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Flanking The Fortress - Hill 531 (Tunisia) - WIP

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Late comer to the thread...

Regarding the fanatical, high motivation discussion. I'm just about through "The Day Of Battle" and got through "An Army at Dawn" and I get the impression that the German could be considered all of the above at this point in the war, but the Allied forces and in particular the American had plenty of artillery and massive amounts of ammo to lob at the Germans and in the end no amount of fanaticism, motivation and experience an stand up to that.

I'm not sure if the battles in CM really reflect that. That may be for play balance as it would be massively unbalanced and no fun to be the Axis side getting pummeled by 200-500 rounds per tube.

I suppose you could say the same for the Eastern Front, but Russian fire control was not as advanced.

From what I've read some of the battles in North Africa and Italy, not only did the Allieds have a huge advantage in artillery, but in some cases they fired till the barrels were red hot and in some cases wore out artillery barrels.

The amounts of sells fired per square foot was insane and in a few cases individual German snipers were targeted by multiple artillery pieces up to 8 inch guns.

So yeah I could see the Germans being properly labeled as fanatical, elite and what have you, and I could also see how under the weight of allied artillery in the long run it didn't matter.

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@db Zero

The matter is not as simple as you think it was. The Germans troops involved in the North African theatre of war are not all fanatical. most of them were just people loving at the highest point their country and imbedded by the propaganda image of the Fuehrer. After all he was, for them, the one that got out Germany from its terrible economic crisis and gave work to all. The Sudetes crisis, the annexion of Austria, the beginning of WWII, its successes, in Poland and France made the normal German soldier feel being above average compare to its opponents.

The first moral reverse (in Africa) came with the news of the fate of the battle of Stalingrad and this added to the long and then fast retreat toward Tunis started to show the reality of the outcome of the war to these men. However, their national pride was for the most intact.

At that time, many of them, even in the high Reich sphere, thought that once the USA would be into the war the end would not be in their favour. That is why on many occasion from now on, the Reich believed in its attemps to dissociate the West powers from the East (the Russian). They thought that the West would follow them against the Russian. Even Himmler later on tried like Goering had done it earlier to succeed in doing it. To no avail thankfully.

But I must say that like in all armies you had fanatical, but they were a minority.

In the last months of the war in Africa the allies had no difficulties in replenishing their materials and their ammo. However they had difficulties in some instances to bring enough reinforcements, particularly the British.

On the contrary, the Germans with the idiot order of Hitler to stand fast and not to evacuate through Sicily their army had no sufficient replenishment in materials, ammo and men. Near the end they had nearly none.

So they fought to the end and Von Arnim surrendered once they were pushed into the Cape Bon. Having been there few times, I don't see how they could have managed an evacuation easily, with all the cliffs being there. Yet, some barges made specially, as an emergency measure, at the time did quite a feast. Bringing materials and ammo and going back with wounded. But that was a drop in the ocean.

For the rest and because I had very close family persons, besides my father (in the US patton's Army ) and my mother (in the French 1st Army) involved in the fight that took place in Tunisia, I can recall that the US forces were not taken at that time very seriously, specially after Kasserine. That is why the German liked most fighting the Amis. That despite the fact that they were having the habit to fire quite a load of artillery concentration, that the Germans wished to have.

To come back to that battle scenario, I am still surprise at the low casualties the US units had in taking that hill. On the over hand one should know that the Germans had not that many men and only few shells per tube to fire for a day.

The only explanation, I have for that battle, since there were not that many prisoners, is that the German staged a rear fight battle, while they had done since few weeks, while pulling back to Tunis. That did not prevent them to do a short counter attack. Yet that one was only done to give them some breathing space and allow them to pull back to their next defence position few kilometers away.

More, IMHO, they did not fight like fanatical.

I also think that the US forces had at the time the necessity to boost their morale.

Writing about that battle and avoiding to write that the Germans were pulling off made it appear as an overwhelming victory. That is the way some battle were told off and either side did it.

A good book telling a lot about the African battles has been written by Marshal ROMMEL. It is done from its diaries. It is a must, because you will understand the daily situation with his comments about the Italians, Kesselring, all the way up to the fuehrer HQ


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It all really depends on the context of how you define fanatical. If you go by the above its one thing, but used in a different context it can mean another thing.

Non political or ideological soldiers are quite capable of putting up "fanatical" resistance.

In the ending stages of the North African Campaign and in Italy German often had the advantage of not only being on the defensive, but in very favorable defensive terrain. They held the high ground and were firing downward at an enemy who had to advance uphill and fire at targets who happened to be at higher elevations.

Regardless of what was happening with the overall conduct of the war, the Germans in favorable defensive positions could put up "fanatical" resistance, even if they though the war was lost or uncertain.

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