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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

The Situation in Tunisia

The Situation in Tunisia

The enemy withdrew behind the formidable mountain chain protecting Tunis. This extended from Enfidaville in a north-westerly direction right across the peninsula to the coast west of Bizerta. The enemy was well placed, holding all the important positions which dominated every way of approach to Tunis. He had been heavily reinforced, and the world was told that ‘the fortress of Tunis’ would be held. In front of this natural stronghold Eighth Army deployed, linking up with the other armies under the command of General Alexander. The Allied forces were in four main groups: 2 US Corps, switched from the Gafsa front, was in the north; then the British First Army; then the French 19 Corps; and in the south the Eighth Army.

Opposite Eighth Army at Enfidaville were enemy positions in great depth. The forward line lay at the base of steep hills, with positions on spurs and hills rising behind it. These highlands rising out of a flat plain gave the enemy a commanding position with perfect observation over the country across which we had to attack. Surprise could be obtained only by assembling our attacking troops at night, which entailed bringing our artillery forward on to the plain on the night of the attack. Further difficulties for the attacking troops were page 437 two deep wadis, an old Roman viaduct, a minefield laid in barley fields, and giant cactus hedges, all of which had to be dealt with by our sappers and infantry before vehicles with supporting arms could be got forward.