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Tunisia 1942 - 1943:

Commonwealth Divisions

There were two formations from the British Empire (or Commonwealth) that participated in the Tunsian campaign. Both were part of the 8 Army and had advanced into Tunisia from Libya. These were:

2 New Zealand Division,
4 Indian Infantry Division.

The 2 New Zealand Division had concentrated in Egypt in late 1940, but was then sent to Greece. After evacuation from Greece, the majority of the division was sent to Crete. On Crete, it opposed the German airborne invasion of the island. The division was reconstituted back in Egypt after evacuation from Crete, and then fought with the 8 Army in Operation ‘Crusader’, and the battles of El Alamein. It continued to serve with the 8 Army during the advance through Libya and into Tunisia.

The 4 Indian Infantry Division had served in the Middle East since the outbreak of the Second World War. It took a key role at the beginning of Operation ‘Compass’ in December 1940, and was then transferred to the Sudan where it took part in the invasion of Eritrea. It then returned to Egypt and Libya, fighting in Operation ‘Battleaxe’ and Operation ‘Crusader’. The 11 Indian Infantry Brigade was captured at Tobruk. The 4 Indian Division had been dispersed after the Battle of El Alamein, but was concentrated and moved forward to the Mareth Line in March 1943. At this time, the division only had two brigades under command as the 11 Brigade had not been replaced in the divisional Order of Battle by this time. It was ordered to force the Hallouf Pass. Overnight the 24/25 March 1943, 5 Brigade launched their attack. The pass was opened against severe opposition. The Axis forces retreated to Wadi Akarit. On 1 April, both brigades of 4 Indian Division concentrated in the Gabes area. On 5 April, the division advanced against heavy opposition into the hills, and went on to attack Djebel Garci on 18 April 1943. The mountain was found to be held in great strength and the attack bogged down. On the night of 22/23 April, 153 Infantry Brigade relieved the 5 Brigade which was withdrawn into a holding role. On 30 April, the division was transferred to the First Army and IX Corps. On the 5 May, the assault commenced on the Medjez-el-Bab gap. 5 Brigade stormed Bou Huaker. The line broke against the weight of the Allied advance. The division was then engaged in rounding up the Axis forces, with the 1 Royal Sussex capturing the commander of Axis troops, General Von Arnim.

12 May 1943 was the final curtain for the Axis Forces as they surrendered and all resistance ceased. The End in Africa.

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