Heeresgruppe Afrika was formed on February 23rd, 1943 from the Deutsch-Italienischen Panzer-Armee andOrganisationsstab Tunesien as a means to unify the complex chain of commandover the many German and Italian units in the Tunisian bridgehead in North Africa. The mainunits of the Heeresgruppe were the 5.Panzer-Armee and the 1.italienische Armee.Generalfeldmarschall Rommel commanded the Heeresgruppe initially, but handed overcommand of the unit on March 9th, 1943 to Generaloberst Jürgen von Arnim,who later surrendered all the Axis forces in North Africa on May 12th, 1943.
When the Heeresgruppe was formed the situation was dim for the Germans being pushed back ever-further intothe Tunisian bridgehead. Joint Operations Morning Air and Spring Breeze had just been calledoff, and although technically they had been a success for the Axis with 2,000casualties versus the Allies loss of 10,000, the Allies were better prepared to replace their losses, and theywere also quick to regain the territory they had given up to the German advance.Kasserine was retaken by the Allies on February 25th, two days after the Heeresgruppewas formed. After the above two joint operations were called off, on March6th and 7th 1943, Rommel launched an attack against the British 8th Army nearMedinine along the Mareth Line in the south of the Germanbridgehead in Tunisia. The attack made good progress initially, only to slowdown and eventually stall against very heavy British defensive fire partlyin the form of over 500 anti-tank guns. This failed attack against the MarethLine was Rommel’s last in North Africa, he flew to Germany a few days laterwhere he requested the rescue of his Heeresgruppe back to Italy – a request whichwas flattly denied. Thereafter he was not allowed to return to Africa tocontinue his service with Heeresgruppe Afrika, and command of the Heeresgruppewas handed to Hans Jürgen von Arnim who continued the defensive strugglefor another two months. This period was punctuated by occasional German tacticalattacks and small victories, but the fate of the Heeresgruppe had long since already beensealed. All Axis forces in North Africa capitulated to the Allies on May 12th, 1943, thusending forever the German and Axis presence in the region.
|Gen.Feldm. Erwin Rommel 2.23.43 – 3.09.43|
Gen.Obrst. Hans-Jürgen von Arnim 3.09.43 – 5.12.43