The End approaches in Africa
9th May 1943: There is still time to kill and be killed as the US Army takes the first unconditional surrender
In North Africa the collapse of Axis forces seemed inevitable to almost everyone. They were so short of gasoline that - as they ran out of unbombed port space - they resorted to trying to float barrels ashore onto beaches. Such methods could not possibly supply an Army. Yet many German units wanted to fight to the bitter end. The most Nazi-inspired units, such as the Herman Goering Division, believed they were fighting an important delaying action, significant to the wider progress of the war.
In the British 8th Army, on the 9th May R.L. Crimp1 was advancing with a motorised column of the Rifle Brigade into:
... a mountain fringed plain of wheatfields, vineyards, olive-groves, fig and almond orchards, plantations and avenues of firs and poplars, cactus, white farmhouses and acclaiming villages. After passing through one of the latter, possibly Creteville, where we’re presented with a bottle of wine by a French family, the road veers east into mountainous country.
A few miles along, as the sun goes down, we run into trouble. The battalion convoy is moving slowly, with frequent stops. Explosions are audible and flashes can be seen half a mile ahead bursting fiercely among trees by the roadside. This is rather disconcerting, especially as the vehicles are creeping along in such fits and starts, and a sort of ‘Musical Chairs’ develops.
… shells crashing on both sides of the road; fairly light stuff, admittedly - but quite enough to blow a hole in the 3-tonner and us.
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