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A German Version of the Battle in Tunisia

Discussion in 'War In North Africa' started by Jim, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Corporal Paul Beck of the 1st Battalion of the 5th German Parachute Regiment was a runner, travelling in a motorbike sidecar to carry vital messages throughout the battle zone in Tunisia. At the time of his account, German forces were in possession of Cactus Farm, formerly in British hands.

    In the middle of March 1943, I was seconded to the 4th Company, the HQ being at the Cactus Farm near Peter's Corner. Here it was like a holiday centre, disrupted only by the odd run to forward positions such as Point I07 or Point 133.However, on 27th of April, a British attack on Point I07and Point 133 succeeded, changing the situation completely. Point 137 (Sidi Abdallah) and the Cactus Farm became the German main line of defence on the important Tunis to Medjez-el-Bab highway. The Cactus Farm was held by a total of 48 paras under Sergeant Schafer.

    That evening I experienced the first attack on this farm. British infantry, supported by artillery, advanced towards us. We held fire until the enemy was a few yards away. Surprised by the heavy fire which opened up so suddenly, they withdrew. Next morning, we observed sappers clearing a passage through the minefield. We were unable to do anything about it, lest we display our own weakness. We also had to conserve ammunition. Soon we understood the meaning of the sappers' efforts, 16 Churchill’s, supported by infantry, advanced towards our farm.

    German 7.92mm MG34 machine gunners serve their Führer and country in Tunisia.

    [​IMG]

    Again, we only opened up at very close range. Our sole anti-tank gun destroyed or immobilised several British tanks. A few British infantrymen who had succeeded in penetrating into the farm defences were again ejected. In the desperate situation, we asked our artillery to shell our own positions. The enemy withdrew. We picked up enemy wounded and took some men, who were hiding, prisoner.

    We succeeded in rescuing the crew of a burning Churchill tank. They were all seriously wounded and one of them died during the night. He kept asking for water. Water we didn't have-the only liquid we had was wine, and plenty of it.

    In the afternoon, the enemy attacked in several waves, supported by tanks. He managed to penetrate in places; however, this time, Tiger tanks arrived on the scene, just in time. It was sheer hell, it was night before we were in control of the farm again.

    A German prisoner

    [​IMG]

    In the early hours of 30th April, British Infantry and tanks came in force and penetrated our positions. Desperately we defended ourselves. Again, we requested our own artillery to shell our positions. A lone Focke-Wulf 190 flew in to our aid and destroyed a tank through a direct hit with a bomb. In the afternoon, the enemy sent over a man protected by a white flag. He asked us to surrender honourably. He did not get a reply and departed. This was followed by a large British attack. Our positions were penetrated in places and only after more hand-to-hand fighting, destruction of tanks by 3 kg charges, magnetic charges or Molotov Cocktails, did we succeed in regaining control of the situation.

    By the evening of 30th April, a new defensive line had been completed and HQ ordered us to leave Cactus Farm and take our place in the new line. We left the farm undercover of darkness. To our knowledge there were over 300 British soldiers who lost their lives and 30 tanks or armoured vehicles littered the battleground. We had lost three men killed.
     

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