SOUTHERN TUNISIA CAMPAIGN
Following receipt of a message from General Alexander, 18th Army Group Commander, plans for attack were activated. The general indicated that it was felt that the enemy front would give way under continued pressure. The 1st and 9th Divisions prepared to attack in the second phase of the Southern Tunisia operation. Air Marshall Tedder, Lt. Gen. Spaatz and Brig. General Williams arrived at II Corps Command Post to confer on increasing air support in Tunisia. During the conference the CP was attacked by enemy planes and the heavy bombing killed Pattons aide-de-camp.
Enemy counterattacks and continuous heavy bombing were affecting the morale of the 1st Armored Division. To revitalize the Division, General Patton appointed Major General Ernest Harmon as Commander, replacing General Ward. On 7 April Patton ordered the Benson Armored Force to attack and drive vigorously until it either reached the Mediterranean (Gulf of Gabes) or in pushing eastward toward the sea while clearing enemy opposition, made contact with the German main force. By 4:10 pm the same day the Benson Force had advanced 29 miles east of the II Corps boundary, captured over 2,000 prisoners and made contact with the Xth Corps of the British 8th Army, which had broken through the Mareth Line. The Benson Force then withdrew to the II Corps boundary.
Although this 1st Armored Division action had thus drawn enemy strength away from the British 8th Army, it had not been able to achieve a breakthrough to cut off and trap the Afrika Corps against the 8th Army and the U.s. 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions. American troops ceased hostilities in Southern Tunisia on 10 April and all units began working hard on maintenance, training and rehabilitation preparatory to moving to battle in Northern Tunisia.
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