their invasions of Algeria and Morocco in Operation Torch, invaded from the west.
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, commander of the Axis forces in North Africa, had hoped to inflict a similar defeat on the Allies in Tunisia as German forces did in the Battle of France in 1940. Before the battle for el-Alamein, the Allied forces had been forced to retreat toward Egypt. As such, the battle for Tunisia was a major test for the Allies. They concluded that in order to defeat Axis Powers they would have to coordinate their actions and quickly recover from the inevitable setbacks the German-Italian forces would inflict.
On February 19, 1943, Rommel launched an attack on the American forces in the Kasserine Pass region of Western Tunisia, hoping to inflict the kind of demoralizing and alliance-shattering defeat the Germans had dealt to Poland, Britain and France. The initial results were a disaster for the United States; the area around the Kasserine Pass is the site of many U.S. war graves from that time.
However, the American forces were ultimately able to reverse their retreat. With a critical strategy in tank warfare, and having determined that encirclement was feasible, the British, Australian and New Zealand forces broke through the Mareth Line on March 20, 1943. The Allies subsequently linked up on April 8, and on May 13, the German-Italian Army in Tunisia surrendered. Thus, the United States, United Kingdom, Australian, Free French, and Polish forces (as well as others) were able to win a major battle as an Allied army.
The battle, though overshadowed by Stalingrad, represented a major Allied victory of World War II largely because it forged the Alliance that would one day liberate Western Europe.
Tunisia achieved independence from France in 1956 led by Habib Bourguiba, who later became the first Tunisian President. In November 1987, doctors declared Bourguiba unfit to rule and, in a