By Mike Phifer Ignoring the swirling sands stirred up by the fierce winds of the Sahara Desert in the early morning hours of February 14, 1943, Generalleutnant Heinz Ziegler ordered his panzer columns forward to attack the American forces deployed in central Tunisia. More than 100 tanks and halftracks and trucks packed with infantry rumbled through the Faid Pass in the Eastern Dorsal of the Atlas Mountains. The first objective of his two powerful panzer columns was to strike at a pair of prominent hills, known locally as djebels, 10 miles apart that bracketed the strategic crossroads of Sidi bou Zid. Between the two hills ran Highway 13 from Faid to Sebeitla. From there Rommel's panzers would head toward the Kasserine Pass. Just as the sun hazily began to rise above the mountains, the tanks and vehicles of the 10th Panzer Division rolled out onto the flatland. Generalmajor Friedrich Freiherr von Broich’s 10th Panzer headed for Djebel Lessouda. Meanwhile, Colonel Hans Georg Hildebrandt’s 21st Panzer Division debouched from the Mazil Pass bound for Djebel Ksaira, 10 miles south of Djebel Lessouda. American forces holding Sidi bou Zid remained unaware of the German forces bearing down on them. The vanguard of the 10th Panzer Division sped past the village of Faid and continued westward. The panzers in the vanguard overran a squad of American troops a few miles west of Faid so fast that the Americans had no opportunity to use their radio or even fire a signal rocket as a


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