Skip to comments.ALLIES BREAK THROUGH TO COASTAL PLAINS IN ALL-OUT BATTLE FOR TUNIS AND BIZERTE (5/7/43)
Posted on 05/07/2013 4:18:24 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Axis lines broken in Tunisia
Friday, May 7, 1943 www.onwar.com
A destroyed German column [photo at link].
In Tunisia... Tunis and Bizerta are both captured in the afternoon by British and American forces, respectively. The Axis defenses can no longer contain the Allied pressure.
In the Solomon Islands... Americans lay mines in the waters around New Georgia to prevent Japanese supplies reaching the island.
In Burma... The Japanese force the British to withdraw from Buthidaung. The city is occupied by the Japanese.
May 7th, 1943 (FRIDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Submarine HMS Solent laid down.
Sloop HMS Amethyst launched.
Frigate HMS Bann commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
FRANCE: Paris: German television starts broadcasting from studios in the old Magic City theatre.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Submarine HMS Unrivalled sinks Italian sailing vessel Albina (223 BRT). (Dave Shirlaw)
NORTH AFRICA: Thousands of civilians lined the streets of Tunis to pelt British troops with spring flowers bestowing kisses on embarrassed troops of the Derbyshire Yeomanry as their tanks rolled in. Even then, however, the fighting was not over, as small pockets of fanatical Germans continued to snipe from vantage points on public buildings and mosques.
It was at 3.15am when the order was given to drive into the city. Armoured cars of the 11th Hussars were the first - as they had been in every major town or city captured since Alamein - followed almost immediately by the tanks.
The final assault on the Djebel Bou Aoukaz kills overlooking the city had involved an artillery barrage of an intensity no known since Alamein; the technique was to use a concentration of fire, centrally controlled, on all known enemy positions. Shells landed on every two yards of front, causing total havoc. A huge air attack began at dawn, with the RAF flying more than 200 sorties. By 9.30am the 4th Indian Division had cleared a pathway for IX Corps tanks.
Simultaneously, the US II Corps began its final assault towards Bizerta, in the north. After some tough fighting yesterday, the US 9th Infantry Division drove into the city on the late afternoon; but formal entry is reserved for the French Corps Franc d’Afrique.
BURMA: British troops are forced to retreat after the Japanese take Buthidaung.
NEW GUINEA: Australian commandos attack Bobdubi Ridge (immediately west of Salamaua). There they encounter 40 men of the Japanese 102nd Regiment, who flee. The Japanese then counter-attack with a force of “70 naval men” (presumably part of 7th Naval Base Force); 80 men from 115th Regiment (moved from Markham Point); and one infantry company, one infantry gun platoon and one MG platoon, all from 102nd Regiment. [Dexter p. 46] (Michael Alexander)
SOLOMON ISLANDS: The waters around New Georgia are mined. Task Group 36.5 consisting of the destroyer USS Radford (DD-446) and the light minelayers USS Gamble (DM-15), USS Preble (DM-20) and USS Breese (DM-18), lay mines across Blackett Strait, the western entrance to Kula Gulf and directly in the favourite route of the “Tokyo Express.” (Jack McKillop)
CANADA: Ottawa: Canadian MPs vote towards an additional CDN$ 1,000 million towards the war effort.
Tugs HMCS Glendevon and Glendon ordered. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: USN representatives witness landing tests of the Sikorksy XR-4-SI helicopter aboard the merchant tanker SS Bunker Hill in a demonstration sponsored by the U.S. Maritime Commission and conducted in Long Island Sound. The USAAF pilot makes about fifteen flights, and in some of these flights he lands on the water before returning to the platform built on the deck of the tanker. (Jack McKillop)
Submarine USS Pintado laid down.
Submarine USS Bonefish launched.
Destroyer USS Purdy launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Convoy ONS-5 has just survived more than three days of battering from the biggest U-boat pack assembled in the war so far. The pack, codenamed “Fink” [Chaffinch], comprised 51 boats. The 42-ship ONS-5 was hove to in gales when the pack found it. The U-boats sank 13 merchant ships, but the escort hit back using two new devices: Hedgehog, which projects depth charges ahead of the attacking ship, and, in its greatest success so far, Type 271 M radar equipment. Seven U-boats were sunk, two lost in collision and five badly hit. Fink had been called off.
U-214 was attacked by an RAF 10 Sqn Wellington. The U-boat commander was badly wounded, and the boat suffered severe damage as well, forcing a return to base.
U-228 was attacked by an aircraft, resulting in two crewmembers wounded.
U-209 reported missing in the North Atlantic in approximate position 52N, 38W. Possibly lost in a diving accident after damages suffered on 4 May in an attack by an RCAF Catalina. 46 dead (all hands lost).
U-447 sunk west of Gibraltar, in position 35.30N, 11.55W, by depth charges from two RAF 233 Sqn Hudsons. 48 dead (all hands lost).
A Lancaster attacked U-228 wounding the II WO and a seaman. The boat escaped without serious damage and also shot down an RAF 58 Sqn Halifax.
At 1200, U-89 attacked Convoy SL-128, observed a hit with a T-3 torpedo on a freighter and later heard sinking noises. Laconikos was sunk in this attack.
At 0137, the unescorted Samuel Jordan Kirkwood was hit by one torpedo from U-195 about 125 miles SE of Ascension Island. The U-boat had missed the ship that was zigzagging at 12 knots already with two torpedoes about 20 hours before and since then chased the ship. The third torpedo had been spotted by a lookout on the port beam, but could not be avoided and struck on the port side just aft of the #5 hatch. The explosion opened a 20 feet hole, destroyed the shaft alley and steering gear and caused the aft gun platform to collapse. The engines were secured and the six officers, 36 crewmen, 25 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) and four passengers (repatriated seamen) abandoned ship in four lifeboats and one raft. The ship immediately sank after a coup de grâce hit at 0352. The lifeboats were spotted on 17 May by a US Army crash boat and taken in tow for Ascension Island. (Dave Shirlaw)
Interesting note that the gun towers in Berlin had food and ammunition but were forced to surrender to the soviets.
Two comments today:
It’s pretty clear that the Allies have a massive air superiority in the Mediterranean. The lesson of allied air power was not lost on Rommel, who feared it greatly. The experience of North Africa will dictate his strategy in France next year. He knows that the allies must be stopped at the water’s edge, as once the allies gain a lodgement, allied air power will make them invincible. He will make note of this in his memoirs, the manuscript of which he is even now writing. His Normandy strategy will be in contrast with the strategy espoused by his panzer commander, Geyr von Schweppenburg, who prefers to allow the allies to come ashore and then defeat them inland in a war of maneuver. Schweppenburg was an accomplished panzer commander, but all his experience was on the Eastern Front, where the vast spaces made such a strategy viable. Rommel had the relevant experience western allies and knew that in an open mobile battle, allied airpower would crush the panzers before they even engaged the allied ground forces.
The other item is the bio of Jacob Devers.
Devers was an under-appreciated commander by any measure. As you can see from the appointment to supreme commander, he is clearly a rival for position with none other than Dwight D. Eisenhower. As a result, once Ike had maneuvered himself into the top spot, he made sure that Devers was relegated to backwater and lesser commands. In France, his 6th Army Group got much lower priority for new units, and had to slog it out in the toughest contested terrain. In November, he was the only allied command to achieve any decisive movement by breaking out of the Vosges into the Alsatian Plain to seize Strasbourg. Yet his reward for this success was to have Ike, Bradley and Patton pay him a visit to poach units from his command to support Patton’s planned Saar offensive. Devers was left wondering if everyone was on the same team.
The official history of 6th Army Group, “Riviera to the Rhine” was the last operational history of the European Theater published by the Army, and as a result, the accomplishments of his command were never given the historical credit I believe they deserved.
Yes, but one of the towers was the last point to surrender in Berlin.
The Luftwaffe has withdrawn to Sicily and Italy by this point.
PAR35: The Luftwaffe has withdrawn to Sicily and Italy by this point.
Sicily and Italy is right in the middle of the Mediterranean. Does that underscore the significance of the Allied air superiority in the region?