Operation Fliederblüte

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This was a German spoiling attack against the positions of Lieutenant General C. W. Allfrey’s British V Corps of Lieutenant General K. A. N. Anderson’s Allied 1st Army on ‘Banana Ridge’ in Tunisia (20/21 April 1943).

Holding the sector of the front between Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley’s US II Corps against Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast and Lieutenant General J. T. Crocker’s British IX Corps opposite Pont du Fahs, the V Corps had the shortest line of advance to Tunis via Massicault.

On 17 April Generalmajor Joseph Schmid, acting commander of the Division ‘Hermann Göring’, suggested a spoiling attack, and two days later Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim, commanding Heeresgruppe ‘Afrika’, approved the concept. A powerful attacking force was therefore gathered, primarily from the Division ‘Hermann Göring’ and Generalmajor Friedrich Weber’s 334th Division, as the Kampfgruppe 'Schmid'. This comprised two Jäger battalions of the Jägerregiment 'Hermann Göring' and one battalion of the 1st Grenadierregiment ‘Hermann Göring’ of the Division ‘Hermann Göring’, the 754th Grenadierregiment of the 334th Division, the 7th Panzerregiment of Generalleutnant Friedrich Freiherr von Broich’s 10th Panzerdivision, and the 501st schwere Panzerabteilung, the last with 13 PzKpfw VI Tiger I heavy tanks.

In the early hours of 21 April this force attacked at a place, called ‘Banana Ridge’ by the British, about 5 miles (8 km) to the east of Medjez el Bab on the Medjerde river. The German attack fell on Brigadier H. A. E. Matthews’s 3rd Brigade of Major General W. E. Clutterbuck’s 1st Division on ‘Banana Ridge’, and on Brigadier J. H. Hogshaw’s 10th Brigade of Major General J. L. I. Hawkesworth’s 4th Division at the Djebel Djaffa, 5 miles (8 km) to the south of Medjez el Bab.

British intelligence had learned of the plan, and suitable preparations had therefore been made to receive the attack, but nonetheless there was sharp fighting, and some danger to British artillery which was assembling far forward in readiness for ‘Vulcan’, before the German attack was beaten off after suffering more than 300 casualties.

The German spoiling offensive therefore spoiled nothing, and at 03.40 on 22 April the IX Corps opened the ‘Vulcan’ offensive to complete the destruction of Heeresgruppe ‘Afrika’ in Tunisia.