The Historical Text Archive: Electronic History Resources, online since 1990 Bringing you digitized history, primary and secondary sources
HTA Home Page | E-books | World War II | January-March, 1943

2: January-March, 1943

<< 1: November-December, 1942 || 3: March 30-June, 1943 >>

Jan. 1st - Usual camp duties by personnel. Co "L" alerted.

Jan. 2nd - Usual camp duties by personnel. Unidentified plane strafed camp area at 0745. Bn S-2 returned from mission to Oran at 1340.

Jan, 3rd - Usual camp duties by personnel. Companies Hqrs, "L" and "M" alerted for possible move at 1130. Bn S-3 returned from Gafsa at 1300.

Jan. 4th - Twelve German planes bombed Thelepte airport dropped about 20 bombs - 1 fighter destroyed and 1 bomber slightly damaged. 1 man badly wounded and another slightly wounded. Our fighter shot down 1 German fighter and 1 bomber and left one with motor burning. Usual camp duties by personnel.

Jan. 5th - Usual camp duties by personnel. Bn S-1 and Bn S-4 returned from missions at 2230. 1sts Drier and McLaughlin promoted to the rank of Capt.

Jan. 6th - Usual camp duties by personnel.

Jan. 7th - Usual camp duties by personnel.

Jan. 8th - Usual camp duties by personnel. Co commanders meeting at 0900 at S-6 quarters. Bn S-6 and Sgt Pokorny left at 1015 for Gafsa. Bn alerted at 1100 possible move. Co "L" moved to Gafsa by truck at 1115, air alarm at 1620. Bn S-6 returned from Gafsa at 1635. Camp area visited by 3 colonels from General's Hq.

Jan. 9th - An air alarm at 0835. Bn S-6 left for Gafsa at 1015. 2nd Bn AT Pltn moved to Gafsa. Co "I" left at 1815 for Gafsa. Bn S-6 returned from Gafsa at 1700.

Jan. 10th - Bn Intelligence men returned from Gafsa 0100. Air Alarm at 0730. Bn S-3 left for Gafsa at 1030. Bn S-6 left on reconnaissance to Gafsa at 1400. Bn S-4 and asst S-4 left for Constantine at 1430. Recreation center for troops opened in Feriana by Chaplain Chase. One 81mm section Co "M" returned from Gafsa at 1715.

Jan. 11th - Usual camp duties by personnel. 5 gliders reported 12 miles north of Kasserine.

Jan. 12th - Communication Plt left for Gafsa at 0500 Lt Murphy in charge. Col Bowen returned from recon to Gafsa at 0930. Bn S-4 returned from Gafsa at 0930. Bn S-1 left for Gafsa (Recon) at 0900. Air attack at 1430 and again at 1445. Bn S-1 returned from Gafsa at 1930.

Jan. 13th - Usual camp duties by personnel. Air alarm at 1830 - Airport bombed.

Jan. 14th - Air alarm at 0745. Bn alerted for move at 1130. Bn S-6 and Pvt Wm M Harris left for Gafsa at 1200. Bn left bivouac area Feriana by vehicle at 2200. Order of convoy: Hq Co, Co "K", and Co "M"

Strength of Co's Hq Co 68 EM 5 off 53 EM atchd

Co "K" 188 EM 6 off 3 EM atchd

Co "M" 179 EM 6 off

Arrived at Gafsa at 0300 Jan 15 43.

Jan. 15th - Spent day in cleaning and preparing billets in French garrison. Bn S-6 called Co Comdrs meeting for 1900. Col Raff arrived in CP at 1400. Co "K", Co "I", and parts of Co "M" dug in position in vicinity Sened and El Guettar. Enemy activity at outposts at Sened resulted in 8 EM dead, 6 EM wounded, and 2 EM and 2 officers (Lts Wick and Norwood) missing - believed to have been captured. Mission sent out to lay mines.

Jan. 16th - Air alarm at 0925. Unit comdrs meeting at 1030. Enemy tanks (15) followed by infantry reported at 1120 moving north at Sened. Col Raff called for air support at 1127. Contradictory reports received and patrols sent out but weren't able to establish the fact of any enemy column. Air mission flew over Gafsa at 1500 saw nothing. Bn S-3 left on recon at 1545. Lt Anderson and a squad of Ammo & Pioneer men went out to investigate our mine fields and discovered German mines and booby traps placed among our mines. Bn S-3 returned to CP at 1940. "K" Co patrol under Sgt Russell reported in to CP at 1650 reporting no activity. Sgt Szerkawicz patrol (Co "K") reported in to CP at 2120 reporting having seen an enemy outpost and having heard vehicles - thought to be motorcycles. Other units moved in vicinity during the night. Btry "B", 701st TD, 692nd AA, 213th CA, Btry's "B" & "D".

Strength report 16/l/43 Hq Co 3rd Bn 123 EM - 10 officers

Atchd 141 EM - 10 officers

Company "I" 164 EM - 5 officers

Company "K" 194 EM - 6 officers

" "L" 203 EM - 7 officers

" "M" 187 EM - 6 officers

701st TD 194 EM - 6 officers

692nd CA 67 EM - 5 officers

213th CA 350 EM - 10 officers

5th FA 120 EM - 4 officers

Jan. 17th - Air alarm at 0910. "L" Co. reports having shot down one ME-109 at 1122. General Porter in CP at 1415; left at 1615. Bn left for Sened at 1430. Units at Sened and El Guettar relieved by French with the exception of the 2nd Bn, 26th Inf, Anti-Tank platoon under Lt Smith and one platoon of 692nd CA. All movements being made under the cover of night. Enemy prisoner taken by Co "L" from the plane that was shot down and brought to CP at 1450 for questioning and sent back to French Hq at Feriana at 1620. Btry "D" 5th FA moved into positions at Gafsa at 1155 . Lt Roosevelt and 4 EM of the 33rd FA came in vicinity to make a reconnaissance. Patrols sent out an usual in vicinity of Sened and El Guettar. Co "K"patrol under Sgt Timian left at 2000 to patrol from outpost at El Guettar; patrol returned at 0100 18/1/43 reporting armored vehicle, 50 men and machine guns employed along road and up into the hills.

Jan. 18th - Air alarm at 1000. Bn S-6, S-3 and Lt Roosevelt left CP at 1007 on reconnaissance. Col Raff held unit comdrs meeting at 1030 and called meeting of all communications officers for 1400. Col Raff left CP at 1045 to inspect gun positions - returned at 1230. Air Corps officers in CP at 1130. Col Butler and staff officers (1st Engrs) in CP at 1135 - left on reconnaissance at 1240. Bn S-5 returned from recon. at 1540. 2nd Bn 26th Inf, in CP at 1430. Col Raff meeting at 1800. S/Sgt Shine (Sgt Major) and group who remained at Feriana rejoined Bn at Gafsa at 2210.

Jan. 19th - Air alarm at 0955. One enemy plane reported shot down by AA and small arms at 1000. Remainder of "D" Co patrol left with Sgt Timian at 2000 - 17/1/43 returned at 2330 verifying the report of Sgt Timian. Col Raff left by plane for Feriana rejoined Bn at Gafsa at 2210.

Jan. 20th - Usual camp duties by personnel. Pvt Whek (Int Section) with Pvt Jarnigan (Jeep driver) and Pvt Jaworski (Comm Platoon) left at 2000 to establish a CP at Sened. Intelligence section went to Sened to help evacuate troops - returned to base at Gafsa at 0230 - 21/1/43. One company of 19th Engineers joined us at 2300 (185 EM & 5 officers).

Jan. 21st - Enemy plane reported landed at Sened at 0945. Three of six Air Corps men whose B-26 was forced to land in vicinity of Gabes and who have been on the road towards friendly lines for over a week reported into Col Bowen at 0930. Capt Bowers comdg Co "F" in CP at 1030. Unit comdrs meeting at 1030. At 1600 Lt Col Bowen, Capt Carvey, Roworth (British) Lt Root and Sgt Hinton were presented with the Croix de Guerre by the French. Part of Bn billetted in Gafsa (Hq Co "M" Co moved at 1850 to bivouac areas on the outskirts of the city. CP established at 1930 distance by vehicle 3 miles. Air alarm at 2115. The story of the 3 men in plane mentioned above is as follows: Flew near Gabes with mission of bombing a railroad bridge. Dropped their bombs and, as they pulled away from target, both motors quit. They crash landed near Sebkret Mansour without being observed. They started to hike toward Gafsa and were captured by 6 Italians, a German and an Arab. The German and the Arab placed them in the rear of a small car after hastily searching them and started to take them back to Gabes. The German had only taken the officers side arms from him. The other two had shoulder holsters which the German did not touch. As they drove along, the American flyers hit the German over the head, shot the Arab, wrecked the car and escaped, they then made their way across the mountains to Sakket and then to Bou Hamran where they were hailed by an enemy patrol. They split into 2 groups of 3 and continued. The three were interviewed by this Hq and finally made their way to Gafsa.

Jan. 22nd - Usual camp duties by personnel. Mission now changed to defend Gafsa. Hq Co moved back one mile by vehicle inside the road blocks at 1630. Positions dug in by 2000 hour.

Jan. 23rd - Usual camp duties by personnel. Pvts Whel, Jaworski and Jernigan and three French soldiers returned at 0100 from outpost at Sened. Two enemy trucks entered Sened at daybreak 1/22/43 approximately 30 men - Machine guns on trucks. The enemy was active in the city until about 1100 when they approached our men at outpost. Men claim to have inflicted three casualties. Our men tried to blow their jeep up. Pvt Jaworski cut telephone wire withdrew on foot to the French outpost at Sened arriving there at 0020. Enemy plane flew over encampment at 1345.

Jan. 24th - Usual camp duties by personnel. Air alarm at 1015 and at 1425. 3rd Bn Anti-tank platoon returned from outpost at El Guettar at 2030 travelled 11 miles by truck.

Jan. 25th - Usual camp duties by personnel. Air alarm at 1120 and at 1350.

Jan. 26th - Companies of the battalion moved in course of the afternoon to new defensive in the vicinity of Gafsa. Air alarm at 1525.

Jan. 27th - Lt Col JW Bowen assumed command of Task Force in addition to his other duties as comdr of 3rd bn upon the departure of Col Edson D. Raff having been relieved. Air alarms at 1120, 2215, 1540, and 1620.

Jan. 28th - 3 companies of Germans and Italians, unknown number of German motorcycles have moved into Sened station one kilo north of railroad. Field construction going on which needs observation. Information obtained from French deemed excellent. Between Gafsa and Zannouch Italian patrols coming down from Djorbata to mine railroad tracks and road especially near railroad house 23 & 24. Information from French source deemed excellent. French outpost six miles south of El Guettar on El Guettar and Gabes road bombed by 18 Stukas and 4 Messerschmidts at 1545 one man wounded. Italian patrols active last night. Jeep patrol between Gafsa and Sidi-Bou-Zid yesterday afternoon; also two German planes at 1330 believed to be Messerschmidts. Both times they were met by our AA fire. Air recon. at 0900 - 1010 on Jan 27th reports 5 trucks apparently Italian at about 100 men in Mozzouva. On road east of Mazzouva 4 to 5 halted trucks and one in ravine. At Sened station 5 to 8 mounds of Alfalfa with heavy tracks leading into them. Information from Kokomo. French patrols report that they believe German or Italian outposts located in DJ Majoura and DJ El Kabar. Air alarm at 0750, 1130 and 1315.

Jan. 29th - Usual activity about the garrison and present Bn CP (Caserin). Air alarm sounded in town at 0750 and 1110. At 1200 an called air mission was called for by Col Bowen to provide cover for our tanks moving to vicinity of Sened. A convoy of French and American trucks were strafed on the Feriana-Gafsa road causing a total loss of six trucks and six enlisted men who were wounded.

Jan. 30th - All was quiet in Gafsa until a report was received by the French at 0915 that the Faid Pass was being attacked by German troops. The defense of Gafsa was alerted at 0930. In the evening at 1630 Gen Porter arrived to assume command of the Task Force. At 1900 Lt Anderson of Hq Co departed for the vicinity of Sened to change of an anti-tank mine field and returned at 0230 the following morning.

Jan. 31st - Services were held by Chaplain Chase at 1030 in the French garrison, at 1130 at the Prisoner of War Enclosure, and at 1430 at Co "I"s bivouac area for Protestants. Catholic services were held at 0800 0930, and 1600 in the French Garrison. The later services by Chaplain Kelly, attached to the Air Corps, Thelepte. Air alarms were sounded at 0740, and again at 0810. We received a report at 1310 that six American vehicles were strafed on the Feriana-Gafsa road. One officer was killed six EM were wounded, six trucks were totally destroyed. At 1830 Lt Anderson of Hq Co departed for vicinity of Sened where his group laid 36 anti-tank mines and several "booby traps". Thru the early hours of the morning armored units rolled through the town of Gafsa enroute to their bivouac area on the Gafsa Airport, where they assembled in preparation for an attack on Sened.

Feb. 1st - Armored units left bivouac at approximately 0900 to advance on Sened. Heaviest resistance was encountered at Sened Station. Our troops had air cover most of the day, but German Stukas managed to sneak in and do some effective dive bombing; especially on the infantry troops. The Task Force in Gafsa was totally in the dark as to the progress that was being made around Sened. As in all armored attacks, they sent us no information and failed to ask us for information. Capt Dreier, Bn S-2 always has up to date information on every activity which he receives from a secret source, for a few hands full of tea. During the attack which lasted for two days, our outpost remained at Zanouch. This outpost is operated by Co "L", and the Chasseur D'Afrique. During this period they operated patrols on the Sidi-Bou-Zid road. During the afternoon a small Italian patrol approached the French outpost at El Guettar, but was driven off. Co "K" was alerted to move to the oasis of El Guettar, but did not go into action.

Feb. 2nd - First air alarm of the day was sounded at 0915. Little else of consequence occurred until Lt Falconiere called from the Zannouch outpost and said that he had 3 suspicious looking characters in his possession that claimed to be British subjects. They were sent to Task Force Hq where they were interrogated at some length. They were members of a long range desert group sent out by the British 8th Army. They left the vicinity of Cairo, Egypt on Nov 21st, 1942 and travelled across the desert in American "jeeps". Enroute they destroyed much enemy property in the desert. They were ambushed in the mountains south of Gabes where most of their party was either captured or killed. From that point they walked 100 miles across Chott Djerid and thru the mountains in 4 days. The same night they were escorted to II Corps for identification, interrogation, etc. At 1830 a 26th Inf Sv Co truck (2 ton) ran over a French road mine, seriously injuring T/5 Carl S. Best of Sv Co and T/4 Kenneth O. Miller 3488th Ord Co. Reports of the armored battle at Sened are beginning to come in - they are sketchy and indicate that the Stukas are really "hell on earth" especially for the 168th Inf.

Feb 3rd - The greatest event of the day was a visit by Capt William Byrne from Reg Hq - our first news of the activity of the Regt in several weeks. Cold, hungry, and tired, he sat thru a barrage of questions by the officers of the bn. We all regretted to hear of the heavy losses of officers and men in the vicinity of Osseltia. We were incensed to hear that the 26th Combat Team, less the 2nd and 3rd Bns with some armored elements, was on the way to counter-attack at Faid. It took us three days to take the same pass that was abandoned by our allies in one day! Now our military kinfolk were to lose more blood for the self same spot. Co "K" moved to El Guettar by truck at 1900. The company and attachments set up a defensive position in the vicinity of the oasis. Brig Gen Porter returned to his former post at II Corps.

Feb 4th - On this date, the US Forces vacated the high ground they held east of Sened Station. The last elements passed through town at 0300. Many mines and booby traps were placed in the vicinity of Sened Station by our force. At approximately 1310, a large flight of 41 Flying Fortresses and 48 P-38's flew over town, headed towards Sfax. The entire town turned out to witness the demonstration. At las we had support we were entitled to. This afternoon we received an order from II Corps stating that our Task Force was under the British First Army. To us it was just another hq to serve under. We have served under everything but the "Rising Sun" and the "Swastika" to date! Lt Buttolph and patrol returned to Sened Station to recover two bodies left by the 168th Inf. The patrol advanced to the Station and proceeded to accomplish their mission. As Pvt Kennedy of Hq Co was searching the bodies for booby traps, two Italian tanks roared up to their position causing them to take flight. As they left the station they spoiled some US Ammunition and gas. This pile was set fire by tracer bullets and destroyed, as the patrol was unable to stop long enough to salvage the supplies.

Feb.5th - The only activity for the day was a report from French Div hq that there was a strong enemy column near Sened. This information was verified and an air mission called for. The air corps reported that this target was effectively strafed. At 1130 a reconnaissance patrol reported to the Bn CP. More information on the recent activities was obtained. Col Frederick Butler, C.E. reported to the Task Force and assumed command.

Feb 6th - During the morning a patrol of Ammo and Pion men from Hq Co searched the Gafsa-Sened-Maknassy road for mines. On the road 7 km west of Sened, a new type of Italian mine was discovered and disarmed. The mine was brought back to the Bn and studied by the men of the Ammo and Pion platoon of Hq Co. Col Butler held a meeting of unit comdrs at 1815.

Feb 7th - Carried on the usual duties until air raid alarm was sounded at 1100. During the morning Lt Anderson exhibited the new Italian mine to all cos of the Bn. The piece was then sent to II Corps Engineers. At the regular unit commanders meeting Capt Dreier announced that there was a German spy circulating in the area wearing an American uniform with a Red Cross arm band on his sleeve. Patrol from Co "L" left for Zannouch on routine patrol activity. Patrol groups remain at Station Sened for 48 hours.

Feb 8th - Air raid alarm at 0850. A report was received from Station Zannouch outpost at 1000 stating that one scout car and five Italian tanks, supported by two ME 109's were headed their way. Our "jeep" patrol fired on them and retired to cover at Station Sened. An armored column (part of Task Force Mobile Reserve) composed of Co "B" 13th AB and one platoon of Co "C", 701st TD's moved to meet the Italian tanks at 1045. The two elements met, and the Italian tanks were chased off. Our tankers reported that our field of 36 anti-tank mines disabled two Italian tanks. They also stated that the enemy was employing US jeeps. The outpost at El Guettar was shelled by enemy artillery at 1640 for ten minutes; no casualties were reported. Two men from the long range desert patrol (British 8th Army) reported to the CP at 1700.

Feb 9th - Air raid alarms at 0800, 0845, 0915, and 1025. No attempt was made to attack the town. A report was received from the French that Italian tanks were attacking Djebel El Mdilla. At 0910 Capt Hughes, Lt Honecker, and one section of the 3rd Bn Anti-tank pltn departed for Mdilla. On arriving in the town of Mdilla, French officials were frantic and demanded instantaneous action. Capt Hughes went to the French CP in the mountains south of Mdilla. He was accompanied by an officer from the Derbyshire Yeomanry. They observed approximately twenty Italians, four scout cars, and one motorcycle. The men were digging gun positions on the ground occupied by the French troops. After desperate pleas from the French Col at Gafsa the Tank Co and one platoon of Tank Destroyers advanced to Mdilla. They approached the Italian position, fired a few rounds, and put the enemy to flight. The Bn Anti-tank section, occupying the pass with the French troops remained a while to see that all was well; All was quiet by 1315. A threat was reported by the Co "L," outpost at Zannouch at 1130. Our armored elements then moved to Zannouch where they engaged 8 Italian medium tanks that forced our outpost out of the Station. The Co. comdr of the Anti-tank co reported upon his return that 2 German Mark VI tanks made an appearance but, did not participate. Our outpost at Zannouch was restored at 1630. Lt Anderson of Hq Co with 6 EM from his pltn immediately left Gafsa to search the area of Zannouch for mines and booby traps. None were reported however. The telephone installations were pulled out. Seven companies of theUS Rangers arrived in Gafsa at 2100 and bivouacked at El Kasar School. 4 companies are rationed with this bn, as they have no kitchens.

Feb 10th - Carried on the usual duties of the day. At 1530 we had the pleasure of seeing the Regtl Comdr for the first time since Nov 29th, 1942. He acquainted us with the current situation, and gave us his G-2 of the none too clear situation. Col Stark was accompanied by Capt Smith, Regtl S-3. Col Bowen took them on a hasty sight-seeing tour of the town and then to supper at Hq Co. The Col was quite impressed with the history and peculiar sights of the oasis we call our own. He drove thru the famous Kasbah (ancient Byzantine Fort) and the old Roman baths where naked Arabian lads dive for franc pieces. The Regtl Comdr departed for Feriana at 1800.

Feb 11th - Had our routine air raid alarms at 0755, 1150, and 1640; the cry of "wolf" brought no activity from the air. The Bn S-6, S-3, and S-1 left Gafsa on recon at 1115 and returned at 1710. Reconnoitered possible routes of withdrawal from Gafsa to the vicinity of Feriana. Co "K" reported from El Guettar that an ME 109 was shot down by our aircraft. In retaliation, the Italians shelled our troops at El Guettar, but no casualties were reported. At 2145 our trucks transported three companies of the US Rangers to a position northwest of Sened where they were to make a raid on enemy positions. The Rangers were supported by our Asst Bn Surgeon Capt "Commando" Freiman.

Feb 12th - Little activity during the day. The Rangers returned at 0930 after a very successful raid. They demolished several gun positions and either killed or captured or wounded several Italian troops. They returned with 11 Italian prisoners. Two of the Rangers were killed and 20 were wounded. From the looks of the prisoners tonight they were still suffering from shock and it is doubted if any Italians dare to sleep on this continent if there is an American within 50 miles of their position. S/Sgt Allen of Hq Co left with a group to set Booby traps in the vicinity of Zannouch. These are set as a warning notice for the outpost at Zannouch. The group returned at 2045 - mission accomplished.

Feb 13th - Unit comdrs meeting at 1130. Two enemy tanks and one large lorry were already demolished or at least put out of action by the newly laid mine field of the night before. An air mission was requested to strafe and bomb the injured vehicles but it was refused as an

unprofitable mission. Bn S-1, Sgt Major Shine, and Personnel Section went to Regtl Hq on Bn business for the day. Report received at 1450 that Lt Megrail of Co "L," having tripped over a booby trap and being seriously injured. (Later Lt Megrail died, of same injuries). At 1900 this date replacements for bn arrived consisting of 4 officers and 24 enlisted men.

Feb 14th - A report was received in the Bn CP of the enemy breakthrough in the Sidi Bou Zid - Faid area. Rumors were rampant as to the force of the enemy, the seriousness of the situation, and how it would effect us at Gafsa sector. Early in the evening the Personnel Section, all of the Bn barracks bags, and heavy supplies were sent by truck back to Feriana. By 1900 hours the Bn was on an alert status pending orders. The orders came thru to evacuate and from early in the evening to dawn the next day the Gafsa - Feriana road witnessed the heaviest traffic to date. It was a thrilling experience, as in any mass movement, and was not without its humorous aspect. the French evacuees bearing their comical bundles, rolls, and equipment; Mm LaZonga and her six charming daughters who evacuated with the GI's, and the civilians with their household goods and children and livestock all tended to add a note of gaiety to the serious situation. However the troops were all evacuated successfully by morning of the 15th with no casualties.

Feb 15th - The Bn established a CP about 8 miles east of Feriana where the Bn remained in tactical bivouac. We maintained radio and telephone communication with Regt in Feriana and had telephone communication with the companies of the Bn. A liaison group from the 33rd FA joined us in the CP. A co comdrs meeting was held at 1800 hours.

Feb 16th and 17th - About two thirty in the afternoon of the 16th we could hear firing in the direction of Gafsa and saw a few of our tanks and half-tracks going down the road in that direction. The Bn was alerted for a possible move at 1800 hours and the bed rolls were collected but redistributed. "I" Co sent out two patrols that reported enemy sneaking thru our lines. (5 "I" Co men reported missing from these patrols) At 0200 hrs the Bn was awakened and prepared to withdraw. Bn entrucked at bivouac area at 0520 and travelled by truck past Thelepte to the mountain ridge Dj Dernaia. This move was an experience too, as the sky was red with burning ammunition, gas supplies, etc. at Thelepte Airport and in the distance could be heard the sound of heavy firing. After establishing a CP at Dj Dernaia, Co "L" and one section of the AT platoon and two men from the Intelligence section moved to Dj Kzaret Sidi Zaid to defend the pass. At 0950 the rest of the Bn moved to Bou Chebka after stopping near Depot Alfa Sultan where the kitchens fed us, literally, on the fly. At 1700 hours the Bn began to move to Kzaret Sidi Zaid to establish the defense of the pass. After a hazardous trip in the dark up the mountains the bn arrived at the pass about 2200 hours.

Feb 18th - The kitchen train moved up to the pass to remain with the units. The CP was moved to a new and more permanent position. The following units were attached to the Bn: 26th Cannon Co, one Bn of the 33rd FA, and the 26th Anti-tank Company. Gen Ward and Col Stark visited the Bn positions and CP at 1600 - 1730 hours.

Feb 19th - We again became a Task Force with Col Bowen in command. The following units composed the Bowen Task Force: 3rd Bn 26th Inf, Sv Co 26th, AT Co 26th, Co "C" 1st Engrs, Btry "C" 106th AA, CO "B" 13th Armd regt, 443rd AA, Btry "A" 68th FA. The staff of the Task Force was as follows: Col Bowen, S-6; Capt Dulligan, S-4; Lt Glisson, S-3; Capt Dreier, S-1 and S-2.

February 20th - February 28th - Generals Ward and McMillan in sector to review positions. The Bn continued to construct defensive positions and patrols were sent out by Companies "K" and "L" - each returned reporting no contact with any enemy. Mine fields were laid and guarded. The Intelligence Section established and manned a CP. The OP's of the 3rd Bn and TF were consolidated and moved to a new position. At 0600 on the 20th the Cannon Co was called away on a mission. During the night of the 22nd the 813th TD Bn and the 175th FA moved in with us. Patrols sent out by Companies "K" and "L" were fired upon SW at Feria. A unit comdrs meeting was held in the CP at 1400 hours on the 23rd and Lt Greenwood and party of the British Recon unit the Derbyshire Yeomanry joined us as liaison with their unit. On the 23rd Gen Roosevelt and some of the 1st Recon were in the CP. Gen Allen visited the Task Force positions and CP on the 24th. None of the patrols sent out reported any enemy contact. On the 25th a mine removing detail from the Co "C", 1st engrs was called for by S-3. On Feb 26th the Bn was semi-alerted awaiting orders to move and again the patrols reported no contact. The British Liaison group of the Derbyshire Yeomanry left our area on the 27th and our billeting party for the new bivouac area left at 1100 hours. The night of the 27th the 47th Inf took over our positions and relieved the 3rd Bn. The Bn left by truck at 0200 hours Feb 28th and arrived at new bivouac area in the vicinity of Marsat at 0700 that morning. The day was spent in preparing bivouacs and church services were held late in the afternoon.

Mar 1st - A Co comdrs meeting was held in the CP at 0900. 1st Sgt Lewis Clancy, crusty old 1st Sgt of Co "M" was transferred to Regt at Regtl Sgt Major. Showers were enjoyed by most of the Bn.

Mar 2nd - We were all sorry to lose our Bn Comdr Lt Col Bowen who was transferred to Regtl Hq as Regtl Ex Off. Maj Corley became acting Bn S-6 and Capt Grant Bn S-5. A co comdrs meeting was held in the Regtl CP at 1800 hours.

Mar 3rd - The Bn was alerted for a move at 1000 hours. The day was spent in preparation for the move and police up of the bivouac area. The Bn entrucked at 1900 hours, crossed the IP at 2050 hours, order of convoy: I K L M & Hq. Capt Seitz joined Bn as Comdr of Co "I".

Mar 4th 5th & 6th - The Bn arrived at destination new Bou Araba where we relieved an English unit at 0700 hours. Companies moved into positions from 100-1600 hours. Rear and forward CP's established the forward CP later used as OP by the Bn Intel Sect. Mortar fire in the co areas all day. Much firing along line MG, arty, and mortar all night by enemy and French forces on our right flank. Lt Anderson and 33rd FA liaison group joined the CP. At 1645 4 ME 109's strafed some jeeps and an ambulance in our sector. On march 5th there was some enemy air activity but no damage done. A co comdrs meeting was held in the CP at 0900 and patrols were sent out as usual. On the 6th we again saw enemy planes - no damage and sent our the usual patrols.

Mar 7th 8th - On Mar 7th Maj Derrill M. Daniel assumed command of the Bn; Capt Dreier went to Regt as S-2, Capt Grant to Regt as S-3; and Capt Yerkes joined us as Bn S-2. Our OP reported Austrians digging in to our front with a field piece. On Mar 8th the Bn was alerted for a possible move, enemy air activity witnessed, and the usual night firing took place.

Mar 9th - The Bn entrucked at 0515, crossed the IP at 0530, order of convoy: K I L Hq & M. Arrived at Le Kef at 1110 hours where "Frenchie" T/4 Joseph Archambault was killed when a British tank crashed into the rear of Hq Co kitchen truck. The Bn again entrucked at 1310 and resumed its way to Bou Chebka and arrived there at 1830. Companies of Bn in tactical bivouac.

Feb 10th - 14th - While in position at Bou Chebka our time was spent in resting, care and cleaning of equipment, etc. Night problems were held for the line companies mortar sections; and on Sunday religious services were held.

Feb 15th - The Bn comdr, Maj Daniels, held a meeting of the entire Bn personnel at 1030 hrs. He addressed the meeting, introducing himself and the Bn staff officers. He reviewed what we's learned, what to expect on future operations, and what he expected of his men. Maj Rainey spoke on field sanitation; Maj Corley read appropriate AW's, and the Co comdrs were introduced. At 1300 hours the Bn was alerted to move and the afternoon was spent in preparation. At 2000 hours the Bn entrucked, crossed IP at 2030 hours, order of convoy: I K Hq M & L. Arrived at bivouac area (Feriana) at 2200 hours and established CP. The 3rd Bn reverted to the Bowen Task Force with the following units atchd: 1 Plt A-T co; 1 Plt Cn Co; 1 Btry 33rd FA; 1st Recon group; 1st Signal group; Air Ground Liaison unit; and 15 additional medics and 3 ambulances.

Feb 16th - Task Force entrucked at 1830 and crossed IP at 1935 arrived at new bivouac area at 2315 hours. Distanced travelled by truck 51 miles over GI engineer road. Field Order No. 1 and Annex distributed at 1720 hours. (FO #1 and Annex attached).

Mar 17th - TF comdr; Bn S-6, S-3, S-1 on recon at 0630 hrs. TF comdr maintained a rolling CP for operation. Co "I" moved into position by Btry "A", 33rd FA at 0830. Bn entrucked at 1250 to move to objective - advance held up by mines. Bn arrived at outskirts of Gafsa at 1730 and bivouacked in rain there for night.

Mar 18th - The bn moved into billets in city of Gafsa for the day on account of the rain. While awaiting further orders a CP was established in the Nouvel Hotel. The kitchen train moved up in the evening.

Mar. 19th - The Bn entrucked at 0800 hours to move into positions outside Gafsa for the defense of the city. A CP was established at.0850.

Mar. 20th - The Bn was again alerted to move out - mission to support Rangers in taking and securing high ground at pass beyond El Guettar. Bn entrucked at 2100 hours crossed IP at 2200 hours order I K L Hq & M. Reached Bn assembly area at 2330.

Mar. 21st 22nd - Marched ?? miles to positions in early hours of morning. Arty active - 3 casualties sustained by Co "K". By 1700 hours all objectives had been taken and Bn moved out to bivouac area. While on way to bivouac area troops were strafed by Stukas and the Regtl CP was bombed. Arrived at bivouac area at 1810 and established a CP with companies in position to defend and hold the pass. An OP was established by the Bn Intelligence Section and patrols were sent out by companies. "I" Co established a listening post along road. The 22nd was spent

quietly in positions until 2130 hours when we were again alerted to move.

Mar. 23rd - The Bn left the bivouac area at 0130 hours for new positions; marched 9 miles by foot and reached destination at 0510 hours. Orders were received to move back at 0730 so the troops were moved to assembly area by shuttling (truck). At 1330 the Bn marched or rather advanced to positions on left of Co "C". 88 prisoners were taken. From then on the Bn was under heavy arty and mortar fire; many casualties were suffered. Co "C" was attached to the bn. Enemy air attacks on bn positions at 1600 hours. Lt Anderson and his liaison party again joined the CP group.

Mar. 24th - The Bn was under constant mortar fire, arty fire and MG fire. A shell hit in the Bn CP injuring PFC Richie (died later), PFC Crawford, Pvt Carter, and the runner from Co "C". Co "I" patrol at 1600 hours contacted enemy MG nest and drove them off with bazooka guns. An OP was established and manned by the Bn Intel Sect. Flares were observed in enemy territory all night.

Mar. 25th - Co "K" sent out a patrol to reconnoiter left flank and contact 2nd Bn. Bn withdrew under heavy arty and MG fire at 1145. "L" co protected our withdrawal. New positions established on right flank of Co "E". The 27th Panzer Brigade was reported to attack the 1st Div tomorrow. Maj Daniel aptd Lt Col as of 19th.

Mar 26th - Bn S-6 and S-3 on recon of the Bn defensive positions at 0700 hours. All units of the 3rd in were warned to use transp. at a minimum because of the shelling. Co,"L" was instructed to send out a patrol under Cpl Secka (16th CT) to contact Col Crawford and learn his exact dispositions and intentions. Co "K" sent out a patrol to reconnoiter the area we'd just withdrawn from - they were fired upon by Italians hiding in wadi at close range.

Mar. 27th - The day was spent quietly in defensive positions. Lt Hoover, Comdr of Co "M"was killed by shrapnel on his way to a Co Comdrs meeting in the Bn CP at 1300 hours. All the time we were in this position we were under sporadic arty fire,

Mar. 28th - The Bn left bivouac at 0415 hours and marched approximately 3 miles to our first objective arriving there at 0630 hours. We had radio communication with the 16th CT and the 26th CT by 0645. Again Lt Anderson and his party of the 33rd FA were with us as liaison group. An officer from AFHQ was with us on this operation as an observer. An OP was established and manned by the Bn Intel Section at 0900.hours. The CP moved forward and was reestablished at the following times: 1030-1050; .1305-1330; 1440-1445. The second objective of the Bn was obtained at 1530. Two German prisoners were brought into the CP by Maj Corley and Pvt Felix DeFelice having been captured by them when they neutralized two MG nests that were holding up the advance of the whole Bn. The Bn proceeded with the attack at 1745 and beat off a counter-attack.

Mar 29th - The Bn CP was moved to a new location at 0615 and a new OP was established by the Intel Section at 0800 and another one at 0930 - telephone communication with both OP's. The Bn S-5 reconnoitered for a new CP position at 1630 and the CP group moved in at 1715. Co "I" gained objective, hill No. 482, at 1830. No contact with Co "L" all day. All night long there was much enemy air activity - bombing to our rear and flares being dropped all around us.

<< 1: November-December, 1942 || 3: March 30-June, 1943 >>