This was an Axis operation to establish and reinforce a major defensive lodgement in northern Tunisia, which was deemed imperative after the success of General Sir Bernard Montgomery’s British 8th Army in the Western Desert and the establishment of Lieutenant General K. A. N. Anderson’s Allied 1st Army in North-West Africa after ‘Torch’ (9 November 1942).
The object of this Axis move was to maintain an Axis presence in North Africa and so tie down Allied forces which could otherwise have been deployed for the forthcoming invasion of the European mainland. The French authorities in Tunisia were undecided about which side to support, and thus did not close their airfields to either side.
As early as 9 November the there were reports of 40 German aircraft arriving at Tunis and by 10 November aerial reconnaissance reported 100 aircraft. Two days later there began ‘Braun’ (ii) proper as an airlift to deliver more than 15,000 men and 581 tons of supplies from Italy into northern Tunisia. By the end of the month the Axis had delivered three German divisions, including Generalleutnant Wolfgang Fischer’s 10th Panzerdivision, and two Italian infantry divisions. On 12 November, General Walther Nehring assumed command of the newly formed XC Corps in Tunisia, and arrived his command by air on 17 November. The whole operation cost the Axis powers dearly in shipping and transport aircraft.