Command Ops North Africa: "Looking For Rommel" Scenario Background
|10th Panzer division's tanks approach El Guettar under artillery fire as an American officer looks on.|
Mar 17, 1943
The U.S II Corps under General Patton is moving east towards the German flank on the Mareth Line. Having recovered much of the ground lost after the disaster at Kasserine pass they are racing forward under two columns. The southerly column, the 1st US Infantry division, has been given the goal of seizing the vital crossroads town of Gafsa. The second column, 1st Armored's CCA under General Ward has been tasked with seizing Sened Station, Maknassy and then the airfield at Mezzouna.
Patton has been chomping at the bit to engage the Germans again. He's frustrated that his 1st Army commander, the British General Alexander, has left him out in the cold from the real fighting along the Mareth Line but he is determined to make the best of it.
After holding forth with a gaggle of reporters over cigars and Viennese steaks, Patton proclaims he is looking for Rommel. The next day the reports come in from Gafsa. A German reconnaissance battalion has been seen taking up positions in the town...
This scenario is fictional. A German reconnaissance battalion did engage the American 1st Infantry Division at Gafsa but it was days later that the full weight of the German 10th Panzer division attacked at the oasis of El Guettar. This scenario covers the what-if possibility that 10th Panzer arrived early and met the Americans just as they were attacking Gafsa.
Historically, Patton never met Rommel in battle. Rommel had flown out of the theater just before El Guettar.