Today’s Funny for Feb. 20: Good Advice

Good Advice

Sometimes humor is not direct. Here is a list of serious, non-humorous advice. The humor comes if you don’t follow it, with yourself as the butt of the joke.

  1. Before turning to prayer or magick, use the strengths and abilities within yourself. It’s simpler that way.
  2. Ask for what you want. Say how you are feeling. The results are very often postive.
  3. Always know the deities you are working with.  Don’t ask Eris or Odin for peace.  Get a good mythology reference and use it.
  4. Don’t invoke two or more dieties from different pantheons, especially not when they have different ideas on how to answer your prayer. Remember, Pax doesn’t wish to meet or work with Morrigan.
  5. Be nice to your spirit guides. They will help you if they are pleased with you, hinder you when not.
  6. Never leave anything up to the whims of the gods.  Take the time and effort to be very precise in what you ask for.
  7. Say nice things about your foes in public.
  8. Simple is better.
  9. Believe in magick.  It really does work.
  10. Everything that happens is an answered prayer.  Nothing is random.
  11. Don’t give the gods undeserved credit or blame.
  12. Wash your feet before and after you go barefoot.
  13. When asking for strength, do it standing up, not sitting or lying down.
  14. Always tell the truth, even when it is not pleasant.
  15. When you deliver unwelcome news, do not expect to be welcomed or appreciated.
  16. Read the latest books on spiritual matters.  Some may be nonsense, but it always helps to know the current New Age buzzwords.
  17. Running on Pagan Standard Time is an insult to those who depend on you.
  18. Draw pictures rather then write words.  There is a reason that ancient people used pictures.
  19. Proofread.  This is especially important in Spellcraft.
  20. Always be prepared to provide constructive criticism, but don’t offer it unless asked.
  21. If you gossip about someone, assume they will find out.
  22. Never confuse e-mail with reality.
  23. Find another coven and make friends with its members.
  24. When you leave a group, don’t take parting shots — even if justified.
  25. If you tell a sexist or racist joke, expect to be criticized.
  26. Don’t read from a book aloud to anyone unless they ask.
  27. If you are a leader, groom at least one successor.
  28. Never go anywhere without something to write on and a pen.
  29. Do the hard stuff first.
  30. Build and maintain an address list.  Make sure you have a mundane name, postal address, phone number and e-mail address for each person.
  31. Saying “I told you so,” even if you were right, is never appreciated.
  32. Back-up your computer’s disk often.
  33. Do not expect sympathy when you have a hangover.
  34. Don’t comment or point out someone else’s mistakes until you’ve corrected your own.
  35. A hearty belly-laugh is excellent stress relief.


Turok’s Cabana





Lack of motivation can be a pervasive and debilitating problem, but do not despair—there are ways to get yourself motivated! Read on for a few tips on improving self-motivation.

Forever — is composed of Nows —Emily Dickinson

Spring has arrived. The days stretch longer, you’ve (probably) put away the snow shovels, seen the first leaves unfurl, and the first crocus pop up.

But what refuses to pop up? Your self-motivation. Your get-up-and-go.

You have a lot to get up for: a stalled work project, that hour of daily exercise your doctor prescribed, your longstanding writer’s block, the spring housecleaning, quitting smoking.

Maybe you yearn for a quantum change—that bolt from the blue that suddenly enables you to make long-desired changes to your life and make them stick.

But every day, your same old, plodding self arises and finds it impossible to summon the self-motivation.

Whatever you need to do, your inner demons keep finding excuses for avoiding it.

When one of those demons rears its head, instead of saying Just do it! or Just say no!, I suggest proclaiming Just start somewhere, and see where it takes you.


This strategy envisions only starting a dreaded activity, not plotting a timeline of the actions needed to finish.

In her wonderful book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, Natalie Goldberg offers the best advice I’ve found—not just for writing, but for overcoming almost any sort of internal resistance or social overlay that’s keeping you from getting to your task.

Paraphrasing Goldberg:

  • Set a time. Say 15 minutes. (Get specific.)
  • Pick up your pencil, or put your hands on the keyboard. (Gear up.)
  • Keep your hand(s) moving. Don’t stop. (Just this little bit now.)
  • Don’t cross out (edit yourself).
  • Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, chronological order (doing it right).
  • Lose control. (Don’t plan, think, or ruminate about it.)
  • If nothing meaningful seems to come, don’t be afraid to write nonsense. Don’t stop until the time has passed.

You get the gist. Make a small, concrete commitment that your mind accepts as reasonable. Once you’re into it, your demons may have quieted down enough that it seems reasonable to keep going.

The housework?
“I’ll start with the upper shelf. Remove those books, brush the dust from those books, and scrub down that shelf. I can get to the rest later.”

That long walk?
Say to yourself, “Let’s go. Three telephone poles,” and head out the door. As likely as not, at least for me, I usually find myself saying, “Okay, three poles. Now to the top of the hill…” and finish my intended distance.

Goldberg talks about “being a great warrior” who cuts through the noise, the self-doubt, and the laziness.


A couple of important corollaries: no promises for tomorrow and no self-recrimination when today’s start doesn’t end up with much progress toward the ultimate.

As a motivational strategy, just starting seems light years away from quantum change. And in the moment, they don’t seem connected.

Yet I’ve experienced several moments of quantum change in my life, and I’ve often wondered if long avoidance of a needed change, the brief moments of clarity about what I need to do, and the repeated starts and failures lurk in the recesses of my mind to the point of confluence, so when I wake up some morning, the big change seems ridiculously easy.

Until then, I’ll try to stay with my Just start strategy.

But what do I do if my starts don’t seem to turn into finishes? Stay tuned.


“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Published on The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Feb. 20: SELF-TRICKERY FOR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING



January 22, 2014

Try self-trickery. It often works for me.

Here’s the dilemma: I know I need to change (something). I’m also aware I don’t want to do the work that seems to be required, or I would have changed already. Escaping an established habit or routine feels uncomfortable, and I’m likely to slip back into the comfortable, well-worn grooves of habit.

The kind of trickery I’m suggesting is entirely intentional and stays intentional throughout the change process–the opposite of magical thinking, self-deception, self-sabotage, delusion, and denial (though self-trickery can easily slip into one of those pits and derail an intention).

Everyone, no matter how smart, rich, beautiful, or well educated, struggles with making  and sustaining changes that protect their own or others’ health and well-being. The tricks are equally available to all and don’t cost anything but a moment of two of mindful attention.

For me, self-trickery has three essential requirements:

  • The initial insight l that I need to change something. Lacking the insight, there’s no motivation to change.
  • The acknowledgment that my mind has a powerful propensity to forget or ignore almost immediately any decision to change.
  • A concrete, intentional act in the direction of the desired change.

I find change especially difficult when it looms as a big change. I’m most likely to move meaningfully in the direction of change when the act is small and immediate. Big changes feel abstract, far off, and impossible. Easy to put off until tomorrow.

So, self-trickery is the strategy. Here are a few of the tactics that work for me:

  • Negotiate. Negotiating between and among my various selves is one of my favorite ways to initiate, and especially to maintain, a change. It’s reliable, and anyone who’s worked with children and/or adolescents already has a sense of the nuances involved. Say I don’t feel like exercising today. I’d hoped to walk three miles. I’ve dressed to go, but I just don’t want to. So, I start the negotiation:“Okay, what about I walk for 10 minutes. Then I’ll I’ll come back, sink down into my armchair, have a snack, and start that delicious novel.” When even 10 minutes seems too long, I’ll knock it back to five, or maybe a specific distance–from here to the sawmill road, or half a dozen telephone poles. Once I’ve set out to fulfill the bargain we’ve all agreed to, I’m generally able keep it going until I meet my original goal of three miles.
  • Do the hard stuff first. This simple tactic is analogous to the trick we play with the-year-olds: Eat your veggies before you get dessert. It’s actually a form of negotiation.
  • Just do it! I love that old Nike slogan. It fits well with my rural Vermont upbringing: just summon the courage, and step up, in the moment. Let’s say I need to apologize for a rude, insensitive, sarcastic, or patronizing remark I made to someone. For my emotional well-being, I need to do it, but I cringe at the thought of it. If I can Just do it! –say I’m sorry. That sarcastic remark was insensitive and hurtful, and I shouldn’t have made it. I’ll feel better. I may be more likely to hesitate the next time one of my inner saboteurs gets ready to sling a caustic remark.
  • Surprise yourself. The element of surprise is a time-honored strategy in war, romance, marketing–and self-transformation. Why? Because it jolts the mind from its grooves of habit, a requirement for change. I’ve written before about how I slept in my clothes–shoes and all–for several weeks the summer I started a regular exercise program. I didn’t trust myself not to get too “busy” to move my bones that day. So I’d pajama up in my exercise clothes, rise with the sun, swing my legs over the bed, gulp a swig or two of coffee, and get right out for my long walk, which later became a run. I eventually outgrew the need to sleep in my shoes, but the whole time I did, I felt a secret thrill of delight at how successful I’d been at tricking myself.
  • Defy yourself. This tactic involves facing down the bullies and naysayers within: It involves summoning the courage to say, “Hey, you’ve pushed me around long enough. I won’t do what you tell me to do. Here’s what I am going to do.” Then quickly perform a small, positive act in the direction of the change you want to make.
  • Stop! That’s right. Just stop. Stop moving. Hold still. Let your gaze rest on whatever lies before your eyes. Don’t think about anything. I find this tactic most useful when my mind is racing around in one of those negative feedback loops, and everything seems impossible. After a short pause, I find it useful to get up and move around vigorously for a few seconds (or minutes). Exercise does wonders to clam the chattering mind.

There are many more such tricks (some of which involve buddying up with others committed to their own self-health). But note that each one of them stops working if repeated too often. So mix, match, combine, and come up with a few of your own.


“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Published on The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Holidays Around The World for Feb. 20: Carnival


Cheese Week, Mardi Gras, Maslenitsa, Packzi Day, Pancake Day, Shrovetide

Carnival is a holiday that developed in response to a religious observance, namely the six-week season of Lent. In the Middle Ages Christians endured many trying religious disciplines during Lent. As a result they celebrated the week before Lent began, enjoying one last fling before beginning these hardships.

Carnival celebrations last from several days to over a week and take place in early spring. Many festivals begin in earnest on the Saturday or Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. The Thursday before Ash Wednesday, sometimes called “Fat Thursday,” also once served as a traditional starting date for Carnival. The date of Carnival changes from year to year, as its timing depends on that of Easter (see also Easter, Date of). The festival reaches its peak on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. In some countries people call this day “Fat Tuesday.” Indeed Carnival began as a means of using up rich foods and indulging in lively behavior before the start of Lent with its accompanying fast and other religious disciplines.

Symbols and Customs

Although Carnival celebrations vary from country to country and region to region, they usually include some or all of the following customs and symbols. Most Carnivals offer participants various opportunities to take to the streets in costumes or masks. As people temporarily take on the identity represented by the costume or mask, they engage in a spontaneous kind of play-acting with other costumed participants and onlookers. The fool or clown plays an important role in many Carnival festivals and symbolizes the topsy-turvy nature of the holiday. Many celebrations also feature a mock king and queen, who rule over the kingdom of Carnival during the few days of its duration. Some festivals schedule a symbolic funeral at the end of the week’s festivities. A dummy, or some insignificant item, such as a sardine, is “killed” and buried, and this burial represents the death and laying to rest of Carnival for another year. Often people throw things at one another during Carnival celebrations, whether it be water, flowers, candy, oranges, or party favors, such as confetti or beads. Finally, Carnival customs often encourage people to eat and drink heartily, and may also include some loosening of the usual rules of social conduct.

Origins of the Word “Carnival”

Researchers disagree about the roots of the word “Carnival.” Some say it comes from the Latin phrase caro levare, which means to lift or remove meat. During the Middle Ages this phrase became carne levare, and eventually, carne vale. It passed into English as “Carnival.” In some of the Romance languages that evolved from Latin, the word took on a similar form. In Spanish it’s carnaval, in Italian carnavale, and in Portuguese carnaval. The French call it Mardi Gras, which means “Fat Tuesday.” Other researchers have drawn different conclusions about the origin of the word Carnival. They say it comes from carrus navalis, a boat-shaped cart drawn through the city streets during the ancient Roman winter festival of Saturnalia. Masked and costumed men and women rode in the cart, singing coarse songs.


Where did Carnival come from? Most researchers agree that it began as a celebration of the last few days before the beginning of Lent. During the Middle Ages, people observed Lent by fasting, refraining from marital relations, reflecting mournfully on their shortcomings, and in some cases performing penance for serious misdeeds (for more on penance, see Repentance; see also Sin). No marriages could be performed during this somber time. Therefore, people celebrated the week before they began this strict regimen by indulging in rich foods, gaiety, and outrageous behavior, in other words, by enjoying all that was soon to be forbidden.

While Carnival as we know it today began in Europe in the Middle Ages, some writers believe that its origins lie in various celebrations that took place in the ancient Mediterranean world. They point to a variety of festivals observed in ancient times which resemble Carnival in certain ways. For example, during Saturnalia people feasted, drank, and reveled in the streets, often in costume. Moreover, social rank temporarily disappeared, as those of high rank served those of low rank, slaves enjoyed a temporary holiday, and people engaged in madcap behavior of all kinds.

The Babylonian and Mesopotamian New Year festivals, rowdy celebrations that took place in mid-spring, also featured street masquerades (for more on a related modern festival, see No Ruz). In biblical times the Jewish people created a spring holiday called Purim. During this holiday, still celebrated today, people hid their identities behind masks, men and women wore each other’s clothing, and people engaged in wild behavior normally considered inappropriate. Another Roman holiday, Lupercalia, which took place in early spring, offered certain young men an opportunity to dress in animal skins and run wild through the streets, flailing whips at young women who crossed their path. According to Roman folk belief, the strokes of these whips bestowed fertility. Finally, Roman devotees of the goddess Cybele observed a joyous spring festival called Hilaria.

Other writers disagree with the argument that Carnival evolved from these ancient celebrations. They point out that, with the exclusion of Purim, the last of these ancient festivals disappeared about five hundred years before 965 A.D., when the first mention of European Carnival celebrations appears in an historical document. This fact leads this group of researchers to conclude that, although Carnival shares some customs with ancient festivals, medieval Europeans invented the observance on their own as a means of letting off steam before beginning the hardships of Lent.

Medieval and Renaissance Carnivals

The earliest mentions of European Carnival celebrations in historical documents call it carnelevare, literally “lift up meat” or “take away meat.” Indeed, judging by these documents, eating meat seems to be the primary custom connected with the season. Carnival rooted itself in the European folk calendar between the years 1000 and 1300 with celebrations focused around feasting in preparation for the fasting soon to come.

The full range of customs that came to characterize European Carnival celebrations developed in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. During these centuries, which coincided with a period of social and intellectual change that historians have dubbed the Renaissance, people adopted new ways of looking at the world. These new perspectives included humanism, a philosophy that emphasized the need to place human interests above other concerns, and naturalism, a doctrine that denied the existence of anything beyond the natural world. These philosophies influenced Carnival celebrations by increasing the value people placed on lighthearted foolishness as a means of counterbalancing the artificial social demands and seriousness required of people in everyday life. During this era Carnival celebrations came to include a greater emphasis on clowns, fools, and social satire, that is, making fun of society and its rules. The famous Flemish artist Pieter Brueghel (c.1525-1530 to 1569) left us a visual description of the Carnival celebrations of this era in his 1559 painting entitled “The Battle of Carnival and Lent.” By the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries those populations in which Carnival had taken root observed the festive season with masquerades, rich foods, drink, and rowdy revelry, especially antics that made fun of human folly or reversed social roles and ranks. Custom encouraged people to play pranks on one another, especially to throw water, flour, beans, dirt, or other substances at each other.

Criticism of Carnival

In the mid-fifteenth century Church authorities began to criticize Carnival celebrations for encouraging various kinds of excesses and creating public disorder. These criticisms often compared Carnival to pagan Roman festivals, suggesting that they indeed represented a survival of paganism and therefore should be suppressed. Active repression of Carnival celebrations began in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the year 1748 Pope Benedict XIV instituted a new custom in the Roman Catholic Church. This custom, called the “forty hours of Carnival,” required Roman Catholic churches to hold special services on the evenings of the last three days of Carnival. Churches also left their doors open during these forty hours so that people could enter at any time to seek God’s forgiveness for sins committed during the festival.

Carnival in the Modern Era

In the sixteenth century well-to-do Italians began to host costume balls in celebration of Carnival. This trend eventually spread to other parts of Europe, giving rise to a courtly Carnival. This same trend led to the introduction of elegant floats and magnificent parades, which encouraged a more civil and structured celebration.

In spite of official opposition and unease, Carnival celebrations proved impossible to stamp out in much of southern Europe. In northern Europe, however, Carnival celebrations faded away in some regions where they had once been popular. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries people began to beautify the festival in response to new perspectives introduced by the Romantic movement, which tended to idealize old traditions and folkways. Over time many Europeans discarded some of the dirtier and more aggressive customs associated with the holiday, such as throwing water or oranges at one another, and replaced them with gentler gestures, like tossing confetti and flowers. It became fashionable in some cities to ride in flowercovered carriages, construct elaborate parade floats, and host elegant masked balls. As the parades grew in importance the nature of the festival changed. Previously everyone had participated in the masked hijinks. Now a division grew up between participants and spectators. In the past the spirit of Carnival swept over the entire town. Now it was concentrated along a specific parade route.

From Europe to the Americas

While some of these changes were felt in Spain and Portugal, their rural Carnival celebrations continued in the same rowdy spirit of ages past. People in the street threw oranges, lemons, eggs, flour, mud, straw, corncobs, beans or lupines (a type of flower) at one another, and people on balconies poured dirty water, glue or other obnoxious substances on the crowds below. Those in the streets battled one another with brooms or wooden spoons. Indoors people feasted on rich foods, to which they also treated guests. The wealthier homes might even toss cakes and pastries out windows to passersby. Colonists from these countries exported this version of Carnival, called Entrudo in Portuguese, and Antroido or Entroido in the Galician language of northwestern Spain, to Latin America.

Latin American Carnival celebrations blend European Carnival customs with African and Native American traditions of celebration. African-influenced music and dance, for example, play an especially important role in Carnival celebrations in Brazil and Trinidad (see also Brazil, Carnival in; Trinidad, Carnival in). Meanwhile the French succeeded in transferring their Carnival celebrations to certain of their colonies in North America, namely those centered around the cities of New Orleans and Mobile. These celebrations, known as Mardi Gras, survive today, a regional American expression of an old European seasonal festival.

For more on Carnival, see Brazil, Carnival in; Cheese Week; Germany, Carnival in; Italy, Carnival in; Mardi Gras; Maslenitsa; Paczki Day; Pancake Day; Shrovetide; Switzerland, Carnival in; and Trinidad, Carnival in

Further Reading

Blackburn, Bonnie, and Leofranc Holford-Strevens. The Oxford Companion to the Year. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1999. Goldwasser, Maria Julia. “Carnival.” In Mircea Eliade, ed. The Encyclopedia of Religion. Volume 3. New York: Macmillan, 1987. Griffin, Robert H., and Ann H. Shurgin, eds. Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Holidays. Volume 1. Detroit, MI: UXL, 2000. Kinser, Samuel. Carnival American Style. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. Lau, Alfred. Carneval International. Bielefeld, Germany: Univers-Verlag, n.d. Orloff, Alexander. Carnival: Myth and Cult. Wörgl, Austria: Perlinger, 1981.

This Day in History for Feb. 20: The Barber of Seville’s Disastrous Debut (1816)

The Barber of Seville‘s Disastrous Debut (1816)

The Barber of Seville

The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution (Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L’inutile precauzione) is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini’s opera (under the title Almaviva, o sia L’inutile precauzione) took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome.[1]

Rossini’s Barber has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music, and has been described as the opera buffa of all “opere buffe”. Even after two hundred years, its popularity on the modern opera stage attests to that greatness.[2]

Composition history

Rossini’s opera recounts the first of the plays from the Figaro trilogy, by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais, while Mozart’s opera Le nozze di Figaro, composed 30 years earlier in 1786, is based on the second part of the Beaumarchais trilogy. The first Beaumarchais play was originally conceived as an opéra comique, but was rejected as such by the Comédie-Italienne.[3] The play as it is now known was premiered in 1775 by the Comédie-Française at the Tuileries Palace in Paris.[4]

Other operas based on the first play were composed by Giovanni Paisiello (Il barbiere di Siviglia, 1782), by Nicolas Isouard (1796), and by Francesco Morlacchi (1816). Though the work of Paisiello triumphed for a time, only Rossini’s version has stood the test of time and continues to be a mainstay of operatic repertoire. On 11 November 1868, two days before Rossini’s death, the composer Costantino Dall’Argine (1842–1877), premiered an opera based on the same libretto as Rossini’s work,[5] bearing a dedication to Rossini.[6] The premiere was not a failure, but critics condemned the “audacity” of the young composer, and the work is now forgotten.[6][7]

Rossini was well known for being remarkably productive, completing an average of two operas per year for 19 years, and in some years writing as many as four. Musicologists believe that, true to form, the music for Il Barbiere di Siviglia was composed in just under three weeks,[8] although some of the themes in the famous overture were actually borrowed from two earlier Rossini operas, Aureliano in Palmira and Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra.

Performance history

The premiere of Rossini’s opera was a disastrous failure: the audience hissed and jeered throughout, and several on-stage accidents occurred.[8] However, many of the audience were supporters of one of Rossini’s rivals, Giovanni Paisiello, who played on mob mentality to provoke the rest of the audience to dislike the opera.[8] Paisiello had already composed The Barber of Seville and took Rossini’s new version to be an affront to his version. In particular, Paisiello and his followers were opposed to the use of basso buffo, which is common in comic opera.[9] The second performance met with quite a different fate, becoming a roaring success.[8] The original French play, Le Barbier de Séville endured a similar story, poorly received at first only to become a favorite within a week.

The opera was first performed in England on 10 March 1818 at the King’s Theatre in London in Italian, soon followed on 13 October at the Covent Garden Theatre by an English version translated by John Fawcett and Daniel Terry. It was first performed in America on 3 May 1819 in English (probably the Covent Garden version) at the Park Theatre in New York.[10] It was given in French at the Théâtre d’Orléans in New Orleans on 4 March 1823,[11] and became the first opera ever to be performed in Italian in New York, when Manuel Garcia (who played Almaviva) and his Italian troupe opened their first season there with Il barbiere on 29 November 1825 at the Park Theatre. The cast of eight had three other members of his family, including the 17-year-old Maria-Felicia, later known as Maria Malibran.[12]

The role of Rosina was originally written for a contralto. Because of its popularity, singers have frequently distorted Rossini’s intentions. The most serious distortion has been transposition of the role to a higher pitch, “turning her from a lustrous alto into a pert soprano.”[13] In addition, the singing lesson in Act 2 has often been turned into “a show-stopping cabaret.”[13] Adelina Patti was known to include Luigi Arditi’s “Il bacio”, the Bolero from Verdi’s I vespri siciliani, the Shadow Song from Meyerbeer’s Dinorah, and Henry Bishop’s “Home! Sweet Home!”. Nellie Melba followed suit, accompanying herself on the piano in the final song.[13] Pauline Viardot began the practice of inserting Alabiev’s “Nightingale”. Maria Callas sang a cut-down version of Rossini’s own “Contro un cor.”

Once after Patti had sung a particularly florid rendition of the opera’s legitimate aria, ‘Una voce poco fa’, Rossini is reported to have asked her: “Very nice, my dear, and who wrote the piece you have just performed?”[14]

As a staple of the operatic repertoire, Barber appears as number nine on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide.[15] Because of the increasing scarcity of good contraltos,[16] the role of Rosina has most frequently been sung by a coloratura mezzo-soprano (with or without pitch alterations, depending on the singer), and has in the past, and occasionally in more recent times, been sung by coloratura sopranos such as Marcella Sembrich, Maria Callas, Roberta Peters, Gianna D’Angelo, Victoria de los Ángeles, Beverly Sills, Lily Pons, Diana Damrau, Kathleen Battle and Luciana Serra. Famous recent mezzo-soprano Rosinas include Marilyn Horne, Teresa Berganza, Lucia Valentini Terrani, Susanne Marsee, Cecilia Bartoli, Joyce DiDonato, Jennifer Larmore, Elīna Garanča, and Vesselina Kasarova. Famous contralto Rosinas include Ewa Podleś.

Act 1

In a public square outside Bartolo’s house a band of musicians and a poor student named Lindoro are serenading, to no avail, the window of Rosina (“Ecco, ridente in cielo”; “There, laughing in the sky”). Lindoro, who is really the young Count Almaviva in disguise, hopes to make the beautiful Rosina love him for himself—not his money. Almaviva pays off the musicians who then depart, leaving him to brood alone. Rosina is the young ward of the grumpy, elderly Bartolo and she is allowed very little freedom because Bartolo plans to marry her, and her not inconsiderable dowry, himself – once she is of age.

Figaro approaches singing (Aria: “Largo al factotum della città”; “Make way for the factotum of the city”). Since Figaro used to be a servant of the Count, the Count asks him for assistance in helping him meet Rosina, offering him money should he be successful in arranging this. (Duet: “All’idea di quel metallo”; “At the idea of that metal”). Figaro advises the Count to disguise himself as a drunken soldier, ordered to be billeted with Bartolo, so as to gain entrance to the house. For this suggestion, Figaro is richly rewarded.

The scene begins with Rosina’s cavatina, “Una voce poco fa” (“A voice a little while ago”). (This aria was originally written in the key of E major, but it is sometimes transposed a semitone up into F major for coloratura sopranos to perform, giving them the chance to sing extra, almost traditional, cadenzas, sometimes reaching high Ds or even Fs, as is the case of Diana Damrau’s performances.)

Knowing the Count only as Lindoro, Rosina writes to him. As she is leaving the room, Bartolo and Basilio enter. Bartolo is suspicious of the Count, and Basilio advises that he be put out of the way by creating false rumours about him (this aria, “La calunnia è un venticello” – “Calumny is a little breeze” – is almost always sung a tone lower than the original D major).

When the two have gone, Rosina and Figaro enter. The latter asks Rosina to write a few encouraging words to Lindoro, which she has actually already written. (Duet: “Dunque io son…tu non m’inganni?”; “Then I’m the one…you’re not fooling me?”). Although surprised by Bartolo, Rosina manages to fool him, but he remains suspicious. (Aria: “A un dottor della mia sorte”; “To a doctor of my class”).

As Berta, the Bartolo housekeeper, attempts to leave the house, she is met by the Count disguised as an intoxicated soldier. In fear of the drunken man, she rushes to Bartolo for protection and he tries to remove the supposed soldier, but does not succeed. The Count manages to have a quick word with Rosina, whispering that he is Lindoro and passing her a letter. The watching Bartolo is suspicious and demands to know what is in the piece of paper in Rosina’s hands, but she fools him by handing over her laundry list. Bartolo and the Count start arguing and, when Basilio, Figaro and Berta appear, the noise attracts the attention of the Officer of the Watch and his men. Bartolo believes that the Count has been arrested, but Almaviva only has to whisper his name to the officer and is released right away. Bartolo and Basilio are astounded, and Rosina makes sport of them. (Finale: “Fredda ed immobile, comme una statua”; “Cold and still, just like a statue”).

Act 2

Almaviva again appears at the doctor’s house, this time disguised as a singing tutor and pretending to act as substitute for the supposedly ailing Basilio, Rosina’s regular singing teacher. Initially, Bartolo is suspicious, but does allow Almaviva to enter when the Count gives him Rosina’s letter. He describes his plan to discredit Lindoro whom he believes to be one of the Count’s servants, intent on pursuing women for his master. In order not to leave Lindoro alone with Rosina, the doctor has Figaro shave him. (Quintet: “Don Basilio! – Cosa veggo!”; “Don Basilio! – What do I see?”).

When Basilio suddenly appears, he is bribed to feign sickness by a full purse from Almaviva. Finally Bartolo detects the trick, drives everybody out of the room, and rushes to a notary to draw up the marriage contract between himself and Rosina. He also shows Rosina the letter she wrote to “Lindoro”, and convinces her that Lindoro is merely a flunky of Almaviva.

The stage remains empty while the music creates a thunder storm. The Count and Figaro climb up a ladder to the balcony and enter the room through a window. Rosina shows Almaviva the letter and expresses her feelings of betrayal and heartbreak. Almaviva reveals his identity and the two reconcile. While Almaviva and Rosina are enraptured by one another, Figaro keeps urging them to leave. Two people are heard approaching the front door, and attempting to leave by way of the ladder, they realize it has been removed. The two are Basilio and the notary and Basilio is given the choice of accepting a bribe and being a witness or receiving two bullets in the head (an easy choice, he says). He and Figaro witness the signatures to a marriage contract between the Count and Rosina. Bartolo barges in, but is too late. The befuddled Bartolo (who was the one who had removed the ladder) is pacified by being allowed to retain Rosina’s dowry.


^ Casaglia, Gherardo, “20 Febbraio 1816”, Almanacco Amadeus, 2005
^ Fisher, Burton D., The Barber of Seville (Opera Classics Library Series). Grand Rapids: Opera Journeys, 2005.
^ Weinstock 1968, p. 54; Oborne, Charles 1994, p. 57.
^ Cordier 1883, p. 13.
^ Weinstock 1968,p. 366.
^ a b D’Arcais, F. (1869). “Rassegna Musicale”. Direzione della nuova antologia (in Italian) (Firenze: Direzione della nuova antologia) 10: 404.
^ Gazzetta Piemontese (in Italian). 17 November 1868. p. 2.
^ a b c d Osborne, Richard 2007, pp. 38–41.
^ The Barber of Seville at
^ Loewenberg 1978, columns 643–646.
^ Kmen 1966, p. 97.
^ Sommer 1992, p. 586.
^ a b c Osborne, Richard 1992, p. 311.
^ Quoted by Richard Osborne, 1992, p. 311.
^ “Opera Statistics”. Operabase. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
^ Myers, Eric, “Sweet and Low: The case of the vanishing contralto, Opera News, December 1996.
^ Roles are listed as given in the 1816 libretto (Rome: Crispino Puccinelli).
^ The voice types given here refer to the original cast as listed in a 2010 program book from Fondazione Teatro La Fenice di Venezia (see Il barbiere di Siviglia, p. 37 [pdf p. 51]), except for Figaro. Although the program book lists Figaro as a bass, all other sources cited here have baritone.
^ Originally written for contralto according to a 2010 program book from La Fenice, as well as Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311. Contemporary printed scores tend to list Rosina as a mezzo-soprano role, and the role is listed as mezzo-soprano by Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; Gosset & Brauner 2001, p. 776; and Kobbé 1997, p. 667. Actual casting practice of opera houses varies widely. Some mezzo-sopranos can sing it as originally written without alteration, but a popular transposed version is often used when a soprano is cast in the role. Singers of all three voice types have found considerable success with the role (Foil & Berger 2006).
^ Listed as baritone by Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311; Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; Gosset & Brauner 2001, p. 776; and Kobbé 1997, p. 310.
^ Also listed as soprano by Gossett & Brauner 2001, p. 776; Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; and Kobbé 1997, p. 667. In modern performance the role of Berta is also sung by mezzo-sopranos, and it is listed as mezzo-soprano by Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311. See also, Il barbiere di Siviglia on the MetOpera Database (performance archives of the Metropolitan Opera)
^ Also listed as bass by Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311; Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; and Kobbé 1997, p. 667. Listed as baritone by Gossett & Brauner 2001, p. 776.
^ The hard of hearing Ambrogio is limited to asking “Eh?”, notated on middle C.
^ The plot synopsis is partly based on Melitz 1921, pp. 29–31., with updates, clarifications, and modifications to its often out-of-date language.

Cordier, Henri (1883). Bibliographie des oeuvres de Beaumarchais. Paris: A. Quantin. Copy at Google Books.
Foil, David; Berger, William (2006). Text accompanying Rossini: The Barber of Seville. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal. ISBN 978-1-57912-618-6. OCLC 840078233.
Gossett, Philip; Brauner, Patricia B. (2001). “Gioachino Rossini”, pp. 765–796, in The New Penguin Opera Guide, edited by Amanda Holden. New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4.
Kmen, Henry A. (1966). Music in New Orleans: The Formative Years 1791–1841. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 9780807105481.
Kobbé, Gustav (1997). The New Kobbé’s Opera Book, edited by The Earl of Harewood and Antony Peattie. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. ISBN 978-0-399-14332-8.
Loewenberg, Alfred (1978). Annals of Opera 1597–1940 (third edition, revised). Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-87471-851-5.
Melitz, Leo (1921). The Opera Goer’s Complete Guide, translated by Richard Salinger. Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishing. Copy at Google Books.
Osborne, Charles (1994). The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0-931340-71-3
Osborne, Richard (1992). “Barbiere di Siviglia, Il” in Sadie 1992, vo. 1, pp. 311–314.
Osborne, Richard (2007), Rossini: His Life and Works Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-518129-6
Sadie, Stanley, editor (1992). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-56159-228-9.
Sommer, Susan T. (1992). “New York” in Sadie 1992, vol. 3, pp. 585–592.
Sterbini Romano, Cesare (1816). Almaviva o sia L’inutile precauzione … Con Musica del Maestro Gioacchino Rossini, libretto in Italian. Rome: Crispino Puccinelli. Copy at Google Books.
Weinstock, Herbert (1968). Rossini: A Biography. New York: Knopf. OCLC 192614 and 250474431. Reprint (1987): New York: Limelight. ISBN 978-0-87910-071-1.

Inspiration for the Day for Feb. 20: Personal Power





Personal Power


Power is not about exerting our will over others, it is about being in complete truth with yourself.

Many of us have do not understand what personal power means. We have been given the false notion that power is bad–that it is something we use to exert our will upon others. In fact, when our personal power is intact, we are neither overbearing nor meek. We have a clear sense of our strength and the impact we can have on others. This actually enables us to be more sensitive. Personal power is what permits us to work on behalf of our dreams and desires. It allows us to realize that we are worthy and deserve to be heard. In addition, our personal power lets us extend the respect we know that we deserve to the people around us. There is no reason to be afraid or ashamed of fully owning your power.

In the chakra system, the solar plexus is the seat of personal power. One way to evaluate your sense of power is to breathe into this part of the body. If it feels tight or nervous, it is an indication that you may not be fully expressing your power. You can heal this imbalance by expanding the area of the solar plexus with your breath. You can also visualize a bright yellow sun in this part of your body. Allow its heat to melt any tension, and let its light dissolve any darkness or heaviness. Repeating this exercise on a regular basis can restore and rejuvenate your sense of power.

Another way to nurture your personal power is to honor your dreams and desires by making concrete plans to manifest them in the world. Start by making a list of things you want, and let yourself think big. Choose one goal from the list and commit to bringing it to fruition. In addition, break the goal into tasks that you can work on each day. Know that you deserve to have your dreams come true and that you have the power to bring them into being.


–Daily OM

Get A Jump On Tomorrow, Your Horoscopes for Thursday, Feb. 21st

Get A Jump On Tomorrow……

Your Horoscopes for Thursday, Feb. 21st

Claire Petulengro, Astrologer

From The Astrology Room


ARIES (March 21st-April 20th)

There is a really playful feel to your chart, which could see you saying things you don’t mean just to get a reaction out of people. Try also to listen to the problems of someone you know has just gone through a major change. Ring now to hear what your future holds.


TAURUS (April 21st-May 21st)

In order to have a certain person in your life, it would seem that you also have to have people you don’t like in it, who are attached by association. This is not a bad thing though, as it shows how tolerant you can be when you make up your mind to be so. Ring to hear more. 


GEMINI (May 22nd-June 21st)

I know you feel let down by what a loved one did or did not know, but your chart tells me that others had no alternative than to do what they could, with what was before them. The home faces a major outlay, but one which is not necessary for you to pay all of. Ring for clarity.


CANCER (June 22nd-July 23rd)

Education is well starred and if there is something you wanted to learn, then this is the time you will find the best courses and teachers. Something you are offered for free is not a trick, but a good will gesture. Ring now to hear whose innocence can show you the way out of a current problem.


LEO (July 24th-August 23rd)

It seems that in order to get the job done, you are going to have to agree to do things someone else’s way. This is not a bad thing as it can also put you in touch with contacts who can help you achieve a healthier bank balance. Ring now to hear which sign is talking babies soon.


VIRGO (August 24th-September 23rd)

You know it’s the job that’s never started, which is the hardest to finish. You have allowed yourself to be taken away from what was and should still be your priority. A lack of energy can be improved, by eating and not snacking for your sign. Ring now for your future to be revealed.


LIBRA (September 24th-October 23rd)

Happy times link to you not saying what you think is the right thing to say, but the honest words which I know are on the tip of your tongue. They will set you free my friend. Large building you visit, hold the key to a contract you will sign. Ring now for the finer details.


SCORPIO (October 24th-November 22nd)

Why are you in such a rush when what is occurring now, is actually something to be savoured and enjoyed? A past mistake is on your mind for all the wrong reasons, but actually has very little in common with what is occurring now. Ring me for a strange love prediction.


SAGITTARIUS (November 23rd-December 21st)

Fun times link to you finally doing what you want. You have spent so long trying to live life to suit others, but you now realise, this is not fair on you. Time spent going over paperwork, can see you with extra money this month. Ring now for an unusual love prediction.


CAPRICORN (December 22nd-January 20th)

Family demand a lot from you, but that seems to be because quite a few of your close ones are beginning new lives and need you on the side-lines to cheer them on. Don’t get in debt for an idea which is only half baked. Ring now to hear which career you were made for.


AQUARIUS (January 21st-February 19th)

If your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, then I know you can achieve it. I can see that you and a loved one have drifted apart, but from today you both take steps to rectify this. Ring now to hear why you have to be polite in all phone calls this week.


PISCES (February 20th-March 20th)

Something you had given up on being a success, is given a helping hand by someone who believes in you more than you do yourself lately. Run with this support and try to do things which signify that there can be no going back. Ring now to reveal how great life can be.


To listen to your weekly forecast call 09050 700 927

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Born on Wednesday, February 20, Happy Birthday, Pisces!

Flower Lovers

Happy Birthday Pisces!

IF YOUR BIRTHDAY IS FEBRUARY 20, you are unpretentious. If you are wondering what zodiac sign is February 20, then, of course, it is Pisces. Your gentle and affectionate nature makes you a kind person. You are good looking and soft-spoken as well. You are a beautiful person inside out.

Pisces born on February 20, you have this way of making anyone feel good about themselves. You are the perfect mate. You are romantic and very friendly. Taking into account of your positive qualities, Pisces, you are almost too good to be true. People are attracted to you because of this and more.

You, with birthday February 20, are dreamers. You love being in this private adventure. Traveling is a great way to act out your stories. You are more spontaneous than most and prefer to have your traveling companions take care of the agendas. It is okay; relax and have some fun!

If today is your birthday, you come across as having a calm and collected manner, but really, you can be impetuous. You need this to keep you motivated as it stirs your creative flow. As a part of your imagination, you can turn a pallet into a functional and beautiful piece of furniture.

For you who are born on February 20, you are outspoken when it comes to intimate involvements. You will ask for what you want. Pisces zodiac sign people are extremely romantic or idealistic when it comes to courting his or her mate.

According to the February 20 birthday meaning, your sensitive nature only adds to your charm. You are blessed to have an intuitive quality that allows you to bring to fruition your fantasies. Nothing makes you happier than this.

However, there is another side to this Pisces. Those with 20th February birthday can be needy and jealous. You do not like feeling this way, but it is what it is. You cannot hide in the bathroom forever so come on out and face the consequences. It is nothing that you cannot handle. Let us work on your insecurities through a better understanding of your partner’s needs and yours.

As per the Pisces birthday horoscope for this date, you are artistic and could be gifted in many areas relating to creative arts. Perhaps you are a gifted cartoonist or painter, maybe a guitarist or violin player. Your strengths can be seen in your keen ability to remember things. Your photographic memory only adds to the long list of positive qualities you possess.

The February 20 birthday astrology shows you are high spirited, Pisces. You are always on the go. It may seem as though you spend too much money doing “this, that and the other,” but you are thrifty and budget your money to get the most out of your dollar. When it comes down to it, making money is no comparison to living your life. I mean, really living your life. However, without you, how can you live?

It will take money to make the dreams of a February 20 Pisces come true. It does not drop out of the sky, so somebody has to make it. That would be you, Pisces. Well, you may meet someone special and perhaps “merge” your resources for combined wealth and power. It is possible that you will inherit a lump sum. Either way, those born on this day will have financial success.

Although you are pretty right when it comes to attending to your health needs, you take comfort in foods that are not so good for you. They make you feel good when you need a lift but you know too much is not beneficial.

You are the real McCoy. There is no pretending when it comes to the February 20 birthday Piscean. You are a dreamer but can bring those dreams into a reality. You tend not to fuss over financial matters but rather will probably marry into money. Take care of your body and avoid sweets or foods that are high in fat.


Famous People And Celebrities Born On February 20

Sir Charles Barkley, Cindy Crawford, Sandy Duncan, Gail Kim, Sidney Poitier, Rihanna, Ivana Trump, Gloria Vanderbilt, Nancy Wilson

See: Famous Birthdays For This Day

This Day That Year – February 20 In History

1792 – Postage stamp cost 6 cents – 12 cents depending on where it is going. US Post Office is now open for business
1872 – Patent on Cyrus Baldwin’s hydraulic, electric elevator
1895 – Denver, CO – Congress authorizes a US mint
1931 – Oakland-Bay Bridge gets okay by Congress

February 20 Meen Rashi (Vedic Moon Sign)

February 20 Chinese Zodiac RABBIT

February 20 Birthday Planet

Your ruling planet is Neptune & Saturn.

Neptune stands for spiritual healing, compassion, and idealism.
Saturn symbolizes sternness, stability, problems, and discipline.

February 20 Birthday Symbols

The Water Bearer Is The Symbol For The Aquarius Sun Sign
The Two Fishes Are The Symbol Of The Pisces Zodiac Sign

February 20 Birthday Tarot Card

Your Birthday Tarot Card is Judgement. This card shows that this is a time to decide and listen to your inner self. The Minor Arcana cards are Eight of Cups and King of Cups.

February 20 Birthday Compatibility

You are most compatible with people born under Zodiac Sign Taurus: This is a dependable and reliable relationship.
You are not compatible with people born under Zodiac Sign Virgo: A delicate and vulnerable relationship.

February 20 Lucky Numbers

Number 2 – This number stands for nurturing, caring for others, feelings and harmony.
Number 4 – This number symbolizes practicality, planning and methodical nature.

Lucky Colors For February 20 Birthday

Sea Green: This is a calming color that symbolizes peace, happiness, and feelings.
Silver: This color stands for emotions, sensitivity, intuition, and glamor.

Lucky Days For February 20 Birthday

Thursday – This day is ruled by planet Jupiter. It symbolizes creation, encouragement, positivity, and happiness.
Monday – This day is ruled by the Moon. It stands for intuition, feelings, kindness, and loyalty.

February 20 Birthstones

Amethyst is a spiritual stone that brings clarity to your thinking. Aquamarine is a healing stone that helps with meditation and spiritual growth.

Ideal Zodiac Birthday Gifts For People Born On February 20

A fragrant bath oil for the Pisces woman and tickets to a concert for the man. The February 20 birthday horoscope forecasts that you love the simple things in life.

World War Two: North Africa (5-23); Rommel’s Thrust Through Kasserine Pass

The first phase of exploitation after the battles near Sidi Bou Zid had come to an end when not only Gafsa but also Sbeitla and Fhiana, and the airfield at Thelepte, were abandoned by the Allies. On 17 February the two main axis forces, DAK at Feriana and 21st Panzer Division at Sbeitia,

had accomplished their separate missions. The 10th Panzer Division had established contact with the Axis forces at Fondouk el Aouareb gap and, in conformity with von Arnim’s orders, was on its way to an assembly area north of Kairouan. Reconnaissance in force was probing the gaps in the Western Dorsal from Sbiba to EI Ma el Abiod on 18 February, and air reconnaissance revealed that Allied troops were moving westward from the Kasserine pass and Bou Chebka areas. It appeared that the Allies were concentrating their forces around Tebessa, and perhaps leaving only rearguards to defend the passes through the Grand Dorsal. Clearly, the initiative was still with the Axis forces.

The Axis Decision of 18 February These developments led Field Marshal Rommel, in an uprush of sanguine anticipations, to go beyond the views he had expressed on the previous evening (17 February), that his own forces were not strong enough to undertake an attack against Tebessa and that such an operation could succeed, but only if reinforced by the main body of von Arnim’s mobile forces and supported by a holding attack along the Fifth Panzer Army’s northern and central sectors.

It now seemed to him that the opportunity had returned to accomplish the very kind of operation that he had once hopefully advanced as a reason for bringing his army swiftly back from Libya to Tunisia. At 1420 in the afternoon of the 18th, after an exchange of messages and a telephone conversation had revealed to Rommel the unyielding opposition of von Arnim to his proposals, the field marshal turned to Comando Supremo and Kesselring with this message: On the basis of the enemy situation as of today, I propose an immediate enveloping thrust from the southwest [sic] on Tebessa and the area to the north of it, provided Fifth Panzer Army’s supply situation is adequate. This offensive must be executed with strong forces. I therefore request that 10th Panzer and 21st Panzer Divisions be assigned to me and move immediately to the assembly area Thelepte-Feriana.

Rommel’s concept was that a wide enveloping operation through Tebessa with the ultimate objective of Bone, outflanking the reserves that the Allies were feeding into their lengthening southern front and disrupting their lines of communication, would force the British First Army to pull out of Tunisia altogether. Rommel’s proposal met with full approval from the Commander in Chief, South, who had just returned to Frascati from a visit to Hitler at his headquarters in East Prussia.

In his absence from Rome the vague Comanda Supremo order of 16 February, ordering exploitation of the successes gained at Sidi Bou Zid, had made von Arnim instead of Rommel responsible for such operations-a critical departure from OB SOUTH’s original concept. One result had been the dissolution of Group Ziegler at a time when it might, despite the original plans, have been concentrated for pursuit: Supporting Rommel’s proposal, Kesselring radioed to the two army commanders in Tunisia: “I consider it essential to continue the attack toward Tebessa and northward by concentrating all available forces on the left wing and exploiting our recent successes with a blow that can still have vast consequences for the enemy. This is for your preliminary information. I shall speak in this sense to the Duce and [General] Ambrosio today.” Rommel waited impatiently for the decision.

Late on the evening of the 18th he sent another urgent message to Comando Supremo asking that the 21st Panzer Division be rushed to Thelepte and the 10th Panzer Division, to Kasserine to launch the proposed offensive by the next evening. Clearly, Rommel’s objective was still Tebessa. Shortly before midnight the order requested by Rommel reached him at his advanced headquarters. Comando Supremo, stating that “a unique opportunity is now offered to force a decisive success in Tunisia,” directed that a deep thrust be made toward the north to threaten the rear of British 5 Corps; if possible to isolate it; in any event to force its withdrawal. With all available mobile elements of his own German-Italian Panzer Army, as well as the 10th Panzer and 21st Panzer Divisions, now assigned to him Rommel was directed to attack toward Maktar-Tadjeroulne with Le Kef as his initial objective. He was to concentrate his forces along a line from Sbeitla to Tebessa. A modicum of forces could provide flank security along the line Tebessa-Tozeur. Comando Supremo was convinced the Mareth Position would be safe from powerful attacks for another week or longer. That sector, defended with a minimum of mobile reserves, was to remain under Rommel’s command.

Fifth Panzer Army was directed to prepare itself to launch a holding attack on a wide front between the coast and Pont-du-Fahs. In the meantime it was to tie down and harass the Allies by frequent local attacks. In co-operation with the Naval Command, Africa, von Arnim was also to prepare to land troops at Tabarka. The Second Air Force was to organize a parachute mission to destroy the bridges at Le Kef. Comando Supremo assured the army commanders of stepped-up shipments of troops and supplies by air and sea.

The directive from Comando Supremo disappointed Rommel. It set an objective deep in the rear of the position of the Allies in the north; to this extent it was in accord with his intention of forcing a general Allied withdrawal into Algeria. But by making Le Kef the objective Comando Supremo’s directive rejected the method which Rommel had proposed-a wide circling movement through Tebessa. Tebessa, to be sure, was named, but only as the western anchor of his drive in the direction of Le Kef instead of being the first objective of a wide enveloping sweep toward Bone. This shift Rommel regarded as appallingly shortsighted, since it would send the main Axis drive into the midst of Allied reserves, and it would jeopardize seizure and destruction of the vital Allied nerve center at Tebessa, the base from which as Rommel was aware, II Corps had been preparing to launch an aggressive drive eastward into the Sfax-Gabes area.”

Kesselring believed, and von Arnim feared, that this ambiguous order left Rommel free to begin his operation with a full scale attack on Tebessa. But, Rommel, anxious to avoid delay and believing that he had been directed to make Le Kef instead of Tcbessa the first objective of his drive to the north, was convinced that it would require the bulk of his mobile forces to reach Le Kef quickly. He ordered them to concentrate for an advance on a direct, northwesterly axis to Le Kef, either through Kasserine Pass or Sbiba, depending on which was found to be less firmly held.

Rommel ordered his commanders to launch the initial phase of the attack at first light on the 19th. The 21st Panzer Division, starting at 0800 along the road from Sbeitia, was to tryout the Sbiba gap with Ksour, fifty miles north on the road to Le Kef, as its objective. Kampfgruppe DAK was to strike into the Kasserine pass in an attempt to clear it in one swift push.

Rommel ordered the 10th Panzer Division to return immediately from the Pichon-Kairouan area to Sbeitia, reserving its subsequent commitment for decision until he could determine the relative progress at Sbiba gap and Kasserine pass. Mobile elements of the Centauro Division were called up from Gafsa, and ordered to strike toward Tcbessa from the southeast. While Kampfgruppe DAK had decided to probe the southernmost opening through the Western Dorsal at El Ma el Aboid rather than the more difficult approach through Dernaia-Bon Chebka, Rommel directed Centauro to crack open the latter pass. It was to be supported by a detachment from Kampfgruppe DAK which was to circle around Djebel Chambi (1544) and assault the defenders from the rear. The field marshal planned to open his command post south of Feriana at noon, 19 February, and subsequently move nearer the main effort when its area had been determined.

On Rommel’s urgent request Comando Supremo during the night of 19-20 February followed up its directive with an order for reorganization of command. Under the designation Group Rommel, the field marshal was to command the combined forces of the First Italian Army (General Messe), charged with the defense of the Mareth Position, and a force comprising 10th Panzer, 21st Panzer Division, and DAK (Angriffsgruppe Nord); the latter he personally led in the battle now under way. The change, long overdue, went into effect at 0600 on 20 February.”

Early in the morning, 19 February, Kesselring flew to Tunisia to confer with von Arnim in order to guarantee that everything possible would be done to make the Axis offensive succeed. Kesselring had ample reason for being apprehensive. While he was absent from Rome Fifth Panzer Army’s report of operations had led OB SOUTH to believe that the 10th Panzer Division (not the 21st Panzer Division) had captured Sbeitla, and consequently, that Group Ziegler was concentrated in that vicinity. Only after German air reconnaissance had also reported a large-scale movement near Fondouk gap, which turned out to be that of the 10th Panzer Division, did von Arnim’s headquarters report its withdrawal. OB SOUTH immediately ordered the movement stopped, but the damage had been done.

Kesselring’s flying visit to Tunisia on 19 February was therefore designed to ensure prompt execution of Comando Supremo’s directive. Kesselring found that von Arnim had interpreted the directive to read that Group Rommel ” … was to break through [the Allied front] between Le Kef and Tebessa … ” and that he expected Rommel to move on Tebessa with his main forces.

Therefore von Arnim had prepared a counterproposal which he felt would bring decisive success, provided the necessary means of combat and supply could be made available. He wanted to bring to bear on the Allies a concentric attack toward Le Kef, and thence down the Medjerda river, with Bedja as the objective. Such an attack, he argued, would insure complete surprise. In execution, the 21st Panzer Division was to attack from Sbeitla, and the 10th Panzer Division from Pichon. The drive, moving closer to the Axis supply base than Rommel’s expected advance on Tebessa, would engage all the Allied forces; it would permit participation by all Axis forces rather than by only the mobile elements. He felt the operation would subject co-ordination of Allied command to a severe test, and that “ … it alone [would] ensure the complete liberation of Tunisia.” Rommel’s plan, he argued, would merely force the Allies to fall back toward their principal centers of supply, much as the British had done in Egypt.

Kesselring unequivocally rejected von Arnim’s concept. The Commander in Chief, South, had intended a wide envelopment of the main Allied forces including Tebessa as well as Le Kef as essential objectives. Not until later was he to find out that his directive, as worded by Coman do Supremo, had failed to make this intention clear to Field Marshal Rommel.

The Allied Line in the South

Defense of the new Allied line brought American, British, and French troops to each of the areas of possible penetration, moves which required much hasty adjustment of the front and of the chain of command. By the morning of 19 February, when Group Rommel began to probe at Sbiba and Kasserine passes, a considerable force of Allied troops had already assembled at both places.

Sbiba was in the zone of the French XIX Corps commanded by General Koehz. The British 6th Armoured Division opened its headquarters at Rohia, nine miles north of Sbiba, at 2000, 18 February, to control the defense of Koeltz’s southwestern sector, while directly under First Army. On the same night one component of that division, the Headquarters, 26th Armoured Brigade (Brigadier C. A. L. Dunphie), shifted from Sbiba to Thala, with part of its subordinate units. Another element, the British 1st Guards Brigade, with the U.S. 18th Combat Team (1st Infantry Division), and the U.S. 34th Infantry Division coming into the line, remained to hold Sbiba gap. The 18th Combat Team’s three battalions took up positions east of the Sbeitla-Sbiba road.

Before daylight the 133rd and 135th Infantry of the 34th Division, supported by three artillery battalions, extended that line along a ridge southeast of Sbiba. The 18th Combat Team had been placed under General Ryder’s command. In general support were the 16/5 Lancers and elements of the 72nd and 93rd British Antitank Regiments, Royal Artillery. The French Light Armored Brigade and a Detachment Guinet maintained roadblocks between Sbiba and Rohia.

At Thala, Brigadier Dunphie’s force concentrated during the night of 18-19 February in a key area for opposing the enemy’s main effort. He planned to provide reserves at either Sbiba or Kasserine pass, or at any secondary pass which the enemy might attempt to envelop. At 0600, 19 February, his command passed to the control of U.S. II Corps, although its commitment in battle was subject to specific prior approval by General Anderson.

[NOTE 5-5D: Info supplied by Cabinet Office, London. Dunphie’s command included Headquarters, 26th Armoured Brigade; the 2nd Battalion, Lothians; 10th Battalion, Royal Buffs (-); 17/21 Lancers (-); Squadron A, 56th Reconnaissance Regiment; engineers, and smaller artillery and antitank units.]

On 19 February, General Fredendall’s corps was split into three forces along the Western Dorsal with a fourth in a supporting position on the south flank and a fifth being brought into position during the following night. (1) At Kasserine pass was Stark Force, a miscellaneous aggregation under the command of Colonel Stark, commanding officer of the 26th Infantry. His own 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, the U.S. 33rd Field Artillery Battalion, and elements of the U.S. 19th Combat Engineers Regiment had been moved into the pass under command of Colonel Moore on 17-18 February, with the 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and a battery of the French 67th African Artillery (75-mm.). Reinforcements, moving toward the pass by various routes, arrived on 19-20 February while the battle was in progress. (2) Northwest of Feriana, guarding the Dernaia position with the routes from Feriana to Tebessa through Bou Chebka, was an American and French force commanded by General Welvert. It included the U.S. 1st Ranger Battalion; the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry; the U.S. 36th and 175th Field Artillery Battalions; Company D, 16th Armored Engineer Battalion; Company B, 19th Combat Engineers; Battery A, 213th Coast Artillery (AA) Battalion; three battalions of French infantry and four batteries of French artillery. (3) At the extreme southwestern flank, south of El Ma el Abiod, was Bowen Force. It was backed by the U.S. 1st Armored Division.

On the night of 18-19 February, General Fredendall gave 1st Armored Division the mission: (1) to act defensively to protect Tebessa against attacks from the south and southwest; (2) to place mine fields and cover with artillery fire the passes at Kasserine, Dernaia, and El Ma el Abiod northwest of Feriana; and (3) to co-ordinate defense with the 3rd Battalion, 26th Combat Team (reinforced), known as Bowen Force, and with the Derbyshire Yeomanry, and be ready to counterattack southeast to restore the Dernaia position, if it should be penetrated.

General Ward instructed Generals Robinett and McQuillin to prepare plans and conduct the reconnaissance necessary of the three major gaps in the southwestern projection of the Grand Dorsal (the others are at Sbiba and Dernaia ). The defile at Kasserine at its narrowest point is about one mile wide. The axis of movement through the pass is that of the Hatab river, which flows from northwest to southeast down a gentle grade through the Bahiret Foussana valley and Kasserine pass. To one approaching from Kasserine village, the entrance is marked by a rocky spur of Djebel Chambi at the southwestern corner and, more than three miles to the north, by the rounded contours of Djebel Semmama (1356).

These mountains converge to a narrows about four miles northwest of the entrance, while the triangular floor of the pass between them rises steadily over gently undulating ground. A road and a narrow gauge railroad cross this area to the hamlet of Bordj Chambi, at which the road forks, one part branching to the left to reach Tebessa; the other, like the railroad, traversing the Hatab river and then continuing to Thala. Long shoulders extend into the pass from the mountain heights northeast and southwest of it but they are not exactly opposite each other nor in any respect symmetrical.

The rising shoulder of Djebel Semmama has several flattened knolls at successively higher altitudes. Transverse ridges extend from these knolls down the sides of the shoulder to the floor of the valley. A force approaching from either Kasserine or Thala could work its way up long draws adjacent to these ridges to achieve the summits of the knolls. To attain Hill 1191, the one next below the main southern height of Djebel Semmama, would require a hard climb of more than a mile, but the hilltop dominates those below it and gives an unimpeded view for many miles over the roads approaching the pass from either end.

The main projection into the pass from Djebel Chambi on the southwestern side is about half a mile farther from the Kasserine entrance and more than two miles from the top of Hill 1191. As one approaches from Kasserine it looks like a long ridge which drops to the floor of the pass much more gradually than Diebel Semmama. From Bordj Chambi, however, it is recognizable as a steep-sided curving ridge on the south side of the pass’s western exit, a ridge extended by several small low hills with which it may once have been connected before erosion cut openings between them. The projection is sufficiently distinguishable from the main mass of Djebel Chambi to be separately named Diebel Zebbeus (812).

The unpaved road to Tebessa passes along the base of Djebel Zebbeus in a defile lying between that mountain and low hills on the northern side. Here in effect is a subordinate pass within the main Kasserine gap. The black-top road to Thala runs close to the base of Djebel Semmama and, like the Tebessa route, passes through a short inner defile created by another low hill.

The throat of the pass and the valleys at each end of it are bisected by the Hatab river. Its channel on the Kasserine end is broad and shallow, but within the throat and across the valley northwest of it, the stream zigzags in a wadi which is often deep, with sheer sides, and is very difficult to cross. Moreover, the main wadi is fringed with draws and gullies through which short streams drain into the Hatab from the mountains. The scrub growth at the water’s edge and the cultivated fields and groves of a few scattered farms near the river make a pattern of dark green against the brownish-gray pastel of the sparse vegetation that covers the clay soil. In the pass itself, much of the underlying rock is exposed and the rest is very thinly covered. In the valley to the northwest, large patches of cactus abound.

As one leaves Djebel Zebbeus on the road to Tebessa, one travels a route which extends west-northwest for some fifteen miles to Diebel el Hamra (1112) at the far edge of the Bahiret Foussana valley. The road skirts the northern edge of a rough area, almost one third of the valley, which tips northward from the mountain mass west of Djebel Chambi toward the Hatab river. In effect this area resembles a gigantic, crudely corrugated shed roof draining into a badly bent and twisted gutter. The remainder of the valley is a much more level basin, and its surface is correspondingly wet and spongy in such a rainy month as February 1943. The road to Thala bends northward around the westernmost tip of Djebel Semmama, six miles north of Djebel Zebbeus, and passes from view behind low ridges.

The Bahiret Foussana valley is ringed except at the northeastern portion by mountains with crests rising from 3,000 to 4,000 feet above sea level. Along the southern edge, between Djebel Chambi and Djebel el Hamra, are Djebel Nogueza (1127) and the eastern end of Djebel es Sif (1352). On the northern side are Djebel el Adjered ( 1385) at the west and Djebel Bireno ( 1419) at the east. A wide opening between Djebel Bireno and Djebel Semmama is used by the Kasserine-Thala-Tad jerouine le Kef road. The main Kasserine-Tebessa dirt road skirts Djebel el Hamra to lead directly westward over the Algerian border to Tebessa. Running north and south along the base of Djebel el Hamra is a section of the narrow dirt track connecting Haidra, thirteen miles west of Thala, with Bou Chebka, a village on the plateau southwest of Djebel Chambi, about halfway between Feriana and Tebessa. Other tracks cross the Bahiret Foussana valley, using fords over the Hatab river, and pushing up the draws and through openings in the mountain rim. The American troops created much confusion by renaming this area the “Kasserine Valley,” despite the fact that Kasserine lies in another valley of its own.

The area into which one emerges after leaving Kasserine behind and coming through the Kasserine pass cannot very logically also be considered as the Kasserine Valley. Kasserine pass is not impregnable, perhaps, but it offers such advantages to defense that a sufficient force could exact an exorbitant price from a foe determined to take it at all costs. Through possession of the heights on either side, an elementary requirement of any such defense, troops can dominate the triangular area of approach from the Kasserine side. That area lacks cover; any force attempting to take the heights could probably be readily detected, and one seeking to push into the throat of the pass by moving along the valley floor has to come under flanking fire from one side or the other. The pass is at an elevation of some 2,000 feet, between crests which tower about 2,000 feet higher still, so that winter clouds and mist limit visibility.

Nevertheless, since the opening is less than a mile wide, an attacking force could not escape observation; in fact, it could be restricted by mine fields to areas still narrower and covered by prearranged fires. Even before attackers reached the throat of the pass from the east, they could gain control over the road fork from the defenders, thus denying them the best roadway between one side of the pass and the other, although a secondary track does connect the two roads about half a mile farther into the narrows. The wadi of the Hatab river splits the steadily widening area northwest of the throat into two sections. Advance along either fork of the road at first leaves an attacking force vulnerable to flanking fire from the other side of the pass, but shortly thereafter takes the force out of range. The two subordinate defiles through which each branch of the road then runs are critical points which cannot be bypassed by vehicles and at which an adequate defense force can exact a drastic toll from any enemy which has penetrated thus far. But such a defense force, to be successful, must be both strong and well co-ordinated if it is to take full advantage of the possibilities of mutual support from either side of the Hatab.

The Defense of Kasserine Pass. 19 February An enemy demonstration in front of the eastern entrance of Kasserine pass during the evening of 18 February convinced General Fredendall that an attack Was imminent. From Tebessa he telephoned Colonel Stark at El Ma el Abiod at 2000 hours and said: “I want you to go to Kasserine right away and play a Stonewall Jackson. Take over up there,” “You mean tonight, General?” asked Colonel Stark. “Yes, immediately; stop in my CP on the way up,” was the answer. Before morning, Colonel Stark had assumed command of the provisional force, directly in the case of the infantry from his regiment along the Thala road, and indirectly through Colonel Moore of the reinforced 19th Combat Engineers on the other side of the gap.

The first defensive organization in Kasserine pass had been carried out by Colonel Moore, beginning with a small, mine-laying party on 16 February. He then shifted all units under his command from the line east of Kasserine village into the pass during the night of 17-18 February. He placed the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, astride the Thala road about two miles northwest of the fork in the pass, and his own unit on the southwestern side of the gap, from the Hatab river to Hill 812 (Djebel Zebbeus), on a line through Hill 712 and crossing the Tebessa road. His main line of resistance extended almost three miles and he held it with about 2,000 men. He planned to defend behind a triple belt of miles across the roads, by small arms and machine gun fire, and to hold the enemy’s armored vehicles at the eastern approach to the pass by the fire of two batteries of 105-mm. howitzers of the 33rd Field Artillery Battalion and one battery of towed French 75’s. Patrols covering the high hills on the flanks would check infiltration while a reserve company on each side, plus the 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion, would protect the rear and throw back any of the enemy who had slipped past the patrols.

Colonel Stark found these plans only partially realized when he assumed command in the pass at 0730, 19 February. A night of fog and rain left the whole area blanketed in mist. The actual situation is illustrated by the experience of a mine-laying party on the preceding night. An engineer lieutenant had been ordered at about 1930 hours to supervise the laying of a mine field in front of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, on the northern side of the pass. The engineers loaded the mines on a truck sent by the battalion, which was expected to furnish the force to install them. The officer went along the position, with the mine-laden truck and after midnight arrived at Headquarters, Company C, 26th Infantry, where he tried to locate the mine-laying force. Unable to find anyone at the command post who knew anything about the matter, on their advice he set out along the road toward Kasserine in the belief that he might there discover someone with the necessary information. A trip of a few miles toward the enemy did not bring about such a meeting, so he returned, roused the company commander, and at about 0330, was joined by a detail under an infantry lieutenant. The latter had no idea where the mine field should go, or whether it was to be covered by fire. The engineer lieutenant, who had never seen the terrain in daylight, had to select the site and then had to instruct the troops in the methods of laying and arming the mines. The infantry had no implements for excavation except their short-handled entrenching tools, which were of little avail on the road and in the rocky soil on either side of it. In the end, to get the task done before daylight, the detail merely strewed the mines unburied across a gap about 100 yards wide, from a hill on one side of the road to an embankment on the other.

On the morning of 19 February, Colonel Stark set up his command post about three miles back of the narrows and quickly realized that the proportion of forces sent to the heights on either side of the pass was insufficient. By the time Colonel Akers of the G-3 Section, II Corps, arrived at 1000 to check the situation, enemy 88-mm. shells were already falling near Stark’s tent. The 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry (9th Infantry Division), was on its way to the pass. Company I, 13th Armored Regiment, was in reserve near the Tebessa road and available. The British 26th Armoured Brigade (-) at Thala might be committed if First Army approved. With the strength of the enemy unknown, it was uncertain whether existing Allied forces would be able to hold out until prospective reinforcements could be put into position.

At 10 15, thirty-five to forty truckloads of enemy infantry were observed unloading southeast of the pass and making for the heights. A little after noon, some French troops reported to the command post that they saw German soldiers scaling the steep slopes on both sides of the pass. Colonel Stark had just reported to General Fredendall that the enemy’s fire in the pass indicated either that he was feeling out the defenses or in a preliminary stage of an actual attack. Now, in view of the report of the French troops, there could be little doubt. The attack was on.

Rommel had sent the 33rd Reconnaissance Battalion to seize the pass, if possible at daybreak, by a sudden, surprise attack. The defenders were on the alert and much too strongly established to be driven out by such a small force. Kampfgruppe DAK then took over the mission. Group Menton, consisting of two battalions of the veteran Panzer Grenadier Regiment Afrika, supported by the corps artillery and antiaircraft units, took up the attack. The 2nd Battalion, Panzer Grenadier Regiment Africa, started up the mountainside to gain control of the shoulder of Djebel Semmama, while the main body moved along the floor of the pass near its base. The enemy took Hill 974, one of the prominent knolls part way up the shoulder, but could not continue down the mountain’s western face under the severe fire which came from the direction of the lower hills northwest of the road fork at Bordj Chambi. On the floor of the pass Colonel Menton’s 1st Battalion pushed past Bordj Chambi and penetrated the narrows about as far as the Wadi Zebbeus before being stopped by artillery fire. The absence of the air support to which the enemy infantry were accustomed and the low effectiveness of German counterbattery fire under conditions of poor visibility reduced the power of the attack. To push beyond the positions thus far reached, General Buelowius now decided to commit the 1st Battalion, 8th Panzer Regiment (Group Stotten). At about the same time that Colonel Stark was informing General Fredendall that a strong attack might be beginning, Field Marshal Rommel was surveying the situation with General Buelowius near the southeastern entrance of the pass. He intended, he then said, to make his main attack through Sbiba and northward. At Kasserine pass he wished to gain control only in order to make a feint toward Tebessa and to bar Allied use of the opening while he was striking farther east. General Buelowius expressed confidence that his forces would win the pass before the end of the day.

Allied reinforcements began arriving in the pass early in the afternoon. Colonel Stark sent Company I, 39th Infantry, to the highest ground in the center of the pass; Company L, 39th Infantry, to reinforce Company A, 26th Infantry, on the extreme north flank at Hill 1191 on Djebel Semmama; and he split Company K, 39th Infantry, between the two other companies.

The 26th Infantry regimental band and five tanks of Company I, 13th Armored Regiment, were placed in supporting positions along the road to Thala, where they guarded against enemy encirclement from the shoulder of Djebel Semmama to the valley and thence down the road from Thala toward the road fork. The remainder of Company I’s tanks and the mobile guns of the 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion waited near the defile on the Tebessa road, with four mobile 75’s of the 26th Infantry Cannon Company. These dispositions were partly executed before the enemy’s attack was resumed at 1530 and partly after it had begun.

The afternoon attack came northwestward along the Tcbessa road between the road fork and the narrow gap at the base of Djebel Zebbeus. Wadi Zebbeus, a tributary running eastward from the base of Djebel Chambi to the Hatab river, flows under this road about half a mile from the road fork. The enemy tanks and infantry drove northward across this stream bed as far as an American mine field against considerable machine gun and antitank fire from a low hill (712) and from Djebel Zebbeus, as well as from artillery farther back. Five German tanks were knocked out at the mine field while the 19th Engineers, reinforced, fought stubbornly on ground cut by ravines and low ridges. One company of enemy mountain troops tried to climb along the high ground south of the Tebessa road, above Hill 812, with a view to enveloping the American right flank. It was driven off.

On the other side of the pass, the enemy retained Hill 974 against several attempts to dislodge him, but could not exploit possession of that vantage point while American fire could be poured from Hill 712 against the exposed slope above the Thala road, although some infiltration to the road took place late in the afternoon. Toward evening a detachment of Menton’s 2nd Battalion pushed higher up the shoulder of Djebel Semmama, reaching Hill 1191 after nightfall. The enemy had captured about 100 Americans before breaking off the main attack at dusk.

The enemy had observed some withdrawal along the Tebessa road during the afternoon which he thought might indicate an intention to abandon the pass. He sent strong patrols under orders to keep in close contact during the night, and placed his infantry well forward with a view to prompt pursuit, but withdrew the tank battalion into bivouac southeast of Djebel Chambi. During the night DAK was reinforced by a battalion of tanks of the Italian 131st (Centauro) Armored Division and the 5th Bersaglieri Battalion, which came up from the Feriana-Thelepte area.

Colonel Stark’s improvised force had grown enough during the afternoon to frustrate the enemy’s expectation that he could take the pass in one day and with the forces thus far committed. Stark remained rather hopeful that he could hold the pass in spite of some ominous developments late in the day. He asked General Fredendall at 2035 hours for armored and tank destroyer units, as well as for infantry and artillery, and for air support in the morning. He moved his command post to a site where enemy artillery fire would not keep breaking his wire communications back to II Corps. Late in the afternoon, Brigadier Dunphie and some of his officers of the British 26th Armoured Brigade drove from Thala to reconnoiter the pass, where they thought they might be committed. Dunphie regarded Stark’s situation as unsatisfactory and deteriorating.

Stark could not furnish sufficient precise information about the conditions along his front, and it seemed to Dunphie that he lacked adequate control. The enemy had already infiltrated between Stark’s command post and part of his forces, and might be expected to build up at that soft spot during the night. The Americans had no reserves with which to counterattack against a break-through or a substantial infiltration. The situation at the pass seemed to Dunphie to justify committing his armored command to clear it up, and he so recommended to British First Army.

Brigadier McNabb, General Anderson’s chief of staff, investigated the situation in the pass and rejected Dunphie’s recommendation. He limited the force released from Thala to a detachment of eleven tanks, one company of motorized infantry, one battery of artillery, and a small unit of antitank guns, which was placed under the command of Lieutenant Colonel A. C. Gore, 10th Battalion, Royal Buffs and sent to the northwestern corner of the pass about 0400, 20 February. When Stark supported a proposal to have the rest of the armored brigade near the pass, as insurance rather than because he thought they would have to be committed, Brigadier McNabb stood by his earlier decision.

He considered that Stark’s line was too far west for the British armored units to be of much help, and expressed his belief that although Stark had enough troops to “handle things as they are,” he did not seem to have a “grip on things.” Moreover, he believed that something might develop near Sbiba which would require Dunphie’s unit there. Stark therefore prepared to provide American infantry and artillery support for an advance southeastward along the Thala road by Colonel Gore’s detachment in the morning. The 3rd Battalion, 6th Armored Infantry (Lieutenant Colonel W. W. Wells), came under Colonel Stark’s command during the early morning.

What happened during the night of 19-20 February cannot be clearly reconstructed from the record. After dark the enemy advanced to the northwest as far as the Thala road at Hill 704 but was then driven back. On the slopes of Djebel Semmama the American line was enveloped or pierced, so that Company A, 26th Infantry, was cut off, its commander was captured for a time, and the other companies went out of battalion control. Stragglers reported the situation after daylight on 20 February, a second foggy morning. The 19th Combat Engineers (reinforced) on the other side of the Hatab river spent a night under steady pressure from enemy patrols but apparently nothing like a persistent attack by a major force. It was 0830, 20 February, when the enemy resumed the offensive there. But before taking up the second day in Kasserine pass, where the enemy was operating under a revised plan, it is necessary to consider the action south of Sbiba gap on 19 February, for the outcome there led Rommel to a major decision during the night. The 21st Panzer Division Is Stopped at Sbiba.

The 21st Panzer Division started north from Sbeitla at 0900 on 19 February with its objective a road junction at Ksour. Its progress was uneventful until, shortly before noon, the point of the column arrived at a narrow belt of Allied mines across the road about six miles southeast of Sbiba. The attackers readily opened a gap while covering the operation with artillery fire against any Allied force on the higher ground to the northwest. A short advance then brought the column up against a much better laid mine field within the range of British artillery.

Enemy observers, assisted by Arabs, could see the positions held by twenty Allied tanks, two battalions of artillery, and a considerable number of infantry on the high ground on either side of the road, three to four miles farther north. While the main column stopped, one armored battalion with twenty-five tanks from 5th Panzer Regiment and some truck-borne infantry attempted a sweep to the east out of range of the British artillery and then northward against the U.S. 18th Combat Team. A detachment of the British 16/5 Lancers tried to move within range to deter the attack but lost four of its light tanks to the longer-range guns of the enemy’s vehicles. The Germans brought up several batteries of light field howitzers, emplaced them, and began counterbattery and preparation fire on the Allied ridge positions while the infantry (104th Panzer Grenadier Regiment) got ready to attack.

At about this juncture, Field Marshal Rommel arrived at Colonel Hildebrandt’s command post to ascertain the course of his operations and to urge an all-out, concentrated attack for a break-through rather than the cautious more dispersed frontal attack which seemed in prospect. Colonel Hildebrandt’s attack stopped short without his infantry’s ever being committed. He lost ten to twelve tanks, for the U.S. 151st Field Artillery Battalion and the other American artillery units supporting the 34th Infantry Division had platted more than 100 concentrations and fired on the enemy tanks with the benefit of good observation. British engineers went out after dark and demolished seven of the enemy’s vehicles, while Colonel Hildebrandt pulled back his armored unit behind a defensive line of infantry, sent the 580th Reconnaissance Battalion to the eastern flank, and covered the west flank by the 609th Flak Battalion. The Americans used the night to lay mines and barbed wire in front of their line in expectation of an attack on the next day.

The successful defense at both Kasserine and Sbiba passes on 19 February obliged Rommel to review his original plan to commit the 10th Panzer Division through Sbiba toward Ksour and Le Kef, while merely sealing Kasserine pass behind a feint toward Tebessa. He decided that the prospects at Kasserine pass were better. General von Broich’s 10th Panzer Division. which he had ordered back from the Pichon-Kairouan area, therefore received instructions to continue through Sbeitla to Kasserine. It was then to pass through Kampfgruppe DAK in Kasserine pass and proceed northward toward Thala. DAK. having opened the pass, was to continue northwestward to Djebel el Hamra, seize the passes there, and leave defensive elements facing west. In execution of these plans the 10th Panzer Division was to have assembled at Kasserine village by daybreak on 20 February. The division was at only half strength because important elements, notably its heavy panzer battalion (including Tiger tanks), remained committed in von Arnim’s sector. Delayed by poor roads and bad weather the division did not arrive at Kasserine village at the time specified. As late as the night of the 19th its advance elements had got only as far as Sbeitla.30 Rommel’s decision thus to employ the 10th Panzer Division in the western wing of his attack rather than to commit it nearer the 21st Panzer Division was in conformity with his directive from Comando Supremo, which specified that the greater weight should fall there, and in agreement with the tactical situation, which promised quicker success at Kasserine pass.

The Loss of Kasserine Pass, 20 February The Allied defense at Kasserine pass on 20 February began with the advance at first light by Colonel Gore’s small armored force from a ridge about 6 miles northwest of the road fork in the pass. He moved toward the main defensive line on the Thala side of the narrows. There he supported the remaining American elements and sent his squadron of light tanks forward on reconnaissance toward the road fork. At the same time, Colonel Stark sent the 3rd Battalion, 6th Armored Infantry, climbing up the southwestern slopes of Djebel Semmama to surmount the shoulder at Hill 1191. It was expected to protect the northern flank, and to re-establish contact with Company A, U.S. 26th Infantry, and the other units on the northern flank. The 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Charley P. Eastburn) was sent forward by II Corps during the early morning, 20 February, to be in position to counterattack against a breakthrough at the pass.

General Buelowius sent into the assault at 0830, 20 February, both battalions of Panzer Grenadier Regiment Africa, supported by all his field artillery and dual-purpose 88-mm. guns, plus a battery of new German rocket projectors which had been brought up during the night. Once the road to Tebessa had been opened, the two armored battalions (1st Battalion, 8th Panzer Regiment and that of Division Centauro) and a reconnaissance battalion would also be committed. The leading elements of the 10th Panzer Division were temporarily held east of Kasserine village until needed. The attack on the right was weakened by the necessity of preventing part of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Armored Infantry, on the upper slopes of Djebel Semmama from regaining possession of Hill 1191 and adjacent knolls from German detachments, and then turning against the attacking German infantry in the narrows. The extremely difficult terrain west of Hill 712, and accurate artillery and mortar fire, slowed down the 1st Battalion, Panzer Grenadier Regiment Africa, and the 5th Bersaglieri Battalion attacking on the left. Rommel himself appeared in that area in the forenoon with Buelowius and von Broich, and he ordered up infantry reinforcements to the strength of almost two battalions. Finally he also committed the motorcycle battalion of the 10th Panzer Division to expedite the attack along the Thala road. Rommel believed that he had to break through quickly at all costs, for if he were to prolong the attack until night, the rate of the Allied build-up would rob him of the opportunity for subsequent exploitation.

He therefore eventually ordered all available elements of both Buelowius’ and von Broich’s commands to make a side-by-side attack at 1630,20 February. The 10th Panzer Division would be on the right, its two battalions of armored infantry pushing over Hill 974 and turning west onto the valley floor behind the Allied line. Kampfgruppe DAK on the southwest, would thrust along the Tebessa road and would also push infantry over the rough ground onto Hill 812 and to the high ground northeast of it. The concentration of German artillery support would be extraordinarily high.

Long before this attack began, it seemed to the defenders that the enemy was moving forward relentlessly and successfully. In fact, just before noon an enemy column penetrated between two of Colonel Moore’s companies, and shortly afterward, observers spotted enemy tanks and infantry getting through the mine field on the Tebessa road.

By noon, Colonel Moore’s command post had been overrun and his command was falling hack. The eight medium tanks of Company I, 13th Armored Regiment, had been placed astride this road, near the inner defile, with elements of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion nearby. Radio communications between the tanks had broken down and none existed with Colonel Stark’s headquarters or with the tank destroyers. Communication was by courier and was infrequent.

As the enemy tanks began getting through the mines, the American artillery was sent farther back. The French, after running out of ammunition, disabled their 75’s and abandoned them. The tank destroyers moved out and, after being held in position for some time, so did the tanks. Although the defense crumbled, it persisted and in fact still seemed strong to the enemy. The enemy’s afternoon attack finally cleared the pass. The two battalions of Panzer Grenadier Regiment Africa, the 5th Bersaglieri Battalion, two armored infantry battalions, and the motorcycle battalion of the 10th Panzer Division, supported by five battalions of artillery extending from one side of the pass to the other, moved methodically northwestward. They opened the road to Tebessa first. The armored battalion from the Centauro Division in a five-mile pursuit along that road could find no Allied troops.

On the northern side of the pass, the valiant stand of Colonel Gore’s detachment forced General Buelowius to commit his 1st Battalion, 8th Panzer Regiment, to force the break-through. The British fought until their last tank was destroyed. Casualties were severe. Gore’s unit bore the brunt of the full-scale afternoon attack and withdrew, with five American tank destroyers of the 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion, past the northwestern entrance point (Hill 704 ) at dusk. When the enemy’s tanks also overran a platoon of Company I, U.S. 13th Armored Regiment, the 3rd Battalion, 6th Armored Infantry, and elements of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, and 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry, were cut off on Djebel Semmama. All the troop carriers of the armored infantry waiting in their park near the base of the mountain were endangered. The drivers hastily took out as many vehicles as possible along the wadies, leaving the scattered remnants of the battalion to infiltrate westward through the enemy across the Bahiret Foussana valley and northward through the Thala area. The enemy was amazed at the quantity and quality of the American equipment captured more or less intact.

At noon, 20 February, Kesselring visited Rommel’s advanced command post northwest of Kasserine in the broad entrance to the pass. The two field marshals agreed that the Axis forces must break out of the pass during the day if the operation was to succeed. En route back to Rome Kesselring stopped at the Tunis airdrome, where he summoned von Arnim to meet him. He found the latter still suspicious that Rommel intended to conduct his attack toward Tebessa rather than toward Le Kef, and he again urged that the whole 10th Panzer Division be restored to his control, for operations in conjunction with the 21st Panzer Division.

It is Kesselring’s later recollection, but not a matter of contemporary record, that he censured von Arnim for withholding important elements of the 10th Panzer Division from Rommel, thus weakening the attack. Kesselring was later to attribute the Axis failure in part to von Arnim’s departure from orders, although holding Rommel responsible for not having insisted on full compliance.

Before taking off for Rome, Kesselring in agreement with General Gandin of Comando Supremo, ordered immediate diversionary attacks by Fifth Panzer Army toward Maktar, and prescribed that an armored battalion should be held in readiness near Pont-du-Fahs to exploit any success. “In order to guarantee coordination of these operations by unified command,” he stated, “I shall recommend to Comando Supremo that Field Marshal Rommel assume command of Fifth Panzer Army in so far as elements of that army are, or will be, participating in the drive.” He also ordered von Arnim to try to withdraw from the Medjerda sector those elements of 10th Panzer Division that had been withheld from Rommel. The intention was to make them available for the main drive. Supply of 10th Panzer Division would pass to Rommel’s control forthwith.

Allied Defenses in the Rear of Kasserine Pass

Significant countermeasures were begun on the night of 19-20 February by the Allies, when the course of the first day’s defense of Kasserine pass had made precautionary steps seem desirable if not essential. General Anderson had ordered the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, less Combat Team 18 (at Sbiba) and Combat Team 26 (at several points), to shift from the Allied front in the Ousseltia-Maktar sector, under General Koeltz’s command, to the vicinity of Bou Chebka, in General Fredendall’s area. General Fredendall gave General Allen a rather broad mission-to control the defense of the area south of the Bahiret Foussana valley and along the Western Dorsal from Djebel Chambi to El Mael Abiod, an area in which there were elements of the French Constantine Division (General Welvert) as well as various American and British units. On Allen’s orders the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, moved to the northern edge of the Bou Chebka plateau, where it established communication with Colonel Stark during 20 February. The remainder of the 16th Combat Team was also available. General Allen disposed the other units of his command for the defense of the many secondary routes through the mountains.

Combat Command B, U.S. 1st Armored Division (General Robinett), after being alerted during the previous night for possible movement from positions south of Tebessa, was ordered directly by II Corps at 1030,20 February, to move immediately toward Thala via Tebessa and Haidra. At this juncture, the enemy’s success of the previous night on the northeastern side of the pass including the seizure of Hill 1191, and perhaps other factors, made it seem likely that he might first thrust toward Thala. Robinett was instructed to assume command of Colonel Stark’s troops as well as his own. At corps and higher headquarters, where the actual situation was not well understood, he was then expected to counterattack in the pass before the end of the day.

During the afternoon of 20 February, another Allied defensive move of major importance was taken. Brigadier Dunphie’s 26th Armoured Brigade (less 16/5 Lancers) established a defensive line on the road from Kasserine to Thala about nine miles north of the pass. He placed the 2nd Lothians on the east, and the 17/21 Lancers on the west, and the 10th Royal Buffs in the center with field artillery in support. The 2nd Battalion, 5th Leicestershire Regiment (46th Division), expected during the night, would dig in on a ridge astride the road about four miles south of Thala.

General Fredendall, his chief of staff, Colonel John A. Dabney, and others reconnoitered toward the pass along this road late in the morning, 20 February, while General Robinett’s command echelon, far ahead of Combat Command B’s main column, continued through Thala toward the pass. When the two parties met south of Thala, Fredendall was returning, convinced that the enemy had broken through on the Tebessa road, having overrun the infantry and combat engineers there but not the artillery, tank destroyer, or tank units. His earlier plans for Robinett’s force were no longer practicable. The new arrangements involved two distinct defense forces.

American troops would cover Tebessa; British units would defend Thala. General Robinett was to command all the troops in an undefined area south of the Hatab river and to defend the passes at Djebel el Hamra. He was to stop the enemy’s advance toward Tebessa, then drive him back into the Kasserine pass, and eventually restore the Allied positions there. General Fredendall gave Brigadier Dunphie a similar mission with reference to Thala. He put Dunphie in command of all troops remaining on the north side of the Hatab, including Colonel Stark’s forces, and expected him to use Stark’s communications to II Corps. “For the co-ordination of this attack, Robinett comes under your command,” General Fredendall informed Dunphie, who was in turn to be directly under U.S. II Corps. Direct communication between Robinett and Dunphie by liaison officer was arranged later in the day.

The II Corps had in effect passed to Dunphie a responsibility which he lacked the means to carry out, requiring him not only to command his own force in battle but also to co-ordinate these operations on one side of the broad valley with Robinett’s on the other, despite inadequate means of communication. The First Army, now convinced that the enemy’s main effort would be made at Kasserine rather than Sbiba, inserted another link in the chain of command, designating Brigadier Cameron Nicholson, second in command of the British 6th Armoured Division, to control, in behalf of II Corps, the operations of all the increasing number of units-British, American, and French–which were assembling south of Thala. His provisional organization was named “Nickforce.” While Nicholson was struggling through the mire of a third-rate track from Rohia to Thala, Robinett and his operations officer, Lieutenant Colonel Edwin A. Russell, Jr., attended a commanders’ conference with Brigadier McNabb, Brigadier Dunphie, and others, at Thala at midnight 20-21 February. The conferees agreed on a plan of battle . ” Dunphie would organize south of Thala; Robinett would cover the passes to Tebessa and Haira; both forces would await attack, and once the enemy was committed, both would counterattack, making their main efforts on their outer flanks. Allied tanks were to be conserved.

The battle was to be fought mainly with other arms. Overlays were prepared, liaison arranged, and although the conference terminated before Brigadier Nicholson could reach Thala, he confirmed the plans upon his arrival at 0315. The initiative remained with Rommel but to retain it he would have to continue winning.

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 (5-24); Kasserine; Rommel Turned Back

World War Two: North Africa (5-22); Axis Turn Allied Southern Flank