Home Forums WWII Hell on Wheels, ‘Blade Force’ Fight #8

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    Avatar photoJust Jack


    0830 Local Time
    25 November 1942
    Near Chouigoui, French Tunisia

    Following victory in Morocco, Task Force Reisman was split up and sent to the winds, with some flung out to secure distant objectives (against no opposition), some held back to secure the coast and lines of communication, and others detailed to guard, process, and repatriate POWs, or even to assist in the cleanup of harbors and assist in offloading incoming gear.

    Not soon after, high command decided to take a stab at seizing Tunis and Bizerte, in faraway French Tunisia, looking to catch the Germans, who had plenty going on facing off against the British 8th Army in the east, off guard. TF Reisman was hastily assembled and attached to the US 1st Armored Regiment, though this actually amounted to only a single tank battalion of M-3 Stuarts as the other battalions were busy turning in their M-3 Grants for the new M-4 Shermans and being trained on them. In any case, TF Reisman was attached to 1st Armored Regiment, which was placed under the command of British Colonel Richard Hull, who now commanded what was called “Blade Force,” consisting of the British 17th/21st Lancers (tank regiment) and infantry, artillery, and support elements from the 11th Brigade Group, in addition to the Americans. These were the right-hand pincer darting into Tunisa, aimed at Tunis, as the British 36th Infantry Brigade was the left-hand pincer, aimed at Bizerte.

    The left-hand pincer made better progress, entering Tunisia first and then running into heavy enemy resistance at Djebel Abid, along the road to Bizerte, on 17 Nov 1942. Heavy fighting resulted in a stalemate, with a renewed attack scheduled for 24 Nov 1942. This was when Blade Force finally entered the fray, further south, on the road to Tunis, though the left-hand pincer’s attack was called off due to torrential seasonal rains. Nevertheless, Blade Force pushed east, towards Chouigoui Pass, on its way to the city of Djedeida.

    Along the way across Algeria, TF Reisman became quite strung out and eventually split into an advanced element consisting of its light tanks and reconnaissance elements, and a main body, consisting of its medium tanks and infantry, as the scout cars, Stuart tanks, and halftracks found the approximately 900-mile road march a bit easier than the heavier Grant tanks and trucks of the infantry companies. With that, Captain Thigpen, the Executive Officer (XO) of TF Reisman, found himself in command of the advanced element, leading the way into Tunisia and Chouigoui Pass.

    Overview, north is up. The objective is to capture (or hold) the crossroads and walled farm in the southeast (bottom right). The area is well framed by rocky ridges and outcroppings, with scrub and broken ground throughout, interrupted only by the two hardball roads and an olive grove in the center of the table. The Americans of TF Reisman will enter from the left, while the Axis forces are defending east (right) of the north/south running road at right. At top right are two rocky appendages rising up out of the desert, which the GIs of TF Reisman quickly dubbed “Two Sisters.”

    On the far right you can see the enemy’s entire baseline filled to the gills with troops and tanks, while on the left you can see the US mechanized force streaming into the valley at three separate locations (top left, far left, and bottom left).

    The opposing force, with Americans on the left and the joint German-Italian defenders on the right. The TF Reisman XO has an Armored Infantry Platoon supported by a tank platoon and elements of a self-propelled gun, armored car, and anti-tank gun platoon. The combined German/Italian force has platoons of Fallschirmjaeger engineers and machine guns supported by an Italian tank platoon and two Italian anti-tank guns.

    The American tank platoon advances (bottom right), spotting Italian armor (top left) and opening fire!

    And first blood goes to the Yanks!

    The M7 Priests move up and are engaged and quickly demonstrate why they are not meant for direct support operations…

    And then the Stukas arrive!

    As the Armored Infantry advances on the village!

    They take heavy casualties…

    It’s hot work, but the GIs press home their attack on the village, which devolves into bitter close combat. To see how the fight turned out, please check the blog at:

    And with that, we press on to join Captain Henry in his assault to secure a bridge over the Medjerda.


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