National Geographic : 1946 Feb
From Africa to the Alps ) National Geogralphic Society 1. S. Army Air Forces, Official Over Kasserine Pass Allied Air Power Helped Stave Off Disaster T HREE months after landing in North Africa, the Allies had driven the Axis from Morocco and Algeria. American forces faced the enemy in western Tunisia along a thinly held 200-mile front. Suddenly on February 14, 1943, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel struck through the lowlands be tween Faid Pass and Sidi bou Zid and drove the Americans back. Axis tanks smashed boldly through Kasserine Pass. hoping to break through to the Algerian plain. If they had, they might have captured Constantine, Philippeville, and B6ne, main supply points for the Allies. But the Allies were ready. They sprang a trap which caught these Axis spearheads in a narrow corridor near Thala, walled by mountains rising to 4,000 feet. The Allied Air Forces, teaming up with the in fantry, tanks, and artillery, threw everything they had at the enemy and broke the back of the attack. Swift twin-engine A-20's, such as the plane above, after dropping their bombs, swooped down and raked the foe with machine-gun fire. Almost every weapon in the Allies' aerial arsenal, from tiny Spit fires to giant Flying Fortresses, joined in the attack. When Americans occupied Kasserine Pass with out a shot on February 25, smoking and twisted hulks were all they found of the flower of Axis armor. Remnants of the whipped Panzer forces were retreating toward a final stand in eastern Tunisia. The Tunisian campaign, costly to the Allies, was fought on historic soil. From Kasserine Pass the Allies pressed on toward the prize port of Tunis, built near the ruins of ancient Carthage. After the capture of this city on May 7, many GI's visited Carthage, destroyed by the Romans in 146 B. c . La Marsa. a near-by seashore resort, became Allied Air Forces headquarters.