Vichy French Navy
- At Allied invasion of North Africa.
The Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942, was the first operation in the Atlantic theater in which OP-20-G participated. Two officers from the Pacific Section had been detailed to cover non-German Atlantic activities in July, and only a small amount of radio intelligence data was available. Such information as was available came from certain French and Italian naval ciphers as well as diplomatic traffic, but the relative inactivity of the French Navy limited the amount of operational data received. Further, collateral information from non-radio intelligence sources - especially current action reports from Allied forces - was seldom available in sufficient volume to provide for full interpretation of what radio intelligence material was received.
As a result, Atlantic radio intelligence material was of no assistance in the battle for North Africa, but the information received and the experience gained was of value in shaping the organization for future work. The summary to follow is not a complete picture of the invasion. It is merely a chronological account of the action derived from limited radio intelligence data. The concentration on activities in French Morocco is the result of comparatively small amount of traffic intercepted from the Algerian zone.
As has been the case in other operations, for several weeks before the actual attack there were enemy reports that an invasion of North Africa was forthcoming. Such reports as were received, however, were either too general or were wrong in their specific predictions. In one case it is possible that one section of the invasion fleet was sighted, but there is no evidence that the enemy appreciated this fact.1
It is also clear that the French authorities in Morocco were more than usually nervous during the first three days of November. On 2 November, unidentified smoke trails were sighted southwest of Rabat, and coastal batteries were alerted from Sidi Djemil (north of Port Lyautey) to Safi.2 There is no indication that this alert continued in effect through the 7th. If it did it was insufficient, for there is evidence that the French were completely surprised by the landings. As far as can be
ascertained there was naval patrol, and two convoys of civilians evacuated from French West Africa were due to be in the vicinity of Casablanca on the 7th or 8th.3
The actual attacks seem to have been well coordinated, for all contact reports received were dated with in an hour of 0230Z.4 The first French summary of the situation was a rather sketchy message from Admiral Darlan at 0500Z, stating that there were landings on French territory from the coast of Tunisia to southern Morocco. In addition, enemy intelligence units were reported in the interior.5
By 0730Z/8, important landings had been made at Safi and Fedala, while at Mehediya, near Port Lyautey, the French reported a "commando debarkment." In retaliation, the French had sent the Port Lyautey planes to operate in the area of Mehediya and Fedala, the Casablanca squadron engaging the U.S. task force off that port. All coastal batteries were in action. Seven French submarines were reported, five between Casablanca and Fedala and two southward toward Safi, and the Second Light Squadron had been ordered to put to sea at 0800Z.6 This squadron, based at Casablanca, was composed of 1 BB, 1 CL, 3 DLs, 7 DDs, 11 SMs, 3 sloops and 2 oilers. By 0500Z/9 November, all units of this squadron were either sunk or out of action.
At about 0800Z, some of the French ships did sortie from Casablanca harbor.7 They were forced to retire with heavy damages, however, and several warships which had never left harbor were severely damaged. More warships sortied again at about 1020Z, and engaged in violent action until about 1300Z. This battle ended in defeat for the French and marked the end of resistance by the fleet as a unit. The Primauguet (CL) was severely damaged and finally abandoned near the harbor entrance, the Fougueux (DD) was sunk, the DL's Albatros and Milan, and the DD's Erestois and Frondeur were put out of action.8
In the meantime, the French were attempting to preserve initial order in Morocco. Vice Admiral Michlier refused to receive Colonel Baldwin, U.S. Army representative, at 0729Z, and by 0800Z had closed the American consulate at Casablanca. He reported the internal situation under control.9 General Nogues was in command of the Army, and at 1145Z, preparations were being made for a counter attack in the Fedala area with planes and troops.10 In spite of the counter attack the American beachhead at Fedala was consolidated and
expanded until by 1600Z, it occupied an area of 5 kilometers square.11
By midnight the general picture was favorable for the Allies. Algiers had been encircled, and although Oran still resisted strongly the nearby port of Arzeu had been secured. At Oran a French destroyer and the escort vessel, La Surprise, had been sunk and a second DD damaged, while two Allied vessels were sunk attempting to force the boom. In Morocco, Safi had been captured, artillery defense at Fedaya was silenced and landings were completed in the Port Lyautey area.12
A French situation report covering the first day substantially agreed with Allied reports. Serious losses were reported in Morocco, but the government was still in control. The loss of one torpedo boat and one destroyer in the Oran area was admitted, but two Allied craft were claimed sunk (probably the Walney and Hartland, at Oran). The occupation of most of Algiers by the Allies was laid to the mutiny of certain troops, but otherwise discipline was good.13
The situation in French Morocco further deteriorated during the night. The Navy had only two bombers and five fighters left in the Casablanca sector, and all but three merchant ships in the harbor had been sunk by 0400Z/9. In addition, the Jean Bart (BB) was badly damaged. This ship, although it had not left its berth at the Commerce Hole, had used its main and secondary batteries to cover the other ships of the Second Light Squadron and to prevent the U.S. Fleet from coming in too close. When most of its batteries had been silenced, by bombing or shelling, the naval defenses of the port succumbed. Of the eight submarines at sea, four were forced to head for Dakar to replace their torpedoes. The other four were presumably operating in the area, but all are believed to have been sunk.14 Naval personnel losses had been relatively severe. Captain Mercier of the Primauguet (CL) had been killed, and Rear Admiral Gervais de la Fond, Squadron Commander, had been wounded.
The situation on land was just as bad. The presence of 20 transports at Fedala promised an imminent attack on Casablanca from the north, and the last planes in the Casablanca area were ordered to attack that bridgehead.15
The Fedala bridgehead overcame whatever resistance the French were able to put up, and by 1300Z/19, troops from there were marching on Casablanca in three tank supported
columns. In the meantime, Algiers had surrendered, but some French troops outside the city, under General Roubertie, were still resisting. Oran had not yet fallen, but General Boisseau and his troops were encircled in that city. Here also the French were preparing a counter attack on the 10th. But in all theaters they were forced to fall back because of Allied superiority in armament.16
The American forces had advanced to about 7 kilometers from Casablanca by the evening of the 9th, where they were held by the coastal batteries. The remaining guns of the Jean Bart and a battalion of sailors participated in the defense. On the 10th, two destroyers made a sortie, but were forced to retire, covered by the Jean Bart. The Jean Bart and the coastal guns also engaged a U.S. naval force, which finally retired.17 Conditions were equally bad in other places. Almost all planes, especially in Algeria, were out of action, and more landings were reported in Mahediya. The city of Oran was almost entirely encircled by about 0400Z/10, and its water supply was cut off. The port was blocked and all warships were disabled.18
The backbone of French resistance was broken on 11 November. Both Casablanca and Oran surrendered on this date, after Admiral Darlan had ordered a suspension of hostilities. An armistice for all French Morocco was arranged, evidently by General Nogues.19
No further information on the course of the negotiations was received. What was left of communications between French North Africa and the Vichy government contained mainly admonition messages and requests for damage reports. On the 13th, General Barre's Tunisian Command was separated from the rest of North Africa and given the task of resisting the Allies in that theater.20 The following day Admiral Darlan was rebuked by Petain for failing to defend French territory, and on the 16th, Darlan was denounced as a traitor.21
On 20 November, a very garbled message was received that seemed to report a German attack somewhere in Tunisia was planned for that day; while General Barre was reminded of his duty to oppose the Allies.22
No further messages from North Africa were intercepted, and the Vichy-Toulon messages were only requests for news. The swift occupation of French territory resulted in equally swift drying up of radio intelligence sources.
French Moroccan Fleet
1. Casablanca A. BB Jean Barr (Capt. Barthes) [Damaged]
B. Second Light Squadron (R. Adm. Gervis de la Fond, aboard Milan) CL Primouguet (Capt. Mercier) [Abandoned] DESDIV 11 (Cdr. Cosbet aboard Milan) DL Milan (Cdr. Cosbet) [Wrecked and beached]
DL Albatros (Cdr. Peries) [Wrecked and beached]
DESDIV 2 (Cdr. Sticca aboard Fougueux) DD Fougueux (Cdr. Sticca) [Sunk]
DD Frondeur (Lcdr. Bergouen-Demeaux) [Sunk]
DD Alcyon (Lcdr. De Bragelongne) [Damaged]
DESDIV 5 (Cdr. Mariani aboard Brestois) DD Brestois (Cdr. Mariani) [Sunk]
DD Boulonnais (Lcdr. De Prenoufl [Sunk]
DESDIV 6 (Cdr. Delphanque aboard Tempete) DD Tempete (Cdr. Delpanque) [Damaged]
DD Simoun (Lcdr. O'Neill) [Damaged]
C. DL Le Malin [Damaged]
D. Sloop La Grandiere [Damaged]
Sloop Commandant Delace [Damaged]
Sloop Gracieuse [Damaged]
E. Moroccan Submarine Flotilla (Cdr. Chevilbte) Sidi-Ferruch [Sunk]
La Conquerant [Sunk]
Le Tonnant [Scuttled at Cadiz]
La Sybille [Intact]
La Psyche [Sunk]
F. Auxiliaries AO Lot [Intact]
AO Elore [Intact]
2. Dakar A. BB Richelieu
B. Fourth Light Squadron 4th CRUSDIV Georges Leigues
10th Contre-Torpilleur Division Le Fantasque
Submarines [Probable] Acteon
3. Algiers [Incomplete] A. Submarines Carman [Intact]
4. Oran [Incomplete] A. Destroyers L'Epervier [Damaged]
B. 5th Patrol Boat Flotilla Trawler L'Ajacienne
Trawler La Toulonnaise
Trawler La Setoise
C. Escort Vessel La Surprise [Sunk]
- At Alexandria
The Duquesne Squadron, under command of Admiral Godefroy, was interned in the port of Alexandria at the time of the capitulation of France in 1940. It consisted of the old battleship Lorraine, the cruisers Suffren, Tourville, Duquesne, and Dougay-Trouin, the destroyers Basque, Le Fortune and Forbin, and the submarine Protee.
Communication intelligence supplied relatively little information on the problems and plans of this force or of the Vichy authorities, for not all messages were intercepted and not all French naval systems were being read.
It is apparent from non-radio intelligence sources that the reports sent to Vichy by Godefroy did not give the whole picture, and it is probable that Vichy was not aware of the extent to which the Admiral had swung over to the Allies.23 Traffic throughout 1942 was limited to administrative, financial and personnel messages, with no indication of any serious problems.
The first suggestion of any unrest that might lead to a change of allegiance on the part of the Squadron came on 2 January 1943. On that date, Pierre Laval reported to Admiral Godefroy that there were rumors of disaffection among the officers in the Squadron. Although he doubted the truth of this Laval requested a promise that the order, given earlier, to scuttle the ships in case of necessity would be obeyed.24
Godefroy's reply to this request was not received, but a later message from Vichy makes it clear that he did promise to obey.25
By February the supply situation of "Force X" had obviously became worse and some impediments had seemingly been put in the way of improvement. On 14 February, Admiral Godefroy asked whether any progress had been made in the negotiations for supplies, evidently with the British.26
A transfer of credit through Switzerland was reported by Vichy on 24 February, showing that from the French point of view the situation was not yet impossible.27 But England at about this time seems to have changed its policy and resolved to end the anomalous situation as soon as possible by cutting off all supplies.28 Admiral Abrial, SECNAV and COMINCH, radioed the Squadron on 14 March that the transfer of funds through Switzerland had been blocked by England, but that new negotiations were being carried on. Nevertheless, from
the tone of the message it was clear that Vichy was worried, since once again Godefroy's obedience to all orders was mentioned.29
Vichy reached the conclusion early in May that the financial question was impossible to solve;30 but they may not have feared a real crisis at once, for it was not until 21 May that orders to scuttle at once were given. On that date Laval and Admiral Blehaut sent the following message to Admiral Godefroy:
We have always considered, in regard to Force X, the scuttling was necessary in case of danger and that the voluntary commitments which you assumed in that connection were valid. . . . The Marshall and the Government feel that the best guarantee of France's interests lies in respect for commitments undertaken and that in the situation in which France finds herself at present, there can be no other conception of duty. We know the difficulties under which you have had to live since the Armistice. These difficulties have been aggravated by the British authorities who have refused for some months past to cooperate in the transfer of funds indispensable for the subsistence of your crews. By constraining you to repudiate the decision which you reported to us, the British authorities think they will overcome your tenacity and your resistance. Under these conditions, the Government can have but one attitude: it orders you to scuttle your ships. This is a hard decision, the execution of which will seem cruel to you, but it is the only one which is compatible with the interest of France.31
The last message on this circuit was sent on 22 May by Admiral Godefroy and contained his refusal to scuttle.32 He denied that the danger of the ships falling into enemy hands justified the act, especially in view of naval tradition that no ship should be given up as long as it could serve the nation. It is likely that before receiving the final order the Admiral had notified Vichy that he was about to shift allegiance, for in the message he refers to arrangements made "about which I loyally reported to you," which left him no other course.
- At Martinique.
As in the case of the Duquesne Squadron at Alexandria, the immediate cause of the downfall of the Vichy authorities in the French West Indies, as seen in French messages, was their inability to supply the people with the necessities of life. The colony was dependent upon imports for most most of its supplies and could resist only so long as it could bargain with the United States. Admiral Robert had four bargaining weapons: the immobilized carrier Bearn, cruiser Emile Bertin, training cruiser Jeanne d'Arc and several gunboats; the French gold stock stored on the islands; the U.S. built planes which had been sent to Martinique prior to the surrender of France; and a small fleet of merchant ships and tankers.
The first three could not be used, for Robert had several times specifically promised his superiors that they would never be allowed to fall into the hands of "powers hostile to the Axis."33 It was on the theory that he could use his merchant ships and tankers in such a way to placate the Allies that the Governor General based his hopes of averting capitulation.
From August 1940 until March 1943, relations between the colony and the U.S. were governed by a series of informal agreements, culminating in the Gentlemen's Agreement of November 1942. Under this agreement the Antilles Merchant Fleet was given freedom of navigation in the Western Hemisphere and was allowed a few trips per year to North Africa. The U.S. even furnished credit to pay for the necessary supplies.34
After the invasion of North Africa in November 1942, this area was cut off as a source of supply by Vichy (i.e., Germany). Thereafter, the Antilles were supplied only so long as the U.S. honored the Gentlemen's Agreement. Admiral Robert was forced to attempt to persuade Vichy to let him use part of his merchant fleet in the service of the U.S., and to persuade the U.S. not to break the Agreement. He failed in both attempts.
In the French message the final act of the drama opened on 28 January 1943. Prior to that Robert had promised not to let the warships, planes, gold, or merchant ships fall into the hands of the Allies and, further, not to enter into any relations with the Free French.35 On this date, he requested authority to send a cargo of sugar to North Africa for the "civil population." He reported that unless some form of economic collaboration such as this were allowed his supplies would be cut off.
Further, he stated that the U.S. was starting to put priority ratings on his orders, a practice that evidently had not been followed before that time.36
Robert's requests, both specific and general, were denied by Pierre Laval, quite obviously on orders from the German government.37
Six days later, the Governor General used the desertion of an Army officer as a pretext for repeating his request. In answer to Vichy's demand for information concerning the desertion of Major Sarrat,38 he stated that the incident in itself was not important, but that it was evidence of what would happen as long as he was held to his promises. The Admiral seemed quite certain that if all supplies were cut off, he could not control the situation. But he seemed equally certain that he could maintain Vichy French sovereignty if allowed to use his ships for purposes other than supplying the Antilles.39
SECNAV Abrial replied that the matter was being discussed.40 But in the meantime the situation was deteriorating still further. The captain and crew of the Guadeloupe, loading supplies for Martinique at New Orleans, refused to return until the Government joined the Free French. This was the first overt act of internal disobedience mentioned in the traffic.41 At about the same time the Governor General refused to meet representatives of the Free French and radioed Vichy that U.S. pressure on him was increasing.42
On 21 February Laval relayed what appears to be the German government's final concession. Admiral Robert was authorized to use two more merchant ships, bringing the total to seven. But they were to operate only in the Western Hemisphere and could be used only to supply the French West Indies.43 This was clearly no solution, and on the 23rd, the Admiral made a new request.44 He stated that the U.S. refused to negotiate on the basis of the Gentlemen's Agreement, claiming that the situation had changed, and that the people of the islands could not understand his failure to reach a new agreement. For the first time Robert seemed to doubt his ability to avoid a crisis even if he was allowed to make concessions. He reported to Vichy that he believed he could guarantee protection of the Antilles if his superiors allowed some moral assistance to the U.S. As moral assistance, he suggested a tanker which would nevertheless remain in French hands.45
The traffic for the next month produced no answer from Vichy other than that the request was under consideration.46 On the basis of what little Vichy traffic was received, it is probable that Laval and the French government approved of Robert's plan and were attempting to persuade the German authorities, but with little success.47
Robert continually asked for an answer. U.S. propaganda had increased, and his orders had been refused treasury licenses by the U.S., in effect cutting off his supplies.48 On 17 March, French Guiana joined the Free French, and repercussions were predicted in the Antilles.49 As late as 19 March Laval's only answer was an order to scuttle the warships if necessary and to avoid "all bloodshed between Frenchmen."50 It is probable that by this time Admiral Robert had realized the impossibility of his situation and was only playing for time, for in one message he admitted that if he were allowed to use the tankers, "I hope I can delay the outcome."51
Finally, on 30 April, Robert received his answer. Permission was refused. According to Laval, one concession would only result in further demands by the U.S., demands incompatible with the Armistice Agreement. Therefore the Governor General was to make no concessions and was to scuttle his ships as soon as the threat of American seizure appeared.52
The final State Department terms were given to Admiral Robert on 26 April, and Consul General Malige prepared to leave the islands on 4 May.53 On 2 May Robert sent Vichy the text of his note to the Consul General protesting the breaking of relations;54 and evidently - although the message was not intercepted - he reported unsatisfactory internal conditions on the fourth of May.55
This last message evidently convincingly stated or implied the fact that Robert could no longer hope to stay in power. The following day, Laval sent a strongly worded message condemning the American action and ordering Robert to: (1) Scuttle all the ships (this presumably covered the merchant ships and tankers as well as the warships); (2) Destroy the planes; and (3) "sink" the gold. In case communication failed Robert was to exercise all powers of government except the power to enter into relations of any sort with the Free French. The order to scuttle the ships was to be carried out immediately.56
Unfortunately, the main French naval cipher system changed on 9 May, and, except for one message in the old system, no further information from this source is available to explain the Admiral's disobedience of his final order. However, information from non-communication intelligence sources indicated that despite extreme pressure, both external and internal, Robert, as late as 31 May, did not intend to surrender until further resistance was useless.57 It is also known that he continued to communicate with Vichy.
Admiral Robert's last known message to his government was sent on 13 July. It is typical of his attitude throughout the whole affair:
Now that I am constrained to give up and abandon to another authority the post in which their confidence has maintained me for four years, I repeat to the Marshal and the Government the expression of my profound gratitude, my untiring affection and my faith in the destiny of the Fatherland.58
On 15 July Admiral addressed his last message to the people of the colony.59 In it he gave the text of a letter from M. Hoppenot, representative of the French Committee of National Liberation, outlining the latter's policy. The Admiral added no comment.
From: Madrid #1053 2 October 1942
Says that many small boats have recently been concentrated at Gibraltar, and an Allied landing on the Iberian Peninsula is feared. Also, an expedition against North Africa seems to be in the offing. (Japanese Diplomatic #6944; R.I. Summary, 6 October 1942/PM)
From: West Africa 8 October 1942
Evidently large Allied concentration Bathurst, Freetown (to) attack Dakar from south beginning November. Will obtain information. (German Clandestine #525; R.I. Summary, 13 October 1942)
At about 2300/3 November, a convoy from America was sighted south of the Azores heading for Africa. The Italian consul at Ponta Delgada reported this to the Italian Naval Attache in Lisbon on 4 November. (IN-2 #126; GI Memo #5-2 to COMINCH (2050Q/5 Nov); R.I. Summary, 6 November 1942/AM & PM; sent to CINCLANT 060050, 061742, 061744.)
2 These messages were not deciphered until December 1942. Coastal defense and antiaircraft batteries were reinforced at night from 2 to 4 November.
(FN-2 41758, 1760, 1761)
3 FN-2 #1601. These convoys consisted of the transports Porthos, Savoie and Lipari. Fortunately, they had docked and disembarked their passengers at Casablanca before the bombardment began. During the battle, however, the Porthos capsized, and the other two were sunk. (French Diplomatic #54699; R.I. Summary, 9 November 1942/PM; FN-2 #1617; R.I. Summary, 11 November 1942/AM.)
From: Oran #9050 0230/8 November 1942
To: Algiers P/L
1,000 Americans landed at Les Andalouse.
/s/ Comar Oran
(Memo #8-1 to COMINCH 0300Q/8 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 8 November 1942/AM)
From: Algiers #2124 0235/8 November 1942
To: Toulon P/L
The attack on Algiers has begun.
/s/ Commandant 4th District
(Memo #8-3 to COMINCH 0130Q/8 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 8 November 1942/AM)
From: Toulon #10863 0308/8 November 1942
A Reuters dispatch announces "Anlgo-Saxon" landing in North Africa. Put all on alert.
(FN-2 #1765 [Not deciphered until December 1942])
From: Oran #9067 0330/8 November 1942
To: Toulon P/L
General attack on Oran.
(FN-2 #1764; Memo #8-2 to COMINCH 0035Q/8 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 8 November 1942/AM)
No contact report of this nature was received from the French Morocco area, but one message from Fedala to Casablanca, not deciphered until December, reported "violent gun battles with 2 warships." (FN-2 # 1766)
5 FN-2 #1763 (Deciphered in December).
6 Memo #8-6 to COMINCH 0715Q/8 November 1942.
7 NCXF 081121 November 1942, NCR L Secret.
8 Message sent to COMINCH at 1945Q/8 November 1942 (Memo #8-10); R.I. Summary, 9 November 1942/PM.
9 Message sent to COMINCH at 1530Q/8 November 1942 (Memo #8-9); RI. Summary, 8 November 1942/PM.
FN-2 #1618; Memo #8-10 to COMINCH 1945Q/8 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 9 November 19421PM. Memo #8-9 to COMINCH 1530Q/8 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 8 November 1942/PM.
Fedala beach was strafed heavily by the French planes at about 1500Z. (NCXF 090809 November 1942, Secret; NCR L Secret #5025).
11 Memo #8-10 to COMINCH at 1945Q/8 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 9 November 1942/PM.
12 NCXF 082349 November 1942, Secret.
From: Dakar #10899-901 2207-09/8 November 1942
Resume of situation Sunday from 0800 to 2000:
1. In Morocco, sedition put down, situation in hand again; violent bombardment of port of Casablanca, serious losses; (----) enemy landings at a distance from Safi and Fedala are violently defended (----} together Morocco is being energetically defended.
2. Numerous enemy units landed region of Arzea and West Oran. Two enemy craft sunk. We have (lost?) one torpedoboat and one destroyer.
3. Algiers has suffered violent attacks by sea and air in spite of the brilliant resistance by port and Admiralty. Troops landed were able to encircle the city because of the disaffection incited among the troops in the region of Blida Creek. The greater part of the city is occupied by the British and Americans.
4. No attack on Denousa or in Tunisia.
5. Outside of the particular case of BLIDA, the troops and the populace evince the most perfect loyalty. Perfect order reigns in Continental (?) France.
(FN-2 #1629; Memos #9-2, 3 and 13 to COMINCH 0415Q/9 November 1942, 0530Q/9 November 1942, 2211Q/9 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 9 and 10 November 1942/AM)
No further reference to sedition in Morocco was ever received. The only hint of trouble along that line was a report of the arrest at 0600Z/8 November of a notorious de Gaullist in Casablanca. (See footnote 9.)
The dissidence of French troops in Algiers was "explained" later by the French government. It was probably caused by the effectiveness of Allied propaganda among the many Jews in Algiers. (Japanese Diplomatic #55062; R.I. Summary, 9 November 1942/AM)
14 See FN-2 #GZ-3-22 Memo #9-2 to COMINCH 0415Q/ 9 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 9 November 1942/AM. 15
Memo #9-5 to COMINCH 0730Q/9 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 9 November 1942/PM.
At the same time Casablanca could report as enemy damages were only a few planes shot down and a number of hits on ships. (FN-2 #1619; Memo #9-3 to COMINCH 0530Q/9 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 9 November 1942/AM)
From: Dakar #10937 1852/9 November 1942
Situation on November 9/1300Z:
1. Enemy forces with tanks have occupied Fort Lyautey. At 1300, fortress of Casablanca attacked by three columns with tanks coming from Fedala. American PT boats sunk by fire from AA guns and dispatch boats. 76 prisoners. Battleship Jean Bart hit yesterday by bomb and six 15-inch shells, continues to fire. Losses among naval aviation personnel and Second Light Squadron are heavy. Repatriated families from Dakar were able to land in time from steamers.
2. At Oran, enemy forces made a general attack in great force. Anti-aircraft batteries and protective measures (----) are still very strong. A destroyer and torpedoboat attached to the defense of Oran attempted without success to get back to Toulon. According to the latest news, the AA batteries of Oran are holding out.
3. Everywhere else situation unchanged. Situation quiet in Tunisia. (FN-2 #1623; Memo #10-1 to COMINCH 0025Q/10 November 1942; RI. Summary, 10 November 1942/AM, PM; R.I. Summary 11 November 1942/AM)
From: Fez (Gen Nogues) #1361-64 9 November 1942
Situation at 1830:
1. In Morocco. Our mobile forces are in close contact with troops that have landed at (Port Lyantey?), (Fedala?) and (Safi?). Landings are continuing (----). The maneuver against Casablanca (the 3-pronged attack from Fedala) pointed out in my proceeding telegram is continuing. Our forces, which are strongly pressed, are making a stand to the east of the city. The situation remains very serious.
2. In (Algeria?). I have not been able to meet General Boisseau who is now encircled in (Oran?) with enemy (troops) at the gates of the city, but I am still in close telephone communication with him. An (attack?) is prepared for tomorrow's (----), led by 4 detachments converging on (Oran) from the direction of Aim Tamouchant, (----), (----), (----) and (---).
3. (----) at the (----) of Algiers, (there is?) one (division?) fighting opposite (----) in a region, moreover, (there is?) a group of 2 to 3 divisions under the (command?) of General Roubertie, fighting the (---).
4. Nothing occurred in the southern territory.
5. General Juin is at Algiers. In Morocco, (enemy strength?) is increasing hourly. The enemy enjoys overwhelming superiority, especially in armament. For example, the (----) group has about 50 AA guns. I call attention to the magnificent attitude of the troops, honorable and (----) order of the Marshal. For instance, the town of (---), occupied by the enemy, retaken yesterday afternoon by the first RTM, lost yesterday evening, retaken last night by (----), lost again this morning, was recaptured this afternoon, thereby obliging the enemy to halt disembarkation further south. The native population is deeply impressed by the news from Algeria which is beginning to be circulated, in spite of our precautions with (----) (----) custom. (French Diplomatic #55062; R.I. Summary, 13 November 1942/PM)
According to one report three-quarters of the French planes in the Oran area had been destroyed by 9 November. (Japanese Diplomatic #55062; R.I. Summary, 13 November 1942/PM)
17 FN-2; Memo #11-1 to COMINCH 0045Q/11 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 11 November 1942/AM.
18 French Diplomatic #58518.
From: Rabat #1370-72 11 November 1942
For Marshall Petain, Chief of State.
Yesterday, November 10, about 14 o'clock by way of (Saida?), then again about 1630 o'clock by way of Oran, a telephone message came to me from Admiral Darlan, who in your (name?) ordered suspension of hostilities for the whole of North Africa. In spite of the apparent authenticity of this last message, transmitted by General Boisseau himself, I waited for the written confirmation which had at the same time promised me.
It came to me about 9 o'clock by Commander Dorange from the office of Tripolitan General, and later by code telegram. No communication from the Government having reached me, and the (---) of the radiogram having been communicated to me only by about 3 o'clock, I did not suppose for an instant that this order did not conform to your directives. The situation having become gravely worse during the day, Port Lyauten taken, the road to Marrakech opened, Casablanca threatened by a(----) offensive, my decision was adapted (to the?) necessity of the moment.
I executed the order received and commanded to cease firing in the course of the ( ) and to inform the Americans.
Admiral Michelier agreed with me that it was impossible to make effective resistance any longer. I went, at 15 o'clock to ( ) of the Commander in Chief of the forces landed at (----) to discuss with him the conditions under which hostilities were to cease. I have just received a liaison agent from Admiral Darlan who informed me of the terms accepted by the Americans at Algiers; strict neutrality, maintained by military armament, in the politics and administration of the three countries. I shall report to you the result of the parleys at Fedala. (French Diplomatic #55928, 11 November 1942)
From: Rabat 41374 12 November 1942
For (Marshall Petain?)
The conference ( ) is proceeding in a very much eased atmosphere. After he had paid homage to our bravery (---) the American general presented a plan of agreement which was laid down by Washington and the terms of which were more (reasonable?) than those of the France-German agreement. I observed that this text did not correspond at all to the (---) which were anticipated in the agreements (----) likely Algiers and that, (before?) recognizing these agreements, it was (necessary?) to come to an understanding on the points which were the most immediately essential to the settlement, with (----) our sovereignty (---) allowing the necessary forces to fulfill (my?) mission.
It was agreed that the military and political (structure?) of the country's administration would be strictly retained, that the French forces would immediately re-enter (---); that Americans could use our ports, our airdromes and our means of communication; since they are using Morocco as a starting point (----) drive toward the East; that these various facilities would continue to be (----) by the (----) and the usual French personnel; that the use of these facilities would be regulated by direct contact between the manager of French military transportation and his American counterpart. It was (?) decided (---), the conferees having agreed that relations were resumed on a basis of mutual confidence; this agreement (----) is (----) conclusion of the Algiers agreement. (French Diplomatic #55235, 12 November 1942; R.I. Summary, 14 November 1942/AM)
20 FN-2 #1636; R.I. Summary, 13 November 1942/AM.
It is interesting to note that although Vichy was well aware of Darlan's position and his reasons therefore at least as early as 11 November, there was no indication in the traffic that Petain even protested Darlan's actions until the 14th. Again, it was not until 16 November, after Darlan had publicly announced that Petain was unable to make known his desires, that the Admiral was openly repudiated. Following is Marshall Petain's statement as released by Vichy on 16 November:
"Admiral Darlan in a statement dares to affirm that I am in a position in which it is impossible for me to make my personal thoughts known to the French people, and claims to act in my name. I am not the man to yield to constraint. To insinuate the contrary is to do me an injustice. At the instant Africa was attacked, I entrusted to Admiral Darlan the defense of French Sovereignty of which I am the custodian. From the very first contact, the Admiral has not hesitated to enter into relations with the assailant, and by giving the the premature order to cease firing disorganized resistance and broke down the morale of the troops. I have communicated to him several times confirming the order to defend Africa; he ignored it under the sole pretext of preventing a rebel felon chief, General Giraud, from usurping the command of the troops there. Today, he (Darlan) validates his (Giraud's) appointment. General Giraud has been designated by a foreign power which brought the war into French territory. Admiral Darlan has thus removed himself from the national body. I declare him stripped of all public (honors) and all military command." (FN-2 #1642, P/L)
From: Toulon # ? 0025/20 November 1942
(----missing----) German forces for want of (airborne?) troops. Germans will attack 0700/20 November. Please utilize all means - tracts dropped from planes, secret agents, etc. - to make known to General Barre, to his officers and troops the Marshall's order, confirmed by radio broadcast today at 2130, to refuse obedience to Darlan (and) Giraud and to oppose the Anglo-American forces and not to attack the Axis forces.
(FN-2 #1658; COMINCH to CTF 34 COMNAVEU 200540Z November 1942; R.I. Summary, 20 November 1942/AM, PM)
In November 1942, Admiral Godefroy was reported to have stated that he would follow Petain's orders but would not obey an order to fight on the side of the Axis. At this time, he was not altogether certain, in spite of Petain's public denunciation of Darlan, that Darlan was not acting under secret orders from Marshall Petain. (See NA Cairo 2617735Z November 1942, NCR Secret #6948)
In January 1943, after a conference with Godefroy, CINCMED was of the opinion that the former would join the United Nations as soon as the conquest of North Africa was completed. This opinion seems to have been well founded, for part of the conversation dealt with the question of where the ships were to be refitted. (NA Cairo 261744Z January 1943, NCR Secret #4033)
No Hint of this side of the story appeared in intercepted traffic until May 1943.
24 FN-3:119; 021635 January 1943, #00774-75. Sent to CINCLANT 091547 January 1943.
25 FN-3:368; 212130 May 1943, #04747-53.
26 FN-3:81; 141326 February 1943, #00334.
27 FN-3:99; 241742 February 1943, #02289.
28 See NA Istanbul 262230 April 1943, NCR Secret #4359, to this effect.
29 FN-3:133; 141422 March 1943, #02497-98. Also FN-3:154; 161113 March 1943, #02553.
30 FN-3:133; 070805 May 1943, #04265.
31 FN-3:368; 212130 May 1943, #04747-53. R. I. Summary, 25 May 1943/AM.
32 FN-3:366; 220822 May 1943, #02136-37. R. I. Summary, 25 May 1943/AM.
33 See FN-3 #19; R.I Summary, 9 January 1943/PM; FN-3 #21; R.I. Summary, 9 January 1943/PM.
34 The Greenslade-Robert conferences of 6 and 7 August and 3 November 1940, the Horne-Robert conference of 17 December 1941, and the "Gentlemen's Agreement" of November 1942 constituted the basis for the relations between the United States and the French West Indies. Following is an outline of the main points of these agreements as reported in French naval traffic:
a) French (war)ships in the Antilles may not leave the vicinity of their stations. Notice is required for all movements between the Antilles and French Guiana.
b) A U.S. naval officer will be stationed in Fort de France.
c) The military planes must not leave the Antilles.
d) The U.S. must be notified if Vichy should ever investigate or replace Admiral Robert.
e) French sovereignty in the colonies is recognized and guaranteed.
f) Immobilization of the warships and planes will give the U.S. the security it demands.
g) Admiral Robert is responsible for the preservation of internal order and has complete freedom of action for this purpose.
h) The colonies promise to remain strictly neutral in the war, and the U.S. promises to respect this neutrality.
i) Radio and cable communications will not be restricted but code will be allowed only in official messages and in proper commercial messages. The range of radio broadcast stations will be limited to French territories. All mail will be censored except the official pouch sent to North Africa.
j) Military strength in the colonies will not be increased.
k) Repatriation of military personnel and government employees is allowed. Individual travel is permitted for legitimate reasons.
l) The gold stock in Martinique may be inspected by the U.S. after authorization by Admiral Robert.
m) The U.S. guarantees freedom of the seas in the Western Hemisphere to all French ships carrying supplies to the colonies. The U.S. will supply funds for this purpose up to $1,000,000 per month and will facilitate the purchase of supplies.
n) One trip each way per quarter will be allowed between the Antilles and North Africa.
(FN-3 #38, 40-45, 49,50; 1830-39, 1850-54/18 January 1943.)
35 See footnote 33 above.
36 FN-3 #64; 2030/28, 1400-05/29 January 1943; R.I. Summary, 2 February 1943/PM.
37 "Use of tonnage, except for supplying the Antilles and Guiana, as approved by the German Governor, is incompatible with pledges which you were obliged to make ..." (FN-3 #63; 1531-35/1 February 1943; R. I. Summary, 2 February 1943/PM.)
38 FN-3 #57; 1150/2 February 1943; R. I. Summary, 4 February 1943/PM.
39 FN-3 #66; 1900-05/3 February 1943; R. I. Summary 4 February 1943/PM.
40 FN-3 #85; 1340/9 February 1943.
41 FN-3 #101(P/L); 14 February 1943.
42 G-2 Secret Report, dated 16 February 1943; FN-3 #83; 1800/17 February 1943.
43 FN-3 #88; 1054/21 February 1943.
44 FN-3 #96; 2100/23 February 1943.
45 "I believe that I shall be able to guarantee protection of this colony and of French property located here, provided some satisfaction is given the Americans. To do this, I shall have to give to the American people assistance, of moral rather than practical value, such as a tanker." See footnote 34.
46 FN-3 #100; 0947/28 February 1943; FN-3 #168; 1042-45/19 March 1943.
47 Robert's previous requests had either been approved or denied in short order. No definite answer to this one was sent until 30 April, almost 2 months later. And, on 19 March, Laval told Robert that he was raising the question "very insistently."
48 FN-3 #100; 1500/12 March 1943; FN-3 #148; 2345-48/17 March 1943.
49 FN-3 #152; 1225/18 March 1943. ". . . the Governor of Guiana reports to me . . . that under pressure of public opinion and in face of an imminent uprising at Cayenne, both of which he judged himself not in a position to resist, he made the decision (on) 17 March to join the cause of the United Nations . . . This event, whose chief cause is the isolation of the colony (which makes) it feel especially keenly the economic blockade, will have . . . repercussions in the Antilles."
50 FN-3 #168; 1042-45/19 March 1943.
51 FN-3 #148, 2345-48/17 March 1943.
52 FN-3 #324; 2217/30 April 1943.
53 NOB Martinique 262209 March 1943, NCR Confidential #4281.
54 FN-3 #314, 2105/2 May 1943.
55 See FN-3 #324; 1648/5 May 1943.
56 See footnote 55, and FN-3 #327; 1010-12/6 May 1943.
57 NOB Martinique 312115 May 1953, NCR Secret #7625.
58 FN-3 #468; 1500/13 July 1943; Atlantic R. I. Summary, Part 1, 14 July 1943.
59 Plain text, 2340/15 July 1943; Atlantic R. I. Summary, Part 1, 16 July 1943.
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