Home Intro People Events Equipment Places Maps Books Photos Videos Other Reference FAQ About

World War II Database

Battle of Kasserine Pass file photo [12179]

Battle of Kasserine Pass

19 Feb 1943 - 25 Feb 1943


ww2dbaseDefeated at the Battle of Fa├»d Pass and Sidi Bouzid, American forces fell back on 17 Feb 1943 to Kasserine Pass in western Tunisia. Axis commander Erwin Rommel immediately proposed a plan to strike further west into French Algeria to further undermine American efforts in the region before the arrival of the British and Commonwealth forces from Libya. On 18 Feb, he submitted this westward attack to Field Marshal Albert Kesselring for approval, which came down at 1330 hours on 19 Feb. His attack plan, however, had been altered by his superiors; while he wanted a concentrated westward attack toward T├ębessa in French Algeria, the plan had been altered so that his forces were divided against two separate passes. He nevertheless commenced the attack later on the same day despite his complaints. Although at this point he had never engaged in major combat with American forces, he did not think the Americans were up to the task of defending against his armored attacks.

ww2dbaseOn the second day of the offensive, Rommel personally led a battlegroup of the German 10th Panzer Division (with Italian units attached to the group) on an attack toward Kasserine Pass. Meanwhile, German 21st Panzer Division moved north against Sbiba Pass. Inexperienced and inadequately armed to defend against a tank assault, the defending American troops broke within minutes. Rommel praised the officers and men the Italian 7th Bersaglieri Regiment, whose gallantry was instrumental in the Axis success; the commanding officer of the 7th Bersaglieri Regiment, Colonel Luigi Bonfatti, was killed in action. Overnight, Italian 131st Armored Division "Centauro" attacked Highway 13, driving out the Americans in the region and taking control of the road.

ww2dbaseOn 21 Feb, the Axis forces were divided into two groups. Rommel personally led German 10th Panzer Division toward Thala, while a smaller Italian and German force advanced toward Ha├»dra further west near the Tunisian-Algerian border. The Americans continued to fall back; some of the retreats were so unorganized that the Axis forces were able to capture heavy equipment left behind by the Americans. As many American positions were overrun and became surrounded, however, the Axis advance slowed as more and more troops had to be kept behind to eliminate the many pockets that formed. By the end of 21 Feb, the German 10th Panzer Division was positions outside Thala; by this time, it was apparent to the Americans that Rommel's objective was T├ębessa in French Algeria to the southwest, a major supply dump. On 22 Feb, with additional Allied forces rushed to Thala over the course of the previous day, the Axis attackers met a stronger resistance. Experienced British infantry replaced the Americans on the front lines, while the Americans and the British formed a powerful artillery force behind the front lines. Pre-empting an Axis attack, the Allies commenced a heavy artillery bombardment, destroying many tanks; it took the Axis forces several hours, until after dark, before they could fall back from the Allied pre-emptive strike.

ww2dbaseBefore dawn on 23 Feb, Rommel gave the order to withdraw eastward to avoid a British attack from Libya, behind his current position. Coincidentally, United States Army bombers launched a massive strike on Axis positions, which hastened the retreat. By 25 Feb, as Axis forces moved east of Kasserine Pass, American forces reoccupied it. The final tally reflected that the Allies suffered 10,000 casualties while the Axis suffered only 2,000; more than half of the Allied casualties were American.

ww2dbaseAlthough the series of American defeats in Tunisia ultimately did not cause serious strategic consequences, the US Army replaced some of the senior commanding officers in the theater. Most notably, Lloyd Fredendall, who shouldered most of the blame on the American side, was removed from command at the II Corps, ultimately replaced by George Patton.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Update: Mar 2011


Panzer III medium tanks at Kasserine Pass, Tunisia, Feb 1943.An American M3 Lee tank near Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, late Feb 1943
See all 3 photographs of Battle of Kasserine Pass


Map depicting German follow-up actions in northwestern Tunisia after Battle of Kasserine Pass, 26 Feb-15 Mar 1943

Battle of Kasserine Pass Timeline

18 Feb 1943 Erwin Rommel submitted a plan to Albert Kesselring and the Italian High Command for attacking the Americans guarding the Tunisian-Algerian border.
19 Feb 1943 Rommel launched a surprise counter-attack at Kasserine Pass, Tunisia, overwhelming the fresh but inexperienced Americans.
20 Feb 1943 German and Italian troops defeated American troops at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, but the force attacking Sbiba Pass was met with strong resistance.
21 Feb 1943 Axis troops pushed American troops back toward Thala, Tunisia and threatened to cross the Tunisian-Algerian border. By this date, the Americans had lost 100 tanks, 55 heavy guns, and 80 trucks.
22 Feb 1943 Allied troops pre-emptively struck the Axis attacking forces near Thala, Tunisia.
23 Feb 1943 Erwin Rommel ordered his forces in western Tunisia to move east to avoid being attacked on both sides.
25 Feb 1943 Battle for Kasserine Pass in Tunisia closed with the Americans, inexperienced and poorly led, suffered a major defeat. Nevertheless, the Americans would regain the pass at the end of the battle as overall strategy dictated the Axis forces to withdraw back into northern Tunisia.

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments


1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Change View
Desktop View

Search WW2DB
More on Battle of Kasserine Pass
» Rommel, Erwin

» Tunisia

Related Book:
» An Army at Dawn

Battle of Kasserine Pass Photo Gallery
Panzer III medium tanks at Kasserine Pass, Tunisia, Feb 1943.An American M3 Lee tank near Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, late Feb 1943
See all 3 photographs of Battle of Kasserine Pass

Famous WW2 Quote
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?"

Winston Churchill, 1935

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!