One of the terms of the Second Armistice at Compiègne agreed to by the Germans was that southern France would remain free of German occupation and governed by Vichy. Moreover, the Anglo-American presence in French North Africa invalidated the only real rationale for not occupying the whole of France since it was the only practical means to deny the Allies use of the French colonies. 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. Slated to land on Nov. 8, 1942, the Western Task Force approached Casablanca under the guidance of Major General George S. Patton and Rear Admiral Henry Hewitt. 1 and No. The French were former members of the Allies and the American troops were instructed not to fire unless they were fired upon. Operation Reservist failed, as the two Banff-class sloops were destroyed by crossfire from the French vessels there. Today, it is all but forgotten. [5] The French colonies in the area were dominated by the French, formally aligned with Germany but of mixed loyalties. The combined operation in North Africa was dubbed Operation Torch, and it was agreed that the supreme command of the invasion should be given to an American. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Torch was a compromise operation that met the British objective of securing victory in North Africa while allowing American armed forces the opportunity to engage in the fight against Nazi Germany on a limited scale. Eisenhower in particular benefited from the experience of leading a combined force of Britis… A total of 67 American troops were interned by Franco's forces until February 1943. Gen. Henry Jules Jean Maurice Martin), This page was last edited on 24 January 2021, at 08:40. USS Dallas. In January 1943, German and Italian troops under Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, retreating westward from Libya, reached Tunisia. Operation Torch was an invasion strategy by Allied forces into North Africa that took place Nov. 8 to 10, 1942, during World War II (1939 to 1945). The 1940 armistice had limited the Vichy French forces, named l’ Armee de l’ Armistice, in North Africa to 120,000 men, with 55,000 in Morocco, 50,000 in Algeria and 15,000 in Tunisia. The Germans and the Italians immediately occupied southern France, and German troops moved to seize the French fleet in the port of Toulon from 10 November. 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. 6 Commandos), together with the RAF Regiment providing 5 squadrons of infantry and 5 Light anti-aircraft flights, totalling 20,000 troops. Nineteen months before the D-day invasion of Normandy, Allied assault forces landed in North Africa in Operation TORCH, the first major amphibious operation of the war in Europe. The Combined Chiefs of Staff, however, were concerned that should Operation Torch precipitate Spain to abandon neutrality and join the Axis, the Straits of Gibraltar could be closed cutting the entire Allied force's lines of communication. A cruiser, six destroyers, and six submarines were destroyed by American gunfire and aircraft. A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. French sailors scuttled many of their navy ships to prevent Hitler from capturing them. On the night of Nov. 7, pro-Allies General Antoine Béthouart attempted a coup d'etat in Casablanca against the regime of General Charles Noguès. The Germans took the airfields there and brought in more troops. To the north, operational issues caused delays at Port-Lyautey and initially prevented the second wave from landing. With British forces ad­vanc­ing from Egypt, this would even­tu­ally allow the Al­lies to carry out a pin­cer op­er­a­tion against Axis forces in North Africa. The First and Eighth Armies attacked again in April. The troops used in the attack were the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment. With the groundwork laid with the French, the invasion convoys sailed with the Casablanca force departing the United States and the other two sailing from Britain. Patton landed at 08:00, and the beachheads were secured later in the day. At Port-Lyautey, the landing troops were uncertain of their position, and the second wave was delayed. [37] The Economist speculated that to be because French forces were the initial enemies of the landing, making for a difficult fit into the war's overall narrative in general histories. The Allies planned an Anglo-American invasion of northwestern Africa — Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, territory nominally in the hands of the Vichy French government. The Germans attacked the poorly-equipped French units twice and were driven back. "The Stamford Historical Society Presents: Operation Torch and the Invasion of North Africa", "Frederick Thornton Peters - the Canadian Virtual War Memorial - Veterans Affairs Canada", "Remembering Operation Torch on its 75th anniversary", United States Army Center of Military History, "Chapter 7: The Decision to Invade North Africa (Torch)", The Decision to Invade North Africa (TORCH), US Army Campaigns of World War II Series/Algeria-French Morocco, History and photos of the operations of the USS Ranger and its Air Group during Operation Torch, (North African Jewish Resistance to Nazis and the Holocaust), The accord Franco-Américan of Messelmoun (in French), Report of the Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces to the Combined Chief of Staff on Operations in North Africa, Operation Torch: Allied Invasion of North Africa, Operation TORCH Motion Pictures from the National Archives, Provisional Government of the French Republic, Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, Rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland, Commander, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, Military Governor, U.S. French losses totaled around 1,346 killed and 1,997 wounded. A WWI-era destroyer, the Dallas was stripped of much of her structure to make her light, giving her a shallow draft. "World War II: Operation Torch." The Eighth Army (Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery) advancing from the east, stopped around Tripoli while the port was repaired to disembark reinforcements and build up the Allied advantage. Two U.S. destroyers were damaged. Despite these issues, both airfields were captured. However, Darlan in Algiers had such authority. The Axis forces attacked eastward at the Battle of Medenine on 6 March but were easily repulsed by the Eighth Army. "World War II: Operation Torch." 99–105, 107–10. He preferred to wait in Gibraltar for the results of the landing. While they surrounded his house (making Juin a hostage) Murphy attempted to persuade him to side with the Allies. This new addition to the most detailed strategy game available on the Western Front of WWII, introduces 10 new challenging scenarios, including both historical and what-if operations. Axis forces pushed on to Sbeitla and then fought the Battle of Kasserine Pass on 19 February, where the US II Corps retreated in disarray until Allied reinforcements halted the Axis advance on 22 February. It was hoped that, as a former member of the Allies, the French would not fire on British and American forces. Endeavoring to accomplish his objectives, Murphy provided evidence suggesting the French would not resist and made contact with several officers, including the commander-in-chief of Algiers, General Charles Mast. Though the landings fell behind schedule, the French were eventually driven back as naval gunfire support and aviation played an increasing role. The Center Task Force was split between three beaches, two west of Oran and one east. To gauge the feeling of the Vichy French forces, Murphy was appointed to the American consulate in Algeria. Operation Torch (8 November 1942 – 13 May 1943) was an Allied invasion of French North Africa during the Second World War. 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. Roosevelt said it would do nothing to help Russia. Surrounding his house, they made him a prisoner. American forces encountered German troops for the first time in February when they were defeated at Kasserine Pass. Operation Torch was an invasion strategy by Allied forces into North Africa that took place Nov. 8 to 10, 1942, during World War II (1939 to 1945). On all fronts, the French were eventually overcome and American forces tightened their grip on Casablanca. At Fedala, weather disrupted the landings. Rommel advised 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 km) of northern Tunisia. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/world-war-ii-operation-torch-2361497. Giraud succeeded Darlan but, like him, replaced few of the Vichy officials. Outside of the city, American forces fought for a full day before the French in the area finally surrendered on Nov. 9. These officers were willing to support the Allies but asked for a clandestine conference with a senior Allied General in Algeria. (Bonnier de La Chapelle was arrested on the spot and executed two days later.). French fire compelled one to withdraw while the other succeeded in landing 250 men. [33] Though some landings went to the wrong beaches, this was immaterial because of the lack of French opposition. The Allied Naval Commander of the Expeditionary Force would be Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham; his deputy was Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who would plan the amphibious landings. [9] [12] With Marshall unable to persuade the British to change their minds,[13] President Roosevelt gave a direct order that Torch was to have precedence over other operations and was to take place at the earliest possible date, one of only two direct orders he gave to military commanders during the war. World War II: Operation Torch. When he was refused, he decided to remain "a spectator in this affair". Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. In the fall of 1942, US Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, planned Operation Torch, and wrote the story in his … He succeeded in contacting several French officers, including General Charles Mast, the French commander-in-chief in Algiers. However, they harbored suspicions that the Vichy French navy would bear a grudge over the British attack on Mers-el-Kebir in 1940. The United States got the quick, painless action that Roosevelt believed necessary to slowly lead the American public toward intervention in Europe rather than Japan. During this period of weakness, the Allies decided against a rapid advance into Tunisia while they wrestled with the Vichy authorities. Operation Torch was under the command of General Eisenhower and the headquarters were in Gibraltar. Due to navigational and endurance issues, the drop was scattered and the bulk of the aircraft forced to land in the desert. He even ordered the arrest of the leaders of the Algiers coup of 8 November, with no opposition from Murphy. Though later captured, this force did prevent the destruction of the port. In the west, the forces of the First Army came under attack at the end of January, were forced back from the Faïd Pass and suffered a reversal at the Battle of Sidi Bou Zid on 14–15 February. In the early morning, the local Gendarmerie arrived and released Juin and Darlan. Overcoming shallow waters, the troops went ashore and encountered stubborn French resistance. Despite Operation Torch's role in the war and logistical success, it has been largely overlooked in many popular histories of the war and in general cultural influence. Senior US commanders remained strongly opposed to the landings and after the western Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) met in London on 30 July, 1942 General George Marshall and Admiral Ernest King declined to approve the plan. Robert Murphy took some men and then drove to the residence of General Alphonse Juin, the senior French Army officer in North Africa. Ideally there would also be a landing at Tunis to secure Tunisia and facilitate the rapid interdiction of supplies traveling via Tripoli to Rommel's forces in Libya. This gave the French defenders time to organize resistance, and the remaining landings were conducted under artillery bombardment. [17] His Polish allies in these endeavors included Lt. Col. Gwido Langer and Major Maksymilian Ciężki. Operation Torch is an expansion of the acclaimed wargame, Gary Grigsbys War in the West. Leading the charge was Major General Charles W. Ryder's 34th Infantry Division, as it was believed the French would be more receptive to the Americans. While these men were willing to aid the Allies, they requested a meeting with a senior Allied commander before committing. Juin insisted on contacting Darlan and Murphy was unable to persuade either to side with the Allies. Wiki User Answered . Under pressure from the Allies and de Gaulle's supporters, the French régime shifted, with Vichy officials gradually replaced and its more offensive decrees rescinded. On 8 November 1942, the invasion commenced with landings on three beaches—two west of Algiers and one east. On 19 November, the German commander, Walter Nehring, demanded passage for his troops across the bridge at Medjez and was refused. As a result, both vessels were lost with the entire attack force either killed or captured. This helped inform subsequent amphibious assaults—such as Operation Overlord—in which considerable weight was given to pre-invasion reconnaissance. Two others landed in French Morocco and three in Spanish Morocco, where another Dakota dropped its paratroopers by mistake. [8] In addition, there were 10 or so warships and 11 submarines at Casablanca. This Western Task Force consisted of the U.S. 3rd and 9th Infantry Divisions, and two battalions from the U.S. 2nd Armored Division — 35,000 troops in a convoy of over 100 ships. Meeting their demands, Eisenhower dispatched Major General Mark Clark aboard the submarine HMS Seraph. The French Resistance had unsuccessfully attempted a coup in Algiers and, even though this raised alertness in the Vichy forces, the Eastern Task Force met less opposition and were able to push inland and compel surrender on the first day. By 10 November, the remaining defenders were pinned down, and the bulk of Harmon's forces raced to join the siege of Casablanca. Heavy artillery fire prevented one destroyer from landing but the other was able to disembark 250 Rangers before it too was driven back to sea. After weather delays at Fedala, Patton's men, enduring French fire, succeeded in taking their objectives and began moving against Casablanca. [32] Starting at midnight, the force under the command of Henri d'Astier de la Vigerie and José Aboulker seized key targets, including the telephone exchange, radio station, governor's house and the headquarters of the 19th Corps. On 24 December, Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, a French resistance fighter and anti-fascist monarchist, assassinated Darlan. Under the command of Major-General Charles W. Ryder, commanding general of the U.S. 34th Infantry Division, the 11th Brigade Group from the British 78th Infantry Division, landed on the right hand beach, the US 168th Regimental Combat Team, from the 34th Infantry Division, supported by 6 Commando and most of 1 Commando on the middle beach while the US 39th Regimental Combat Team, also from the US 34th Infantry Division, supported by the remaining 5 troops from 1 Commando, landed on the left hand beach. No role was provided for Free France, which was supposed to be France's government-in-exile and had taken charge in other French colonies. Anderson (CG, 3rd Infantry Division, USA) (18,783 officers and enlisted), Fez Division (Maj. Gen. Maurice-Marie Salbert), Meknès Division (Maj. Gen. Andre-Marie-François Dody), Marrakech Division (Brig. New York: Doubleday, 1948. [25] The US troops pushed quickly inland and General Juin surrendered the city to the Allies at 18:00. Marshall and other U.S. generals advocated the invasion of northern Europe later that year, which the British rejected. [6] It was the first mass involvement of US troops in the European–North African Theatre, and saw the first major airborne assault carried out by the United States. Fredendall's efforts were supported by the United State's first airborne operation of the war. Flying from Britain, the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion was assigned the mission of capturing the airfields at Tafraoui and La Senia. The incomplete French battleship Jean Bart—which was docked and immobile—fired on the landing force with her one working gun turret until disabled by the 16-inch calibre American naval gunfire of USS Massachusetts, the first such heavy-calibre shells fired by the U.S. Navy anywhere in World War II. Elements of the First Army (Lieutenant-General Kenneth Anderson), came to within 40 mi (64 km) of Tunis before a counterattack at Djedeida thrust them back. ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/world-war-ii-operation-torch-2361497. Approx. Rendezvousing with Mast and others at the Villa Teyssier in Cherchell, Algeria on Oct. 21, 1942, Clark was able to secure their support. Several Luftwaffe bomber wings undertook anti-shipping strikes against Allied ports in Algiers and along the North African coast. To aid in assessing local conditions, the American consul in Algiers, Robert Daniel Murphy, was instructed to gather intelligence and reach out to sympathetic members of the Vichy French government. At Oran, an attempt was made to land troops directly in the harbor in an effort to capture the port facilities intact. It quickly became clear that Giraud lacked the authority to take command of the French forces. A compromise would be to land at Bône (Annaba) in eastern Algeria, some 300 miles (480 km) closer to Tunis than Algiers. WikiMatrix WikiMatrix. However, Tunis was much too close to the Axis airfields in Sicily and Sardinia for any hope of success. T… With the assistance of air support from the carriers, the troops pushed ahead, and the objectives were captured. Departing Britain, the Center Task Force was led by Major General Lloyd Fredendall and Commodore Thomas Troubridge. However, Giraud would take no position lower than commander in chief of all the invading forces, a job already given to Eisenhower. German support for the Vichy French came in the shape of air support. With much of North Africa already under Allied control, this would allow the Allies to carry out a pincer operation against Axis forces in North Africa. The Invasion was the largest anphib assualt in History. Tafraoui and La Sénia were eventually captured but the role played by the airborne forces in Operation Torch was minimal.[29][31]. January 9, 2018. Giraud felt this was necessary to ensure French sovereignty and control over the native Berber and Arab populations of North Africa. Landing to the south of Casablanca at Safi as well as to the north at Fedala and Port Lyautey, the Americans were met with French opposition. Operation Torch (initially called Operation Gymnast) was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942.. 15 16 17. It resulted from an uneasy compromise between the Western Allies, and was intended to relieve pressure on the Soviet Union by imperiling Axis forces in the region and by enabling an invasion of Southern … The 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, aboard 39 C-47 Dakotas, flew all the way from Cornwall in England, over Spain, to drop near Oran and capture airfields at Tafraoui and La Sénia, respectively 15 miles (24 km) and 5 miles (8 km) south of Oran. The success of Torch caused Admiral François Darlan, commander of the Vichy French forces to order co-operation with the Allies, in return for being retained as High Commissioner, with many other Vichy officials keeping their jobs. Carrier aircraft destroyed a French truck convoy bringing reinforcements to the beach defenses. Most of the landings occurred behind schedule. Operation Torch was the allied invasion of Vichy France's North African territories. Though de Gaulle had no official power in Vichy North Africa, much of its population now publicly declared Free French allegiance, putting pressure on Darlan. 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. Dubbed Operation Reservist, this saw two Banff-class sloops attempt to run through the harbor defenses. Hickman, Kennedy. Fredendall was sacked and replaced by George Patton. https://www.thoughtco.com/world-war-ii-operation-torch-2361497 (accessed January 25, 2021). …approved the renamed operation “Torch”—a combined invasion of North Africa planned for the autumn. The limited French troops in Tunisia did not resist German troops arriving by air; Admiral Esteva, the commander, obeyed orders to that effect from Vichy. General Sir Harold Alexander arrived in Tunisia in late February to take charge of the new 18th Army Group headquarters, which had been created to command the Eighth Army and the Allied forces already fighting in Tunisia. Allied Forces Dwight Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander) Arthur Tedder (Deputy Supreme Allied Commander) Bernard Montgomery (Ground Forces Commander in Chief) Trafford Leigh-Mallory (Air Commander in Chief) Bertram Ramsay (Naval Commander in Chief) German Forces Gerd von Rundstedt (Oberbefehlshaber West) Erwin Rommel (Heeresgruppe B) By using ThoughtCo, you accept our. His demand was refused and instead, Giraud became a spectator for the duration of the operation. Later, all French forces were withdrawn from action and properly reequipped by the Allies. 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