Patton's troops advance at El Guettar
29th March 1943: A graphic eye witness account of US heavy artillery preparing the ground for a tank attack
On the 23rd March US troops had withstood a massed panzer and panzer-grenadier attack down the El Guettar valley by the experienced 10th Panzer Division1, veterans of Poland 1939, France 1940 and Operation Barbarossa 1941. After earlier reverses at Kasserine, this was a tremendous confidence booster, demonstrating that an American division could face down the best that the Germans could throw at them. Now they moved on to the offensive, moving further up the valley.
They were only a mile or two away, but this was killing by remote control, without the maddening stimulus of hand-to-hand fighting. One could carefully assess the targets and take aim with the same unemotional calmness of a sportsman shooting grouse on the moors. Almost, not quite. In the intervals of our firing the enemy fired back and we ducked into our dugout and hugged the rock.
Alan Moorehead2 was with a group of journalists who watched the battle from an observation post in the hills above the valley. He would later recall that this was the best view of a battle that he got during the entire war. From a grandstand position, he got an unusually complete view of how the battle progressed:
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