The Axis forces in Tunisia, North Africa finally surrendered on May 12th, 1943 after more than 3 years of fighting.
A month after the surrender Life Magazine (June 14th, 1943 issue) did a photo spread on the aftermath. Below I captured some of the photos from that spread that feature some of the war hardware that was captured or destroyed.
It is appropriate to start with the picture below.
The Cost: Life Magazine seemed to be conscious of the true cost of war by showing American casualties (and sometimes others) as well as the graves of the fallen. The US commitment to the North Africa Campaign began in November, 1942. According to US Army stats recorded in the story American casualties in the next 7 months totaled, 2,184 killed, 9,437 wounded and 6,937 missing for a total of 18, 558. Total Allied casualties were 70,000 in the same time period.
According to the caption two destroyed German tanks are visible. The one on the left is a Panzer IV. The “pile” on the far right is reportedly a Panzer VI, the famous Tiger tank. The explosion that destroyed it must have been massive. The utility vehicle on the right, above the destroyed Tiger tank appears to be an American Dodge 3\4 ton.
According to the caption the field guns in the foreground are German 105mm and in the background various anti-tank guns. After the Vichy French gave up in late 1942 after the Torch landings they joined the Allied side (with their Free French comrades). They were poorly equipped however and these German artillery pieces would be turned over to them.
More captured German motor transport to be turned over to the French. The caption mentions “eight-wheeled tank destroyers” as part of the booty but I think they mean eight-wheeled armored cars (none pictured).
By May, 1943 the Allies had air superiority and the Germans were forced to include more light AA in their organizations. Pictured here is a towed quad 20mm on the right and a towed 37mm in the foreground. At times light AA guns like these were employed in an anti-personnel role.
German small arms. The pile of light machine guns are probably the famous MG-34s.
If memory serves me I believe the Allies captured around 250,000 Axis troops (Italians and Germans) including members of the famous Africa Corps. In this picture Germans are being lined up to be fed and receive water. The original caption reported that that Germans were lightly guarded and for the most part were philosophical about their capture. My guess is that by May, 1943 most German soldiers realized it was just a matter of time before their ultimate and inevitable defeat. Most of them would end up in POW camps in Canada or the US and many in my home State of Wisconsin.
As a postscript to the above picture about 6 weeks ago on a visit to my doctor I spied an elderly couple entering another office. What caught my eye was the gentlemen’s clothing. He had on a tannish winter coat and on the left shoulder was a shield type patch in modern German flag colors. Emblazoned on the patch were the letters D.A. K. clearly standing for Deutsches Afrika Korps. I could not speak to him but have wondered if the man was a veteran (he was quite old). I’ve read where captured German POWS returned to Wisconsin after the war. Who knows?
Excellent post, Bruce. I enjoy gaming the Tunisian campaign. The Gamers’ OCS Tunisia is very good. As far as the POWs go, better to be captured in Tunisia than Russia. If it is what you think it is, it takes guts to wear a patch like that in the country of your enemy. I’m sure there were some Wisconsonites at Kasserine. Anyway, if I were German, I’d go to WI, too…for the beer! 🙂 (But I wouldn’t wear the patch.)
Thanks for stopping by and the comment Dave. I plan to do some Aussies for the NA campaign. I think they pulled out prior to El Alamein because they were needed in the Pacific. Anyway…yeah, I thought it was weird with that guy wearing the patch but there was no mistaking it. Wisconsin had quite a few POW camps and many of the men worked on the farms. Way better than the gulag in Russia that’s for sure!