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Welsh Guards Badge

Razor-back Ridge, Tunisia 1943
1st Company, 3rd Battalion, Welsh Guards – Razor-back Ridge, Tunisia 1943

By Paul Goldstone

Raised in 1941, No.1 Company of the 3rd Welsh Guards landed in North Africa in 1943 as part of the British First Army. On 8th April 1943 the company went into its first battle. At Fondouk, Tunisia, is a strategically important road. Dominating the road was a steep rocky hill, Djebel ain el Rhorab, the high point being called “the Razor-back”. The Welsh Guards were ordered to take and hold this hill, defended by 27. Marsch Battalion.

The company commander, Captain R.C. Twining, was killed whilst on reconnaissance the night immediately before the attack, his place being taken over by the company 2ic, Lieutenant A.G. Stewart.

Just after dawn No.1 Company formed into open order and started off towards the hill. The company crossed the Rhouil wadi without loss, but as it began climbing towards its objective it came under sniper fire from an Arab village on the right flank and machine-gun fire from the hill itself.   

The Carrier platoon under Captain McVittie moved through the infantry to provide covering fire, but No.1 Company was pinned down 600 yards short of the hill, where they found cover from the machine-gun fire in small wadis and behind cactus bushes. The attack seemed to have bogged down. Two Troops of Sherman tanks from the Lothians and Border Horse moved up in support of No.1 Company, going around the hill on the left flank to rake German positions on the reverse slopes of the Razor-Back with their guns.

British Infanty
British Infanty in Tunisia Lance-Sergeant K.G. Summers set up his section of 3” mortars near the pinned company, and began bombing the German machine-guns. Artillery from 152nd Field Regiment joined in. The 21 year old Battalion Adjutant, Captain G.D. Rhys-Williams went forward in his Carrier to get No.1 Company attacking. Ignoring enemy fire, Rhys-Williams moved along the front line, re-grouping the platoons, encouraging the men, and giving orders. He then went back to his Carrier and, in full view of the enemy, directed artillery onto German machine-gun posts. Picking up a rifle, Rhys-Williams led the company into the assault.
Shouting to the men “Keep your distance” and “Come on boys – we can do it”, Rhys-Williams and No.1 Company successfully stormed the German positions and seized Razor-back ridge. More than a hundred Germans were taken prisoner. However, the gallant Rhys-Williams was killed at the moment of victory.

The battle for Razor-back Ridge can be refought, using a British Rifle Company with armoured support attacking a German Grenadier Company in Hold the Line scenario, with the objectives being the high points of a long rocky ridge.

Paul

(You could use the Charles Upham rules in North Africa to represent Captain G.D. Rhys-Williams as well as the Guards Rules ~ ED.)

Tunisia


Last Updated On Tuesday, September 8, 2009 by Wayne at Battlefront