TV doc researcher/ Tunisia memories

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by Tunisia researcher, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. Tunisia researcher

    Tunisia researcher Junior Member

    Hello all,
    I am a researcher preparing a proposal for an historical documentary for a British television channel.

    We are interested in contacting:
    a) Any veterans with memories of Algeria and Tunisia 1942-1943.
    b) Any family members of men who served there, who may be able to provide secondhand accounts, anecdotes etc.

    Any advice on accessing War Diaries/Battle Reports is also welcome, esp if available on-line (as e.g. North Irish Horse). Will be visiting Kew later.

    With a new openness in North Africa following the Arab spring, we are interested in building a picture that includes relations with the local population and with the French settlers there. We are hoping to make a real contribution to a better understanding of this campaign, and of the experiences of men who served there.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    Eileen Byrne
  2. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    If you have an interest in psychological warfare in Tunisia, I can help. There was quite an interesting propaganda leaflet campaign led by the MP Con O'Neill. Here's one of the newspapers he produced for German troops in Tunisia:


    More details on my website here:


    PS and can also help you with war diaries, etc. from Kew.
  3. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Probably not too much of interest but my grandfather - a sapper in 225 Field Company Royal Engineers - served in Tunisia but a little late in the day.

    Here's part of what he wrote about it later:

    On March 11th the Company left Hawick and entrained for Liverpool, the strength then being 6 officers and 249 other ranks, and one unofficial dog! On arrival at Liverpool the Company boarded the SS “Cuba” a passenger ship converted to a troop carrier. The gangplank was only wide enough for one man carrying his kit to embark at one time. Bish, the dog, was running loose at this time and on boarding the gangplank was grabbed by a Military Policeman, at this precise moment a Sapper happened to dump his kit bag on the policeman causing him to stumble, the dog ran up the gangplank and on to the ship, apologies were given to the MP by the Sapper but this did not slow or stop the flow of bad language from the MP, luckily he did not attempt to look for or find the dog.

    The “Cuba” sailed from Liverpool on the 13th and joined a convoy of other ships from various ports and sailed into the Atlantic Ocean via Northern Ireland. The following days were filled by “Boat Drill” every morning, PT and lectures followed by the favourite game of Housey-Housey! A lecture by a Medical Officer on hygiene gave the startling fact that every soldier was expected to pass 4oz of excreta per day, the Army thinks of everything! But obviously their experiments did not take into account the effects of dysentery which the Sappers were to experience in the weeks to come. Some excitement occurred during one night as the Convoy sailed through the Mediterranean Sea, the Convoy was attacked by aircraft and one ship, the “Windsor Castle”, was sunk.

    It was now obvious that the 4th Division was going to reinforce the 1st Army. The Invasion of North Africa had begun the previous November by the 1st Army, which in the beginning consisted of the 78 Division, of which the 11th Infantry Brigade had become a member, 2 & 6 Commando and a Parachute Brigade. The Germans had reacted very quickly and had flown troops in to build up a very large force which had halted the progress of 1st Army during the winter months. The SS “Cuba” arrived at Algiers on 23rd March and 225 disembarked and then marched 11 miles to a location named “Gare-De-Constantine”. On this march the 225 met the first American troops they had ever seen and were not at all impressed. The Americans in a large column were overtaken by the 225, who were moving in the same direction, they appeared to be a shambles, walking along in a carefree manner with no purpose in mind, what a contrast to the 225 who despite being cramped on a ship for 11 days were marching in step and feeling the effects of the warm climate. During a halt for a ten minute break the OC purchased a sack of oranges and distributed them amongst the men. During the next few days the Company vehicles arrived from Algiers, also stores and equipment.

    The whole Company was inoculated against Typhus and a warning order issued to move to area Souk-Ahras, in Tunisia. April 1st saw the Company move off on a journey of 105 miles to Ben-Mansour, leaving there at 0630 hours on the 2nd for Am-El-Bey a journey of 170 miles and arriving at 1830 hours. Some difficulties were experienced on this move with several of the vehicles fitted with Ford V8 Engines: during the long climb into the Atlas mountains, the engines became rather hot causing evaporation of petrol due to the petrol pump being fitted at the rear between the V of the engine, but all the vehicles arrived under their own power. The following day, April 3rd the Company travelled to Guelma moving off at 0700 hours and arriving at l200 hours a journey of 80 miles, the next day saw a further move of 90 miles arriving at Ghardimaou at l800 hours thus making a total journey of 445 miles in 4 days. On the 5th every man had a second Typhus injection. The CRE, Lt Col Foley, visited the Company on the 6th and placed them under the command of 21st Tank Brigade pending the arrival of 7th Field Company from Bone where they had been landed from the ship convoy and were not yet mobile. General Alexander now took over command of the Army Group which included the British 1st, 4th & 78th Divisions as well as USA 1st Infantry Division and was reorganising the Group for an all out attack from Medjez-El-Bab to Tunis, the Americans would be to the North, the British in the centre and on their right French troops who were in contact with the 8th Army...
  4. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    And no doubt the start of some difficult months and years for your grandfather if he stayed with 4th Division - do you have any more of his memories from April / May in Tunisia ?

  5. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Richard, he sure did; he'd already had an interesting time with the BEF and then some more in Italy and Greece.

    Hopefully I'll be publishing his full account in book form later this year. Although, sadly he left out many of the personal anecdotes that I was brought up on.

  6. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  7. Tunisia researcher

    Tunisia researcher Junior Member

  8. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Senior Member

    Hi and welcome to the forum!
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    ......Then there are articles from the BBC war series at the foot of this posting

  10. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Love those colour movies of the Tunis victory parade - and thankfully no dubbed on sound.
  11. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Welcome to the Forum Eleen. Having served in Tunisia I am happy to help in any way possible.

    Wishing you all success,

  12. Tunisia researcher

    Tunisia researcher Junior Member

    Thank you very much for the newsreel link. Some pictures of Tunisian civilians and also what seem to be French settler civilians....
    Images of British soldiers meeting Americans possibly for the first time in their lives.

    Thanks also for Anderson 1946 and Alexander 1948 articles, I had found the Anderson article already via a Wikipedia footnote, but not in such accessible form. Together I guess they make up the most comprehensive overall account of the campaign by two major participants...

    I recently helped the O'Sullivan brothers on their visit to CWGC cemeteries and Irish battlefields in north-western Tunisia, (through a connection at the London Irish, where my father did his national service soon after the war) as I currently work in Tunis.
    You may have already seen their full account of their Tunisia visit: here:Irish Brigade - News / Articles

    Eileen Byrne
  13. Tunisia researcher

    Tunisia researcher Junior Member

    Hello Gerry,
    Apologies for the delay in replying ... some internet connection problems here in Tunisia, hopefully now resolved!
    Would very much appreciate an opportunity to talk with you,
    Eileen Byrne
  14. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Hi welcome to the forum, my father served with 56 Recce in Tunisia where he was injured when his portee hit a mine near Medjez El Bab killing 3 others.

  15. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce

    Hello and welcome. My father also served with 56 Recce in Tunisia.

  16. Tunisia researcher

    Tunisia researcher Junior Member

    Thank you Paul and Lesley.
    As I mentioned, would really appreciate at this stage of preparing the proposal any memories or family anecdotes relating to relations with local North Africans especially, impressions about their situation under French rule etc, though of course these may turn out to be quite scarce...
    Best regards
  17. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    As you have already learnt, the relationships between "ordinary" Tunisians and the (what was for them) invading forces from both land and sea was certainly most ambiguous. And of course, Tunisians already had so many major grievances with the French colonial authorities.

    Clearly it was a most desperate time for everyone who was involved - my father and his comrades certainly were not at all "trusting" of the local populace. It would be excellent for you to gain some first hand accounts of what the men on the ground actually experienced.

  18. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Hello all,
    I am a researcher preparing a proposal for an historical documentary for a British television channel.

    We are interested in contacting:
    a) Any veterans with memories of Algeria and Tunisia 1942-1943.
    b) Any family members of men who served there, who may be able to provide secondhand accounts, anecdotes etc.

    Hello, Eileen, and welcome.

    I suggest you contact Paul Cheall on this site. His father Bill served in Tunisia with the 50th Division, and Paul recently published his father's memoirs. I have read much of it and it is quite good. Paul is very helpful. too.
  19. Tunisia researcher

    Tunisia researcher Junior Member

    We are particularly interested in the fighting north and east of Beja in late Feb-early March 1943 -- the Battle of Sejnane -- around Hunt's Gap etc.
    The war diaries show the civilian population was evacuated out of the area and relations not good with locals. Any memories family anecdotes on this, or on the wider theme of relations with locals throughout Tunisia and Algeria during the campaign, much appreciated...
  20. Tunisia researcher

    Tunisia researcher Junior Member

    Thank you TTH, I will follow this up

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