13th Armored Regt in Africa (3)

Afrika

13th Armored Regiment in Tunisia Part II

13th Armored Regiment in Tunisia Part I...  

On December 2 the 13th Armored Regiment and the rest of Combat Command B had withdrawn west of Tebourba after being push out by an assault by the German armoured forces.

With the threat of continued axis attacks, General Robinett decided to move his command post forward to be closer to the coming battle around Tebourba. His intention was to take control of co-ordination between the allied forces.

Before him Robinett saw Waters’s 1st Battalion, 1st Armored Regiment were positioned to the north of Tebourba, around the feet of the high ground, the British Infantry and US artillery were holding the high ground north and west of the town.

Todd’s 1st Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment had retreated down river to some olive groves, but Mayshark’s Company E, 2nd Battalion, 13th Armored had launched a brave daylight sortie to re-open the passage back to Tebourba.

Hold the Line (German Defenders)

Use the Hold the Line mission from Flames Of War to recreate this encounter.

They advanced along the rail line through mainly open ground, and after about one and half miles they came in sight of some German tanks positions on a small knoll and were soon under fire. 

2 December

Game Map

By the time they were within 500 yards of the enemy line they were under intense anti-tank gunfire, one by one their M3 Lees started to burn. After losing seven tanks the attack fell apart, some tanks retreated as ordered, but a few others continued forward in the hope of finding  ground in which to gain protection from the enemy fire.

One tank under the command of Lieutenant Philip G. Walker advanced to within 600 yards of some German tanks, before his tank was also destroyed.   

 
Mayshark’s Force
Company E, 2nd Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment (Confident Trained)
 
Headquarters
 
Battalion HQ ~ 2 M3 Lees
180 points
Combat Platoons
 
1st Platoon ~ 5 M3 Lees
455 points
2nd Platoon ~ 5 M3 Lees
455 points
3rd Platoon ~ 5 M3 Lees
455 points
Total
1545 points

German Forces
10th Panzer Division ~ Panzergrenadier Kompanie
(Confident Veteran)

Headquarters  
Company HQ 45 points
Combat Platoons  
Motorised Panzergrenadier Platoon
~ 3 Squads
220 points
Motorised Panzergrenadier Platoon
~ 2 Squads 
160 points
Motorised Panzergrenadier Platoon
~ 2 Squads
160 points
Weapons Platoons  
Light Anti-tank gun Platoon
with 3 PaK 38 sections
145 points
Support Platoons  
Panzer Platoon ~ 3 Panzer IV G 450 points
Panzer Platoon ~ 3 Panzer III L 345 points
Total
1525 points
Private Casimir J. Gajek left cover to help Lieutenant Walker carry the injured Sergeant Evans from their burning Lee, earning himself the Distinguished Service Cross for his valour.

After their failed attack Mayshark’s Company E was down to 9 serviceable tanks and were consolidated with Todd’s battalion for further operations.

Robinett, at his new command post, gathered Colonels Waters, Todd, and Bruss and his staff together to discuss the situation. Also in attendance was the British Brigadier Cass. Down in the plain below 30 or so Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs were visible, and intelligence suggested a similar number of enemy tanks beyond Tebourba.
M3 Lee
Advancing armored infantry Waters and Bruss’s commands were at about half-strength, and Todd’s battalion was less one company, which was in Oran.

Any further immediate attacks were abandoned, and the new priority was hold open the road to Tebourba, while permission was sought from the Allied high command to launch a combined US/British attack on Tebourba. Unfortunately the air situation did not look good, the Luftwaffe still held superiority in the air while allied airforce units were moved closer to the combat zone. Generals Evelegh and Oliver held off giving permission for the attack, the initiative was still with General Fischer’s Germans.

The Germans continued to apply pressure to the British positions around Tebourba forcing them to withdraw closer to the village. By December 3 the Germans, freshly re-enforced from Italy, seized the high ground of Djebel Maiana over looking Tebourba, almost completely cutting off the British 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. The Hampshires had been defending the line between Djebel Maiana and the river. During the night they evacuated, but lost most of their transport in the process.

M3 Lee
Axis counter attacks

In the meantime, Companies A, C and HQ of the 6th Armored Infantry supported by Battery A, 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion took possession of Djebel el Guessa to the south west of Tebourba.

By December 4 the Germans were in complete control of Tebourba.

Combat Command B and British 11 Brigade Group, both reduced in strength by the last few days, withdrew to a line running through the Bordj Toum Bridge and Djebel bou Aoukaz. Both groups now spent some time reorganising and reinforcing.

The German’s attacked again on December 6. The new positions of the allied forces in front of Medjez-el-Bab swung from high ground and ravines in the north down to fertile farmland in the south running through Bordi Toum bridge, Djebel bou Aoukaz to the Medjez-el-Bab-Furna road. 

Hold the Line (US Defenders)  

US Defenders
  6th Armored Infantry Defending Forces
(Confident Trained)

Headquarters  
Company HQ + M3 37mm gun 60 points
Combat Platoons  
1st Armored Rifle Platoon
2 Rifle Squads

195 points
2nd Armored Rifle Platoon
2 Rifle Squads

195 points
3rd Armored Rifle Platoon
2 Rifle Squads

195 points
Weapons Platoons  
Machine-gun Platoon 120 points
Support Platoons  
Armored Field Artillery Battery
2 Gun Sections

295 points
Tank Platoon ~ 3 M3 Lees 275 points
Tank Platoon ~ 3 M3 Lees 275 points
Total
1610 points
German Attackers
10th Panzer Division ~ Panzer Kompanie
(Confident Veteran)
 
Headquarters  
Company HQ ~ 2 Panzer III L 230 points
Combat Platoons  
Panzer Platoon
~ 3 Panzer III L

345 points
Panzer Platoon
~ 4 Panzer III L

 460 points
Panzer Platoon
~ 2 Panzer IV F2 and 1 Panzer IV F1

 405 points
Support Platoon  
Motorised Panzergrenadier Platoon
~ 2 Squads

160 points
Total
1600 points

Bruss’s Battalion took some time to relieve the infantry. In the meantime the 6th Armored Infantry had been fighting off the German assaults with grim determination, using their Machine-gun platoon to hold off infantry, and counter-attacking with half-tracks to fend off infiltrating detachments.

Battery C courageously held off the enemy tanks, sending all men not needed to crew the guns to the rear.

Slowly the gritty gun crews’ T19s and 37mm anti-tank guns were knocked out, Germans machine-guns taking their toll on the crews. But in the process the Battery had destroyed at least eight Panzers before they were finally overrun at 1145.

M3 Lee crews practicing rapid evacuation

Game Map

They achieved the Distinguished Service Unit Citation and their commander Captain Harrison a Distinguished Service Cross.

Bruss’s 2nd Battalion now prepared for a counter-attack with Todd’s 1st in support. 

US infantry in Tunisia

Attached to Bruss’s battalion was one platoon of Shermans from 6th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division. Reconnaissance was poor, and the Americans went into battle with little knowledge of German numbers or positions.

The forces were divided into Company D, 13th Armored who attacked the east side of Djebel bou Aoukaz, Cocke’s provisional company consisting of the remainder of Mayshark’s company and the 5 Shermans from 6th Armored Regiment and Todd’s Battalion of M3 Stuarts with some mediums attached.

Once again the US forces rolled forward and were hit hard by the German guns and tanks. After 15 minutes Cocke’s company had lost all of its Shermans and most of its M3 Lees. 

Todd’s Battalion didn’t attack its objective until Cocke had been given permission to withdraw and promptly lost five tanks before withdrawing on Todd’s own initiative.

The day’s losses had been severe, the infantry, artillery and tanks of Combat Command B had all suffered heavy loses.

Because of his poor performance Bruss was relieved of his command over the 2nd Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment.

December 10 saw the continued attack by the Germans, driving along both roads to Medjez-el-Bab, but the thrust to the southeast was stopped by soft ground caused by recent rains. 

105mm T-19 HMC

Axis counter attacks continue

The Northwest column was more successful breaking through the roadblock set-up by a platoon of the 16th Armored Engineer Battalion. They quickly came into contact with the 13th Armored’s HQ platoon, destroying all of their M3 Stuarts.
   
Captain Simmerman’s new command (2nd Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment), along with the 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 175th Field Artillery Battalion pounded the German column from the other side of the river, halting the enemy advance, and driving them back by about midday.

The eastern German column had cleared the mud, and were spotted emerging from Furna at 0843 by the Reconnaissance Company, 13th Armored Regiment. 

About 20 German tanks were seen, including one Tiger! Waters’s 1st Battalion, 1st Armored became the target of the German thrust, his units straddling the road between Furna and Medjez-el-Bab. The Germans barged their way through Waters’s battalion leaving 5 halftracks and 5 M3 Stuarts burning in their wake. In true German fashion they push on past the surviving US tanks and their advance continued on towards Medjez-el-Bab.

Elements of Todd’s battalion were soon chasing the Germans along the road, but in the meantime the axis column had run into some trouble nearer Medjez-el-Bab.

Todd’s Stuarts

A French battery of 75mm guns

They destroyed a German anti-tank gun, and supply column in the process.

A French battery of 75mm guns halted the German column, with only the 88mm of the Tiger being in range of the French guns. A German light platoon advance back towards Todd’s positions and carelessly drove into fire from A Company deployed across the road. The Germans sent a further force, including Panzer IVs, this time they had the better of the US M3 Stuarts, leaving them smoking as they continued back towards Furna. The rest of the German column followed, the French artillery and soft ground, and a trailing Todd causing the German commander to rethink his position. 

By nightfall Medjez-el-Bab remained in allied hands and the route was clear for Combat Command Bs withdrawal on the night of 10-11 December. A few more vehicles were lost during the withdrawal, but Combat Command Bs operations on the first allied drive on Tunis were effectively over.

Winter had set in, making further operations for both sides difficult.

Battle of El Guettar…

M2A1 Howitzer


Last Updated On Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by Wayne at Battlefront