The War Illustrated No 153 Vol 6 April 30th 1943

TUNISIAN BATTLES. These maps show the approximate fronts at April 9,1943. In the north General Anderson’s First Army was thrusting hard toward: Tebourba and Mateur, v/hile 150 miles to the south General Patton’s Americans had joined the Eighth Army. By courtesy of The Kites Chronicle wheel south was an improvised change of plan, and it seems more probable that it was a development o f the pursuit o f Tim o­ sh ken o’s defeated army and aimed at co­operating with the forces attacking in the D onetz basin towards the Lower Don. Be that as it may, the wheel was un­doubtedly up to a point a successful m anoeuvre, though it failed to turn Tim o­ sh ken o’s defeat into a complete disaster. He, in fact, was able to make a determined stand on the Don at Tsimlyansk, and gained much valuable time. He was unable, however, permanently to maintain his position with the result that his Army o f the Caucasus became isolated from the Army of the Volga at Stalingrad. The failure o f the Russians to hold the line o f the Lower Don opened the way for, almost the only German success brought to fruition in the capture o f Novorossisk and M aikop. ' C 'rom then onwards the German offensive A was brought to a standstill before reaching its immediate objectives. It failed to reach the porto f Tuapse and the Grozny oilfields and though it did succeed' temporarily inclosing the Volga to through traffic, Stalin­grad held out, and attempts to reach the Lower Volga at Astrakhan also failed. After an auspicious beginning the offensive had failed to achieve its main purposes, however moderate we may assume them to have been, and in particular it had failed to rob the Soviet armies of their offensive potentialities. Apart only o f those armies had been struck by an immense concentration o f German land and air power, yet it had survived. The German failure was certainly not due to a falling-off in the fighting quality o f their troops orin the executive skill o f their com­manders. Nor apparently was failure due to lack o f numerical strength, though pos­sibly the available forces were given too many objectives. The main reason for failure was undoubtedly the improved quality o f the Soviet armies, due to the experience the troops and their leaders had gained. The result o f failure was to leave the offensive armies in a dangerous bulge, and the whole army with an immensely longer front to defend. V V e know the consequences. The Germans are almost everywhere back to the line from which the offensive started last summer and, so far as their picked troops are concerned, in seriously reduced strength. Is there anything in this record to en­courage hopes that a renewed large-scale offensive would have greater success even if numerical strength maybe recovered or even increased by the arrival o f inexperienced and less well-trained formations ?The Germans certainly have again staved off complete disaster, though more through luck o f the weather than by a display o f genius by the higher command. Strategical genius has been much more apparent on the Russian side :and the chief credit that can still be given theta Reichswehr is the fighting quality o fits troops and the executive skill o fits staff and subordinate commanders. But even in that respect is there much indifference the opposing armies ?-The one thing which appears tome to favour the Germans is that they retain control o f a good and well-organized system o f railway communications which would enable them rapidly to concentrate an offensive force whereas for a considerable time the Russians must operate in a devastated area which cannot quickly be reorganized. Those con­ditions certainly offer the Germans oppor­tunities to stage an early offensive with strictly limited objectives, provided they can muster an adequate striking force— which the relief o f experienced divisions on defensive sections o f the front by newly-formed divi­sions might enable them to do. But to undertake a far-reaching sustained Offensive would require much longer time for pre­paration, and thus give the Russians a chancc o f improving their recovered communications and generally recuperating and reorganizing after their winter exertions. 'T'he conclusion I arrive at, therefore, is that the Germans probably intend a limited offensive as soon as possible after the thaw. The troop movements from Germany seem to indicate the arrival o f newly-formed divisions for the relief o f experienced formations, required either for offensive purposes or for withdraw alto Germany to form a central reserve in view o f possible developments in the West orin the Mediterranean theatre. The divisions which recently appeared on the Dnieper to save the situation which threatened armies in the D onctz were pro­bably drawn from some such central reserve, and if so would certainly require replacement in view o f the growing threat in the West. I cannot believe that in view o f their dis­appointing experiences last year the Germans would entangle themselves in another attempt to secure decisive results in R ussia—unless, and until, the general war situation should take a definite turn in their favour. LENINGRAD TO THE CAUCASUS. After the fierce and bloody riposte which carried the Germans for the second time into Kharkov, most of the Russian front subsided into an uneasy stability. The spring thaws were reported' to be hampering movement. This map shows at a glance the territories regained by the Russians between Dec. 6,1942 and early April of this year. PAGE" 707 B y courtesy of The Times
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