Faïd Pass. This opening in the eastern mountain chain was taken from a weak French garrison and held against US and French counterattacks, Jan 30 – Feb 2, 1943. Just before daylight, Feb 14, very strong German forces came through Faïd Pass and others came from south of the pass to drive the Americans from positions to the west. The enemy cut off and isolated three groups, on Djebel Ksaira and Garet Hadid southwest of the pass, and Djebel Lessouda northwest of it. On Feb 15, an American armored counterattack to relieve the troops was made in strength far inferior to that required. Most of the troops were captured trying to escape. On Feb 17, the American base at Sbeitla and the airfields at Thelepte were evacuated, as all troops were pulled back into the western mountain chain. The enemy then decided to continue his attack toward the northwest
(Above and Below) General Grant Tank. These medium tanks were of the riveted hull type, later models having cast or welded armor, and were equipped with either a short-barreled (top) or long-barreled (bottom) 75-MM gun. Principal armament was the 75-MM cannon, in a right-hand sponson, capable of being swung in an arc of about 30 degrees. The entire tank would often have to be turned to bring the gun to bear. In a hull-down position only the secondary gun, the 37-MM cannon in the turret, could be fired. The silhouette of the M-3 was much higher than that of corresponding German tanks
Captured German Armor. The Mark IV medium tank (above) was equipped with a 75-MM cannon of higher velocity and range than any of the Allied tank guns then in use. It was generally superior to Allied tanks and was probably the best tank the enemy had until the Panther made its appearance in Italy, 1944. The Mark IV was used until the end of the war. The eight-wheeled armored car with a 75-MM howitzer (below) was equipped with quite thin armor which was so well angled that machine gun bullets and small fragments were not effective against it. It could be steered from both ends and had a speed of slightly more than thirty miles an hour. (Mark IV – Pz. Kpfw. IV)(armored vehicle, 7.5-cm. howitzer.)
Kasserine Pass Area. The enemy broke out of the pass on Feb 20, 1943. On the 21st he headed toward Tébessa and Thala. The attack on Tébessa was halted; the main attack toward Thala made some progress. A British armored force, with heavy losses in tanks and men, delayed the enemy until US artillery got into position. On the 22d the enemy pounded the defenses of Tébessa and Thala unsuccessfully. Allied planes attacked the enemy near Thala, and in the evening the Germans started to withdraw. The Kasserine push was the high point of enemy fortunes in Tunisia
Loading a 105-MM Towed Howitzer. This gun was designed to give close support to the infantry. The picture was made during the February fight in Kasserine Pass (Howitzer M-2 105-MM)
Sherman Tank Towing a Disabled Half-Track at Sidi bou Zid. This tank gradually replaced the M-3 (Grant) in Tunisia. Its principal weapon was the 75-MM cannon. Its turret could traverse an arc of 360 degrees in contrast to the sponson-mounted gun on the General Grant with a traverse of about 30 degrees.
Reconnaissance party at Kasserine Pass on the Kasserine-Thala road (below). The enemy came up this road on his attack through the pass and stopped just before reaching Thala after indications of increasing Allied strength. Medium tank M4.)
German Armor. The Mark III medium tank (above), the standard German tank in Tunisia, had a high-velocity 50-mm. cannon which could penetrate the frontal armor of US light tanks at a thousand yards and the frontal and side armor of the M-3 Grant at five hundred and one thousand yards respectively. The 75-MM antitank and assault gun Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.G (Sd.Kfz.142/1) (below), mounted on the same chassis as the Mark III tank, was encountered early in the Tunisian campaign. Its high-velocity gun was more than a match for any of the Allied tanks. Its low silhouette, characteristic of most German armor, made it difficult to detect and hard to hit. The prototypes of both these vehicles existed in Germany in 1936 and were used until the end of the war.
(Additional Info) for the photo below, from my Facebook friend Erwin Verholen. The man on the photo is Lauri Leppänen. He was born March 6, 1923, in Kauhajoki (Finland) and died on July 22, 2015 at the age of 92 years in Vantaa (Finland). Lauri is sitting on a Finnish Army STUG III.)
(Above and Below) Italian Medium Tanks Left Behind At Kasserine Pass. This model was the backbone of the Italian armor in Tunisia. By Allied standards it was inferior in practically every respect, but it was the best the Italians had. (Italian medium tank M13/40 with 47-MM cannon)
US Light Tank, captured by the Germans. The main weapon of this tank was the 37-MM gun. Its armor was light and riveted together as was the armor on the first models of the medium tanks. A glancing shell could rip off the outside heads of the rivets and send the rivets ricocheting through the interior of the tank with the velocity of bullets. Note the German markings on this vehicle. (US Light Tank Grant M-3)
(Above and Below) US Tank Destroyers. The combination of a Dodge truck and one 37-MM antitank gun (above) could not stand up against any type of armor the enemy had. The tank destroyer (below) was introduced in Tunisia after the Kasserine fight. The chassis was that of the M-4 Sherman tank, the gun having a higher velocity than that of comparable Allied tank guns. The first time it saw action was in the vicinity of Maknassy during the middle of March 1943. The village of Maknassy was occupied by US forces on March 22, 1943.
(Above and Below) US Half-Track used as a Mobile AAA Unit. AAA units like this cut down the effectiveness of the Stuka dive bombers. Half-tracks proved practical for many purposes not originally intended. First designed as a cavalry scout car, it became, with modifications, a gun carriage mounting anything from a 37-MM cannon to a 105-MM howitzer, a personnel carrier, an ambulance, or just a truck. The standard half-track had armor protecting the crew. Multiple-gun motor carriage with 37-MM cannon and .50-caliber water cooled Browning machine gun.)
Long Tom or 155-MM rifle towed by standard caterpillar. This was the heaviest piece of Allied artillery used during the Tunisia Campaign.
US Armor near El Guettar in Central Tunisia. In foreground is a radio-equipped half-track personnel carrier, in background a 75-MM gun motor carriage M-3. The latter, lightly armored, was an antitank vehicle with great mobility The enemy developed a healthy respect for the hit-and-run tactics of US forces using this weapon. The vehicle would wait until enemy armor came within range get off as many shells as possible, and withdraw. US forces pushed eastward from the Gafsa area to draw enemy units from the Mareth Line then under attack by the British. On March 23, 1943, severe fighting broke out southeast of El Guettar and a German armored division was repulsed by US forces with heavy tank losses to the enemy.
Loading a Howitzer. This was the 1918 Schneider model equipped with high speed carriage. The action shown above took place during the enemy counterattack starting on March 23, 1943, east of El Guettar. Although the enemy attack was stopped, US advance toward the coast halted for several days. During this action Allied fighters and light bombers accounted for much damage done to enemy armor and other vehicles along the Gafsa–Gabès road east of El Guettar. (155-MM Howitzer)