443rd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion in World War II

NORTHERN TUNISIA CAMPAIGN

Changes in command occurred at this time in efforts to place responsibility in the hands of more aggressive and proficient officers and to prepare for future operations. CCA’s General McQuillen was replaced by II Corps Operations Officer Col. Kent Lambert. General Patton was relieved by General Omar Bradley in order that Patton could return to Morocco and organize the Seventh Army (I Armored Corps) for the invasion of Sicily. 443rd Battery B Commander was relieved and made Headquarters Battery Commandant. Soon thereafter, suffering from combat fatigue and back trouble he was sent home to the States.

During the campaigns in North Africa, assault rations were used. Called K rations, they came in a parafin-coated box the size of a Crackerjack box — a different variety for each of the three daily meals. This was supplemented by a D Ration, a concentrated, chocolate food bar plus whatever local produce, eggs or meat might be obtained. In Tunisia, the C-Ration, which came in tin cans, was the mainstay of the troops. It had little variety and was poorly seasoned. Placed against a vehicle’s exhaust muffler, a can could be warmed in 15 to 20 minutes. But as the Northern Tunisia campaign opened, a new 5 in 1 ration became available. It had a day’s ration for five men and included five or six varieties of food for different days. Of course, some were enjoyed more than others. Later, the ration became a 10 in 1 model. 443rd men would long remember the "desert stoves" they made from #10 tin cans, half filled with sand. Gasoline poured into the sand and then lighted, would burn for a long time and was frequently used to boil water, make coffee and poach eggs. When an open flame was unlikely to attract enemy attention the desert stoves could even make the C Ration almost palatable when salt and onions (when they could be found) were added. With scarce water supplies, warm water was welcome.

Although General Alexander had planned to pinch out the U.S. II Corps in Central Tunisia as the British 8th Army advanced northward, General Eisenhower intervened and Alexander’s 18th Army Group revised its plans, giving II Corps an operating zone of its own on the north flank with the 1st British Army in support. The Fifth and Tenth British Corps were to the right of II Corps with the XIX French Corps and the British 8th Army on the right flank. As the Afrika Corps withdrew to the northeastern part of Tunisia it made prolific use of mines and booby traps to delay Allied forces. In an unprecedented action, the U.S. II Corps convoys moved at night, on 18 April, and quickly passed through the British units to assume attack positions in its new sector. The Afrika Corps, in spite of staggering losses of men and materiel, quickly organized new defenses in three general sectors: before the Corps France and the 9th Infantry Division, in the hills north and south of Ued Sed Janine, in the hills west of Mateur, and before the British 8th Army near Enfidaville.

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