April 6, 2017

1943. Germans on the Defensive in Russia and North Africa

News of Axis Setbacks
"American soldiers charge into wall of smoke during a raid on German positions at Sened in the North African campaign, Tunisia, 1943" (Photo by Eliot Elisofonsource)
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

May 4, 1943

This morning's army newspaper, Red Star, prints the news of the capture of Mateur at the top of the foreign news section along with a map illustrating the importance of this American victory in North Africa.

This victory in Tunisia, coming at this particular time, has a special significance for the Russian people. It serves as concrete proof of the assurances given in Stalin's May First Order of the Day that the United States, Great Britain, and Soviet Russia are now playing together on the same team under a common direction.

The Russian people are watching the military drama in North Africa almost with the same intense interest that they followed the movements of the Red Army during its winter offensive.

For them, the ouster of the Axis from Africa means only one thing—it means to the Russian people that the Allies will then be in a position to start that Second Front. They remember Stalin's statement that the German-Fascists need only "two or three more powerful blows from the East and West" to send them down the road to defeat.

Last winter, while the Russian army was advancing westward, the Soviet people had a strong taste of victory in their mouths. That taste is beginning to return as they read of the continued American, British, and French successes in Tunisia.

This morning's Russian communiqué makes no mention of the fighting in the important Kuban Bridgehead. The last word we have had from this North Caucasus sector was last night when the Soviet high command announced that Red Army units were engaged in "active operations." This followed an earlier announcement that a six-day German offensive at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk had been stopped. Now we must wait to see just what "active operations" mean in Russian terminology.

The Germans are throwing in great numbers of fighters and bombers on this sector and are making a desperate attempt to gain command of the air over the Kuban Bridgehead. No one has a clear picture of the fighting that has been going on down there the past few weeks except that, whatever move the Nazi command has made—on land or in the air—has been smashed by the strong Soviet resistance.

It was revealed today that the latest German failure was in the big air battle west of Krasnodar on Sunday and Monday. The Germans have been making all-out attempts to bomb Russian troop and supply concentrations in this area out of existence. Their latest attempt cost them fifty-four planes. The Russians lost twenty-one planes—and kept their command of the air on this front.