Operation Torch
Overview
 
Operation Torch was the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

-American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 invasion of French North Africa in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 during the North African Campaign
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

, started on 8 November 1942.

The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 had pressed the U.S. and Britain to start operations in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and open a second front
Front (military)
A military front or battlefront is a contested armed frontier between opposing forces. This can be a local or tactical front, or it can range to a theater...

 to reduce the pressure of German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 forces on the Soviet troops
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. While the American commanders favored Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer was a World War II Allied plan for a cross-Channel invasion of Europe, as the first step in helping to reduce pressure on the Soviet Red Army by establishing a Second Front...

, landing in Occupied Europe as soon as possible, the British commanders believed that such a course would end in disaster.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Operation Torch was the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

-American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 invasion of French North Africa in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 during the North African Campaign
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

, started on 8 November 1942.

The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 had pressed the U.S. and Britain to start operations in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and open a second front
Front (military)
A military front or battlefront is a contested armed frontier between opposing forces. This can be a local or tactical front, or it can range to a theater...

 to reduce the pressure of German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 forces on the Soviet troops
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. While the American commanders favored Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer was a World War II Allied plan for a cross-Channel invasion of Europe, as the first step in helping to reduce pressure on the Soviet Red Army by establishing a Second Front...

, landing in Occupied Europe as soon as possible, the British commanders believed that such a course would end in disaster. An attack on French North Africa was proposed instead, which would clear the Axis Powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 from North Africa, improve naval control of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 and prepare for an invasion of Southern Europe in 1943. American President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 suspected the African operation would rule out an invasion of Europe in 1943 but agreed to support British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

.

Background

The Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 planned an Anglo-American invasion of northwestern Africa — Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, territory nominally in the hands of the Vichy French
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 government. With much of North West Africa
Western Desert Campaign
The Western Desert Campaign, also known as the Desert War, was the initial stage of the North African Campaign during the Second World War. The campaign was heavily influenced by the availability of supplies and transport. The ability of the Allied forces, operating from besieged Malta, to...

 already under Allied control, this would allow the Allies to carry out a pincer operation against Axis forces in North Africa. The Vichy French had around 125,000 soldiers in the territories as well as coastal artillery, 210 operational but out-of-date tanks and about 500 aircraft, ½ of which were Dewoitine D.520
Dewoitine D.520
The Dewoitine D.520 was a French fighter aircraft that entered service in early 1940, shortly after the opening of World War II. Unlike the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406, which was at that time the Armée de l'Airs most numerous fighter, the Dewoitine D.520 came close to being a match for the latest...

 fighters — equal to many British and U.S. fighter aircraft. In addition, there were 10 or so warships and 11 submarines at Casablanca
Casablanca
Casablanca is a city in western Morocco, located on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Grand Casablanca region.Casablanca is Morocco's largest city as well as its chief port. It is also the biggest city in the Maghreb. The 2004 census recorded a population of 2,949,805 in the prefecture...

. The Allies believed that the Vichy French forces would not fight, partly because of information supplied by American Consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

 Robert Daniel Murphy
Robert Daniel Murphy
Robert Daniel Murphy was an American diplomat.Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Murphy had begun his diplomatic career in 1917 as a member of the American Legation in Bern, Switzerland. Among the several posts he held were Vice-Consul in Zurich and Munich, American Consul in Paris from 1930 to 1936,...

 in Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

. The French were former Allies of the U.S. and the American troops were instructed not to fire until they were fired upon. However, they harboured suspicions that the Vichy French navy would bear a grudge over the British action at Mers-el-Kebir
Destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir
The Attack on Mers-el-Kébir, part of Operation Catapult and also known as the Battle of Mers-el-Kébir, was a naval engagement fought at Mers-el-Kébir on the coast of what was then French Algeria on 3 July 1940...

 in 1940. An assessment of the sympathies of the French forces in North Africa was essential, and plans were made to secure their cooperation, rather than resistance. German support for the Vichy French came in the shape of air support. Several Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

bomber wings undertook anti-shipping strikes against Allied ports in Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

 and along the North African coast.

The Allies intended to advance rapidly eastwards into Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 and attack the German forces in the rear. General
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 was given command of the operation, and he set up his headquarters in Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

. The Allied Naval Commander of the Expeditionary Force would be Admiral
Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 Sir Andrew Cunningham; his deputy was Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who would plan the ground effort.

Intelligence

In July 1941, Mieczysław Słowikowski (using the codename "Rygor" — Polish for "Rigor") set up "Agency Africa", one of World War II's most successful intelligence organizations. His Polish allies in these endeavors included Lt. Col. Gwido Langer
Gwido Langer
Lt. Col. Karol Gwido Langer was chief of the Polish General Staff's Cipher Bureau from at least mid-1931.-Life:...

 and Major Maksymilian Ciężki
Maksymilian Ciezki
Maksymilian Ciężki was the head of the German section of the Polish Cipher Bureau in the 1930s, during which time the Bureau decrypted German Enigma messages....

. The information gathered by the Agency was used by the Americans and British in planning the amphibious November 1942 Operation Torch landings in North Africa.

Preliminary contact

To gauge the feeling of the Vichy French forces, Murphy was appointed to the American consulate in Algeria. His covert mission was to determine the mood of the French forces and to make contact with elements that might support an Allied invasion. He succeeded in contacting several French officers, including General Charles Mast, the French commander-in-chief in Algiers. These officers were willing to support the Allies, but asked for a clandestine conference with a senior Allied General in Algeria. Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Mark W. Clark—one of Eisenhower's senior commanders—was dispatched to Cherchell
Cherchell
Cherchell is a seaport town in the Province of Tipaza, Algeria, 55 miles west of Algiers. It is the district seat of Cherchell District. As of 1998, it had a population of 24,400.-Ancient history:...

 in Algeria aboard the British submarine —passing itself off as an American submarine—and met with these Vichy French officers on 21 October 1942.

With help from the Resistance, the Allies also succeeded in slipping French General Henri Giraud
Henri Giraud
Henri Honoré Giraud was a French general who fought in World War I and World War II. Captured in both wars, he escaped each time....

 out of Vichy France on HMS Seraph, intending to offer him the post of commander in chief of French forces in North Africa after the invasion. However, Giraud would take no position lower than commander in chief of all the invading forces, a job already given to Eisenhower. When he was refused, he decided to remain "a spectator in this affair".

Battle

The Allies planned three task forces, amphibious landings, to seize the key ports and airports of Morocco and Algeria simultaneously, targeting Casablanca
Casablanca
Casablanca is a city in western Morocco, located on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Grand Casablanca region.Casablanca is Morocco's largest city as well as its chief port. It is also the biggest city in the Maghreb. The 2004 census recorded a population of 2,949,805 in the prefecture...

, Oran
Oran
Oran is a major city on the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Algeria, and the second largest city of the country.It is the capital of the Oran Province . The city has a population of 759,645 , while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000, making it the second largest...

 and Algiers. Successful completion of these operations was to be followed by an advance eastwards into Tunisia.

The Western Task Force (aimed at Casablanca) comprised American units, with Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 George Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

 in command and Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 Henry K. Hewitt heading the naval operations. This Western Task Force consisted of the U.S. 2nd Armored Division, the U.S. 3rd and 9th Infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 Division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

s—35,000 troops in a convoy of over 100 ships. They were transported directly from the U.S. in the first of a new series of UG convoys
UG convoys
The UG convoys were a series of east-bound trans-Atlantic convoys from the United States to Gibraltar carrying food, ammunition, and military hardware to the United States Army in North Africa and southern Europe during World War II...

 providing logistic support for the North African campaign.

The Center Task Force, aimed at Oran, included the U.S. 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, U.S. 1st Infantry Division, and the U.S. 1st Armored Division—a total of 18,500 troops. They sailed from Britain and were commanded by Major General Lloyd Fredendall
Lloyd Fredendall
Lloyd Fredendall was an American General during World War II. Major General Fredendall is best known for his command of the Central Task Force landings during Operation Torch, and his command of the US II Corps during the early stages of the Tunisia Campaign...

, the naval forces being commanded by Commodore
Commodore (rank)
Commodore is a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral or counter admiral as an equivalent .It is often regarded as a one-star rank with a NATO code of OF-6, but is not always...

 Thomas Troubridge.

The Eastern Task Force—aimed at Algiers—was commanded by Lieutenant-General Kenneth Anderson
Kenneth Arthur Noel Anderson
General Sir Kenneth Arthur Noel Anderson, KCB, MC was a British Army officer in both the First and Second World Wars. He is mainly remembered as the commander of the First Army during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of Tunisia. He had an outwardly reserved character and did not court...

 and consisted of two brigades from British 78th
British 78th Infantry Division
The British 78th Infantry Division, also known as the Battleaxe Division, fought in the Second World War in North Africa and Italy.- History :...

 and the U.S. 34th Infantry Divisions and two British Commando units—No.1 and No. 6 Commando
No. 6 Commando
No. 6 Commando was a battalion-sized British Army commando unit of the Second World War. Although it was raised to conduct small-scale raids and harass garrisons along the coast of German-occupied France, it was mainly employed as a highly-trained infantry assault unit.Formed in July 1940, No...

s; 20,000 troops in all. During the period of the amphibious landings, the force was to be commanded by U.S. Major General Charles W. Ryder, commander of 34th Division, because it was felt that a U.S.-led invasion would be more acceptable to the French defenders than one led by the British. Naval forces were commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir Harold Burrough. Many British troops wore American uniform, for the same reason.

U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s operating in the eastern Atlantic area crossed by the invasion convoys had been drawn away to attack trade convoy SL 125. Some historians have suggested the timing of this trade convoy was an intentional tactical diversion to prevent submarine attacks on the loaded troop transports.

Aerial operations were split into two, east of Cape Tenez in Algeria, with British aircraft under Air Marshal
Air Marshal
Air marshal is a three-star air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force...

 Sir William Welsh and west of Cape Tenez, all American aircraft under Major General Jimmy Doolittle
Jimmy Doolittle
General James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle, USAF was an American aviation pioneer. Doolittle served as a brigadier general, major general and lieutenant general in the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War...

, under the direct command of General Patton.

Casablanca

The Western Task Force landed before daybreak on 8 November 1942, at three points in Morocco: Safi
Safi, Morocco
Safi is a city in western Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of the Doukkala-Abda Region, it has a population of 282,227 , but is also the centre of an agglomeration which has an estimated 793,000 inhabitants ....

 (Operation Blackstone
Operation Blackstone
Operation Blackstone was a part of Operation Torch, Allied landings in Africa during World War II. This supporting mission was the American capture of the French port of Safi in French Morocco on the morning of 8 November 1942 as part of a larger operation to capture Casablanca in Morocco...

), Fedala
Mohammedia
Mohammedia is a port city on the west coast of Morocco located between Casablanca and Rabat in the region of Greater Casablanca. It hosts the most important oil refinery of Morocco, Samir, which makes it the center of the Moroccan petrol...

 (Operation Brushwood
Operation Brushwood
Operation Brushwood was a part of Operation Torch, Allied landings in Africa during World War II.Taking place on 8 November 1942 they were intended to capture Port-Lyautey as part of a larger operation to capture Casablanca in Morocco....

 the largest landing with 19,000 men), and Mehdiya-Port Lyautey
Kenitra
Kenitra is a city in Morocco, formerly known as Port Lyautey. It is a port on the Sebou River, has a population in 2004 of 359,142 and is the capital of the Gharb-Chrarda-Béni Hssen region. During the Cold War Kenitra's U.S...

 (Operation Goalpost
Battle of Port Lyautey
The Battle of Port Lyautey began on 8 November 1942 for the city of Port Lyautey, today known as Kenitra, in French Morocco. The battle ended with the United States seizure of the port.-Objectives:...

). Because it was hoped that the French would not resist, there were no preliminary bombardments. This proved to be a costly error as French defenses took a toll of American landing forces.

On the night of 7 November, pro-Allied General Antoine Béthouart
Antoine Béthouart
Marie Émile Antoine Béthouart was a French Army general who served during World War I and World War II....

 attempted a coup d'etat
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

against the French command in Morocco, so that he could surrender to the Allies the next day. His forces surrounded the villa of General Charles Noguès, the Vichy-loyal high commissioner. However, Noguès telephoned loyal forces, who stopped the coup. In addition, the coup attempt alerted Noguès to the impending Allied invasion, and he immediately bolstered French coastal defenses.

At Safi, the landings were mostly successful. The landings were begun without covering fire, in the hope that the French would not resist at all. However, once French coastal batteries opened fire, Allied warships returned fire. By the time General Harmon arrived, French snipers had pinned the assault troops (most of whom were in combat for the first time) on Safi's beaches. Most of the landings occurred behind schedule. Carrier aircraft destroyed a French truck convoy bringing reinforcements to the beach defenses. Safi surrendered on the afternoon of 8 November. By 10 November, the remaining defenders were pinned down, and the bulk of Harmon's forces raced to join the siege of Casablanca.

At Port-Lyautey, the landing troops were uncertain of their position, and the second wave was delayed. This gave the French defenders time to organize resistance, and the remaining landings were conducted under artillery bombardment. With the assistance of air support from the carriers, the troops pushed ahead, and the objectives were captured.

At Fedala, weather disrupted the landings. The landing beaches again came under French fire after daybreak. Patton landed at 08:00, and the beachheads were secured later in the day. The Americans surrounded the port of Casablanca by 10 November, and the city surrendered an hour before the final assault was due to take place.

Casablanca was the principal French Atlantic naval base after German occupation of the European coast. The Naval Battle of Casablanca
Naval Battle of Casablanca
The Naval Battle of Casablanca was a series of naval engagements fought between American ships covering the invasion of North Africa and Vichy French ships defending the neutrality of French Morocco in accordance with the Second Armistice at Compiègne during World War II...

 resulted from a sortie of French cruisers, destroyers, and submarines opposing the landings. A cruiser, six destroyers, and six submarines were destroyed by American gunfire and aircraft. The incomplete French battleship —which was docked and immobile—fired on the landing force with her one working gun turret until disabled by American gunfire. Two American destroyers were damaged.

Oran

The Center Task Force was split between three beaches, two west of Oran and one east. Landings at the westernmost beach were delayed because of a French convoy which appeared while the minesweepers were clearing a path. Some delay and confusion, and damage to landing ships, was caused by the unexpected shallowness of water and sandbars; although periscope observations had been carried out, no reconnaissance parties had landed on the beaches to determine the local maritime conditions. This was in contrast to later amphibious assaults, such as Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

, in which considerable weight was given to pre-invasion reconnaissance.

The U.S. 1st Ranger Battalion
1st Ranger Battalion
The 1st Ranger Battalion is an elite special operations unit of the US Army that is currently based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, United States....

 landed east of Oran and quickly captured the shore battery at Arzew
Arzew
Arzew or Arzeu is a port city in Algeria, from Oran. It is the capital of Arzew District, Oran Province.-Antiquity:Like the rest of North Africa, the site of modern-day Arzew was originally inhabited by the Berbers...

. An attempt was made to land U.S. infantry at the harbour directly, in order to quickly prevent destruction of the port facilities and scuttling of ships. The operation—code named Operation Reservist
Operation Reservist
Operation Reservist was an Allied military operation during World War II. Part of Operation Torch , it was an attempted landing of troops directly into the harbour at Oran....

—failed as the two Banff class sloop
Banff class sloop
The Banff-class sloops were a group of ten ships of the Royal Navy. Built as United States Coast Guard Lake-class cutters, in 1941 these ships were loaned to the Royal Navy as anti-submarine warfare escorts. The transfers took place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where HMS Malaya was under repair after...

s were shattered by crossfire from the French vessels there. The French Navy broke from the harbour and attacked the Allied invasion fleet but were sunk or driven ashore.

French batteries and the invasion fleet exchanged fire throughout 8-9 November, with French troops defending Oran and the surrounding area stubbornly. Heavy fire from the British battleships brought about the surrender on 9 November.

Airborne landings

Torch was the first major airborne assault carried out by the U.S. The U.S. 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment flew all the way from Britain, over Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, intending to drop near Oran and capture airfields at Tafraoui
Tafraoui
Tafraoui is a municipality in Oran Province, Algeria close to the city of Oran. There is an airport with the same name. Capturing Tafaraoui Airport was a part of Operation Torch in the WWII....

 and La Senia
La Sénia
La Sénia is a municipality in the comarca of Montsià inCatalonia, Spain.This town is located in a plain by the Sénia River at the western end of the Montsià comarca...

 respectively 15 miles (24.1 km) and 5 miles (8 km) south of Oran. The operation was marked by weather, navigational and communication problems. Poor weather over Spain and the extreme range caused widespread scattering and forced 30 of the 37 aircraft to land in the dry salt lake to the west of the objective. Nevertheless both airports were captured.

Resistance and coup

As agreed at Cherchell, in the early hours of 8 November 400 French Resistance fighters staged a coup in the city of Algiers. Starting at midnight, the force under the command of Henri d'Astier de la Vigerie
Henri d'Astier de la Vigerie
Henri d'Astier de La Vigerie was a French soldier, Résistance member, and conservative politician.-Life:Henri d'Astier was born in Villedieu-sur-Indre, a small village in the Indre département of central France...

 and José Aboulker
José Aboulker
José Aboulker was a member of the anti-Nazi resistance who co-founded a resistance network in Algiers in World War II and emerged as one of the main leaders of the resistance movement in North Africa...

 seized key targets, including the telephone exchange, radio station, governor's house and the headquarters of 19th Corps.

Robert Murphy took some men and then drove to the residence of General Alphonse Juin
Alphonse Juin
- Early years :Juin was born at Bône in French Algeria, and enlisted in the French Army, graduating from the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in 1912.- Career :...

, the senior French Army officer in North Africa. While they surrounded his house (making Juin effectively a prisoner) Murphy attempted to persuade him to side with the Allies. However, he was treated to a surprise: Admiral François Darlan
François Darlan
Jean Louis Xavier François Darlan was a French naval officer. His great-grandfather was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar...

—the commander of all French forces—was also in Algiers on a private visit. Juin insisted on contacting Darlan, and Murphy was unable to persuade either to side with the Allies. In the early morning, the local Gendarmerie arrived and released both Juin and Darlan.

Invasion

The invasion was led by the U.S. 34th Infantry with one brigade of the British 78th, the other acting as reserve. The landings were split between three beaches—two west of Algiers and one east. Though some landings went to the wrong beaches, this was immaterial because of the extremely low level of French opposition. All the coastal batteries had been neutralized by French resistance, and one French commander openly welcomed the landing Allies.

The only fighting took place in the port of Algiers itself, where in Operation Terminal
Operation Terminal
Operation Terminal was an Allied operation during World War II. Part of Operation Torch it involved a direct landing of infantry into the Vichy French port of Algiers with the intention of capturing the port facilities before they could be destroyed.-Background:The attacking forces were two Royal...

 two British destroyers attempted to land a party of U.S. Rangers directly onto the dock, in order to prevent the French destroying the port facilities and scuttling their ships. Heavy artillery fire prevented one destroyer from landing but the other was able to debark 250 Rangers before it too was driven back to sea.

The landed troops pushed quickly inland and General Juin surrendered the city to the Allies at 18:00.

Political results

It quickly became clear that Henri Giraud lacked the authority to take command of the French forces. He preferred to wait in Gibraltar for the results of the landing. Eisenhower, with the support of Roosevelt and Churchill, made agreements with Admiral François Darlan
François Darlan
Jean Louis Xavier François Darlan was a French naval officer. His great-grandfather was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar...

 that he would be given control if he joined the Allied side. This meant the Vichy regime would be maintained in North Africa, along with its oppressive laws and concentration camps. Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 of the Free French and the French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

 responded with fury. The situation did not change even when a local French anti-Nazi—Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle
Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle
Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, was a member of the French resistance who assassinated Admiral of the Fleet François Darlan, the former chief of government of Vichy France and the self-proclaimed high commissioner of French North Africa and West Africa, on December 24, 1942...

—murdered Darlan on 24 December. Though Giraud was installed in his place, he too maintained the Vichy regime and arrested the Algiers resistance leaders of 8 November, without any opposition from Murphy.

When Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 found out what Admiral Darlan intended to do, that is, cooperate with the Allies, they immediately ordered the occupation of Vichy France
Case Anton
Operation Anton was the codename for the military occupation of Vichy France carried out by Germany and Italy in November 1942.- Background :...

 and reinforced the Afrika Korps
Afrika Korps
The German Africa Corps , or the Afrika Korps as it was popularly called, was the German expeditionary force in Libya and Tunisia during the North African Campaign of World War II...

.

The Darlan-Giraud authority—initially resolutely Vichyist—was gradually forced to take part in the war effort against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. It began to democratize, to eliminate its principal Vichyist rulers and to eventually merge with the French National Committee of London. Months later, the "Comité Français de la Libération Nationale" (CFLN) born from this fusion came under the authority of General de Gaulle (despite opposition from President Roosevelt), thus becoming the U.S.- and British-recognized government of France in exile.

Toulon

When France capitulated, one of the conditions agreed to by the Germans was that southern France would remain free of German occupation and self-governed from Vichy. Another was that all French forces, particularly overseas, would resist attacks by the Allies and this included use of the French Fleet against Germany. The lack of determined resistance in North Africa and the new DeGaulle policies convinced the Germans to abrogate their agreement with the Vichy French. Southern France was immediately occupied and troops moved to seize what was left of the French Fleet in the port of Toulon. Hitler badly needed to increase the size of his navy, but every ship was scuttled at dock
Scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon
The French fleet in Toulon was scuttled on 27 November 1942 on the order of the Admiralty of Vichy France to avoid capture by Nazi German forces during Operation Lila of the Case Anton takeover of Vichy France.- Context :...

 before they could be taken.

Tunisia

After the German and Italian occupation of Vichy France and their unsuccessful attempt to capture the interned French fleet at Toulon (Operation Lila
Scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon
The French fleet in Toulon was scuttled on 27 November 1942 on the order of the Admiralty of Vichy France to avoid capture by Nazi German forces during Operation Lila of the Case Anton takeover of Vichy France.- Context :...

), the French Armée d’Afrique
Army of Africa (France)
The Army of Africa was an unofficial but commonly used term for those portions of the French Army recruited from or normally stationed in French North Africa from 1830 until the end of the Algerian War in 1962.-Composition:...

 sided with the Allies, providing a third corps (XIX Corps
XIX Corps (France)
The French 19th Army Corps was formed in 1873. Anthony Clayton writes that the title of the 19th Army Corps was given to the Army of Africa in 1873. Antoine Chanzy commanded the corps between 1873 and 1879, at which time the commander also held the post of Governor of Algeria.It was in service...

) for Anderson. Elsewhere, French warships—such as the battleship —rejoined the Allies.

On 9 November, Axis forces started to build up in Tunisia unopposed by the local French forces under General Barré. Wracked with indecision, Barré moved his troops into the hills and formed a defensive line from Teboursouk through Medjez el Bab and ordered that anyone trying to pass through the line would be shot. On 19 November, the German commander—Walter Nehring—demanded passage for his troops across the bridge at Medjez and was refused. The Germans attacked the poorly equipped French units twice and were driven back. However, the French had taken heavy casualties and, lacking artillery and armor, Barré was forced to withdraw.

After consolidating in Algeria, the Allies struck into Tunisia
Tunisia Campaign
The Tunisia Campaign was a series of battles that took place in Tunisia during the North African Campaign of the Second World War, between Axis and Allied forces. The Allies consisted of British Imperial Forces, including Polish and Greek contingents, with American and French corps...

. Forces in the British 1st Army under Lieutenant General Kenneth Anderson almost reached Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

 before a counterattack at Djedeida
Djedeida
Djedeida is a town and commune in the Manouba Governorate, Tunisia. As of 2004 it had a population of 40,327.-References:...

 thrust them back. In January 1943, German and Italian troops under General Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

—retreating westward from Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

—reached Tunisia.

The British 8th Army in the east—commanded by General Bernard Montgomery—stopped around Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

 to allow reinforcements to arrive and build up the Allied advantage. In the west, the forces of General Anderson came under attack at the end of January being forced back from the Faïd Pass and then suffering a reversal at Sidi Bou Zid
Battle of Sidi Bou Zid
The Battle of Sidi Bou Zid was a World War II battle that took place during the Tunisia Campaign. The battle was fought between forces of Nazi Germany and forces of the United States. The German forces included the 10th Panzer Division and the 21st Panzer Division of the Fifth Panzer Army...

 on 14–15 February. Axis forces pushed on to Sbeitla and then to the Kasserine Pass on 19 February where the Allied forces retreated in disarray until heavy Allied reinforcements halted the Axis advance on 22 February.

General Harold Alexander arrived in Tunisia in late February to take charge of the new 15th Army Group headquarters, which had been created to take overall control of both the Eighth Army and the Allied forces already fighting in Tunisia. The Axis forces again attacked eastward at Medenine on 6 March but were easily repulsed by Eighth Army. Rommel counselled Hitler to allow a full retreat to a defensible line but was denied, and on 9 March Rommel left Tunisia to be replaced by Jürgen von Arnim, who had to spread his forces over 100 mi (160.9 km) of northern Tunisia.

The setbacks at Kasserine
Battle of the Kasserine Pass
The Battle of the Kasserine Pass was a battle that took place during the Tunisia Campaign of World War II in February 1943. It was a series of battles fought around Kasserine Pass, a wide gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the Atlas Mountains in west central Tunisia...

 forced the Allies to consolidate their forces and develop their lines of communication and administration so that they could support a major attack. The 1st 8th Armies then attacked the Axis in April. Hard fighting followed, but the Allies cut off the Germans and Italians from support by naval and air forces between Tunisia and Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

. On 6 May, as the culmination of Operation Vulcan
Operation Vulcan
During the Second World War, Operation Vulcan was the final ground attack against German forces in Tunis, Cap Bon, and Bizerte, Tunisia, the last Axis toeholds in North Africa. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel believed that the Axis position in Tunisia was untenable, and he had recommended the...

, the British took Tunis, and American forces reached Bizerte
Bizerte
Bizerte or Benzert , is the capital city of Bizerte Governorate in Tunisia and the northernmost city in Africa. It has a population of 230,879 .-History:...

. By 13 May, the Axis forces in Tunisia had surrendered.

See also

  • Battle for Port Lyautey
  • List of World War II Battles
  • Mieczysław Zygfryd Słowikowski
  • North African Campaign timeline
    North African Campaign timeline
    - 1940:* 10 June: The Kingdom of Italy declares war upon France and the United Kingdom* 14 June: British forces cross from Egypt into Libya and capture Fort Capuzzo* 16 June: The first tank battle of the North African Campaign takes place, the "Battle of Girba"...

     Troopship

War Official reports

  • Les Cahiers Français, La part de la Résistance Française dans les évènements d'Afrique du Nord (Official reports of French Resistance Group leaders who seized Algiers on 8 November 1942, to allow allied landing), Commissariat à l'Information of Free French Comité National, London, Aug. 1943.

War correspondent report

  • Melvin K. Whiteleather, Main street's new neighbors, J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, 1945.

Further reading


External links

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