As had been planned at the Casablanca Conference in January, Alexander arrived in Algiers on February 15. After meeting with Eisenhower, Alexander flew to Ander son’s headquarters to start an inspection tour of the front. The point was, Anderson explained, that the Axis forces probably lacked supplies for a sustained offensive. In Sbeitla, on a remote, windswept, sun-parched plain, several thousand inhabitants live beside the crumbling ruins of a Roman city. The Moslems attacked, but held their reserves until the end of the day, then struck hard and broke the defenses. There was no resistance on the plain of Sbeitla. The town was in ashes and virtually deserted. Almost thirteen hundred years later, Germans were at the gates of another Sbeitla, approaching from the east Whether they too would overrun the town and, if so, whether their hegemony would prove to be lengthy were matters that were soon to be settled.