Chapter 17: Kasserine and the End in Africa

p. 183: “half the strength of the division.” The Allies relied on Ultra intercepts, which seemed to point toward Fondouk, though observers on the spot noticed a German buildup at Faid. The concentration on Fondouk, Omar Bradley wrote, “came to be a near-fatal assumption.” See Bradley and Blair, 127; Bradley, 25.

p. 184: “withdrawal to the Western Dorsals.” Bradley, 25.

p. 184: “some of the supply dumps there.” General Lucian Truscott described Fredendall as “outspoken in his opinions and critical of superiors and subordinates alike…. He rarely left his command post … yet was impatient with the recommendations of subordinates more familiar with the terrain and other conditions than he was.” Omar Bradley wrote that Fredendall’s command post “was an embarrassment to every American soldier: a deep underground shelter dug or blasted by two hundred engineers in an inaccessible canyon far to the rear, near Tebessa. It gave the impression that, for all his bombast and bravado, Fredendall was lacking in personal courage.” See Bradley and Blair, 128.

p. 184: “‘uncertainty of command.’” Liddell Hart, Second World War, 405.

p. 185: “‘small private show of his own.’” Rommel, 401.

p. 185: “‘against the strong enemy reserves.’” Ibid., 402.

p. 187: “far lower tank losses.” Blumenson, Patton, 181.

p. 187: “barred his return to Africa.” Rommel, 418–19.

p. 188: “the defeat at Kasserine.” Alexander’s most damning indictment of Americans was in a letter to Alan Brooke: “They simply do not know their job as soldiers and this is the case from the highest to the lowest, from the general to the private soldier. Perhaps the weakest link of all is the junior leader who just does not lead, with the result that their men don’t really fight.” See Hastings, Overlord, 25.

p. 188: “attacks eastward, out of the mountains.” Bradley and Blair, 141.

p. 188: “could find to oppose it.” Omar Bradley agreed with Alexander, for he wrote that 2nd Corps “did not possess the force required for so ambitious a mission. Had we overextended ourselves from Gafsa to Gab?s, we might have been seriously hurt on the flanks by an Axis counterattack.” He also wrote: “Alexander was right, 2nd Corps was not then ready in any respect to carry out operations beyond feints.” Bradley wrote that Patton and he accepted the corps’s limitation “with good grace.” However, a May 1943 German evaluation was much more complimentary. It said Americans had an ability to learn on the battlefield and would develop quickly into worthy opponents. See Bradley, 59–51; Bradley and Blair, 142; Liddell Hart, Second World War, 413, 415; Doubler, 28. Bradley’s timidity shows a dramatic contrast with Rommel. One could scarcely doubt what Rommel would have done if he’d had four times as many men as the enemy placed firmly on the enemy’s flank.

p. 189: “turn into a superb field commander.” Bradley and Blair, 98–101, 139; Bradley, 43–45; Blumenson, Patton, 12, 17.