From Tunisia to Tunica

Some 80 years ago today, the North African Campaign wrapped up. The week prior, the British 7th Armored Division captured Tunis, the capital of Tunisia while the U.S. II Army Corps captured Bizerte, the last remaining port in Axis hands. On 13 May 1943, the Axis forces in North Africa, having sustained 40,000 casualties in the loss of Tunisia alone, surrendered and 267,000 German and Italian soldiers became prisoners of war.

The later famous if somewhat overrated Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK), had, once Rommel left, been sort of renamed to Heeresgruppe Afrika and left for Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen Bernard Theodor von Arnim to surrender into captivity.

The haul of military gear was tremendous and the Allies came away with many working examples of just about every juicy piece of kit both the Germans and Italians had in the field at the time.

The below chronicled by LIFE magazine’s Eliot Elisofon:

As for the good Generaloberst Arnim, he would join at least 25 other DAK general officers under the hot Mississippi sun for the duration.

The Afrikakorps would spend 1944 and most of 1945 picking cotton, planting trees, and building roads around Camp Clinton just outside Jackson, Camp McCain near Grenada, Camp Como in the northern Delta, and Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg.

There are signs of the old DAK all over Mississippi.

The museum at Camp Shelby has a number of remains left behind, and there is an off-limits parade ground on the base as well.

I once spent some time in a class around Grenada and found some of the old barracks out in the woods near the lake.

Speaking of lakes, we literally have POW Lake in Harrison County, a former navy magazine that was constructed by the Germans in 1944.

It is quiet and my dog loves it out there.


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