Mareth line , military museum, MarethMareth line , military museum, Mareth

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Located between Gabes and Djerba, the Mareth line museum deals with the WW2 war history. Indeed, in March 1943, Rommel used this bunker line to resist the Montgomery's VIIIth army advance.

My experience, Explo description: 

The Mareth line was built by the French between 1936 and 1940. It was aimed at protecting Tunisia (French protectorate) from a possible expressionist push of the Italians coming from Lybia. It was 45 km long, between the sea and the small 700m height Dahar mountain.

It was composed by 8 artillery bunkers and 40 infantry bunkers.

In June 1940, an armistice is signed between France and Germany. France is considered as a non fighting country, and thus, the Mareth line is demilitarized and disarmed.

On the 9th of November 1942, English-American troops invaded the French North Africa by surprise (operation Torch). The German-Italian troops reacted with the Tunisia invasion.

In November 1942, after his El Alamein defeat, Rommel retreated to Tunisia, 6000km away through the Libyan desert. He decided to rearm the Mareth line as a defence against the Allied prosecutors : German army posed 200 000 mines, barbed wires, built new anti-tank and anti-aircraft artillery bunkers, and used the Zigzaou oued as a natural anti-tank ditch.

The battle of Mareth takes place from 16th till 28th of March 1943. During ten days, English troops attacked frontally with an enormous superiority (160 000 men for Allied against 76000 men for the Axis). They couldn’t pass, confirming the defensive efficiency of the line.

Meanwhile, the general Leclerc’s French Free Forces (Forces Françaises Libres) and the 10th New Zealand troops made a big bypass operation on the West side of the line and attacked the German-Italian positions on their back. On March 26th, they arrived at El Hamma. Considering the threat of encirclement, Rommel decided to abandon the Mareth line and to withdraw northward.

The museum shows detailed plans and a short film of the battle. Outside, you can still observe the defensive trenches and several bunkers, as well as some artillery guns.

Do not miss to visit the antique Roman site of Gighti (40 km towards Djerba). This very little frequented site is worth to be seen due to its situation by the seaside. Vestiges (temple, market, harbour, thermal baths) are charming.

How getting there: 

From Djerba, take a ferry between Ajim and El Jorf. There is a ferry every 15 minutes, then drive to Gabés.
From Gabés, 30 km towards Médenine.

Useful information: 
Visit duration: 

1-2h