THE MISSION OF THE II CORPS had been threefold: to protect the left flank of the British V Corps; to keep the enemy from concentrating in front of the First Army; and to capture certain major objectives. The II Corps had completed its mission. It had maintained contact all during the operation with the left flank of the British V Corps, which was never menaced. At the beginning of the campaign only about 12,000 front-line enemy troops opposed our advance; at the close of the operation approximately 40,000 enemy troops were in front of the II Corps. All the objectives of the II Corps had been captured, both those assigned initially in the Jefna and Chouigui areas and the ultimate goal, Bizerte. American advances had been coordinated with French and British successes.
The accomplishment of the mission assigned to the II Corps is a record of fighting men with the will arid ability to win. It is also the record of an army well supplied, well equipped, and expertly led.
For operations of such scope and intensity, our losses during the campaign for Bizerte were small. Outflanking maneuvers around strong positions such as Bald Hill and Green Hill in the Jefna sector, concentration on key terrain features such as Hill 609, intense artillery bombardment preceding major attacks, and use of armor to exploit infantry successes were important factors in holding casualties to a minimum. The following tabulation shows losses of the II Corps.
Losses in matériel were likewise very low. Nine light tanks, 40 medium tanks, and 19 halftracks were lost. One 155-mm gun, which had received a direct hit by a 500-pound bomb, was destroyed. Thirteen mortars, 69 automatic weapons, and about 400 other small arms were lost.
Enemy losses in the campaign are reckoned in terms of the total destruction of an army. This is the all-important loss, but even a brief, incomplete statement of some details is of interest. Prisoners of war taken by the II Corps numbered 35,934 Germans, 5,861 Italians, and 41 others. The enemy killed were estimated at 3,000. In addition to the heavy enemy materiel losses in battle, large quantities of equipment and supplies were seized by our troops before the enemy could destroy them. Seven hundred and fifty motor vehicles, 45 halftracks, 75 motorcycles, 50 trailers, 250 artillery pieces, 75 mortars, 750 machine guns, 50 tanks, and 30,000 small arms were among the major items of booty. Likewise, 1,000 tons of ammunition, 1,600 tons of rations, 1,000 tons of clothing and equipment, 75 tons of medical supplies, and 1,000 tires were captured.
The World Acknowledges the Victory
American and French troops of the II Corps distinguished themselves throughout the campaign. "French units under their efficient commander, Colonel Magnan, fought with courage and determination . . . in mountainous terrain and suffered many casualties. Even though exhausted at the end, they still had but one purpose in mind-to drive the enemy from their shores. Their determination, their courage, and their devotion to their cause were an inspiration to our troops." So said General Omar N. Bradley, in his report on the operations of the II Corps, and he gave high praise to the men of his command: "Some of the II Corps, namely, the 1st Infantry Division and elements of the 1st Armored and 34th Infantry Divisions, have been fighting in North Africa almost continuously since they landed at Oran on 8 November. Other units have been in action in Tunisia for varying periods from 18 January onward. Practically all units have fought the enemy both in the desert and in the mountains. The II Corps has fought with and without air superiority. It has suffered reverses, and it has known
victory. Officers and men alike understand our enemy and his methods. They no longer underestimate or overestimate his abilities. With the common sense that is characteristic of Americans, they have learned that the surest way of living is to outmaneuver and outsmart those who oppose us. With their practical sense, their understanding of the enemy, their first-hand knowledge of the hardships and dangers of war, and above all else their courage and loyalty, soldiers of the II Corps have played a major role in the winning of a great Allied victory."
In a special Order of the Day, dated 13 May, General Sir Harold R. Alexander, Commander of the Eighteenth Army Group, addressed the Allied forces: "Today you stand as the conquerors and heroes of the North African shores. The world acknowledges your victory; history will acclaim your deeds. British, French, and American arms have swept from these lands the last of the German and Italian invaders. As your Commander in the Field, I add my admiration and gratitude to those of the United Nations for this great victory, which will go down to history as one of the decisive battles of all time."
page created 10 July 2001
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