Tunisia Campaign - Stalemate, Reinforcement

Stalemate, Reinforcement

Things were similarly upsetting for the Axis. Nehring, considered by most to be an excellent commander, had continually infuriated his superiors with his outspoken critiques. They decided to "replace" him by upgrading the command to an army and Colonel-General Hans-J├╝rgen von Arnim arrived in Tunis unannounced on 8 December to assume command of Fifth Panzer Army. The Army consisted of the composite Infantry Division von Broich/von Manteuffel in the Bizerte area, the 10th Panzer Division in the centre before Tunis, and the Italian Superga Division on the southern flank but Hitler, in an interview prior to von Arnim's departure for Tunis, had told him the army would grow to three mechanised and three motorised divisions. The Allies had made strong efforts to prevent the Axis build up, committing substantial air and sea forces to the task. However, Tunis and Bizerta were only 120 miles (190 km) from the ports and airfields of western Sicily, 180 miles (290 km) from Palermo and 300 miles (480 km) from Naples making it very difficult to intercept Axis transports which had the benefit of substantial air cover. From mid-November through January, 243,000 men and 856,000 tons of supplies and equipment arrived in Tunisia by sea and air.

Eisenhower, meanwhile, transferred further units from Morocco and Algeria eastward into Tunisia. In the north, Lt Gen Kenneth Anderson's British First Army over the next three months received three more divisions, 1st, 4th and 46th, joining the 6th Armoured and 78th Infantry Divisions. By late March a second British Corps headquarters, British IX Corps under Lieutenant-General John Crocker had arrived to join V Corps in controlling the expanded army. On their right flank the basis of a two-division French corps (French XIX Corps) under Alphonse Juin was being built and in the south was a new U.S. II Corps, to be commanded by Lloyd Fredendall, eventually to consist of the majority of six divisions: the 1st, 3rd, 9th, and 34th Infantry and the 1st and 2nd Armored. At this stage Giraud had rejected Eisenhower's plan to have the French corps under First Army and they and US II Corps for the time being remained under direct command of AFHQ. Equally important, considerable effort was put into building new airfields and improving provision of air support

The U.S. also started to build up a complex of logistics bases in Algeria and Tunisia, with the eventual goal of forming a large forward base at Maknassy, on the eastern edge of the Atlas Mountains, in excellent position to cut the German-Italian Panzer Army in the south off from its lines of supply to Tunis and isolate it from Fifth Panzer Army in the north.

Read more about this topic:  Tunisia Campaign