The Battle of Fondouk

The 17th/21st Lancers was ordered to advance through the pass and cut off retreating German forces. Enemy artillery and anti-tank guns held the high ground to both sides. The regiment sustained heavy losses and only a handful of tanks were left in action. Information that the dry riverbed to the left might prove to be a way through was passed to Brigade Headquarters. The 16th/5th Lancers was ordered to try that route, and despite a number of losses the regiment broke through. But the delay allowed the German forces to retreat unmolested towards Tunis.

Into the Jaws of Death: the Battle of Fondouk features original war footage and a commentary by Captain Mick Holtby. Produced by Mick Holtby and Terry Brighton.

  • At any cost

    At Fondouk in 1943 the 17th/21st Lancers had to break through a heavily defended pass ‘at any cost’. Almost every tank was knocked out, but some enemy anti-tank guns were destroyed.

    The 16th/5th Lancers went in next. Despite severe losses, the regiment broke through.

  • Brewing-up

    Tank crewmen feared being ‘brewed-up’ – hit by enemy fire. A man of the 16th/5th Lancers wrote:
    A great clang, the turret was full of flames, my clothes were on fire; I had to get out quick; I heaved open the front lid and jumped, rolling on the ground.

  • The Prime Minister

    When the regiments reached Tunis in May, Winston Churchill visited and congratulated them on Victory in North Africa.

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