Introduction: The Background to the Battle

After the initial rush for Tunis in November 1942, the British advance on the northern part of the Tunisian front was stalled in front of three large hills held by the Germans: Green Hill (Dj Azzag), Bald Hill (Dj El Ajved) and Sugar Loaf (Dj Azag). Throughout the rainy winter months both sides continued to send out long range patrols behind the others lines.

The railway town of Sedjenane was an important HQ and staging post for the British troops who were dug in on the hilly ground near El Aouana Station, which faced the German positions. The Germans, in turn, were present in force at Jeffna Station on the other side of Green Hill.

Because of the domineering nature of the German positions, the British troops had to spend the daytime on the reverse slopes of their hills: any movement during daylight hours on the forward slopes was easily observed and thus liable to shelling, mortar and sniper fire. Only at night were the British troops able to move into their forward dug-outs. It was a static and squalid First World War-style stand-off which lasted for months.

Newly arrived in North Africa on January 3rd as part of 139 Brigade of the 46th Infantry Division, on January 17th 1943 the 16th DLI relieved the 5th Buffs in the British frontline positions opposite Green Hill and Baldy.

In late February 1943, following on from their offensive further south in the Kasserine Pass area, the long stalemate in the north was broken by the Germans. On February 26th, in the opening move of the 'Ox Head' offensive, Major Rudolf Witzig's highly trained Parachute Engineer Battalion easily broke through the ill-equipped French troops who were holding the hilly ten-mile coastal strip between Sedjenane and Cap Serrat. The Germans then began to establish themselves on the hills about two miles north of Sedjenane that evening.

The 16th DLI had just been withdrawn after six weeks in the frontline opposite Green Hill, on the night of February 22nd/23rd (replaced by the 6th Lincs and 3 Troop of No 1 Commando) and were now resting and in reserve, bivouacked in tents in the Sedjenane woods.

On the afternoon of February 26th, as sundry French stragglers drifted back from the initial German attack, the DLI were deployed to the MT Lines area to the north of the village.

The surprise German attack came at a very inopportune time for the DLI as their CO, Lt Col Richard Ware MC and the Company Commanders were all on a recce mission to Teboursouk--where it was planned to deploy the Battalion. Thus it was the Second in Command Major David Bannerman and the Company Second-in-Commands who had to quickly organise the DLI response. This could only be a move forward to the north to protect that direct approach to Sedjenane and the now extremely vulnerable flank of the 2/5th Sherwood Foresters who were still dug in opposite Green Hill.

The initial plan for the 16th DLI was an advance up from the woods into the Sedjenane valley across the small bridge and then across the plain and up onto the hills on either side. A Company would lead, with B and D behind and C in reserve. Two Troops of No 1 Army Commando were also committed to the advance, Numbers 2 and 4 Troops, who were to move forward to protect the left flank of the DLI.


The Battle of Sedjenane February 26th-March 4th 1943

This section of the site is still being built up--the space to the left on many pages is for the photographs which will eventually be added. These are the chapters which are substantially complete:

Sedjenane A 16 DLI Timeline

Sedjenane the Forgotten Battle: A White Flag, the Commandos and the French

No 1 Army Commando on 26/2/43, Eyewitness Memories

C Company 16 DLI and No 1 Commando on 27/2/43, Eyewitness Memories

No 1 Commando Gallantry Awards and Report on the Action on 27/2/43

The Last DLI Attack 2/3/43

The Battle for the Village 3-4/3/43

In the Bag: Prison Ship at Ferryville

The 70th Field Regiment at Sedjenane, the Eyewitness Account of Major H Craggs MC

A Sketch Map of the Sedjenane Battlefield

The 6th Battalion the Lincolnshire Regiment at Sedjenane

A Poem about Sedjenane by Cpl Eric Lowther, 6th Battalion, the Lincolnshire Regiment

The North Irish Horse at Sedjenane

The Army Film Unit at Sedjenane: the Eyewitness Reports of Cameramen Sgt H M Wilson MM and Sgt R P G Meyer of No 2 AFPS

Two Military Medal Citations and a Distinguished Conduct Medal Citation to No 1 Commando for actions on 2/3/43 and 4/3/43

Two Military Medal Citations to 16 DLI for actions on 2/3/43 and 3/3/43

A Military Medal Citation to the North Irish Horse for actions on 4/3/43

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