A Decisive Phase in Tunisia
|American artillery in Tunisia, 1943 (Photo by Eliot Elisofon - source)|
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
April 14, 1943
The Soviet Union is expecting big things from the American, British and French forces now advancing in Tunisia. For many days now the Allied North African offensive has been the biggest military news in the Soviet press.
This morning the army newspaper Red Star printed an analysis of the situation written by one of its leading military experts, Colonel Tolchenov. Colonel Tolchenov said that the Hitlerian command undoubtedly understands that their campaign in Africa is lost and no regroupment or reforming is able to save the situation.
Then the Colonel proceeded to say some of the nicest things about the Allied armies that have appeared in Russian press since the war began.
He said: "There is no doubt that Hitler is willing to sacrifice the troops remaining in Tunisia in order to gain time and delay realization of the further plans of the Allied command. Of course, attempts to evacuate certain parts of the German troops are not excluded—but they are connected with enormous difficulties. The naval bases of the Allies have approached close to the central Mediterranean and operations of the Anglo-American ships have compelled the Italian navy to hide in its ports. Anglo-American air forces already are blocking the air lines across Sicilian straits."
(Then the Red Star military analyst said: "Fighting operations in Tunisia have reached a decisive phase. The only object of the enemy is to gain time. The attacking Allied troops have to overcome certain difficulties in connection with operations in the northeast Tunisian mountains, but they possess all conditions to achieve a complete victory.")
Then the Red Star article ended with the statement: "It is only a matter of time before the Axis troops will be driven from Africa. It must be supposed that the Allied command will concentrate all efforts to reduce this time. The quicker the Tunisian territory is cleared, the more rationally our allies could use the big forces which are now attached to this front."
The second biggest military news in Russia this morning are the details of the Russian bombing of Königsberg the night before last. The Soviet air force gave Königsberg a two hour plastering, which was its heaviest bombing of the war. Russian pilots reported they hit the city's power plant, railroad junctions, a big war factory, and particularly smashed a gigantic store of military equipment near the center of the city.
Special scouting bombers were assigned to fly over the city during the attack and assess what damage was done.
This morning the Russian press points out that Königsberg is the biggest center of the eastern Prussia war industry. There are steel smelters, armaments factories, ship buildings and chemical plants centered in the city. It is a railroad junction for lines connecting Latvia, Poland, and Eastern Germany. And more importantly, it was the base for the German drive into the Baltic States which ended at Leningrad.
This bombing was not unconnected with the recent flare-up in fighting on the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts and the battles south of Lake Ilmen.