Battle of Wadi Akarit
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseOn 29 Mar 1943, New Zealand troops under British command captured GabĂ¨s, Tunisia, and forced Axis troops to fall back to Wadi Akarit. Allied troops conducted small probing attacks against the line through early Apr 1943, noting the fact that flanking maneuvers were impossible (to the east was the sea, and to the west were impassable marshes), thus an offensive must be conducted northward and head-on against the main Axis defensive line. After a heavy artillery and aerial barrage, the main assault, codenamed Operation Scipio, began at dawn on 6 Apr. Troops of British 50th Northumbrian Infantry Division, British 51st Infantry Division, and Indian 4th Division charged the front lines, which was manned by mostly Italian troops of the XX Corps and XXI Corps, totaling about 24,500 men plus 10 tanks of German 15th Panzer Division. In relatively short but vicious fighting, the Allied troops attacked the line; at times the combat would get so close that the Indian troops were seen to fight with their kukri knives rather than their rifles. At 0830 hours, a second round of barrage began, followed by a second ground assault. By 0900 hours, the defensive line began to crumble, and the Italians attempted several major counterattacks. By the early afternoon, it was determined that the attack could not be repulsed, and Axis troops began to fall back to the north. Troops of New Zealand 2nd Division and tanks of British 1st Armoured Division were then ordered out of reserve to pursue, but the advance was slow as it was feared that the Axis forces could be leading the attackers into an ambush in the large olive groves beyond Wadi Akarit. Ultimately, no ambush would be seen. Allies forces would reach the area of Enfidaville in northern Tunisia before meeting serious resistance.
Last Major Update: Apr 2011
Battle of Wadi Akarit Timeline
|6 Apr 1943||Axis forces fell back from Wadi Akarit towards Enfidaville, Tunisia as the British Eighth Army began linking up with US II Corps.|
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Visitor Submitted Comments
18 Oct 2013 12:00:38 AM
interested in battle for caen
24 Dec 2014 05:22:22 PM
Hello, thanks for this account/info on the battle of Wadi. My uncle, my mothers brother, was reported to have died in this battle. His name is John William Lynch 1915-1943 (K.I.A.), he was a private in the Green Howards -- apparently a part of the Infantry Regiment. My Aunt Pat gave me his three war medals & the 'sorry to inform you' typed letter to his family. I would be interested to find out where his part in the battle may have taken place with the Green Howards. Thankyou
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24 Mar 2011 02:15:04 AM
A very good summary of Wadi Akatrit - many thanks for that. As a matter of interest, the Indians referred to were actually the feared Ghurkas. in my Dad's war memoirs he said: "Ghurkas had
already gone into action in the dead of night in their usual way, stealthily, without
any artillery support whatsoever, their Kukries (a very sharp, curved, broad knife
about eighteen inches long) demanding a heavy penalty. These very brave soldiers
from Nepal must have put the fear of death into the enemy. On the other hand, the
enemy would not live long enough to be afraid, because in seconds his decapitated
head would be on the ground." More info at www.fightingthough.co.uk. Thanks, Paul