443rd AAA Bn in World War II

TUNISIAN CAMPAIGN

SATIN TASK FORCE

By 13 January Platoon A-1 was detached from the 39th Infantry Regiment and attached to II Corps rear echelon seven miles east of Tebessa. The 443rd Provisional Battalion (minus 1 platoon) became a part of Satin Task Force which, spearheaded by the 1st Armored Division, was to move on 22 January in aggressive action to capture either Gabes or Sfax on the Gulf of Tunis and cut the German Afrika Corps’ lines of communication along the Tunisian coast. Other units in the Satin Task Force were two tank destroyer battalions, a medical battalion, a regimental combat team, and a field artillery battalion. Additional support was to be given by the XII Air Support Command and the French Constantine Division. Prior to D-Day the Germans were rushing reinforcements and supplies from Italy to Tunisia by sea and by air, intending to keep the eastern Tunisian coastal plain open so the German army in north Tunisia could link up with Rommel’s Afrika Corps, retreating before the onslaught of the British 8th Army. German opposition to Satin Task Force consisted of at least 170 tanks and more than 20,000 men. The enemy was west of Station De Sened and his main force was in the vicinity of Maknassey. German air activity was frequent and vigorous, and enemy air transports were bringing in reinforcements at the rate of 800 per day.

During the night of 17 January the Satin Task Force, protected by the 443rd AAA AW Bn (SP) Provisional Battalion, moved to the Tebessa-Kasserine-Sbeitla assembly area, 35 miles east of Tebessa. The T/F was near Bou Chebka, an area abounding in old Roman ruins. Meanwhile, seven undermanned and poorly equipped French divisions to the north were trying to fight German tanks and 88’s with old rifles and a few anti-tank guns. Even the native Goum (Moroccan) troops, who specialized in cutting off the left ears of dead enemies as trophies, were unable to halt the German attacks. And by 21 January, one day prior to the Satin Operation jump off, the enemy had successfully penetrated the French front and disrupted it deep into the Pont-du-Fahs-Robaa Valley. A concentration of Allied forces became impossible and the junction of General Rommel’s Afrika Corps and the Northern Tunisia German army under General Arnim became inevitable. Allied Forces Headquarters immediately postponed the Satin Operation.

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