(Mud in Algeria/North Tunisia)
Algeria – The French scrap together enough men to reform the Casablanca and
Alger Infantry XXs and feed them back into the frontline. The US strengthen
their sector of the line with AT and AA units but are unable to sort out
their tactics. The German CinC sniggeringly points out this may be due to
excessive wearing of pearl handled revolvers by unit commanders, but the
Allies ignore him. The battered British cadres are rebuilt with fresh faced
recruits straight from England and Scotland, who are rather over awed by the
hard bitten veterans of the retreat from Bordj bou Arreridj. More and more
the Allied strength builds, but weather closes the front down.
Tunisia – The bulk of the 8th Army begins to cross the border and closes on
the Gabes Gap.
Algeria – The 90th Motorised XX is linked with newly arrived Panzer forces
to form up as a fully mechanised Panzer Grenadier XX, and marches past the
review stand of the German CinC in Algeria on their way to face the British
along the coast. In Rome, the Commando Supremo wipes off its records
several units who are scrapped in the replacement pool to provide some extra
recruits for other Italian XXs. The 2nd Pz XX is rebuilt and the troops in
the area take it easy in the rain, free from Allied fighter raids.
Tunisia – In the bright sunshine troops relax in their bunkers at Gabes
while engineers continue to fortify the region around them. The salt pans
on their inland flank guard them against any Allied attack and the air bases
behind them begin to fill with Italian and German fighter cover.
Dec II 1942
Tunisia – Using the relatively undamaged facilities of Tripoli port, the HQ
of the 56th XX and a couple of Infantry units land, much to the annoyance of
the Axis Air Fleet commander who’s aircraft at Malta failed to intercept and
sink the convoy. The commander of the AIF volunteers to the CinC Middle
East to try and break the Gabes Gap with his Corp of five XXs before they
are withdrawn for service in the Pacific and South East Asia. Unable to
resist allowing his compatriots the opportunity to provide one last chance
to add to their glowing list of successes in this campaign, the CinC ME
throws his forces into battle, determined to make good his promise to take
Tunis by Christmas. Italian defenders to the north of Fort Tarahoume are
hit by allied forces who surround them and destroy them in a ZoC DR result.
In the retreat from the battle, the Italians are unable to find a gap in the
lines and are swallowed up by the 8th Army. This opens up a supply line to
the NZ and Indians XXs with Armoured support from the British 1st Arm XX, SA
1st Arm XX and Aust. 1st Arm XX which smash into the 101, 102 XXs, 1st and
32nd Lt Arm Xs and assorted artillery. The Italians are forced back towards
the Australian infantry units who eagerly shuffle them into PoW camps before
hitting the main Gabes defence positions themselves. (3:1 = DR ZoC scam)
The Australian attack goes in under heavy air battles and the Hurricanes of
the Desert Air Force are unable to escort through ground support planes
against the superior machines of the Luftwaffe. This causes the odds to
remain low for success and the Australian attack falters and fails. (2:1 -1
fort = AS). To follow up these battles, the motorised and armoured units
approach close to Gabes.
Algeria – British Infantry and Armour units hit the 133 Littorio XX with
lots of air support but the AA units attached to the Italians chases off
several RAF units. Despite overwhelming numbers the weather and terrain
favour the defence and the Allied CinC is bitterly disappointed with the
results. (4:1 -2 Mud, -1 rough = AS). US AT units join the Alger XX north
Algeria – The line is reinforced as much as possible, but the weather delays
many units straggling along from the ports in Tunisia. Construction begins
on a line of forts around Bougie to Bordj bou Arreridj. Ideally this will
be the spot where the Allies will be unable to breakthrough, prolonging the
defence of North Africa.
Tunisia – Aircraft are flown to forward airbases behind Gabes. A final
shuffling of units places two armoured XX, one Inf XX and attached units in
the main fortifications. This sort of grouping should make it tricky for
the Allies to break through. The Brescia and Pavona Infantry XXs with the
9B Mot III are sent to Gafsa to block any deep swing through the desert by
the Allies to try and force the Nefta-Tozeur gap. The German CinC log
records “Impregnable Defence!!!”.