Tunisia 1942 - 1943
The Tunisian Campaign is interesting in historical terms as the first where the British and United States forces were deployed together. Many of the problems and tensions that arose during this campaign were to continue through the campaigns in Sicily, Italy and North West Europe, but the Tunisian Campaign provided the foundation for the eventual success of the Allies in defeating the Axis.
The countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia were all French colonies in North West Africa. They aligned themselves with the Vichy French government following the defeat of France in 1940. Planning commenced in early 1942 for an expeditionary force capable of an amphibious landing. The experience of the Dieppe raid in August 1942 proved the challenges of assaulting defended coastline. With the entry of the United States into the war, it was important to begin deploying the large U.S. forces in combat, so French North Africa was the logical choice.
Landings were undertaken on 8 November 1942 at three locations. The Western Task Force consisted of U.S. formations that had sailed directly from the United States to Morocco. The Centre Task Force consisted of U.S. formations that landed at Oran and the Eastern Task Force comprised one British infantry division and one U.S. infantry division which landed at Algiers. The Vichy French forces agreed to a ceasefire on 9 November, and on the same day, German forces began landing in Tunisia.
The race was on to secure Tunis which the Germans won. This led to a hard fought and bitter campaign that lasted until 13 May 1943. In the end, some 250,000 German and Italian troops were killed or captured, a defeat second only to that the Germans suffered at Stalingrad.