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The Mareth Line 1943 : The end in Africa
The battle of El Alamein saw the shattering of Germany's hopes for victory in North Africa. From this point on the end was inevitable, as Rommel's forces began the long retreat that was to end in Tunisia in May 1943 when, hemmed in by British and American forces on all sides, over 250,000 Axis soldiers filed into prisoner of war camps, a number comparable to those captured at Stalingrad. In the six months that passed between Alamein and the final surrender there was much hard fighting, as the defeated German and Italian Panzer Army sought to hold off the encroaching Eighth Army in a series of defensive positions across the Western Desert. Rommel, his health suffering from the strains of command, fought a number of major actions during this campaign - at El Agheila, Mersa el Brega, Buerat and Medenine - before his forces settled into the pre-war French defensive position the Mareth Line. All the way he was pursued by an increasingly confident Eighth Army under the command of General Montgomery, but never was Montgomery able to outflank the retreating German and Italian forces decisively, and Rommel was even able to divert forces to inflict a sharp defeat on the newly arrived US forces at Kasserine Pass in February 1943.
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October 23, 2012
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