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tv   Gen. George Patton and the 1943 Battle of El Guettar  CSPAN  March 29, 2018 2:41pm-3:32pm EDT

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experiences covering the battle of isis in the iraqi city of mosul and you can watch the entire event starting at 8:00 p.m. on c-span. now sh, military his or theo barron will talk about how general george patton commanded troops in the battle of el guettar which happened in 1943 after the defeat of the kasserine pass. he is the author of "patton's first victory" and talking about how they won the battle. this is 45 minutes. >> welcome back, everybody, and i hope that you are ready for another interesting discussion that we are going to have now. we have had the opportunity to see kasserine from the battalion level thanks to colonel barry and the lead-in thanks to tom, and now we will get to top le
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leadershipa and man who is very dear to some of us at the room, and at the time, the commander of general george patton. leo barron is a speaker as well as a skcholar and the second bok that i know it, "patton at the battle of the bulge." so, sorry the second book is "patton's first victory" and we will hear from leo barron. thank you. leo. >> thank you very much. i appreciate it. this is exciting to get down here from nosto arizona from nes so i would not get the muggy heat. it is 83 and february. bear with me, because i like to
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talk with my hands and i like to wander around and so they told me that i have to hold on to the podium so i don't wander, but i am here to talk about the battle of el guittar and general patton. and secret of the publishing world. i did not come up with the titl battle of the bulge." so they said they wanted to sell books so they put patton in the story, but it is really about the junior officers and the ncos who really won the battle at el guettar and we will talk about them and also we will talk about general patton and the corps after the fee yiasco at kasseri and so, he was asking me, leleo
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why did you pick the battle of el guettar are and i said, well, ki pronounce it. if you can notice the names, well, i can't do that. so i will end up pointing at it instead of trying to pronounce some of the terms so that is one of the reasons i picked it. and the reality is the role it played a lot for or army's psyche and the army's morale. because we talked about, and we had just gone through the battle of kasserine pass, and there was a lot of doubt, okay. a.j. liebling who was a journalist working at "new york yorker" who was working the battle of el guettar said that the german were actually super men, and that is the term that he used. this is an important battle, because it dispels some of the
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myths, but also at high command. aj, who was a journalist working at the new yorker, who was actually present at the battle of el guettar said there was this impression among the american soldiers -- it's not a good things when you have a general talking about his adversary as if he's some learned professor and you're just a mere student. it kind of reminds me of "star wars" and obi wan kenobe and darth vader with the student and the master, so you can understand why el guettar was so important. it was the first time that we had really beaten the germans in a stand-up fight. the first time that the germans had attacked us from the get-go
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and this would be the tenth panzer division, one of their crack elite panzer divisions and we were able to defeat them soundly in a standup battle. in the grand scheme of things, like we talked about, it was a pretty small battle, one division versus one division. in this case, it was the first infantry division versus the tenth panzer division but there were a couple reasons why we won there. you stole some of my thunder and did the whole map of north africa. that's one slide i don't need to show now. so i can go straight to this slide. so what happens after kasserine is there was a big huge shakedown. as we know, general friedenhal was relieved and no longer in charge of the second corps and p patton takes charge. patton was originally at this time planning for operation husky, for the invasion of sicily, and there's a lot of doubt amongst our allies. there's a story, whether it's true or not, that general harold alexander, who was the commander of the 18th army group, the british commander, said to eisenhower, surely you got to
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have better men than this. so eisenhower to save face is like, this guy's got to go. bradley has also gone out kind of as eisenhower's spy and went around and talked to all the various spies like general ward and general harmon who had also visited the staff and pretty much the story was universal. they had lost faith in friedenhal, and they felt like he was not responsive to what they were requesting in terms of support. so friedenhal had to go. and i think the movie of patton starring george c. scott does a really accurate depiction of what it was like. he comes in and bradley actually describes it like a roman general on a chariot. patton initially is reluctant to bad mouth one of his contemporary general officers but within a week, he actually says of friedenhal, i don't know what he did to justify his existence.
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so, that gives you an idea of what patton felt friedenhal had done to second corps. he felt that second corps as a whole lacked discipline. the staff work was poor. and there wasn't a lot of general purpose and drive, and so as the movie depicted, patton did institute a dress code, and he was going to fine soldiers $25 if they weren't wearing a proper tie and wearing their helmet fastened as they were digging fox holes. needless to say, that wasn't very popular with the soldiers in second corps and especially the soldiers of the first infantry division, who really didn't take too well to patton's idea of discipline, and it's interesting because you mentioned how i wrote in the first book how there's a difference of opinion between the soldiers and "patton at the battle of the bulge" he's the
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general of the third army, he had taken them from the beginning and gotten them ready and the soldiers for the most part loved general patton, thought the world of him. interviewed a lot of guys from fourth armored division, they always spoke very glowingly of patton and said, given his chance, he could have gone all the way to moscow and dealt with the cold war and didn't have to deal with any of that stuff. it was not the same with the soldiers of the first infantry division when patton first showed up in march of 1943. they did not like patton at all and that was pretty much universal from the junior soldiers to the lieutenants, the ncos and even some of the senior officers. they felt patton tended to focus on unimportant things like dress code. but truth be told, second corps did need a shot in the arm. they had been badly whipped at kasserine, especially the first part. you did a good job talking about the second part. but they were definitely whipped
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at the first part. and patton kind of invigorated and morale, started to treat them like soldiers, cracked the whip and even the assistant thr of the isst infantry division and teddy roosevelt, you might have heard of him, felt that patton was a good addition to 2nd corps. he didn't waste a lot of time and there wasn't a lot of time to liquor wounds and recover because we immediately had to go back on offensive operation. as we talked about, 8th army had shown up and had gotten to the line in southern tunisia, and there was a big operation that monty wanted to run which was operation pugulis where he wanted to attack the south which was the italian army and he needed to take the pressure off and so 2nd corps, the army 2nd corps was given a task to drive the forces away and it was
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albeit, a supporting role and the general felt it was an easy task for 2nd corps to achieve. you don't have to do a whole lot. over here so the germans are watching you as we come up from the south. and so that was the first operation, and the operation started on march 17, 1943. so we're talking just about a month after cassrine passed. he's already handed this operation that he's got to conduct and the operation's name, not very politically correct today, i'll just spell it out for you because they were fighting the italians and this is why the operation was called that and it was operation w-o-p. sorry. that's what the operation was involved and it was to draw german forces away from the southern front of the line.
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so the 17th of march kicks off and defending it are elements of the italian division and the italians don't want any part of the american army and they were tired of the war and the morale was poor and they felt like their senior officers didn't care anymore and they yielded it pretty much without a fight and so all of a sudden we take gofsa and we can actually do more, all right? so patton orders 1st infantry division to continue on to al qatar right over here and to continue pushing the germans and the 1st armored division where this sign is right here is to go to the town of mcnassy and force the germans to react to pull forces away from the merit line and help out the british 8th army which we like to call the decisive operation, all right? so shortly thereafter they took
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gofsa. they took the town of al qatar and they realized that most of the italian forces are in these hill masses, the ar you barta. general patton orders to keep pushing forward and one of the things he does is he realizes that the italians on all of the high ground and all of their forces are facing this big valley right here, and so it looks like they'll have the american forces all bottled up and he asks the first ranger battalion to do a night attack on march 21st and colonel darby and colonel william darby says i'm not going to approach through the valley. i'll come from behind on the italians and that's exactly what he does and the italians didn't expect it and the first range of italians comes in and sweeps the italian defenders and the infantry regiment sweeps the defenders off the al qatar bridge and it's a great success, all right? the italians -- the italian
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forces surrenders in the hundreds and it's a great success. as a result, it finally gets the german high command attention. they realize that this is a problem because down this road, since the centauro division was open there was nothing to the coast. even though they thought the british were the most experienced threat, the american army continued down this highway to gaves to the coast and basically cut the italian 1st army from the 5th in the north and cut the german forces in half. the overall german commander in the mediterranean orders the german forces in north africa to counterattack because that's where the germans were always good and every time they were caught off guard, they could go on the counterattack so he actually orders the 10th division, a cracked division to
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come down and to come up this valley and counterattack the american forces. now, if you've seen some of the imagery and some of the maps already like at cassrine and the city, and at fayed pass, you're beginning to see a common theme. the americans are up here and the germans come up the valley and they sweep around the american forces and envelop them. it's disaster all over again and so the german army who at this point didn't really have the highest opinion of the american army said i think we can pull this off and the 10th division and up this road and up this highway and we'll envelop the american forces up in the hills and we'll buy some time for our forces on the merit line. so that was -- that was the plan for the attack on march 23rd. meanwhile, the americans have no idea that the germans are planning a counterattack. you've had some signal intelligence and we had the 10th division further north, and i
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didn't think they would come down and conduct the counterattack and the 1st infantry division was still pushing eastward. its forces were postured for the offense. so as a result, we'll see the artillery is pretty far forward because the idea was, if the infantry would get forward they've got to be under the umbrella of the indirect system and we have to push them far forward and this is one of those battles where the artillery guys are in the fight and the red legs were becoming riflemen in the fight. okay? so on the morning of march 23rd when they're getting ready to continue these operations eastward they start hearing these sounds coming in from the valley here, and they sound kind of mechanical, okay? and there is a recon line, you see the green line, and under the command of a captain pollack, and one of his lieutenants, lieutenant goya
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seized some motorcyclists and they start screaming panza, panza, panza, they shoot the motorcyclist and that's when they realize there's a division coming up the valley, okay? so it wasn't the entire division, but it was a good chunk of it. the 7th panza regiment, and two battalions and a motorcycle battalion and the 90th artillery regiment. so because the americans are postured to go on the attack and they've been fighting in the mountains, okay? in the mountains, all right. so they're in the mountains. what do you not need in the mountains? tanks. you don't have tanks, okay? they've got these wonderful things called tank destroyers which were at the time anything but tank destroyers, okay? so this is what's facing them. 50 or so german tanks, half of
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them are the mark 4 panzerg. they have the tank, the panzer g and that is a kwk-40 gun. capable of knocking out a german tank, a standard tank of world war ii from the front at abo aboabout 1,000 meters and from the side it could knock out an m-4 from 3500 meter, okay? it's a very effective weapon. in fact, it was one of the few tanks that actually was used the entire war. you saw it in 1939 and still saw it in 1945. they outgunned it as a response to the russian t-34 and they outgunned it to this long, barreled thing. this thing was a killer, and it was coming towards the american
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lines, and like i said, the american lines, we didn't have tanks there. we have tank destroyer. when you think of star destroyer and the destroyer, it's kind of a scary thing, okay? well, this is actually what was waiting for them. yeah. yeah. motor carriage, okay? you'll notice that it doesn't have a tourette. it has a gun that looks like they kind of slapped it on there because that's pretty much what they did, okay? the tank destroyer concept will notice something, and the reason why we don't do tank destroyers anymore. it was a flawed concept, and general mcnair was the eye who came up with the tank destroyer
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concept because he said our tanks aren't going to be used to destroy tanks and we'll use the tank destroyers to destroy the tanks. so that's yet sherman originally had a stubby 75 that was great for anti-personnel and not so great for killing tanks. we'll create the tank destroyers and they'll go after the german panzeres. the problem was in 1943, they had not kicked into high gear and we'll kick it into first, maybe second gear and so we'll have to find some kind of quick fix to come up with these new-fangled tank destroyer doctrine. they said okay. we have these surplus, 75-millimeter guns from world war i, okay? the m-1897 based on the french gun, the m-1897 gun, and it was 1897, by the way. because that's when it came out. so it predated the first tank by about two decades, and someone
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said, that's what we've got. we've got a lot of these 75-millimeter french guns and let's throw them on this half track. we'll put a gun shield on there, and the they've got to fight the german panzeres, okay? one of the soldiers, bill harper was charlie company 601st battalion, called it a purple heart box. that was its nickname and you can kind of see why. that was why they called it the purple heart box, all right? so let's go back to this german panzer, okay? its funnel armor was 8 centimeters. most of you here are like me, we don't really know metric. so i took my daughter's ruler and i'll show you what 8 centimeters looks like. it's about the size of my fist. so that was on the front of this
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tank. three inches of armor. for that time that was a lot of armor. on this guy, they had 15 millimeters of armor. i can draw that on here for you. it's about half of my finger, okay? not a lot of armor, but that is what the american forces had on the morning of march 23, 1943, to stop the 10th panzer division as they come rolling up the valley. what the american army did have was a lot of guts, a lot of bravery because these guys in the 601st tank destroyer battalion was the main force that had to stop the german main effort along this highway. the commander of the 601st was a lieutenant colonel herschel baker and a lot of the guys were artillery officers and then when the army started to come up with
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the tank destroyer doctrine, and they said you're now a tank destroyer guy. a lot of these guys got the prior training and herschel baker had raided his forces along the al kad abridge with his b company and his c company ask there was one platoon of a company and he had 37 tank destroyers going up against 50-plus german panzeres and many of them were mark 4s and the spirit forces were the mark 4. the other thing they had besides a lot of guts was they had the advantage of terrain. as we talk about choke points, this is a choke point right here, all right? really, it was a pretty narrow choke point. you really couldn't go left or right and a lot of people will tell you right here at al qatar, people think it's desert and i can drive anywhere and it's like
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quicksand. you can't take your vehicle into those old salt lakes and so that was what that was, as well and the germans had this farrnarrow corridor they had to drive through. the americans said we'll have to leave this wide-open corridor and what did they do the night before which is what they did a lot of times in north africa. they put a lot of mines in there. so the corridor got even smaller. so as this panzer came driving up, these three companies of tank destroyers were there to meet them, and after lieutenant goya shot the motorcyclist, they were back and said hey, panzers are coming and that's what got blasted, and sure enough, as they come rolling up, these three are there to greet them, and they start firing away, firing away, firing away. luckily, even though they had
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the french gun, they were improving the ammunition. they were using the m-61 armored piercing shell otherwise known as the super charged and the super charged actually could penetrate the armor of the panzer tanks given if they were closer than the optimal combat range. so as these panzers come rolling up, they're kind of on the high ground and they're elevated and they're basically stuck in this valley and the tank destroyers start planking away and start scoring hits and it would take four or five rounds and they weren't scoring hits and sure enough, the panzers starting to blow up and they started to bog down. the erm j german infantry start pull forward. it was 2 rnd platoon that first fell back. lieutenant luthi reported that
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he was getting swept and enveloped so he had to fall back, and as ri result, that pretty much unhinged most of baker company, but before they fell back, they took a whole bunch of panzers with them. as soon as they saw their company fall back, they realized their flank was now in the air and a lot of those guys remained at their post. think about it. i just told you what kind of armor they were sitting behind. 15 meters of armor, not really a fair fight. and oh, by the way, how do you turn a half track gun? how do you think you do it? you have to pull back and then re-acquire your target. you don't have a nice turret, and they would expose themselves for a minute and fall back behind the reverse slope of the hill and live to fight another day. despite this maneuver and they
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were taking out panzeres, they were losing half tracks at an alarming rate, and by the end of the day the original 37, 30 had been knocked out, and the first tank destroyer battalion suffered well over 70 casualties and 14 killed in action, okay? but their work was crucial because the panzer sledgehammer was stopped here. meanwhile, the infantry kept on infiltrating and when the 601st was held being bah, who was behind them? the artillery. so now artillery is getting into the fight and they're actually having to grab rifles and foot o fight off german infantry and the 601st guys as well as the infantry and how well the germans fought especially the tankers. when a tanker lost his tank the
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german crew would get out of the tank and grab their m g-iii 4 which was their machine gun and literally lay beside the tank and provide suppressive fire for the infantry. they wouldn't try to go back. they would actually stay in the fight and we have accounts from the american soldiers who actually watched this happen. you have to hand it to them, these guys are fighting pretty hard. some of the terms are parade-like precision as the german column came marching up through the valley and that was a word i saw time and time again used by the americans when they're observing this attack. so eventually, though, without the tanks, the infantry can't really secure the high ground, and the attack bogs 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning and it's a disaster and it's cassrine all over again and we all talked
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about how general frieden hall responded how he responded and i'll tell you how general allen responded. he said, i will like hell pull out and i'll shoot the first bastard who does. okay. a little bit of a different mentality, all right? and if you thought he was just using hyperbole, he had a story, when he was a battalion commander in 1st world war, one of the officers refused to do a mission and he said he was shot in the buttocks and he said we'll have someone take over your role. whether that's true or not, that's what he told a.j. shortly after the battle of al qatar. so he had a totally different idea of, and a totally different concept of the senior command, you know, at cassrine, was there chaos and the senior commander
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was aec bro broken man, and sur enough the attack bogged down. patton is at his headquarters and hears about this, and he did show up later that day for the second attack, okay? so the germans realize the first attack is bogged down so they say we'll try again, but this time we're going to focus most of our effort on the 3rd battalion of the 18th infantry regiment, specifically k company here that's kind of out there on the lonesome. so for the second attack that's where we'll focus our combat part and where our decisive operation will be. the attack was going to start at 1600. this time intel knew about it, okay? we had what they called tactical signals intelligence. at the tactical level both sides operated in the clear. they were not talking encrypted
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and we'd gotten word that the germans were getting ready to steal themselves a second attack. i keep on talking military time, rolls around, and there's no attack. and allen is getting impatient and what's going on? where is the attack supposed to be coming? 1600, and you know about german trains, they're very punctual. so allen, and any of you former intel guy, and me being an intel guy myself does something that's really a bad idea, but allen gets on the german radionet and basically asks what the hell are you guys waiting for? we've been ready since 4:00 p.m.? i can imagine when the intel guys were doing when they heard that, because you're not supposed to let the enemy know
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that we're listening to their communications. thanks a lot, general. after he said he'll shoot someone, hey, general, you better not do that. don't do that. i did that once to my commanding officer and i just don't recommend it, okay? anyway, so sure enough the attack does eventually start a little bit later around 1640, so 4:40 p.m. and the jefrm ans attack up here on this peninsula against their battalion, under the command of colonel courtney brown. the regiment command was colonel grier and they roll up against k company and it's a knife fight, okay? their sides are so close no one really can achieve fire superiority and they're literally tossing hand grenades back and forth at each other, okay? >> meanwhile, the rest of the german force is still marching up the valley and this time instead of the panzers in front it's the infa notantry and once
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again, and as the germans were going to learn, don't mess with the american artillery. colonel darby said it was like watching something from the civil war. they were in the precise lines marching up the valley and the american artillery creams them, literally creams them. by this time, patton is there and he's watching the battle and the movie does a good job of showing this. they're murdering good infantry. what a hell of a way to expend good infantry men and it was completely stopped before it ever really begins and up here, when they go after k company, it doesn't go over very well. the americans own the high ground and they can literally hold hand green eights down, and the german about theal on, and there was a soldier, ernst
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bright berger talks about how it didn't work out and eventually within a couple of hours, they realize it's a complete and abysmal failure and it's not going to be fayed pass, and the americans aren't going to run and in fact, we're the ones who will have to withdraw with our tails behind us wagging, okay? it was a huge american victory, and by the night of march 23rd, everyone can pretty much acknowledge it was an american victory and sometimes by the american battle, did we win? did we lose? it was pretty clear on the evening of march 23rd with the burning panzers in the valley that this was an american victory as well as the hall of german prisoners of war that it was a stunning american victory, and i think the movie does a pretty good job even they were m-48 tanks that were the german panzers rolling forward and you're, like, those are american tanks and they did get the hg-111s though flying through
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the valley and that was the battle of al qatar, and a.j. who was there said if we can whip one german division, all right? we can whip any german division and the problem is the germans don't have a lot of divisions left and we recognize the fact that they're wasting assets like you said, steve, on the steps of russia and they were aren't going to replace these guys and any guy they killed here wasn't going to come back and that could be a staff officer, a general officer and eventually in the beginning of may that's pretty much what happened when the german pocket is squeezed in tunis and beserta and they fall and you're talking a quarter of a million soldiers are wiped off the table battle from the german army and the german air force. it was a huge victory, and for the american army cassrine was a learning point and that's where we see the lessons learned applied and it's not a very good
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tank destroyer and wasn't in service much longer after that, but american artillery was a huge war winner. time and time again, you would see the americans use their artillery with great effect and there were a bunch of different reasons for that, and if it goes down to the squaw level, they had an automatic rifle and the germans had a belt-fed m g-iii 4 followed by the mg-42 and it was easier, and if i know the germans are in the wood line i'll just pound it with artillery until they surrender and you see that a lot and one of the reasons why we do this and we start to see this at al qatar, what was the great war-winning weapon? where was our 88? our 88 was the scr 300 and the 5-36 radios because we had a huge number of radios and we had radios down to the platoon level that a platoon level could call
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back and get indirect -- >> and the the infantry unit, they really got below company level, a box standard, u.s. infantry platoon could call in 155s and long guns whatever they needed to win the fight and that was because of those radios and the ability to use those radios. the other thing was prior to when we were talking about thshgs we were the guys that came up with the idea of a fire direction center and that's the idea of bringing in that great communication infrastructure, all right? and reach out to all of these different units and link them together in a fire direction center so that we can do what they call time on target missions which is what you were talking about, sir, which i'll bring in the battalions and artillery and they'll land the rounds at precisely 8:00 at this point and you start to see this at al qatar and the second wave in the arch. the germans were creamed and general andrews who was the
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division commander of the 1st infantry division it was an artillery fight and it was artillery who won the battle and i know the guys in the 15th infantry might have some disagreement and i'm sure the guys in the 601st are, like, hey, hold on. we have half tracks, remember? with the pea shooter gun, but the artillery was crucial, and i think al qatar is one of those places where we saw how much artillery could change the course of the battle and that's why i think al qatar was truly one of our first victories and it was it was a great psychological victory. we had mishaps here and there and we had a pretty good winning record kind of like the new england patriots. okay. alabama. alabama fans? i'm, sorry. this is lsu! sorry! sorry! i'm a notre dame fan.
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bear with me here! bear with me here! so -- okay. lsu, we'll go sec. they didn't lose too many battles there and that's why al qatar, and i would love to take questions for you guys. >> thank you very much, leo. [ applause ] we'll take the first question on the floor in the center. >> great presentation. how many rounds did did those half tracks fire before they were rendered ineffective? >> depending on who the drivers were and how good they were. some of them had to resupply and a lot of these guys were getting resupplied and they were expanding their unit basic load and they were trying to get
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resupplied and they were knocked out pretty early and especially when you look at baker company and they lost the half tracks by 7:00 in the morning. by the afternoon there were only three platoons left in the 601st and you had the lieutenant matters platoon from c company and lieutenant meyers platoon which was the only in a company anyway and lieutenant lambert's platoon which was really not his platoon. it was his command vehicle and he basically gotten some straggler vehicles from other units and counterattacked later on in the morning, but for the most part, most of those guys were knocked out probably by 7:00 in the morning so after about two hours of solid fighting they were mostly inoperable. by the end of the day, they were able to recover and put back into service eight of them, and if your armor anyways wouguys w you, just because you're knocked
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out doesn't mean you're dead and it depends how quickly you can get to that piece of machinery and how your maintenance crews can bring that piece of machinery back in operating order. there were 13 that colonel baker would like to call total losses and cat strofblg kills that they could not recover, but they were able to recover a lot of them and this is something that we're still learning. we didn't own the valley the next day. the germans still owned the valley and their maintenance crews are able to go out and grab a lot of those mark 4 panzers and bring them back into service. at the end of the 23rd, they were recording that they'd lost about half of their tanks. they were down to 24, 25 tank, but within a couple of days a good chunk were put back into service. they were actually decoding the 10th panzer division reports back at the park. so that information was recorded
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and they have a pretty good idea of what happened, but because we didn't own the valley, we'd have to fight those panzers again and we did and thankfully most were destroyed when the tunisian pocket sur renderrendered in 19. >> my left, your right. >> what were the distances between the half tracks and the panzers? >> not very far. there is a great quote from sergeant willy nesmith. hey, the panzers are coming and what are you doing? i'm waiting to get closer so i can hit them for sure. so it was kind of like, bunker hill, if you wanted. they were getting pretty close and like i said, the m-161 ammunition could actually
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penetrate the mark 4's armor at about 900 meters. so it was a little bit less, and it wasn't quite as effective as the kwk 40 on the mark 4, but it was with the super charged ammunition, but the problem was is the panzer drivers knew this and they would present this as much as possible and they weren't going to expose their flank, but their instances where that happened especially as they got closer to the minefield and especially down where a company was a lot of panzers got stuck, and lieutenant miner, being a former artillery guy calls in all kinds of artillery, and the german panzers and cut them up pretty good when they were stuck in the minefield, but it was close and closer than we wanted it to be and that was how they had to fight, and there were these other guys who were mang the 37 millimeter anti-tank guns which you might as well just
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spit at a tank and it would be as effective and they can only engage a tank at 400 meters, okay? that's if the tank exposed the flank of its armor, all right? and so more or less, the guys that are manning the 737 tank guns would know they're on a suicide mission if they got to them. good question. good question. >> question to your right, leo? on your graphic, my military math is rusty, but where is that division artillery located? some of it was getting shot at and having to actually fight it out with rifles, the 37 -- the 32nd field artillery battalion was right behind the 601st and some of the guns were overrun and some of them they had to spike so the germans wouldn't get them. the 5th artillery lost guns and there were core artilleries as well and they had long times and
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they had some great back and forth over radio logs where colonel gibb who is the g-3, and the commander was doing a good job of coordinating all of the fires and getting in the core artillery and that talks about the communications network that we can call in all these different batteries to bring in steel rain on these germans and you almost felt bad for them at the end because you're out there, and you're marching and you're not in a tank and all you've got is this helmet and all of a sudden, you know, death comes from above and there's nowhere where you can go and it's the desert. there's no, you know, place to hide and you don't have any fox holes. you're out there marching and it was, like i said, it was a bloodbath. >> leo, i have a question myself, very quick, what was the preferred title of the book or does your publisher not let you say that? >> actually, i did have a title.
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it was kind of a play on words and it was going to be called big red one, won and the publisher was, like, no. so -- >> great presentation. i just have a quick question. the mark 3 and mark 4 was both diesel. >> i believe so. they had maybach engines, but they didn't brew up very well. >> as i recall, they're diesel engines and i'm sure someone else can google it and look it up. >> you got a thumbs up from the colonel. >> i'm good. i'm good. he's a tanker, so i'm good. >> we have a question on the back on the floor here and this is probably our last one. did any of the artillery just lower their tubes and just directly shoot at the tanks?
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>> with the 32nd artillery battalion? i don't remember reading about it, but because where they were they could not depress their guns enough in a lot of places and because they were up in the hills and the germans were in the valley and i don't remember recalling any particular story. did that happen in world war ii? absolutely. and i'll make a pitch for my first book and the 43rd field battalion with the howitzer did exactly that against german panzers and did it with great effect, actually and it was something that did actually happen and i don't know if this happened here, but it definitely happened in other places. >> leo, thank you very much. >> thank you very much, i appreciate it. [ applause ] .
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here's a look at the prime time programming. american history tv tonight starts with the 75th anniversary of the battle of kasserine, and we'll hear from military historian robert satin and the military pass in 1943. american history tv begins at:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. tonight on book tv on c-span2, a look at recent fairs and festivals including a discussion on immigration and race relations from the tucson festival of books with the senior editor of foreign affairs sasha sar anski, and the 2014 rancho mirage writers festival in california. from the savannah book festival, journalist celeste headley offers communications strategies in her book "we need to talk" and finally from the rose glen
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literary festival, katherine smith talks about her book the gatekeeper and tonight on c-span, two photojournalists talk about their experience, covering the battle against isis in the iraqi city of mosul. you will hear from victor blue whose work focuses on armed conflict, human rights and the protection of civilians and mitch, a retired special forces colonel who reported on war, conflict and disaster. here is a preview. this is a still. this is a photo right from my phone. the rebel in the foreground is the rebel suicide car bomb. a suicide vehicle explosive device and that's a vbid that detonated an iraqi emergency
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response division humvee. sadly, the initial reports were incorrect that there were no casualties, an iraqi policeman standing about 40 meter away was killed just from the blast wave of that explosion. inspecting the rubble of this explosion, the isis fighter driving the vehicle, not only was he driving a suicide car bomb. he was wearing a suicide vest and a folding stock ak-47 with six magazines. so if his car broke down he was going to run out towards the good guys and detonate himself and if it didn't detonate he had an automatic weapon and he was ready to die. i -- i'll tell you, most of him was splattered against a wall in the courtyard and i sat and talked to him for a few minutes, and it was an interesting moment to see the -- you've never been at costco in the meat
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department, and he was there, what was left of him and obviously a human being at one point and i sat and asked him, what are you seeing now? where are you? what are you experiencing? are you where you thought you would be? he didn't answer back. he only had half of a face, but it was interesting to be that close to the evil, and how willing he was to die. >> military historian christopher rhine talked about his book "the north african air campaign," u.s. army air forces from salerno. mr. rhine described how the fledgling u.s. army air forces supported ground operations in 1942 and 1943 and helped rid the north african skies of the previously dominant german. this talk was part of a symposium commemorating the 75th anniversary of the february 1943 battle of kasserine pass. this is 45 minutes.


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