British armour out flanks the Germans
27th March 1943: A British General give his account of the final stages of the 'Left Hook' during the Mareth Line battles
The culmination of Montgomery’s ‘Left Hook’ was now approaching. As the infantry, including the Maori Battalion, engaged in fierce battles on the high ground around the Tebaga Gap in Tunisia, the 1st Armoured Division pushed through the positions already seized by the New Zealand Corps, including Bill Close’s unit. British armour was making an unprecedented night manoeuvre through the German lines.
This was a high-risk strategy being led by one of the new men in Montgomery's army, Major General Horrocks1 who was commanding X Corps. If it all went wrong, they would be sitting in a very vulnerable position in the morning.
I started very bravely with the upper part of my body sticking out of the turret of my tank, but as the advance went on I got lower and lower until only the top of my head was visible. There was too much stuff flying about for comfort, though most of the enemy fire was going over our heads into the area which we had just vacated.
Horrocks accompanied the 1st Armoured Division in his personal command tank:
It was the most exciting and worrying night of my life. As my small tactical HQ, consisting of three tanks, took up its position in the armoured mass, I realised very well that if this attack went wrong, there was no doubt as to whose head would be on the block.