The Afrika Korps was the Wehrmacht’s expeditionary army that fought against the Allied forces in North Africa, from 1941 to 1943, during World War II. It was created by Adolf Hitler on January 11, 1941, to provide support to the Italian Army’s units which had been losing ground to the British forces. Under the command of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the German troops landed in Libya, near Tripoli, on February 14, 1941. During the first month, the Afrika Korps was the 5th Mobile Division (5. Leichte Div), which consisted of the Panzerrregiment 5, equipped with 120 tanks, the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, the 39th Anti-tank Battalion, and the I-75 Artillery Battalion; Later on, the 2nd and 8th machine gun Battalions would attached. Having been reinforced with new units, it would be reorganized into the 21st Panzerdivision, which was the first unit of the “Deutsches Afrikakorps”. By mid September, 1941, it had been beefed up and was composed of the 15th, 21st, 90th, 164th Panzerdivisions and three Italian Corps, totalling about 150,000 men.
Beginning their first offensive against the Allied forces on March 23, 1941, the Afrika Korps would fight fiercely during the Siege of Tobruk and at the battles of Gazala and El Alamein, at which the British 8th Army, under Montgomery, would come out victorious after a series of attacks and counter-attacks. In February 1943, the Afrikakorps would be reorganized and redesignated as the Italian 1st Army and the German 5th Panzer Army, led by General Giovanni Messe and Rommel respectively. However, the British forces managed to breach the Axis defensive lines around Tunisia, defeating the German-Italo troops, now under von Arnim, who finally surrendered to the Allied High Command on May 12, 1943. By then, several German units had been shipped back to Italy.
Afrikakorps in action (video)