife. It had already been shown that Giraud’s personal capacity to aid the Allies was much less than Admiral Darlan’s.

As the two French leaders discussed a basis of unification at Casablanca, they indicated that it would be impossible for either to accept subordination to the other. Giraud at one time had had de Gaulle under his command in the French Army. He was by far the senior in age and grade. De Gaulle had been the first to rally the French against the Germans after other leaders had accepted military defeat, and while Giraud remained a prisoner. Each man led organizations combining civilian and military elements which exercised control over large parts of the French empire. The Fighting French held Syria, Equatorial Africa, French Somaliland, Madagascar, French India, and insular territories (such as New Caledonia) in the Pacific. Giraud headed the High Commission governing the much more populous French North Africa and French West Africa. Neither organization was accepted by the French admirals of squadrons harbored in Martinique and Alexandria, Egypt. Gaullist units were already fighting with the British Eighth Army in Libya, and more were crossing the Sahara to join Montgomery in southern Tunisia.

Giraud’s forces fighting the Axis troops in Tunisia were perhaps three times as large as de Gaulle’s, and the men in training were even more numerous. Resistance organizations in metropolitan France were not yet unequivocally committed in the main to either leader. Each man had reason to know that his name was honored in France among patriots. Which should have accepted a secondary role?

If a single organization were created, its character could be expected to influence strongly the character of the postwar government of France. The two Allied governments refrained on this account from trying to prescribe a form of political settlement but left such arrangements to be determined by the French themselves. Yet patriotic Frenchmen everywhere for years had been divided on political and economic issues, and the weakness arising from their divisions, so fatal in 1940, was still a factor with which to reckon. Giraud was known as a man of somewhat aristocratic, conservative views. De Gaulle’s adherents represented many shades of political opinion and included a large segment with leftist principles.

If it was true that all wished to unite in 1943 to throw the Nazis out of France, it was also true that none wished to see France free of the Germans only to be controlled by Frenchmen of objectionable political views. The union so desirable for military ends was gravely impeded by its political implications. Ultimately, Giraud and de Gaulle decided at Anfa to continue their separate ways, maintaining liaison through representatives in Algiers and London, and perhaps one day achieving the basis for unity. Giraud remained the French military leader accepted by the Anglo-American Allies in the Mediterranean area. De Gaulle continued in a parallel capacity for other areas where Anglo-American military operations required co-operation with the French.

The outcome of their conversations was a serious misfortune for the Allies. A French Army to be strong not only had to be well armed but well disciplined. Political factionalism threatened discipline. The two major Allies could not permit themselves to fall completely into a situation in which each had its own protege. If support was withheld from either French organization, Allied interests would suffer. The future promised a situation in which dual French leadership would persist, in which jockeying for position could be expected, and in which each Allied government might be tempted to play one side against the other, and thus threaten their own collaborative unity.

Rearming the French

The Allies, as already pointed out, promised Giraud, Mast, and other Frenchmen who had dared work for unopposed Allied landings in North Africa, that arms would be furnished to modernize a French Army and thus again enable the French to take the field against the Axis. Preliminary steps to this end had already been taken by the Allies in December. To expedite redemption of that promise Giraud sent representatives to Washington. Furthermore, at Casablanca, he sketched French capabilities to the Combined Chiefs of Staff and discussed the problems of meeting French armament requirements with Lieutenant General Brehon B. Somervell, Commanding General, Services of Supply (later Army Service Forces), U.S. Army.

Giraud, in a somewhat offhand manner, received from President Roosevelt on 24 January a signed “Agreement in Principle” to deliver the materiel required for three armored and eight infantry divisions, as well as 1,000 first-line airplanes. French naval vessels were to be reconditioned in American shipyards. The franc in French North Africa was to be exchanged henceforth at the new and more favorable rate of fifty to the dollar.

These agreements were supplemented by a redefinition of the Allied position concerning a government of France. France was declared to have no government. The promises of American aid in liberating the nation made during the negotiations between Mr. Robert Murphy and General Giraud prior to the landings of 8 November were confirmed. Giraud, as the French Commander in Chief, was recognized as rightfully acting for the French people to preserve all their interests-military, economic, financial, and moral. To the extent that such a document signed by the President but not the Prime Minister could do so, the Allies had committed themselves henceforth to support General Giraud. These decisions, on the literal interpretation and swift execution of which Giraud placed great trust, greatly cheered him as he returned to Algiers.

President Roosevelt’s acceptance in principle of the schedule of rearmament submitted by Giraud after his appearance before the Combined Chiefs of Staff soon produced a tangle of interrelated difficulties. The President considered it a tentative agreement rather than a detailed contract. For him it apparently defined the maximum French hopes but left the United States free to “do the right thing” after weighing other demands upon American production. Token shipments, training and replacement materiel, and as much more as possible were sent. But the shipping situation grew troublesome in the extreme, and the program lagged seriously behind what Giraud considered vital for the maintenance of his prestige.

The French put into the Allied pool vessels totaling initially 165,000 ship tons and before the end of the war 420,000 tons. They claimed a lien on enough of this French tonnage to meet civilian and French military requirements. Their claim to a separate right to tonnage was denied. The Anglo-American Allies allotted 25,000 tons per convoy from the United States for the French armed services! Anything in excess would be available only if the limit of forty-five ships per convoy could be increased to forty-eight. Eventually General Giraud had to include the Gaullist units in his eleven-division program. As they passed under his control, they ceased to receive equipment through British General Headquarters, Mideast, and like all other French forces drew equipment from AFHQ.

General Eisenhower, in December 1942, established a Joint Rearmament Committee at AFHQ on which the French were represented. Since the assignment of shipping priorities involved tactical considerations, such assignment was determined in the theater. Contributions toward the needs outlined by General Mast prior to 8 November and revived by General Giraud at Anfa in January tended to grow as time passed but their estimates were never fully realized.

SOURCE: Northwest Africa: Seizing The Initiative In The West; by George F. Howe (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: North Africa (5-19); New Situation: Axis Reaction

World War Two: North Africa (4-17B); Stalemate Before Tunis (pt.2)

World War Two: Gilberts & Marshalls (14); Invasion of Southern Kwajalein

The Landings on D Day: Occupation of Carter and Cecil Islands: As the Southern Attack Force approached its transport and fire support areas located six to ten miles southwest of Kwajalein, the APD’s Overton and Manley slipped ahead in the early morning of 31 January toward the two channel islets that were the first points to be seized by the invading troops. Carter (Gea) Island lay about nine miles northwest of Kwajalein Island. A half mile farther, on the opposite side of the channel, was Cecil (Ninni). Each of the two APD’s was carrying 155 men organized into a provisional unit, in part from the 7th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop and in part from Company B, 111th Infantry. Troop A, on Overton, consisted of the headquarters platoon of the reconnaissance troop plus sixty-one officers and men of the infantry company, all under command of Captain Paul B. Gritta. In Troop B, transported on Manley and commanded by 1st Lieutenant Emmett L. Tiner, the 1st and 3rd Platoons of the reconnaissance troop were supplemented by ninety-three infantry officers and men. Both units were attached for the forthcoming operation to the 17th Regimental Combat Team, under Colonel Wayne C. Zimmerman.

Troop A was to take Cecil Island and Troop B, Carter Island. The islets were tiny, without known defenses, and were assumed to have but small garrisons. Once the two islands were under control, the four platoons of the 7th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop were to be reunited and taken aboard Overton to their next mission, which was tentatively set as the reconnoitering of Chauncey (Gehh) Island, about one mile northwest of Cecil. The infantry elements of the two provisional units would remain as garrison and defense forces on the channel islands.

In the darkness of the moonless night, the islands could not be seen from the ships. The sea was running high as the high-speed transports, about 2,600 yards out, each dispatched one motor launch and a number of rubber boats filled with reconnaissance troops followed by the infantry carried in Higgins boats. The plan for landing on each island required that the rubber boats be towed by a launch to within 800 yards of the shore and then be paddled to a rendezvous halfway in. There they were to wait until two men went forward on an electric-powered raft, made a beach reconnaissance, and set up directional lights marking the best landing spot.

The rest of the men in the rubber boats were to follow them ashore and, while establishing a beach defense, guide the Higgins boats in with red lights. Leaving the infantry to defend the beach, the two reconnaissance platoons were first to occupy the side of the island nearest the channel and then to reconnoiter and make secure the remainder of the island. At the outset some delay was encountered in dispatching Troop B from Manley because of the difficulty in finding Carter Island. Then the lead boat mistook Cecil for Carter and by the time this confusion righted itself it was almost daylight. Hence, plans for a preliminary beach reconnaissance were abandoned, and the rubber boats were paddled to shore at the southern end of Carter at 0620. No resistance was met on the beach. Defenses were set up and the infantry boats guided in while a reconnoitering patrol struck through the fringe of brush at the edge of the beach and entered the heavy tropical undergrowth beyond.

The patrol returned without discovering any enemy, and the reconnaissance platoons, with an infantry platoon providing flank and rear protection, pushed off toward an observation tower at the northwest corner of the island. The area around the tower was soon discovered to be unoccupied except for one Japanese soldier, who was killed. The first reconnaissance platoon then turned around to comb back down the island again, concentrating this time on the ocean side. As the skirmish line pushed back into the tangle of undergrowth again, it was suddenly taken under fire from Japanese concealed in a shell crater and surrounding trees. The platoon leader, 2nd Lieutenant Claude V. Hornbacher, ordered a machine gun set up in the crotch of a tree, and with it in position a covering fire was laid down on the whole area. Under protection of this fire, Sergeant Leonard C. Brink took personal charge of the situation. In ten or fifteen minutes he hurled grenade after grenade into the crater while the machine gun fired over his head. The Japanese replied in kind. Finally, after enemy resistance seemed to have dwindled, Sergeant Brink and other members of the platoon crawled forward and jumped into the hole with knives and bayonets. Within seconds the skirmish was over and nineteen Japanese soldiers were dead at the cost of one American wounded. The island again fell silent. A few more Japanese were flushed from their hiding places near the ocean shore, and by 0930 the capture of Carter Island was completed. Intelligence materials were gathered up and sent to Admiral Turner’s flagship, Rocky Mount, and at 1000 responsibility for controlling the island was transferred to the infantry elements. The southeast side of the channel was secured.

At the same time that Troop B was seizing Carter, Troop A was engaged in a parallel mission. At 0430 Troop A started from Overton toward what was supposed to be Cecil Island. The craft moved against a strong current and an offshore wind. Although the rubber boats were cast loose too soon and had to be rounded up and again taken in tow until brought within paddling distance of the shore, they made an unopposed landing at 0545, thirty-five minutes earlier than Troop B’s on Carter. Guide lights were placed and the infantry’s landing craft came in just at daybreak, while the beachhead defense was being established. After a brief reconnaissance during which four enemy were killed and two captured, Captain Gritta, commanding Troop A, came to the conclusion that he was on the wrong island. He suspected that his party had been landed at Chauncey, the small island next northwest of Cecil. This was confirmed by General Corlett, who at 0810 ordered Troop A to “forget about Chauncey; proceed on regular mission.”

Leaving a small party of infantrymen to stand guard over a Japanese tugboat stranded near the beach, Captain Gritta embarked the remainder of his troop in rubber boats and proceeded along the reef to Cecil. That island was found to be unoccupied and by 1235 was reported secured. The pass into the lagoon could now be swept in preparation for the entry of ships to provide fire support for the landings planned the next day.

Back on Chauncey, Captain Gilbert Drexel and his men of Company B, 111th Infantry, kept the stranded tugboat under surveillance and started to comb the woods and underbrush thoroughly. An enemy force estimated at 100, which had escaped the initial reconnaissance, engaged the infantry near the center of the island. Others appeared on the tugboat, fired on strafing planes and on the American detail left to guard the tugboat, and were in turn taken under fire by Overton. Under orders to move to Cecil, the company broke off the engagement in the woods, which had cost them two deaths in return for an estimated forty-five enemy killed. The infantrymen set up a defensive perimeter for the night and waited for boats to transfer them to Cecil the following day. Chauncey was left for a later date to be cleared of the remaining enemy on it. Only one squad of infantrymen reinforced by members of Overton’s crew were left to guard the stranded tug. On 1 February they were reinforced by a platoon and ordered to set up a perimeter defense at the beach until more troops could be landed to clean out the remnant of Japanese still on the island.

Carlson and Carlos

The seizure of Carlson and Carlos Islands on D Day was assigned to the 17th Regimental Combat Team. Carlson was to be used for the emplacement of divisional artillery and Carlos for supply dumps and repair stations. The capture of Carlson was considered the most important D-Day mission for the Southern Landing Force because of its proximity to Kwajalein Island and its importance as a site for the forty-eight 105-mm. and twelve 155-mm. howitzers that were to provide artillery support for the main landing the next day. Carlos and Carlson Islands extended along the reef northwest of Kwajalein.

Both islands were long and narrow. Carlson was about two-thirds of a mile in length and under 300 yards in width; Carlos about a mile long and 300 yards wide. Between the two lay a gap of approximately 4,300 yards, but the water over the connecting reef was never deep enough to float even small boats. Reconnaissance flights had revealed on Carlson the presence of radio towers and other installations including a 100-yard finger pier on the lagoon side. It was estimated that a force of from 250 to 300 was stationed on the island to defend it and maintain defense communications there. Carlos Island, it was believed, would contain a much smaller garrison, if any.

The 17th Regimental Combat Team’s plan called for simultaneous attacks of battalion strength on the northwestern tip of each island. The 1st Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Albert V. Hart commanding, was to attack Carlos; the 2nd Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Edward P. Smith and supported by one platoon of Company A, 708th Amphibian Tank Battalion, was to land on Carlson. The 3rd Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Lee Wallace commanding, was to remain afloat in landing craft at the line of departure and be available for either island as needed. Two light tanks were designated for the fourth wave of those landing on Carlos and four were allocated to the fourth landing wave for Carlson. The tanks were provided by Company D, 767th Tank Battalion. Company C of the tank battalion was to stand by to provide support missions if called on.

The transports carrying the three battalion landing teams arrived in the transport area six miles to seaward of Carlson at 0544 on 31 January. Five LST’s carrying four amphibian tractor groups had already arrived in an assigned area westward from Carlos Island, and on order they moved through the pitch darkness to the transport area to take aboard the assault troops of the first four waves. The men were to disembark from the transports into Higgins boats, move about 600 yards to their assigned LST’s, and then distribute themselves among the amphibian tractors at the rate of fifteen men per vehicle. On order, the LST’s were then to move close in to the line of departure and disgorge their amphibian tractors through their open bow doors.

This complicated maneuver, carried out as it was in total darkness, inevitably resulted in confusion. The LST’s were unable to find the transports until the latter turned on identification lights. This caused delay and Admiral Turner found it necessary to postpone H Hour from 0830 to 0910.

As the LST’s left the transport area, one pair carried the LVT group taking the 1st Battalion to Carlos, and another pair carried the LVT group conveying the 2nd to Carlson. Other craft followed, including six tank lighters, twelve LCI(G)’s equipped with 40-mm, guns and rockets, and an additional LST carrying the fifteen amphibian tanks of Company A, 708th Amphibious Tank Battalion.

Preparatory naval bombardment opened at 0618 when Pennsylvania and Mississippi commenced firing on the western end of Kwajalein Island. As daylight revealed three enemy merchant ships in the lagoon, these also received fire from the destroyer Ringgold and the cruiser San Francisco. In spite of squally showers and a low ceiling, the first of the carrier planes reported on station at 0840 to commence the first of many strafing and bombing runs on Kwajalein Island. Observation planes later spotted fire for the battleships and cruisers. At 0810 the scheduled plotted bombardment began with shells from four battleships (New Mexico, Mississippi, Idaho, and Pennsylvania), three cruisers (Minneapolis, San Francisco, and New Orleans) and four destroyers (Stevens, McKee, Ringgold, and Sigsbee) systematically striking Carlos, Carlson, Kwajalein, Burton, and Beverly Islands.

The line of departure for the landing on Carlos lay about 3,000 yards west of the island’s northwestern tip, Harvey Point. The plan called for the first four waves of the 1st Battalion Landing Team to start for the shore in thirty-two LVT’s manned by seven officers and 140 enlisted men. Each of the first two waves was to consist of eight amphtracks in staggered rows of four, the two waves to be spaced three minutes apart. The third wave was to contain five armored LVT’s in the first row and four in the second. Wave four consisted of more LVT’s in a similar formation; wave five, LCM’s carrying tanks and self-propelled mounts (75-mm. howitzers); and wave six, standard landing craft carrying one heavy machine gun platoon, battalion headquarters elements, advance personnel of the battalion aid station, and a squad of engineers.

The ship-to-shore movement proceeded in general according to plan, and the first troops, two infantry platoons and part of the 1st Platoon, Company A, 13th Engineers, reached shore at 0910. They came into a wide, shallow cove near the northwestern end of the island, which seemed wild and uninhabited. On the left, on Harvey Point, and to the right, tall palms could be seen in small groves, but waist high underbrush interspersed with small patches of bare sand extended across the island directly back of the beachhead line. Vegetation had been only slightly disturbed by the preliminary bombardment.

Behind the first two waves of infantrymen were landed a platoon of heavy machine guns, the communications section of the beach and shore parties, forward observers for the mortars, advance elements of the Signal Corps detachment, infantry reserves, light tanks, self-propelled mounts, battalion headquarters elements, and medical personnel. By 1040, the first five waves were ashore. The landings were unopposed.

The occupation of Carlos was easily accomplished. Company A, which landed on the right, pushed southward along the ocean side of the island; Company C, on the left, made its way across to the lagoon side and then proceeded in a southerly direction. Near the pier on the lagoon shore, men of Company C encountered their first enemy—three unarmed Japanese, whom they promptly killed. Five others in this area were found to have committed suicide. Company A captured seven or eight prisoners in their southward march. When the front had advanced two thirds of the way down the island, Company C halted and Company A took over the entire line. About two hundred yards from the southern point of the island, Company A met a group of nine Japanese, who were cut down by rifle fire as they tried to rush the Americans. The southern point of the island was reached by 1400. The force found an observation tower and sheds with a radio in working order. At 1615 the 1st Battalion reported the island secured. No casualties were reported. No prepared defenses had been found.

Resistance on Carlson Island was expected to be considerably stronger than that on Carlos or any of the other islands occupied on D Day. The first four assault waves of the 2nd Battalion Landing Team were carried ashore in amphibian tractors. The later waves approached the reef in LCVP’s from which they were obliged to wade in for the last seventy-five yards. The wave formations were similar to those at Carlos, and the support from destroyers and LCI(G)’s was the same.

The first wave hit the sandy beach at the northwestern corner of Carlson at 0912. The beach was about 300 yards wide with a treeless sand spit at the left and a thin growth of coconut palms behind a shoulder in the coast line at the right. The amphibians crawled up the beach, meeting no resistance. Company E came in on the left and Company F on the right, while Company G was kept in floating reserve, prepared to land at a point near the middle of the island if the tactical situation so required. In the first wave with the rifle squads were rocket grenadiers, demolition engineers, flame thrower operators, and wire-cutting specialists, all of the 13th Engineers. The second wave landed at 0920, and the third was ashore ten minutes later. LCI gunboats continued their fire until the third wave had landed. Carrier planes strafed and bombed the island, moving to the southeastern extremity by 0938.

Company F on the right pushed straight across the island to the lagoon, and at 0941 swung southeastward for the push along the length of the island. Company E on the left mopped up the northern end before starting down the ocean side, somewhat behind Company F. At 0958 enemy artillery fire from Kwajalein was reported, but by 1120 naval gunfire and an air attack had put a stop to all Japanese shelling from that quarter.

Meanwhile, a section of the shore party in two amphibian tractors had reconnoitered the reef during the initial landings and selected a route ashore for the four light tanks and four self-propelled 75-mm. howitzers, which came in by 1010. The tanks disembarked from their LCM’s on the reef and made their way to the shore, minus one vehicle that broke its final drive and remained incapacitated for the rest of the operation. Once ashore, the tanks found passage through the thick underbrush and coral extremely difficult and a second tank was temporarily disabled.

The infantrymen accompanied by combat engineers continued southeastward toward the communications center, which was almost in the middle of the island, arriving there at 1105. The preliminary bombardment had knocked down one radio tower and weakened another as well as smashing the major buildings, even those constructed of reinforced concrete.

The enemy fled, offering no resistance as Company F searched the area. Company E on the ocean side discovered three sets of dummy emplacements but only light enemy resistance. Small arms fire fell briefly among the infantrymen as the two companies moved in line abreast southeastward from the radio tower. Only one man was wounded, however. No further opposition was met. By noon the southeastern tip of the island was reached, and at 1210 the battalion reported the island secured. Twenty-one Korean prisoners were captured. No live Japanese were found on the island, although the battalion commander reported, somewhat ambiguously, that “it is believed that some of the Koreans were part Japanese.”

Development of Positions

The unexpected ease with which Carlson was occupied led to an early landing of the divisional artillery—even before the island was officially declared secured. At 1125 General Corlett sent orders to the 7th Division artillery group to begin getting its pieces ashore. This group, commanded by General Arnold, consisted of four battalions of 105-mm. howitzers (31st, 48th, 49th, and 57th Field Artillery), and one battalion of 155-mm. howitzers (145th Field Artillery), plus headquarters, medical, communications, and special troops. The 105-mm. howitzer battalions were loaded mostly on LST’s. The 145th Field Artillery with its 155-mm. pieces had to be loaded on two larger transports—the AKA Virgo and the APA President Polk. Liaison and forward observation parties were on the transports with the infantry to which they were attached; the five air observers were on three cruisers of the attack force; and the division artillery command party was on Rocky Mount with General Corlett.

The 155-mm. howitzers with their tractors, equipment, and ammunition were loaded onto LCM’s. These craft grounded in three feet of water offshore but the howitzers were hauled to the beach and dragged to their designated areas, where some were ready for registration fire by 1525. However, the last were not emplaced until long after dark.

The 105-mm. howitzers were, on the other hand, more expeditiously unloaded. Their DUKW’s moved with relative ease from their mother LST’s about 1,000 yards offshore to the positions where the batteries were to be emplaced. Certain DUKW’s, especially equipped with A-frame hoists mounted in the rear, took their places near the battery positions. The other vehicles with guns aboard were driven one at a time at right angles across the rear ends of the A-frame DUKW’s and halted under the hoists. There, each piece was lifted clear of the DUKW that had transported it, lowered to the ground, hooked to the pintle of the same vehicle and pulled into position. Under the most favorable conditions, a whole battalion could be brought into position in seven minutes.

The 31st Field Artillery Battalion was the first to commence unloading its howitzers. Its DUKW’s proceeded from the beach across the island and along the lagoon shore to a spot opposite the battalion area. Then, with the aid of a bulldozer and much tree cutting, they hauled the pieces to a thick coconut grove, unloaded them, and returned to the beach to pick up ammunition. Shortly after 1500 the 105’s commenced registration fire on a Kwajalein Island check point, using smoke shells to distinguish their fire from that of the naval vessels, which were concurrently bombarding that island. Observation posts were later established in the radio tower, on the end of the pier, and in an LVT out in the lagoon, while registration was accomplished with the help of an observation plane launched from one of the cruisers.

The 48th, 49th, and 57th Field Artillery Battalions followed a similar pattern, occupying areas in the center and on the southern half of Carlson Island. At nightfall the last registration fire was being delivered on a check point on Kwajalein Island by the 49th Battalion. Ammunition was being rapidly loaded into DUKW’s from beached LST’s, and before dawn a large supply of shells was on hand to support the main attack on Kwajalein.

The divisional artillery was concentrated within an unusually limited area. The twelve batteries of 105’s were crowded together in an area only 900 yards long by 150 yards wide. The guns of the 49th Battalion were at the southeastern end of the island; those of the 57th Battalion in the adjacent area to the northwest on the ocean side of the island; those of the 31st in a zone west of the pier line on the ocean side; and those of the 48th Battalion closely grouped south of the radio tower. The 155-mm. howitzers of the 145th Battalion were emplaced farthest from Kwajalein Island between two roads near the middle of Carlson. Following registration, the batteries prepared for an irregular schedule of harassing fire on both Kwajalein and Burton Islands so that the enemy would be prevented, if possible, from repairing and reorganizing his defenses.

The night of D Day on southern Kwajalein found the Southern Attack Force, despite the unfinished business on Chauncey Island, with all its scheduled objectives attained. The channel islands were secured; the channel itself and an anchorage in the lagoon had been swept for mines; and a part of the invading force had entered the lagoon to take stations there. On Carlos and Carlson the Americans were in full possession.

During the early afternoon, the 3rd Battalion Landing Team of the 17th Infantry and one platoon of the 31st Field Hospital had been brought ashore on Carlos. By 1200 men of Company A of the 7th Medical Battalion were ashore and operating a collecting station at the beach. The 1st Battalion had returned to the northwest section of Carlos and the 3rd Battalion, the reserve force, occupied the southeastern half.

Supply sections of the 7th Division, which had been separated during the journey to the island, had assembled ashore, co-ordinated their work, arranged their communications, and were beginning to build dumps. At 1800, on the northern tip of Carlos, a detachment of the 707th Ordnance Company had set up the LVT maintenance shop capable of handling heavy repairs. At the southern end of the island a consolidated ammunition dump was prepared during the night and was ready for use by 0800 on 1 February.

Carlson Island was the scene of even greater night activity. As planned, the 7th Division’s headquarters, rear section, had remained on board Admiral Turner’s flagship, Rocky Mount, together with that of the V Amphibious Corps, but during the afternoon the command posts and headquarters had been set up on Carlson by the 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry, by the division artillery, and by the 7th Division forward echelon, the latter commanded by Brigadier General Joseph L. Ready. At 1645 General Corlett, having observed the early landing of the division artillery, ordered harassing fire placed on Kwajalein Island throughout the night. As a result, there was a much longer preliminary artillery bombardment than the one-hour preparation indicated in the plans as a minimum. During the night both Kwajalein and Burton Islands were treated to a continuing harassing fire by the artillery emplaced on Carlson.

After dark, naval support vessels joined with the artillery to keep a constant harassing fire over Kwajalein and Burton. The larger island was shelled by San Francisco, Idaho, New Mexico, and their screening destroyers, while Burton was covered by the destroyer Hall. Troops of the 32nd and 184th Regimental Combat Teams had moved during the afternoon from their transports to LST’s, which were spending the night either west of Kwajalein Island or in the lagoon with orders to return to the transport area at 0530. The remaining vessels of the Southern Attack Force operated in waters southwest, south, and southeast of Kwajalein Island with orders to be in the transport area at 0600.

One of the novel experiments of the Marshalls operation had also been carried out on D Day with successful, although in a sense inconclusive, results. This was the employment for the first time in the Pacific of an underwater demolition team, composed in this instance of both Army and Navy personnel, whose duties were to conduct close reconnaissance of the beaches at the western end of Kwajalein Island and, if necessary, detonate any underwater obstacles found there. At high tide on the morning of 31 January, shortly after 1000, and again at low tide at approximately 1600, this detachment worked its way to points within 300 yards of the beach. Fire from the battleships Pennsylvania and Mississippi covered these intrepid individuals as they ranged over the approaches to the main landing beaches in rubber boats.

Having ascertained that surf and reef conditions were satisfactory and that no underwater obstacles or anti-boat mines were located off the beaches, they returned without casualty. Since there were no underwater obstacles present, no opportunity was allowed the team to test its detonation equipment technique under combat conditions. Nevertheless, the team performed valuable service later in the operation in the demolition of wrecks, coral heads, and other underwater obstructions along the lagoon shore of the island.

With all the conditions for a successful landing deemed favorable, Admiral Turner issued the order at 1622 on 31 January that the main assault on the western beaches of Kwajalein Island should proceed the following day. The scheduled time of landing, H Hour, was set at 0930. The attack would be carried out according to the original plan.

The Landings on Kwajalein Island

Long before sunrise on the morning of 1 February 1944 the Southern Attack Force at Kwajalein Atoll moved from its night cruising dispositions to the positions assigned for the day’s operations against Kwajalein Island. The eight LST’s on which the leading wave of assault troops had spent the night were the first to approach their rendezvous, at 0530, and within half an hour the larger transports and the warships that were to provide fire support were taking stations. At 0618 Mississippi and Pennsylvania took up the harassing fire, which had been maintained during the night by other ships and by the artillery on Carlson. Squalls, frequent rain showers, and scudding clouds lowered visibility. They threatened to hamper the attack but not to compel either its postponement or the adoption of the alternative plan for a complicated landing from the lagoon. The assault was to be made from the ocean against the western end of Kwajalein Island.

As the sun rose at 0712, Mississippi moved to a range of about 1,500 yards to fire broadsides on visible targets. The other support vessels closed to about the same range when the systematic preparatory fire was begun at 0745. At that time Mississippi switched her salvos to Burton, northeast of Kwajalein, and Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and San Francisco, screened by eight destroyers, directed their main batteries at the western end of Kwajalein Island in direct preparation for the landings. The destroyers Ringgold and Sigsbee entered the lagoon and prepared to prevent interisland movement by the enemy.

The preparatory bombardment of Kwajalein Island was unprecedented in the Pacific in both volume and effectiveness. During one period two shells per second were hitting specific targets or areas in the path of the assault troops. The 14-inch naval shells of the battleships were most effective in piercing and destroying reinforced concrete structures. From the cruisers and destroyers, 8-inch and 5-inch shells ploughed into bunkers and tore up the thick growth of pandanus and palm trees. All together on 1 February, almost 7,000 14-inch, 8-inch, and 5-inch shells were fired by supporting naval vessels at Kwajalein Island alone, and the bulk of these were expended against the main beaches before the landing. The field artillery on Carlson also joined in the preparatory fire. Its total ammunition expenditure on 1 February against Kwajalein was about 29,000 rounds. Finally, aerial bombardment added its bit to the pulverization of Kwajalein’s defenses. At 0810 six Liberators (B-24’s) of the 392nd Bombardment Squadron based on Apamama reported on station. Between 0830 and 0910 they flew above the trajectory of the naval and artillery shells and dropped fifteen 1,000-pound and 2,000-pound bombs on the blockhouse and dual-purpose twin-mount guns at the northwestern end of Kwajalein Island.

This was followed almost immediately by bombing and strafing attacks carried out by carrier-based aircraft. From the carriers Enterprise, Yorktown, Belleau Wood, Manila Bay, Corregidor, and Coral Sea eighteen dive bombers and fifteen torpedo bombers struck the western part of Kwajalein Island while as many fighters strafed the area with machine guns and rockets. All together ninety-six sorties were flown from the carriers in support of the troop landing on Kwajalein Island.

The results of all this expenditure of explosives were devastating. The damage was so intensive that it is impossible to determine the relative effectiveness of the three types of bombardment—naval, artillery, and air. The area inland of Red Beaches was reduced almost completely to rubble. Concrete emplacements were shattered, coconut trees smashed and flattened, the ground pock-marked with large craters, coral ripped to splinters. As one observer reported, “The entire island looked as if it had been picked up to 20,000 feet and then dropped.”

The Assault Landings

The first touchdowns were to occur at 0930. As the time for departure approached, ships, amphibian vehicles, and landing craft began to take their assigned places. The line of departure was 5,000 yards northwest of Kwajalein Island, south of the center of Carlson Island, and the transport area was about 3,000 yards southwest of the line. Control over the landing waves was vested in the commanding officers of the 184th and 32nd Regimental Combat Teams, who were located on the control ship, a subchaser (SC 539). The LST’s carrying the amphibian tractors went into position about 1,000 yards west of the line of departure, lowered their ramps, and launched their amphtracks with the troops loaded. The tractors began to circle slowly in a column of waves, waiting the signal to move into line. The LSD’s Lindenwald, Belle Grove, and Ashland in an area west of the LST’s launched the LCM’s containing the medium tanks of Companies A, B, C, and part of D of the 767th Tank Battalion.

Two small control boats, assigned to keep the landing craft moving toward the shore at proper intervals, took stations just seaward of the line of departure. Near the ends of the line the amphibian tanks of Company A, 708th Amphibian Tank Battalion, circled after being released from their mother LST, waiting to take their wing positions with the first waves to go ashore. Farther back in the transport area, the landing craft on the transports were swung out from the decks and launched. They were to carry the supporting waves with extra ammunition and equipment. Two LST’s with high priority supplies and the DUKW groups waited to move near enough to the beaches to send in supplies quickly.

The northern (left) part of the 500-yard western shore line had been designated Red Beach 1, and the southern (right) part was Red Beach 2. Preliminary reconnaissance had indicated the existence of the stronger fortifications along the ocean side, and for that reason the combat seasoned 32nd Regimental Combat Team, under Colonel Marc J. Logie, was assigned the landing on Red Beach 2. The 184th Regimental Combat Team, under Colonel Curtis D. O’Sullivan, was to land on Red Beach 1 at the same time. The two combat teams were to make their assaults in columns of battalions, led by the 1st Battalion of the 32nd, containing 84 officers and 1,628 enlisted men, and the 3rd Battalion of the 184th, consisting of 73 officers and 1,489 enlisted men. Of the three companies of the 767th Tank Battalion, Company B would support the landing of the 184th on Red Beach 1 and Company A that of the 32nd on Red Beach 2, while Company C would be held in reserve under division control.

The enemy offered some resistance to the gathering attack in spite of the overwhelming preparatory fire that had already wrecked most of their guns on the western end of Kwajalein Island. A few antiaircraft shells fell among the assembling landing craft, one of them striking an LVT, injuring two men and knocking the vehicle out of action. The rest of the amphibian tractors, separated by about twenty yards between vehicles and about 100 yards between waves, continued to circle under excellent control. Nevertheless, one accidental collision between two amphibians occurred, damaging one of them and interfering slightly with the landing schedule.

The first waves of the 3rd Battalion, 184th, commanded by Lieutenat Colonel William P. Walker, and of the 1st Battalion, 32nd, under Lieutenant Colonel Ernest H. Bearss, started for the shore precisely on time at 0900 after receiving the signal from the control boat. The LVT’s mounted at least two, sometimes three, machine guns each, and, in addition, twenty of them had specially mounted infantry-type flame throwers that could be operated from the assistant driver’s seat. At each outside wing and in the center between the first two waves, platoons of amphibian tanks were echeloned. From their turrets, 37-mm. guns protruded. Behind the first wave came three succeeding waves of infantry at two-minute intervals.

As the tractors set out for their thirty minute run from the line of departure to the shore, Navy aircraft strafed the beaches in a last-minute blow. At 0905 artillery and naval ships resumed fire against the beaches and kept it up until 0928, two minutes before the touchdown, after which they moved their fire inland. LCI gunboats added the final touch. Firing from outside the lanes of approach at the northern and southern extremities of the landing area, they let go their 4.5-inch rockets at 1,100 yards from the shore line and again at 800 yards and fired their 20-mm. and 40-mm. guns at still closer ranges. The seventeen amphibian tanks on the wings and in the center, and the tractors in between them also rode in firing. Small arms and mortar fire from the Japanese inflicted few injuries among the incoming troops, and for the most part the waves preserved their formation.

There was, however, some shifting to the right (south). The steering mechanism of the LVT that had been damaged in the collision caused it to veer from its position and move to the right among the tractors of the 1st Battalion, 32nd Regiment. All the landing vehicles inclined slightly to the right toward the southern boundaries of the boat lanes, and after they crossed the reef the current took them still farther in that direction. The result was some crowding on the south, but not enough to interfere seriously with the landing.

Artillery fire from Carlson was still falling on the beaches as the LVT’s reached positions only thirty-five yards offshore. Thereupon it was shifted to a zone 200 yards inland. Although most of the defensive positions immediately inland of the shore line had been obliterated, shell craters and piles of debris everywhere remained to deter the invaders. The first wave landed on schedule at 0930. In the zone of the 32nd Regimental Combat Team enough of the enemy survived in their underground shelters or filtered back through the curtain of artillery and naval gunfire to greet the attackers with small arms fire and grenades. From a few undestroyed pillboxes inland of the beaches, the Japanese opened up with light mortar and automatic fire—fire heavy enough to cause a few casualties among the first waves. As the first troops dropped down from the high sides of the amphtracks into the shallow water or onto the beach itself, most of them ran over the dune and sought shelter behind the wreckage of a sea wall until the artillery and naval fire lifted inland.

On Red Beach 1, where the sea wall was almost at the water’s edge, the LVT’s were tilted up enough to obtain a fair field of fire inland. On Red Beach 2 the amphibians stopped at the water line, their fire sweeping barely above the men of the 1st Battalion. For about two minutes the men of the first wave on Red Beach 2 waited in the shelter of the sea wall while LVT’s poured fire over their heads. Then, while a detail demolished one remaining pillbox on the beach itself, the rest of the men moved forward rapidly to seek out the enemy just beyond the beach. On the left, the two assault companies (Companies I and K) of the 3rd Battalion, 184th Infantry, were also making progress. By 1122 both assault battalions were reported to have advanced 150 yards inland against only slight resistance.

Combat engineers carrying demolition charges and wire cutters were distributed among the first wave of infantrymen and were prepared to clear the way for the second and subsequent waves to move inland. The preparatory fire, however, had been so effective that further demolition work was unnecessary. Both engineers and covering infantry were therefore able to advance inland with the second wave.

The amphibian tanks of the first line of attack were expected to proceed inland, striking targets found within a hundred yards of the shore. The LVT’s in the second and third waves were to move to the flanks and circle back to the ships to bring in the men of the later waves who were embarked in landing craft too deep-drafted to get over the reef. All vehicles met serious difficulties on the beaches. Some found the undestroyed portions of the sea wall too high to cross; others fell into shell holes or got hung up on high stumps. Most of the tractors, after landing their troops, found lateral movement along the beaches so impeded by the litter left by the first wave of infantrymen and engineers that, instead of adhering to the original plan of moving to the flanks before returning seaward, they turned around on the beach or backed into the water. This caused considerable congestion and slowed the fourth wave’s approach to the shore. Troops in this wave either waded in or waited for the beach to be cleared. In spite of these difficulties, the first four waves of both battalion landing teams were ashore within fifteen minutes after the designated H Hour.

Build-up of the Assault

While some elements of the first four waves pressed forward in the wake of the artillery barrage and others organized the beaches, additional infantry and units of supporting arms and services continued to come ashore throughout the day. The 32nd Regiment’s forward command party landed at 0950 and set up a command post a few yards inland in the center of Red Beach 2. The 184th’s advance command post was established on Red Beach 1 at 1235.

The light tanks, carried in LCM’s, approached the beach in the fifth wave. Stopped on the reef at 0947, the tank lighters discharged their tanks, which then tried to make shore under their own power. Three light tanks were stranded on the reef. All six of the medium tanks of the sixth wave assigned to Red Beach 2 got ashore, but two destined for Red Beach 1 were held up by the reef and an underwater shell hole. After drying out motors and radios, those tanks that had landed struggled inland across the crowded, shell torn beach and over the sea wall. Most of the tanks succeeded in pushing on, but the marshy land behind Red Beach 2 held four up.

At 1205 the 2nd and 3rd Platoons, Company A, 767th Tank Battalion, were ordered into shore and, with one casualty on the reef, proceeded inland via Blue Beach 1, which was located on the southwest corner of the island to the right of Red Beach 2. The 2nd Platoon was sent forward and the 3rd Platoon remained on the beach in reserve. The 2nd Platoon of Company B reached Red Beach 1 at 1400. It landed without mishap, being guided ashore by four stranded medium tank crewmen of the 1st Platoon who stood on the reef in water up to their armpits and directed the tanks around the underwater hazards. The tanks went forward to support the infantry without delay, using a new route from the beach that had been cleared by bulldozers.

The 1st Platoon, Company B, and the 2nd Platoon, Company C, brought their twelve mediums in at 1600 while the 1st Battalion, 184th, was still being landed. One medium tank was disabled on the reef; the others went into bivouac. When the 1st and 3rd Platoons, Company C, were sent to Red Beach 2 by error between 1630 and 1700, they were kept ashore overnight and re-embarked late the next day to participate with the 17th Infantry Regiment in the forthcoming operations on Burton Island.

Combat engineers found their problems fewer than had been anticipated. Without much difficulty they cleared the beach of enemy explosives, set up demolition dumps, and replenished forward ammunition supplies. They later joined the shore party engineers in smoothing out the rough passage from the beach to the western section of the island highway (Wallace Road) with bulldozers and in repairing that section of the highway. The first of the supply DUKW’s came ashore just before noon. Seven were sent forward over the new route with grenades, 75-mm. shells, and other ammunition. The materiel dropped from the LVT’s was gathered by engineers and put in a dump about fifty yards inland. Regimental supply personnel arrived at Red Beach 2 about 1115. They later established a supply point well inland in the wake of the assault forces.

One platoon of the 184th Regiment’s 81-mm. mortars erroneously landed at 1025 on Red Beach 2, but was quickly moved to Red Beach 1 to support the regiment’s attack.71 Late in the afternoon the 1st Platoon of the 91st Chemical Company, which was attached to the 32nd Regiment, was emplaced near the southern limit of Red Beach 2, having been landed during the morning and early afternoon.

Extra ammunition with which to fire night missions, however, was unavailable until early the next morning. The 2nd Platoon, 91st Chemical Company, landed at 1630 on Red Beach 1 in support of the 184th. After having been afloat in landing craft for seven hours, it came ashore in four crowded amphtracks with its mortars unassembled. The weapons were assembled near the lagoon shore about 150 yards from Red Beach 1, and a fire direction center was established near the mortars.

The Cannon Companies of the two regimental combat teams landed one platoon at a time with each battalion. Some of the 75-mm. howitzers were packed ashore, while others were waterproofed and towed over the reef from landing craft. The howitzers of the 32nd Regiment were emplaced by 1700 in the southwest corner of a natural clearing just beyond the beachhead line, which lay about 250 yards inland. As early as 1330 one section of the 184th’s Cannon Company was firing from a position on the lagoon shore line; about three hours later three more pieces were in battery formation with it. The remaining platoon landed about 1900 and went into bivouac.

Each of the nine battalion landing teams at southern Kwajalein was assigned a collecting platoon of the 7th Medical Battalion. The first to land was the 1st Platoon, Company B, which came in at Red Beach 2 with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Regiment, at 1130. An hour later the 3rd Platoon, Company C, landed on Red Beach 1 with the 3rd Battalion, 184th. Each platoon set up a collecting station on the beach and evacuated casualties by LVT’s to the transport.

When the shore party medical sections were ready on the beaches, evacuation of casualties was turned over to them, and the collecting platoons, each now reinforced by a second, moved inland from the beaches to set up two collecting stations. Before night, all collecting platoons and headquarters of each medical company were ashore. Evacuation of the injured along the highway to the beaches was swift. Because of the small number of casualties, only one platoon was needed to operate a collecting station in each regimental zone. Men of the other two platoons were sent forward to act as litter bearers, thus accelerating the medical service.

About 1530 the 7th Infantry Division Medical Battalion headquarters and headquarters detachment established the battalion command post about 200 yards inland, midway between the two beaches. The 1st Platoon, Company D, 7th Infantry Division Medical Battalion, landed some three hours later and was held in reserve near the command post pending the establishment of a clearing station, which was not put into operation until the morning of 4 February.

On Red Beach 1 a switchboard set up by the 75th JASCO and wire laid by 7th Infantry Division Signal Company elements connected the two regimental command posts with each other and with that of the 7th Division on Carlson Island, and also linked the six battalions with the division artillery batteries. Amphibian tractors laid 4,500 yards of submarine cable along the atoll reef between the two islands. Later, the ebb and flow of the sea dragged the cable over the sharp coral and broke it from time to time, but cable laying details continually repaired the damage.

The 2nd Battalion, 32nd Regiment, was available for support from the moment the landings began; its four assault waves had embarked in amphibian tractors and its four supporting waves in landing craft shortly after sunrise. They were ordered ashore at 1035. After the first waves had landed, the LVT’s returned to pick up the troops of the four supporting waves at the edge of the reef. Early in the afternoon they reorganized near the beach and started eastward in column of companies. The 3rd Battalion, 32nd, spent most of the day at sea, coming ashore in the afternoon.

This battalion, the regimental reserve, was not committed until the next day. The 2nd Battalion, 184th Regiment, the support battalion, landed on Red Beach 1 between 1330 and 1630, formed a column of companies to mop up the area behind the 3rd Battalion, and later established a defensive perimeter for the night. The 1st Battalion, in reserve, landed between 1800 and 1930 and crowded into the limited bivouac area near the lagoon. Throughout 1 February the Southern Landing Force thus built up its assault and support elements on the western end of Kwajalein Island as rapidly as reef and beaches could be crossed. Their task was relatively easy because of the light opposition encountered on the beaches. The confusion that had marked the landing of assault and support units at Tarawa was nowhere apparent at Kwajalein. Naval, artillery, and aerial bombardment had done their work well. The troops had been carried ashore on schedule and in sufficient number to sustain the assault. The ship-to-shore movement was an eminent success.

SOURCE: Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls: BY; Philip A. Crowl, & Edmund G. Love (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Gilberts & Marshalls(15A); Kwajalein: Push Inland: First Day

World War Two: Gilberts & Marshalls (13); Japanese Defenses Marshalls