443rd AAA Bn in World War II



On 18 February enemy infantry, supported by artillery and tanks, attacked the defenses of the Kasserine Pass, with the objective of pushing through to capture Constantine and Bone. Stout defense of the Pass by the 26th Regiment, backed by engineer forces, finally gave way and German forces moved through and in the direction of the mountain fortress of Thala, threatening the right flank of the British 1st Army. The 1st Armored Division then took up defensive positions east of Tebessa, determined to prevent the enemy from reaching the American supply center in the town. Several days of rain made movement difficult and only full-tracked vehicles were able to operate cross country. On 20 February the Afrika Corps with 20 tanks and 10 truckloads of armored infantry attacked CCB defenses along the Kasserine-Tebessa road. CCB responded with tank and artillery fire. 443rd Battery A, with CCB, fought off a number of strafing and bombing attacks, destroying three planes and probably destroying two others, bringing praises from the commander of the armored field artillery. Temporarily rebuffed, the enemy forces regrouped during the night and on 21 February began an advance in two columns. One reached to four miles south of Thala during the afternoon and the other moved west but subsequently withdrew.

A night attempt by the enemy to take Djebel Hamra Pass failed and a heavy, morning rainstorm slowed a subsequent infantry attack. Wearing French and American uniforms, leading enemy elements then attacked with initial success. Concentrated, heavy U.S. artillery fire prevented enemy armor and artillery from advancing close enough to provide adequate support to their advancing troops. The German attack was disrupted and CCB immediately launched a counterattack. About 3 pm American infantry reached the enemy positions and the Germans broke and ran. Many were captured in their tumultuous flight. Scores of vehicles were abandoned and by daybreak on 22 February the American victory was complete. Rommel decided to call off the attacks and pull back.

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