Defense of Point 198 on Roumana Ridge, Wadi Akarit
6th April 1943
An account of the defense of Point 198 at Wadi Akarit on 6th April 1943. This account is taken from "OPERATION SCIPIO - THE 8TH ARMY AT THE BATTLE OF THE WADI AKARIT" by kind permission of the author B. S. Barnes.
Diagram of the Battle of Wadi Akarit, from "The History of the 51st Highland Division" by J B Salmond
J B Salmond
MAJOR DAVIDSON. DSO
5th BN SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
"I ordered a defensive position on Point 198 which was occupied about 0930 hours by the remnants of the Company - about a dozen men in all, just enough to man the flanks and watch the front. Ian Mackenzie had disappeared. He was afterwards found well forward. He must have been cut off but had fought to the last. There were three dead Germans lying near him.
"Shortly after occupying this position I became aware that the enemy had penetrated right forward and had at least two positions within forty yards of us, immediately above our heads. We tried to climb the last few yards of the crest to get at them but were at once machine gunned from the right. From then on it was a case of hanging on and being as offensive as possible. Magazine after magazine was fired from our brens. Private Smith from Caithness and myself watched the crest above our heads. Sergeant Mackenzie moved about from place to place and was a tower of strength.
"About 1230 hours a determined German attempt was made to get round our left flank and a party of nine was seen getting into position behind us. We gave them all we had and they withdrew in disorder, leaving three dead and assisting two wounded. We got one or two reinforcements from Battalion HQ, who were immediately below and could see every move that both we and the Germans were making. The New Zealand Honey on the plain, directed from Battalion HQ, did invaluable work pumping solid shot into the German positions above us. I reckon it made all the difference.
"About 1500 hours the situation was getting desperate. I could hear German voices above me, and I knew my right was vulnerable. Just then George Willock from Battalion HQ appeared with a bren and helped a lot; but the Germans above had crawled forward silently and started to let us have a shower of stick grenades.
"I gradually moved the Company back about a hundred and fifty yards to another position and succeeded in re-establishing ourselves there, and managed to prevent the enemy getting Point 198.
"The 5th Black Watch arrived about 1800 hours and took over. We relaxed and heaved a sigh of relief ... "