But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
King Henry v
American prestige in the eyes of the British and French, sky high at the time of the landings in Algeria and Morocco in November, by late February 1943 had plummeted. In the race for Tunis and Bizerta the British spearheads had been beaten by a short lead by German reinforcements under Nehring flown into Tunisia and by December the front had congealed along the great chain of mountains which covers the frontier with Algeria. By Christmas Anderson, the commander of the so-called First Army, and Eisenhower faced stalemate. The reasons were many: long distances, congested roads, shortage of airfields near the front, the slow build-up of reserves and above all the unspeakable winter weather which had now set in.
Seldom in the history of war can an Allied commander have faced a more baffling political and military situation than Eisenhower at this time. The French, rent by political discord, lacked almost every necessity for war: inevitably the morale of their troops was low. They were clamouring for arms which for the moment Eisenhower was finding it difficult to supply. In no circumstances were they prepared to serve under British command. Giraud, the American choice, had turned out to be a politically imbecilic professional soldier of the old school. Anderson was a dour Scot who had never studied how to win friends and influence people nor apparently wanted to. Fredendall, the commander of II US Corps had taken a strong dislike to him and made no attempt to conceal it: Harmon