Battle of the Kasserine Pass
The Battle of the Kasserine Pass was a battle that took place during the Tunisia Campaign
Tunisia Campaign
The Tunisia Campaign was a series of battles that took place in Tunisia during the North African Campaign of the Second World War, between Axis and Allied forces. The Allies consisted of British Imperial Forces, including Polish and Greek contingents, with American and French corps...

 of World War II in February 1943. It was a series of battles fought around Kasserine Pass, a 2 mi (3.2 km) wide gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

 in west central Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

. The Axis forces
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 involved were primarily from the German-Italian Panzer Army (the redesignated German Panzer Army Africa) led by Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

 and two Panzer divisions attached from the 5th Panzer Army. The Allied forces
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 involved came mostly from the U.S Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

′s II Corps commanded by Major General
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 Lloyd Fredendall
Lloyd Fredendall
Lloyd Fredendall was an American General during World War II. Major General Fredendall is best known for his command of the Central Task Force landings during Operation Torch, and his command of the US II Corps during the early stages of the Tunisia Campaign...

, which was part of the British 1st Army
British First Army
The First Army was a field army of the British Army that existed during the First and Second World Wars. Despite being a British command, the First Army also included Indian and Portuguese forces during the First World War and American and French during the Second World War.-First World War:The...

 commanded by Lieutenant-General Kenneth Anderson
Kenneth Arthur Noel Anderson
General Sir Kenneth Arthur Noel Anderson, KCB, MC was a British Army officer in both the First and Second World Wars. He is mainly remembered as the commander of the First Army during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of Tunisia. He had an outwardly reserved character and did not court...


Significant as the first large-scale meeting of American and German forces in World War II, the untested and poorly-led American troops suffered heavy casualties and were pushed back over 50 mi (80.5 km) from their positions west of Faid Pass in a rout
A rout is commonly defined as a chaotic and disorderly retreat or withdrawal of troops from a battlefield, resulting in the victory of the opposing party, or following defeat, a collapse of discipline, or poor morale. A routed army often degenerates into a sense of "every man for himself" as the...

. In the aftermath, the U.S. Army instituted sweeping changes from unit-level organization to the replacing of commanders. When they next met, in some cases only weeks later, the U.S. forces were considerably more effective.


American and British forces landed at several points along the coast of French Morocco and Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 on 8 November 1942, during Operation Torch
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

. This came only days after General Bernard Montgomery′s breakout in the east following the Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

. Understanding the danger of a two-front war, German and Italian troops were ferried in from Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 to occupy Tunisia, one of the few easily defended areas of North Africa, and only one night′s sail from bases in Sicily. This short passage made it very difficult for Allied naval vessels to intercept Axis transports, while air interdiction proved equally difficult as the nearest Allied airbase to Tunisia, at Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, was over 200 mi (321.9 km) distant. As the Allied build-up after Torch continued, more aircraft became available and new airfields in eastern Algeria and Tunisia became operational, resulting in greater success in stopping the flow of men and equipment into Tunis and Bizerta. But by this time, sizeable forces had already come ashore.

An attempt was made to cut off Tunis
Run for Tunis
The Run for Tunis, part of the Tunisia Campaign in the Second World War, took place during the November and December 1942. Once French opposition to the Allied Operation Torch landings had ceased in mid-November, the Allies made a rapid advance by a division-sized force east from Algeria in an...

 in November and December 1942 before the German troops could arrive in strength. However, because of the poor road and rail communications, only a small (divisional size) force could be logistically supported and the excellent defensive terrain allowed the small numbers of German and Italian troops landed there to hold them off.

On 23 January 1943, Montgomery′s 8th Army took Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

, thereby cutting off Rommel′s main supply base. Rommel had planned for this eventuality, intending to block the southern approach to Tunisia from Tripoli by occupying an extensive set of defensive works known as the Mareth Line
Mareth Line
The Mareth Line was a system of fortifications built by the French between the towns of Medenine and Gabès in southern Tunisia, prior to World War II...

, which the French had constructed in order to fend off an Italian
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 attack from Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

. With their lines steadied by the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

 on the west and Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya; it is also known as Gulf of Sirte or the Great Sirte or Greater Syrtis .- Geography :The Gulf of Sidra has been a major centre for tuna fishing in the Mediterranean for centuries...

 on the east, even small numbers of German/Italian troops would be able to hold off the Allied forces.


Upsetting this plan was the fact that Allied troops had already crossed the Atlas Mountains and had set up a forward base of operations at Faïd, in the foothills on the eastern arm of the mountains. This put them in an excellent position to thrust east to the coast and cut off Rommel′s forces in southern Tunisia from the forces further north, and cut his line of supply to Tunis.

Elements of Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
Hans-Jürgen Bernhard Theodor von Arnim was a German Generaloberst who served during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross...

′s 5th Panzer Army reached the Allied positions on the eastern foot of the Atlas Mountains on 30 January. The 21st Panzer Division
German 21st Panzer Division
The 21st Panzer Division was a German armoured division best known for its role in the battles of the North African Campaign from 1941–1943 during World War II when it was one of the two armoured divisions making up the Afrika Korps.-Origins:...

 met French troops at Faïd and despite excellent use of the French 75 mm (2.95 in) guns, which occasionally caused heavy casualties among the German infantry, the defenders were easily forced back. U.S. artillery and tanks of the U.S. 1st Armored Division
1st Armored Division (United States)
The 1st Armored Division—nicknamed "Old Ironsides"—is a standing armored division of the United States Army with base of operations in Fort Bliss, Texas. It was the first armored division of the U.S...

 then entered the battle, destroying some enemy tanks and forcing the remainder into what appeared to be a headlong retreat.

In reality, US armored forces had fallen victim to an old German tactic, previously employed with much success against British forces. The German tank retirement was a ploy, and when the panzers reached their old positions, with U.S. armor in hot pursuit, a screen of German anti-tank guns opened up, destroying nearly all the American tanks. A U.S. forward artillery observer whose radio and landlines had been destroyed by shellfire recalled, "It was murder. They rolled right into the muzzles of the concealed eighty-eights and all I could do was stand by and watch tank after tank blown to bits or burst into flames or just stop, wrecked. Those in the rear tried to turn back but the eighty-eights seemed to be everywhere." Now unopposed by armor, the 21st resumed its advance towards Faïd. During the German advance, American infantry casualties were exacerbated by the American habit of digging shallow slit trenches instead of foxholes, as German tank drivers could easily crush a man inside a trench by simply driving into it and simultaneously making a half-turn.

Several attempts were made by the U.S. 1st Armored Division to stop their advance, but all three combat command
Combat command
A Combat Command was a combined-arms military organization of comparable size to a brigade or regiment employed by armored forces of the U.S. Army from 1942 until 1963...

s found themselves faced with the classic Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

; every time they were ordered to defend a position, they would find that it had already been overrun, and they were attacked by German troops with heavy losses. After three days, the U.S. II Corps was compelled to withdraw into the foothills.

Most of Tunisia fell into German hands, and the entrances into the coastal lowlands were all blocked. The Allies still held the interior of the roughly triangular Atlas range, but this seemed of little concern to Rommel since the exits eastward were all blocked. For the next two weeks, Rommel and the Axis commanders further north debated what to do next. Given his later actions, this delay may have proven costly.

Sidi Bou Zid

Rommel eventually decided that he could improve his supply situation and further erode the American threat to his flank by attacking toward two U.S. supply bases just to the west of the western arm of the mountains in Algeria. Although he had little interest in holding the mountains′ interior plains, a quick thrust could capture the supplies, as well as further disrupt any U.S. actions.

On 14 February, the 10th and 21st Panzer Divisions attacked Sidi Bou Zid
Battle of Sidi Bou Zid
The Battle of Sidi Bou Zid was a World War II battle that took place during the Tunisia Campaign. The battle was fought between forces of Nazi Germany and forces of the United States. The German forces included the 10th Panzer Division and the 21st Panzer Division of the Fifth Panzer Army...

, about 10 mi (16.1 km) west of Faïd in the interior plain of the Atlas Mountains. The battle raged for a day, but the U.S. armor was outmatched and the infantry, poorly sited on three hills and unable to give mutual support, was isolated. By the end of the day, the field was won by the 5th Panzer Army. A counterattack the next day was beaten off with ease, and on 16 February, the Germans started forward again to take Sbeitla
Sbeitla is a small town in north-central Tunisia. Nearby are the Roman ruins of Sufetula, containing the best preserved Forum temples in Tunisia...


With no defensive terrain left, the U.S. forces retreated to set up new lines at the more easily defended Kasserine and Sbiba Passes on the western arm of the mountains. By this point, the U.S. forces had lost 2,546 men, 103 tanks, 280 vehicles, 18 field guns, three anti-tank guns, and an entire anti-aircraft battery
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...


Axis plan

At this point, there was some argument in the Axis camp about what to do next; all of Tunisia was under Axis control, and there was little to do until the 8th Army arrived at Mareth. Eventually, Rommel decided his next course of action should be to attack through the Kasserine Pass into the U.S. II Corps’ main strength at Tébessa. In this way, he could gain vital supplies from U.S. dumps on the Algerian side of the western arm of the mountains, eliminate the Allies′ ability to attack the coastal corridor linking Mareth and Tunis, while at the same time threatening the southern flank of 1st Army. On 18 February, Rommel submitted his proposals to Albert Kesselring
Albert Kesselring
Albert Kesselring was a German Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall during World War II. In a military career that spanned both World Wars, Kesselring became one of Nazi Germany's most skilful commanders, being one of 27 soldiers awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords...

, who forwarded them with his blessing to the Comando Supremo (Italian High Command) in Rome.

At 13:30 on 19 February, Rommel received the Comando Supremo′s agreement to a revised plan. He was to have 10th and 21st Panzer Divisions transferred from von Arnim’s 5th Panzer Army to his command and attack through the Kasserine and Sbiba passes toward Thala and Le Kef to the north, clearing the Western Dorsale and threatening the 1st Army′s flank. Rommel was appalled. This plan diluted the concentration of his forces and would, once through the passes, dangerously expose his flanks. A concentrated attack on Tébessa, while entailing some risk, could yield badly needed supplies, destroy Allied potential for operations into central Tunisia and possibly give the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

a forward base in the form of the airfield at Youks-les-Bains to the west of Tébessa.


On 19 February, Rommel launched an assault. The next day, he personally led the attack by Kampfgruppe von Broich a battlegroup from the 10th Panzer Division
German 10th Panzer Division
The 10th Panzer Division was a formation of the German Wehrmacht during World War II.It was formed in Prague in March 1939, and served in the Army Group North reserve during the invasion of Poland of the same year. The division participated in the Battle of France in 1940, where it captured Calais,...

, lent to him from von Arnim′s 5th Panzer Army to the north, hoping to take the supply dumps, while the 21st Panzer Division, also detached from the 5th Panzer Army, continued attacking northward through the Sbiba gap.

Within minutes, the U.S. lines were broken. Their light guns and tanks had no chance against the heavier German equipment, and they had little or no experience in armored warfare. The German Panzer IV
Panzer IV
The Panzerkampfwagen IV , commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a medium tank developed in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz...

s and the very few available Tiger tank
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

s fended off all attacks with ease; the M3 Lee
M3 Lee
The Medium Tank M3 was an American tank used during World War II. In Britain the tank was called "General Lee", named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and the modified version built with a new turret was called the "General Grant", named after U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant.Design commenced...

 and M3 Stuart tanks they faced were inferior in firepower and their crews far less experienced. Rommel had special words of praise for the 7th Bersaglieri Regiment, who attacked fiercely and whose commanding officer, Colonel Luigi Bonfatti, was killed during the attack.

Under fierce tank attack, the American units on Highway 13 also gave way during the night, with men at all points retreating before the Italian 131st Armored Division Centauro
131 Armoured Division Centauro
The 131st Armoured Division Centauro was an armoured division of the Italian Army during World War II. It was formed in February 1939, by upgrading the 1st Armoured Brigade . It took part in operations in Albania, Greece and Yugoslavia before returning to Italy...

. Meanwhile, U.S. commanders radioed higher command for permission to arrange a counterattack or artillery barrage, often receiving a go-ahead after the lines had already passed them. Once again, the 1st Armored Division found itself ordered into useless positions, and by the second day of the offensive, two of their three combat commands had been mauled, while the third was generally out of action.

After breaking into the pass, the German forces divided into two groups, each advancing up one of the two roads leading out of the pass to the northwest. Rommel stayed with the main group of the 10th Panzer Division on the northern of the two roads toward Thala, while a composite Italian-German force supported by tanks of the Italian Centauro Armored Division took the southern road toward Haidra. To combat the southern force, the remaining Combat Command B of the 1st Armored drove 20 mi (32.2 km) to face it on 20 February, but found itself unable to stop the advance the next day.

Morale among the U.S. troops started to fall precipitously, and by evening, many troops had pulled back, leaving their equipment on the field. The pass was completely open, and it appeared the supply dump at Tébessa was within reach. However, desperate resistance by isolated groups left behind in the action seriously slowed the German advance, and on the second day, mopping up operations were still underway while the armored spearhead advanced up the roads.

By the night of 21/22 February, the 10th Panzer Division was just outside the small town of Thala, with two road links to Tébessa. If the town fell and the German division decided to move on the southernmost of the two roads, the U.S. 9th Infantry Division to the north would be cut off from its supplies, and Combat Command B of the 1st Armored Division would be trapped between the 10th Panzer Division and its supporting units moving north along the second road. Two battalions of experienced Bersaglieri
The Bersaglieri are a corps of the Italian Army originally created by General Alessandro La Marmora on 18 June 1836 to serve in the Piedmontese Army, later to become the Royal Italian Army...

 are recorded by the 23rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery as having made a daylight counterattack through the Ousseltia Plain, but the attack was broken up by heavy British artillery fire. That night, a polyglot collection of British, French, and U.S. forces freed from the line to the north, known as "Nickforce", were sent piecemeal into the lines at Thala. The entire divisional artillery of the U.S. 9th Infantry Division, 48 guns strong, that had started moving on 17 February from their positions 800 mi (1,287.5 km) west in Morocco, was emplaced that night. When the battle reopened the next day, the defenses were much stronger; the front line was held largely by British infantry with exceptionally strong backing by U.S. and British artillery. When General Kenneth Anderson
Kenneth Arthur Noel Anderson
General Sir Kenneth Arthur Noel Anderson, KCB, MC was a British Army officer in both the First and Second World Wars. He is mainly remembered as the commander of the First Army during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of Tunisia. He had an outwardly reserved character and did not court...

 ordered the 9th and its organic artillery support to Le Kef to meet an expected German attack, U.S. General Ernest N. Harmon
Ernest N. Harmon
Ernest Nason Harmon was a United States Army general. He is best known for his actions in reorganizing U.S. II Corps after the debacle at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass in North Africa during World War II....

 (who had been sent by Eisenhower to observe and report on the battle situation and the Allied command) partially countermanded the order, instructing the 9th′s artillery commander to stay where he was. On the morning of 22 February, an intense artillery barrage from the massed Allied guns pre-empted the planned attack by 10th Panzer, destroying armour and vehicles and disrupting communications. Von Broich—the force commander—decided—with Rommel′s agreement—to pause and regroup, so giving up the initiative while Allied reinforcements continued to arrive. Under constant fire, the 10th was unable to even retire from the field until the onset of darkness.

Overextended and undersupplied, Rommel decided to end the offensive. Fearing that the approaching British 8th Army would be able to break through the Mareth Line unless it was reinforced, he disengaged and started to withdraw east. On 23 February, a massive U.S. air attack on the pass hastened the German retreat, and by the end of 25 February, the pass had been reoccupied.

Related actions

The attack by the 21st Panzer Division up to Sbiba was stopped on 19 February by elements of the British 1st Infantry Brigade (Guards), the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards
Coldstream Guards
Her Majesty's Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, also known officially as the Coldstream Guards , is a regiment of the British Army, part of the Guards Division or Household Division....


German views of the battle

After the battle, both sides studied the results. Rommel was largely contemptuous of both the U.S. equipment and fighting ability and considered them a non-threat. He did, however, single out a few U.S. units for praise, such as the 2nd Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment
13th Cavalry Regiment (United States)
The 13th Cavalry Regiment is a unit of the United States Army. The 1st and 2nd Squadrons are currently stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas as part of the 1st Armored Division.-Service History:...

 of Orlando Ward
Orlando Ward
Orlando Ward was a career United States Army Officer. During World War II, as a Major General, he commanded the U.S. 1st Armored Division during Operation Torch...

′s 1st Armored Division
1st Armored Division (United States)
The 1st Armored Division—nicknamed "Old Ironsides"—is a standing armored division of the United States Army with base of operations in Fort Bliss, Texas. It was the first armored division of the U.S...

. He characterized this unit′s defense of Sbeitla "clever and well fought". For some time after the battle, German units deployed large numbers of captured U.S. vehicles.

Training and tactical failures

The Allies equally seriously studied the results. Positioned by senior commanders who had not personally reconnoitered the ground, U.S. forces were often located too far from each other for mutual support. It was also noted that American soldiers tended to become careless about digging in, exposing their positions, bunching in groups when in open view of enemy artillery observers, and positioning units on topographic crests, where their silhouettes made them perfect targets. Too many soldiers, exasperated by the rocky soil of Tunisia, were still digging shallow slit trenches instead of deep foxholes. The 1st Armored had also apparently not learned lessons from British forces on the receiving end of German anti-tank and screening tactics, though others in the U.S. Army were well aware of the deception. The Allies had also allowed the Germans to attain air superiority over the battlefield, largely preventing effective Allied air reconnaissance and allowing relentless German bombing and strafing attacks that disrupted Allied attempts at deployment and organization. Attacks by the Luftwaffe in close support of German ground offensives often neutralized American attempts to organize effective defensive artillery fire.

Allied command failures

General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 began restructuring the Allied command, creating a new headquarters (18th Army Group, under General Sir Harold Alexander), to tighten the operational control of the corps and armies of the three Allied nations involved and improve their coordination (there having been significant friction during the previous month′s operations).

Most importantly for U.S. Army forces, the II Corps commander—Lloyd Fredendall
Lloyd Fredendall
Lloyd Fredendall was an American General during World War II. Major General Fredendall is best known for his command of the Central Task Force landings during Operation Torch, and his command of the US II Corps during the early stages of the Tunisia Campaign...

—was relieved by General Eisenhower and sent to a training command assignment for the remainder of the war. However, the widespread custom of theater commanders to transfer senior commanders who had failed in battlefield assignments to stateside training commands did not in any way improve the reputation or morale of the latter. Instead of receiving a competent leader, those commands would now be saddled with the difficult job of convincing a disgraced commander to take the lead in advocating radical improvements in existing Army training programs — programs which, like Fredendall himself, had contributed to the embarrassing U.S. Army reverses in North Africa.

Eisenhower confirmed through Major General Omar N. Bradley and others that Fredendall′s subordinates had no confidence in him as their commander; British General Harold Alexander diplomatically told U.S. commanders, "I'm sure you must have better men than that".

While the lion′s share of the blame fell on Fredendall, General Anderson—as overall commander of British, French, and American forces—bore at least partial responsibility for the failure to concentrate Allied armored units and integrate forces, which Generals Harmon, Ward, and Alexander noted had disintegrated into a piecemeal collection of disjointed units and commands. When General Fredendall disclaimed all responsibility for the poorly-equipped French XIX Corps and denied French requests for support, notably when under pressure at Faïd, Anderson allowed the request to go unfulfilled. Anderson also came in for criticism for calling on the three combat commands of U.S. 1st Armored Division for independent tasking (over the vehement objections of its commander, General Orlando Ward
Orlando Ward
Orlando Ward was a career United States Army Officer. During World War II, as a Major General, he commanded the U.S. 1st Armored Division during Operation Torch...

) thus diluting the division's potential effectiveness.

New leadership

On 6 March, Major General George S. Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

 was placed in command of II Corps, with the explicit task of improving performance. He normally worked directly with Anderson′s superior, General Harold Alexander. Bradley was appointed assistant Corps Commander and eventually commanded II Corps. General Fredendall was reassigned stateside, and several other commanders were removed or promoted "out of the way". Unlike Fredendall, Patton was a "hands-on" general not known for hesitancy, and did not bother to request permission when taking action to support his own command or that of other units requesting assistance.

Brigadier General Stafford LeRoy Irwin
Stafford LeRoy Irwin
Stafford LeRoy Irwin was a lieutenant general of the United States Army. He came from the family with long military tradition. He was the son of Army Major General of the Artillery, George LeRoy Irwin and his grandfather was a Brigadier General of the United States Army Medical Corps, Bernard J. D...

—who had so effectively commanded the 9th Division′s artillery at Kasserine—became a successful divisional commander, along with Cameron Nicholson
Cameron Nicholson
General Sir Cameron Gordon Graham Nicholson GCB KBE DSO & Bar MC is a former Adjutant-General to the Forces.-Military career:Cameron Nicholson was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1915...

 of Nickforce fame. Commanders were given greater latitude to use their own initiative, to keep their forces concentrated, and to make on-the-spot decisions without first requesting permission by higher command. They were also urged to lead their units from the front, and to keep command posts well forward (Fredendall had built an elaborate, fortified "bunker" headquarters 70 mi (112.7 km) behind the front, and only rarely emerged to visit the lines). The 1st Armored′s Orlando Ward—who had become increasingly cautious after Kasserine—was eventually replaced by General Patton with General Harmon.

Tactical and doctrinal changes

Efforts were made to improve massed on-call artillery and air support, which had previously been difficult to coordinate. While U.S. on-call artillery practices improved dramatically, the problem of coordinating close air support was not satisfactorily resolved until the Battle of Normandy
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

 over a year later. American air defense artillery also began the process of making substantial doctrinal changes. They had learned that, while Stuka dive bombers were vulnerable to 0.5 in (12.7 mm) anti-aircraft machine gun fire, maneuver units and field artillery in particular needed protection from aerial attack: in one division, 95% of the air attacks were concentrated on its artillery units.

Emphasis was also placed on keeping units together, rather than assigning elements of each division to separate tasks as Fredendall had done. The II Corps immediately began employing its divisions as cohesive units, rather than parceling out small units on widely separated missions. By the time they arrived in Sicily, their forces were considerably stronger.

In fiction

  • The Story of G.I. Joe
    The Story of G.I. Joe
    The Story of G.I. Joe, also credited in prints as Ernie Pyle's Story of G.I. Joe, is a 1945 American war film directed by William Wellman, starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Mitchum's only nomination for Best Supporting Actor.The...

    depicts the battle as the first engagement war correspondent Ernie Pyle
    Ernie Pyle
    Ernest Taylor Pyle was an American journalist who wrote as a roving correspondent for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain from 1935 until his death in combat during World War II. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944...

     witnesses firsthand.
  • The Brotherhood of War
    Brotherhood of War (book series)
    The Brotherhood of War is a series of novels written by W. E. B. Griffin about the United States Army from the Second World War through the Vietnam War. The story centers around the careers of four U.S. Army officers who were lieutenants in the early 1940s...

    series by W.E.B. Griffin, starts with an American officer captured at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass.
  • The 1970 film Patton
    Patton (film)
    Patton is a 1970 American biographical war film about U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates, and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a script by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H...

    begins with a depiction of General Omar Bradley
    Omar Bradley
    Omar Nelson Bradley was a senior U.S. Army field commander in North Africa and Europe during World War II, and a General of the Army in the United States Army...

     viewing the aftermath of the Battle of the Kasserine Pass.
  • The 1980 film The Big Red One
    The Big Red One
    The Big Red One is a World War II war film starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill. Written and directed by Samuel Fuller, it was produced by Lorimar and released by United Artists in the US on July 18, 1980...

    depicts the Battle of Kasserine Pass as the first major engagement of the main characters.
  • In the videogames Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
    Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
    Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is a first-person shooter computer game developed by 2015, Inc. and created by Steven Spielberg. It is the 3rd installment of the Medal of Honor series...

    and Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
    Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
    Call of Duty 2: Big Red One is a World War II video game for the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox and acts as a spin-off of Call of Duty 2. It was released on November 1, 2005, in North America...

    , the player participates in the Battle of the Kasserine Pass. In the real-time-strategy game Empires: Dawn of the Modern World
    Empires: Dawn of the Modern World
    Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is a history-based real-time strategy computer game developed by Stainless Steel Studios and released on October 21, 2003...

    , the player takes command of the American forces in the Battle of the Kasserine Pass.
  • In the novel The Rising Tide by Jeff Shaara
  • The battle is briefly mentioned in the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan
    Saving Private Ryan
    Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American war film set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. It was directed by Steven Spielberg, with a screenplay by Robert Rodat. The film is notable for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which depicts the Omaha Beach assault of June 6, 1944....

    by Technical Sergeant Horvath in Neuville
    -Communes in France:*Neuville, Corrèze, in the Corrèze département*Neuville, Puy-de-Dôme, in the Puy-de-Dôme département*Neuville-au-Bois, in the Somme département*Neuville-au-Cornet, in the Pas-de-Calais département...

     while reminiscing about serving with Captain Miller at Kasserine Pass.

See also

  • List of World War II Battles
  • North African Campaign timeline
    North African Campaign timeline
    - 1940:* 10 June: The Kingdom of Italy declares war upon France and the United Kingdom* 14 June: British forces cross from Egypt into Libya and capture Fort Capuzzo* 16 June: The first tank battle of the North African Campaign takes place, the "Battle of Girba"...

External links

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