Seizure of Oran
8ñ10 November 1942
The Arrival of the Center Task Force Off Oran
With the fall of darkness on 7 November, the Center Naval Task Force turned from its course east of Oran and doubled back toward the landing areas at which three major sections of the ground troops were to be set ashore. The lights along the coast were still burning shortly before midnight as the combat-loaded transports and their escorts met beacon submarines north of Cap Figalo and Cap Carbon. (Map V) Oran was to be gained by an envelopment from three beachheads to be established far to the east and west of the city, outside the wide bight between Cap Falcon and Pointe de l'Aiguille. More than fifty miles lay between the easternmost and westernmost landing points.
The plan of attack prescribed amphibious landings by (1) an armored task force (GREEN) at Mersa bou Zedjar, (2) one regimental combat team (26th) at Les Andalouses, (3) two regimental combat teams (18th and 16th), and (4) a second and larger armored task force (RED) near Arzew.1 The eastern landings near Arzew were to be facilitated by (5) the 1st Ranger Battalion, which was expected to send parties clambering up the heights southeast of Cap Carbon to take one coastal battery and into Arzew Harbor to capture another. (6) A paratroop task force was to be brought to La Sénia and Tafaraoui airfields, and (7) a small force (RESERVIST) was to make a direct assault on Oran harbor to prevent destruction of the port facilities which were so necessary for later operations. The armored task forces were expected to thrust inland before daylight to insure the early capture of the airfields, particularly those at Tafaraoui and La Sénia, and to close on Oran from the south. The infantry units were directed to encircle the city from west and east and to block the approach of reinforcements from interior stations. To accomplish this mission the main body of the 1st Infantry Division, landing at Arzew, was ordered to gain and hold a division beachhead line extending from the heights of Djebel Khar, a prominent feature located between Pointe Canastel and St. Cloud, through Fleurus, then skirting the northern end of a salt lake and the road junction south of En Nekala, and reaching the Golfe d'Arzew just east of La Macta. The 26th Infantry was to capture Djebel Santon and Djebel Murdjadjo dominating the western approach to Oran.
Naval forces were to furnish gunfire support, to protect the transport areas and landing beaches from seaborne interference, and, in the initial phases preceding the capture of airfields, to provide all available air support. Two destroyers each were assigned for fire support off Mersa bou Zedjar and Les Andalouses, and two destroyers and the
cruiser Jamaica for the same role at the Golfe d'Arzew. The cruiser Aurora took its station north of Mers el Kébir, while farther out were the battleship Rodney (with 16-inch guns able to fire over twenty miles) and three destroyers. All naval gunfire was to be withheld until it became certain that surprise had been lost. Counterbattery fire was thereafter permissible, but after 1245, when Allied troops were expected to have occupied most of the beachhead, it was to be directed at batteries actually firing and at the same time well clear of Allied troops and of Arzew, unless specifically ordered by Commodore Troubridge. Five British forward observation officers were to move inland with the separate elements of the landing force to direct naval gunfire on appropriate targets. Patrolling motor launches off Oran and each of the landing zones were to furnish an antisubmarine screen. The naval air support would come from the carriers Furious, Biter, and Dasher (fifty-seven aircraft), between twenty and thirty miles offshore, protected by the antiaircraft cruiser Delhi and screened by destroyers.
The defenses of Oran against these forces were far from negligible. Sea approaches to Oran and Arzew were protected by thirteen batteries of coastal guns, some of which could be turned against inland targets. The heaviest were the four 7.6-inch guns on Djebel Santon and the three 9.4-inch guns on Pointe Canastel.2 Naval gun crews were estimated to total 4,000, including troops who manned antiaircraft weapons adjacent to the coastal batteries. The strength of the Oran Division (General Boissau) in the area was estimated at 10,025, a figure expected to reach almost 18,000 within twenty-four hours and 22,525 by D plus 5 through reinforcements from inland stations. The Army airfield adjacent to the civilian airdrome at La Sénia, the Navy airfield at Tafaraoui, and the seaplane base at Arzew, were part of the defense system, and normally based just under 100 planes. At Mers el Kébir and in the western extremity of Oran harbor, several French naval vessels were usually moored.
The assault convoys succeeded in finding their beacon submarines in each case at about 2130 hours. After releasing motor launches to pick up the "leading-in officers" from the submarines, the transport groups for each beach, preceded by mine sweepers, headed for positions near which the first formations of landing craft were scheduled to assemble. While approaching the coast and then while waiting to leave the transport, troops heard the current broadcast of the Army-Notre Dame football game, via short-wave from New York City, over the public address system of at least one ship.3
The Royal Navy's methods of bringing assault troops to the assigned beaches near Oran (and Algiers) differed somewhat from those used by the U.S. Navy near Casablanca. British standing operating procedure required that, as convoys arrived at
ORAN, looking northwest. Symbol (1) indicates limit of penetration of H.M.S Walney and (2) of H.M.S Hartland.
rendezvous points marked by beacon submarines, motor launches should be sent to the submarines to take aboard the piloting teams for each beach. The submarines then proceeded toward a point nearer the shore, and released teams in portable boats which took positions still closer to the beaches. The motor launches meanwhile joined the flotillas of landing craft, assumed guiding stations in the first waves, and moved in with the assault. Landing craft crews were not expected to exercise the same degree of navigational skill as the trained and practiced guides, on whom, in consequence, a critical responsibility rested. After successful arrival of the first boat formations, the transports were to move in through mineswept channels from first positions about five and a half miles offshore, thus shortening the round trips of later ship-to-shore movements.
The simultaneous landings by the several elements of the Center Task Force are here described in sequence from west to east, for at this stage, the pattern of operations can thus be most clearly recognized. Following the initial stage of penetration inland, actual progress of the attack was determined by the points of strongest French resistance, a fact which controls the organization of the narrative of that phase of the operation.4
The Landings at Mersa bou Zedjar
The westernmost beachhead was that of armored Task Force GREEN, consisting of about one third of Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division, under command of Col. Paul M. Robinett. Task Force GREEN was to operate directly under General Fredendall until in such proximity to the remainder of Combat Command B (Task Force RED) that control could be exercised effectively by the commander of that unit, Brig. Gen. Lunsford E. Oliver. Robinett's force was organized into assault troops, shore party, "flying column," and main body. No units were held in reserve before the landings.5 One company of the assault troops was designated to land on each of X-RAY Beach's two sections to establish the beachhead and to signal when the headlands jutting into the bay from the beach had been cleared. The shore party--9 officers and 186 enlisted men of Company F, 591st Engineer Boat Regiment--was to operate in two separated sections to reconnoiter beach exits, find assembly areas for troop units and vehicles, and determine sites for supply dumps. It was ordered to construct roadways over the sand with Sommerfeld matting, to unload landing craft, to establish a medical aid station, to guide and control traffic on the beach, to assist in setting up signal communications and in defending the beach. While the beachhead was being linked by Army radio with Headquarters, Task Force GREEN, and with Headquarters, Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division, and through the Royal Navy's beach signal party with the Senior Naval Officer Landings, X Beach (Capt. G. R. G. Allen, RN), on the Batory, as well as with Commodore Troubridge and General Fredendall on the Largs, the flying column and part of the main body were to be coming ashore.
The 1st Platoon, Reconnaissance Company, 13th Armored Regiment (1st Lt. Richard H. Van Nostrand), was expected to push inland on reconnaissance and security missions, setting up roadblocks near the crossing of the Rio Salado on the west and at Bou Tlélis on the east, and reporting the situation at Lourmel. The flying column was to move out as soon as it could be reorganized ashore, advancing first on Lourmel to secure the landing strip and other facilities there as well as to take over defense of the roadblocks and free the reconnaissance platoon for advance toward its next objective. It was then to prepare to attack either toward Tafaraoui or La Sénia, depending on progress of operations farther east. Battery D, 106th Separate Coast Artillery
(AA) Battalion, was designated to set up its machine guns on the beach while waiting for the 40-mm. Bofors to be brought ashore. Units of the main body would assemble in assigned areas within the beachhead preparatory to an inland march as soon as conditions allowed.6
X-RAY Beach's two sections on the bay of Mersa bou Zedjar were separated by a jutting rocky headland. X WHITE Beach at the northeast was adjacent to the village and its inner edge was lined with small French houses. A second headland at the other end of X WHITE formed a sheltered cove with a narrow and dangerous entrance but with a depth which would permit a close approach to the beach itself. X GREEN Beach was more approachable but on a shallow bay. Both sections of X Beach extended inland about thirty yards to high dunes, and in the case of GREEN Beach, to a single exit up a steep slope over deep, soft sand. WHITE Beach permitted access to the village at two narrow points between the seaside dwellings. Small landing craft were to bring light vehicles and personnel from the troop transports to WHITE Beach.
Besides the Batory, the convoy at X Beach consisted of the transports Queen Emma, Princess Beatrix, Benalbenach, Mary Slessor, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Bachaquero. Twenty light tanks and various other vehicles of the Task Force were on the Bachaquero, one of three Maracaibos used by the Center Task Force. They were, as stated earlier, prototypes of the LST's, converted to tank carriers from shallow-draft oilers used on Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela.7 A group of thirty-nine landing craft could be assembled for unloading from the other vessels. Navigation at night into the cove was deemed too risky for the Bachaquero, which was directed to land at GREEN Beach as soon as the beachhead had been secured,
As the ships drew near to the point for initial release of landing craft, their schedule of landings was thrown awry by the fortuitous appearance, on a course paralleling the coast, of a small, fully lighted French convoy of five vessels bound for Oran under the escort of an armed trawler. One of them was stopped and boarded, but the others sped eastward until they sighted the Allied ships off Les Andalouses. They then reversed course. Hemmed in by the warships escorting the Batory and her group, these vessels ran ashore off Cap Figalo while their escort fled. The effect of their interference was to hold back the mine sweepers and disrupt the schedule of landings on X Beach.8 A delay which at first threatened to be much longer was held to thirty-five minutes at WHITE Beach by bringing the transports to and lowering the landing craft while still more than a mile farther from shore than the plans provided. As the troop-filled boats assembled for the run to shore, the motor launch bringing the guide for the Queen Emma's flotilla from the beacon submarine did not find that ship in time to lead in the assault. The boats started in at midnight on a passage bound to take more than an hour, from points not only farther out, but farther west than had been expected, because of a current for which allowance had not been made. During the passage to shore the motor of one of these landing boats caught fire, spreading to gasoline and fuel
X WHITE BEACH ON THE BAY OF MERSA BOU ZEDJAR. Note barriers to exit from beach.
oil, and although the craft was abandoned and sunk, surface oil burned until after daylight. Surprise had been compromised.
As a consequence of these mishaps, the second wave at X GREEN Beach actually landed before the first, while on X WHITE Beach the scheduled sequence was more closely followed.9 After the beachhead was reported secured by the assault troops commanded by Lt. Col. William B. Kern, the tank ship Bachaquero, touching bottom at 7 feet, came to a stop more than 360 feet offshore.10 The 16th Armored Engineers worked for three hours to set up a pontoon bridge, but this did not quite reach dry ground.11 The shallow bay caused difficulties also for the LCM's bringing in the lighter vehicles. They were pushed off the bottom by bulldozers but in the process sustained damage to rudders and propellers which eventually reduced the serviceable lighters from thirteen to three.
While the armored vehicles waited to use the bridge, and while landing craft brought in the lighter vehicles, other boats ferried personnel from ship to shore. Just as off the Moroccan coast, the boats had difficulty finding their way in the darkness to the proper transports, especially when returning
several miles from the beaches to the ships for second loadings. At the transports, some uncertainty was noted among the British naval officers in the boats and the U.S. Army officers on the decks as to who should take things in hand and expedite action.12
On being put ashore Lieutenant Van Nostrand's reconnaissance platoon struggled to get its vehicles over soft sand to firm ground, where it organized and at 0603 started inland up the black top road toward Lourmel. Tanks began rolling from the Bachaquero to the shallow water at the end of the pontoon bridge an hour later, all of them coming ashore before 0815.13 Over metal road mat, they cleared the beach to firm ground. Headquarters, Task Force GREEN, was set up on the headland between GREEN and WHITE beaches as the tanks came in. The vehicles, guns, and equipment arrived in landing craft from the transports at a much slower rate.
The flying column started toward Lourmel at about 0900, shortly after word came of a clash between the reconnaissance platoon and a French armored car near the village. While Lt. Col. John Todd's force approached Lourmel, the spearhead group kept the village and airstrip under control and, about 1130, set up a roadblock southwest of Er Rahel on the approach from Tlemcen. Later in the day, reconnaissance was extended along the road to the southwest as far as Aïn Témouchent. Communications between X Beach and the units inland failed as they advanced down the southern slope of the hills between them and the coast. Radio contact between Headquarters, Combat Command B, at St. Leu and the inland elements of the GREEN flying column was also hampered and erratic until early on 10 November.14 Back on the beaches, meanwhile, the unloading of vehicles and heavy equipment was expedited by using sections of ponton bridge as ferries from the Benalbenach, and, despite some misfortunes, the situation enabled part of the main body of Task Force GREEN to move during the afternoon through Lourmel toward the next objective.15
As previously noted, the force had alternative plans for movement either by the road south of the Sebkra d'Oran, in order to approach Tafaraoui airfield from the west, or along the highway between the southern base of Djébel Murdjadjo's rugged massif and the northern edge of the Sebkra d'Oran, in order to reach La Sénia airfield. Orders from General Oliver, Commanding General, Combat Command B, were at noon transmitted through Colonel Robinett to Colonel Todd, directing Task Force GREEN to use the shorter northern route to La Sénia. The GREEN column would thus operate independently until it had captured La Sénia airfield either alone or, if need be, in conjunction with elements of Task Force RED after the latter had secured Tafaraoui. Todd's flying column broke through French roadblocks at Bou Tlélis and Brédéa during the afternoon, and spent the night southwest of Misserrhin. Its radioed reports were not received after 1530 by Headquarters, Task Force GREEN, which followed from
Lourmel a few hours later, and which bivouacked southwest of Bou Tlélis that night.16
The Landings at Les Andalouses (Y Beach)
On Y Beach near Les Andalouses, the 26th Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division under Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, assistant division commander, and Col. Alexander N. Stark, Jr., commanding officer of the 26th Infantry, commenced its landing operations in circumstances somewhat similar to those at X Beach.17 The transport group consisted of Glengyle, Monarch of Bermuda, Llangibby Castle, Clan MacTaggart, and Salacia, escorted by the cruiser H.M.S. Aurora. The Senior Naval Officer Landings, Y Beach, was Capt. E. V. Lees (RN) on the Glengyle. Forty-five landing craft of different types were distributed among these ships. While the Aurora engaged the small French convoy which disrupted the scheduled landings at Mersa bou Zedjar, and drove it back to the west, the transports lowered their boats at 2320 and commenced the slow disembarkation of assault troops. The ladders thrown down the sides of the Monarch of Bermuda had rungs two feet apart, so that the heavily loaded soldiers, each carrying almost ninety pounds, made their way down in darkness at an unexpectedly slow rate. The landing craft with the first wave from this transport joined those from the Glengyle and started the six-mile run to shore at 2345, led in by Lt. T. E. Edwards (RN) in a motor launch. About an hour later, the troops could see the flashing signal from the team near shore, but the first of the craft from the Monarch of Bermuda did not reach their portion of Y Beach until after H Hour (0100), while those from the Glengyle made such slow time that they did not touch down until 0116. The delay in the schedule was not very troublesome because there was no enemy resistance, but what did prove thoroughly disrupting was the discovery of an unexpected sandbar paralleling the shore. It had a clearance of from six inches to three and a half feet at different points, but what the incoming forces did not realize was that the water between it and the beach was often as much as five feet deep. The first of the small boats cleared the bar, but the first three LCM's from the Glengyle, arriving in the third boat wave, stopped at 0145 and disembarked jeeps and guns, which started forward, rolled under water, and had to be salvaged much later.
Combat Team 26's second assault wave meanwhile came in from the Llangibby Castle in eight LCP's, waited for clear access to the landing site, and beached on Y GREEN at 0138. By 0340, the transports had moved into position about 2,000 yards offshore and dropped anchor. As early as 0500, the unit's command post on the Glengyle reported that 2,670 men and 33
Y BEACHES, LES ANDALOUSES
motor vehicles had landed.18 An attempt by the French warship La Surprise to interfere with these landings was prevented by H.M.S. Brilliant, which sank her at 0715, after an engagement of more than a half hour.
Y (or "Yorker") Beach, on the southwestern part of a wide bay, and near a high sheltering promontory and the small village of Les Andalouses, was almost midway between Mersa bou Zedjar and Oran. Extending about ten miles to the northeast and east from the beach was the Plaine des Andalouses, a level cultivated area between the coast and the precipitous slopes of a great hill mass. Four villages bordered the plain. El Ancor at the southwest and Bou Sfer in the south central position nestled close to the base of the hills. Les Andalouses at the west and Aïn et Turk at the northeast were each in part a seaside resort for Europeans. The beach near Aïn et Turk had been used at least twice by invaders bent on the conquest of Oran, including Spanish reconquest in 1732, but this time it was to be taken from the rear. The principal roads accessible from Y Beach linked Les Andalouses with Bou Tlélis, just north of the Sebkra d'Oran, and via a road junction at Bou Sfer with Aïn et Turk and Mers el Kébir. From the latter, at a fork near the western end of the valley between Djebel Santon and Djebel Murdjadjo, a road branched to Oran over the northern slopes of Djebel Murdjadjo and the heights west of the city. Thus the area, somewhat like that adjacent to Mersa bou Zedjar, was a natural pocket hemmed in by high hills within which an attacking force was vulnerable to energetic counterattack. On the Plaine des Andalouses, such a force was subject to ready observation and in the last phase of its fifteen-mile advance
Y WHITE BEACH, LES ANDALOUSES. Landing craft at left is an LCM.
to Oran, might well come under cross fire from Djebel Santon and Djebel Murdjadjo.
The 2d Battalion, 26th Combat Team, reinforced, landed on the west (Y GREEN) and the 3d Battalion, reinforced, in the center (Y WHITE), in the assault. The 1st Battalion remained in reserve at the beachhead until committed next day. Rifle squads from each assault battalion were left to guard the flanks of the beachhead while the other units proceeded inland. Company G, with an antitank platoon attached, took the village of El Ancor and established a system of defenses astride the road leading from it to the southwest. When three French armored cars approached from the direction of Bou Tlélis at about 0800, they were destroyed by accurate 37-mm. antitank and 60-mm. mortar fire. The main body of the 2d Battalion pressed eastward with the mission of clearing the area of Cap FalconñAïn et Turk-Bouisseville. The 3d Battalion left a detachment to occupy Bou Sfer, east of which Battery B, 33d Field Artillery Battalion, set up its 75-mm. pack howitzers, and continued along the road toward its objective, Ferme Combier, some five miles farther to the east. Just before reaching it the unit was pinned down shortly after 0740 by artillery fire from Djebel Santon and close-by Ferme Ste. Marie and by small arms and automatic fire from Djebel Murdjadjo. There it remained for the rest of D Day until it could be reinforced.19
The waters off Y Beach were within range of the coastal guns of the Fort du Santon. At daylight intermittent shelling of the transport area began. Shortly before 0900, the transports there came under more accurate fire, and at 0917, the Llangibby Castle received the first of several damaging hits which obliged her to move farther west and out of range. Most of the personnel of Combat Team 26 had already gone ashore,
but motor vehicles, guns of the 33d Field Artillery Battalion, ammunition, and supplies remained to be landed. The Service Company was ferried from the Llangibby Castle about 0930 and, after reassembling from somewhat dispersed landings, reorganized and set about clearing the beach itself of supplies.20 The battery at Fort du Santon resumed firing at 1050 and drove the Monarch of Bermuda out of range after one hit. From time to time bombardment from H.M.S. Rodney silenced it temporarily, but could not knock it out.
The Direct Assault on Oran Harbor (Operation RESERVIST)
On H.M.S. Largs, reports from the landings on X and Y Beaches, and from those on Z Beaches to be described below, confirmed the Center Task Force commanders, ground and naval, in the belief that surprise had been achieved and that resistance was insignificant. The small cutters, H.M.S. Hartland and H.M.S. Walney,21 and two attendant motor launches were waiting off Oran for orders to enter the harbor with their special force to execute Operation RESERVIST. The bulk of this force, 17 officers and 376 enlisted men, had been drawn from the 6th Armored Infantry, 1st Armored Division, and were under Lt. Col. George F. Marshall, commanding officer of its 3d Battalion. They had been brought to Gibraltar on H.M.S. Leinster on 5 November and remained aboard her in the harbor until transferred late the next day to the cutters. With the soldiers in the special force were 4 officers and 22 seamen of the U.S. Navy,22 6 U.S. Marines and 52 Royal Navy officers and ratings, as well as the ships' crews. About noon on 7 November, the operation for which they had trained in a Northern Ireland harbor was explained to them. It was, they then realized, a "suicide mission."
In charge of the operation and mainly responsible for its planning was Capt. Frederic T. Peters, RN, a retired officer who had volunteered for this undertaking. He rode in the Walney, which was itself commanded by Lt. Comdr. P. C. Meyrick (RN). In charge of the Hartland was Lt. Comdr. G. P. Billot (RNR). Canoes were carried on the Walney for use by special teams in boarding ships to prevent their being scuttled in the harbor entrance or alongside the wharves. Captain Peters even contemplated seizing the fortified batteries above the harbor, and perhaps receiving the surrender of the city itself.23
Although an operation to gain and hold Oran harbor invited approval, for success it had to begin either before H Hour with full surprise or much later when the French
naval authorities were almost unable to resist and about to destroy what they could no longer defend. Operation RESERVIST was instead allowed to begin at 0245, 8 November, just after the French had been aroused by a general alarm which gave them time to man their defenses, and at a time when they could hardly regard their defeat as imminent. A French naval force controlled the port and was expected to resist the Allies with all the means at its disposal. Thus the forebodings of the special force were justified.
The Walney approached the harbor in the shadow of the cliffs rising from the eastern edge of the bay. The Hartland followed at a five minutes' interval. The sound of sirens in the city could be heard, and all city lights were blacked out while the ships were still a good distance from shore. The harbor extends eastward along the southern limit of the bay from the base of steep hills. It is enclosed on its northern edge by a breakwater 3,000 yards long and across the eastern end by a smaller jetty extending from the Môle du Ravin Blanc with an opening about 200 yards wide. Access to the port through this aperture was blocked by a floating boom past which the Walney planned to force its way. Fixed fortified batteries commanded the entrance, the harbor itself, and all adjacent waters, while dual-purpose artillery, machine guns, and the naval guns of warships in the northwestern corner of the long narrow harbor could be brought to bear on intruders. Toward this potential Vesuvius the Walney and the Hartland bent their course, a few minutes before 0300, 8 November.
As the first ship neared the entrance, and one of the motor launches sped forward to lay a smoke screen, a searchlight's beam shot out over the bay. Tracer bullets sprayed out considerably ahead of the Walney's bow. Then the beam found the vessel, and artillery fire came her way at once. A large American flag at her stern, and the reiterated assertion over a loud speaker on the Walney that the approaching force was friendly, made no impression. A shell soon jarred the ship, throwing men to the deck. Captain Peters had her turned to the north, saw that the Hartland was still following, and circled to try for the harbor entrance at top speed. In thus persisting, he disregarded a somewhat equivocal message received during the approach from headquarters on H.M.S. Largs, which reported: "No shooting thus far; landings unopposed"; and instructed the RESERVIST force: "Don't start a fight unless you have to."24
On the second approach, shell and machine gun fire ripped into the Walney with drastic effect, but she reached the boom, broke it, and slipped inside the harbor. Abruptly then the French fire shifted to the Hartland while the leading vessel slid slowly toward the western end of the port in complete darkness and sudden, extraordinary silence. Three canoes and their crews were launched over the side. Not long after the Walney had passed between the Môle du Ravin Blanc and a floating drydock moored near the northern breakwater, a French destroyer was observed approaching head on from the west. An attempt was made to ram it. The effort failed, and as the two ships scraped past each other, the destroyer's guns raked the Walney's decks, causing many casualties. The intrepid survivors continued westward beyond the Môle Millerand and then encountered a devastating barrage from both sides and from dead ahead, of an intensity compared with which
the preliminary fire had been merely an introduction. Fires blazed up. Ammunition became ignited. The ship's guns went out of action. All but one of the officers on the bridge were killed and he was wounded. The courageous troops and their commander, Colonel Marshall, kept up small arms fire, some until they fell and others until they eventually received orders, shouted from man to man, to abandon ship. The Walney was left a semisubmerged wreck not far from the sunken French warships at the western end of the harbor.
The Hartland also persisted in the attack and was caught by heavy fire just short of the smoke screen at the harbor mouth. Most of her gun crews and many of the troops crouching below decks were wounded or killed during this approach. Commander Billot was temporarily blinded by a shell splinter. The ship failed to find the entrance and struck the jetty south of it. The wounded commander had the vessel backed off and again sent forward despite the blows already sustained and the certain prospect of more ahead. This time the Hartland succeeded in the effort to enter the port. As she swung round the end of the Môle du Ravin Blanc to reach a debarkation point near its base, her course took her past the French destroyer Typhon at its moorings beside the mole. Pointblank fire tore through the thin unarmored hull, exploded inside, set the ship blazing at several points, and put her wholly out of control. As she drifted, in danger of exploding, Commander Billot ordered that she be abandoned. One hour after the Hartland had come under fire outside the harbor, all survivors left the doomed and blazing vessel in two motor launches which then withdrew seaward.
Ruthless resistance had completely frustrated the daring venture. Of the 17 officers and 376 enlisted men of the 6th Armored Infantry, 9 officers and 180 enlisted men were killed or presumed dead while 5 officers and 152 enlisted men were wounded. Only 3 officers and 44 enlisted men landed unhurt.25 U.S. Navy casualties were 5 killed and 7 wounded; Royal Navy losses, 113 killed and 86 wounded.26 All survivors were held first as civil, then military, prisoners while the battle for Oran proceeded, its ultimate outcome almost unaffected by this bloody episode.
Naval Air Support for the Landings
At first light, eight Albacore dive bombers from H.M.S. Furious and six Hurricane fighter escorts from each of the two auxiliary carriers took off, formed up at 5,000 feet above H.M.S. Furious, started inland at approximately 0600, and climbed to 8,000 feet.27 They crossed the coast between X Beach and Y Beach, continued to a point east of Lourmel, and followed the northern edge of the Sebkra d'Oran to Valmy. Dropping propaganda leaflets there, they swung back over La Sénia airfield in broad daylight to be greeted by strong antiaircraft fire and enemy fighters. Each Albacore carried six 250-pound general-purpose bombs with which it accurately struck and wrecked the empty hangars on the northwestern side of
the airdrome, inflicting destruction which was later to be regretted. In the ensuing dogfights, five Dewoitine 520 French fighters were claimed shot down and others damaged. A second attack on La Sénia airfield and a strike at Tafaraoui airfield were delivered a few minutes later by ten Seafires from H.M.S. Furious in low-level strafing runs against grounded planes and antiaircraft batteries. Again French fighters contested the action unsuccessfully. In these two missions, three British planes were outright losses while others of each type were forced down at various points ashore as their fuel ran out, sometimes after failing quickly to find their mother ships.
Other aircraft took off from the carriers to patrol and reconnoiter between the two airdromes and Z Beaches as the troops assembled for their inland advances, or to investigate the highways as far as Sidi Bel Abbès and Mascara for signs of French military movement from the interior toward Oran. Such French aircraft as were in operation near Oran confined their resistance to the defense of the airdrome and left the landings at the beaches almost undisturbed.
The Landings Along the Golfe d'Arzew
Much the greater proportion of the Center Task Force was scheduled to land along the Golfe d'Arzew, either in the vicinity of the town of Arzew or over the Z beaches extending eastward from it. Naval units in this part of the convoy from Gibraltar, not including the vessels destined for Operation RESERVIST, totaled thirty-four transports and more than twenty escorting warships. They reached the beacon submarine, five and one-half miles from Cap Carbon, beginning at 2130 as the plans prescribed, and turned into the Golfe d'Arzew. Although the night was dark the beacon light at Arzew was clearly visible.28
The landing force troops were organized as follows: Combat Teams 16 and 18 and a Ranger force in two sections, attached to the 1st Infantry Division, all three under command of Maj. Gen. Terry Allen, and Task Force RED of Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division, commanded by General Oliver.29 The Senior Naval Officer Landings, Z Beaches, for these eastern landings was Capt. C. D. Graham (RN) with headquarters on H.M.S. Reina del Pacifico. His first step was to get the Rangers ashore in the vicinity of Arzew.
The Ranger force had four objectives. The chief mission was to capture two coastal batteries, one of which was emplaced in the Fort du Nord above Arzew port on the high ground to the north, and the other in Fort de la Pointe at the base of the hill at the northeast corner of the harbor. They were also to seize part of the town of Arzew adjacent to its port, and the heights directly above Arzew. To gain these objectives, the 1st Ranger Battalion (Lt. Col. William O. Darby) split into two detachments. The first, consisting of two companies, went in small boats from the Royal Scotsman to the protective eastern barrier of the harbor; they scrambled onto the quay, overpowered two
sentries in a brief exchange of gunfire, and caught the garrison asleep. Soon they held Fort de la Pointe and the northern side of Arzew. Colonel Darby led four companies from the Royal Ulsterman and Ulster Monarch up the cliffs from a landing point southeast of Cap Carbon and, after proceeding for about one mile, worked up a ravine to the rear of the main battery of four 105-mm. guns at the Fort du Nord. Heavy mortars were set up. Three companies approached the barbed wire barrier, and when the scouts attempting to cut it drew fire the Rangers deployed during a mortar barrage and then rushed the battery enclosure. The guns were captured and prepared for demolition in case of a counterattack; the position was organized for defense; and a green signal flare at 0400 made known to watchers that the battery was neutralized.30 Contact was established between the two Ranger sections at about the same hour.
The port was to be controlled and operated at the earliest practicable time by an advanced U.S. naval base unit. Parties of U.S. and Royal Navy personnel, with a few U.S. Marines, filled a landing craft from H.M.S. Royal Ulsterman and went to the port entrance, waited several minutes for the Rangers' signal that their mission at Fort de la Pointe had been successful, and at about 0200 passed through the unobstructed opening. They continued to the inner harbor and, in the darkness, while the Rangers could be heard taking Fort de la Pointe, boarded and seized control of four small vessels moored there.31 Until daylight, resistance in Arzew was negligible.32 When snipers, machine guns, and one small field piece opened fire from the perimeter of the port and the high ground west of the harbor, troops already ashore quickly silenced them. Back in the hills, however, a 75-mm. gun harassed the landings on Z Beach by spasmodically shelling the ships offshore after they had moved in about 0630 to anchor. Protective smoke was used to shield the ships from the enemy gunners.33
The three sectors of Z Beach extended more than three miles from a point somewhat southeast of Arzew to an eastern limit beyond the village of St. Leu. The approaches were generally good, the grades easy and the yellow sand fairly firm, but the exits were limited to breaks in a low, rocky cliff. The two main hazards were exposure to wind and surf and vulnerability to artillery fire from the heights above Arzew. As a result of minor derangements during the initial debarkation and the five-mile approach in formation by landing craft, all assault waves could not touch down at the three appointed sectors of Z Beach on schedule. Combat Team 18 began landing on the western sector, Z GREEN, at 0120; Combat
TROOPS AND EQUlPMENT COMING ASHORE, Z WHITE BEACH near St. Leu.
Team 16, in the center sector, Z WHITE, at 0100; and Z RED on the east, to be used by Task Force RED, Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division, was reported ready to receive the armored force about 0330.34
Combat Team 18 on D Day
The 18th Combat Team (Col. Frank U. Greer)--7,092 strong--landed on Z Beach GREEN from H.M.S. Ettrick, the Tegelberg (Dutch), and H.M.S. Reina del Pacifico, beginning at O120.35 The landing craft formation, though led in by motor launch, contained some stragglers which kept arriving at scattered points for more than ten minutes, a process which made reorganization more difficult than had been expected.36 The 3d Battalion was sent to Arzew to occupy the town and relieve the Ranger detachment. The 1st Battalion was sent directly inland to seize St. Cloud and the high ground of Djebel Khar, west of it. From 0730 to 0840, the 2d Battalion of the 18th Infantry, the 32d Field Artillery Battalion with two of its guns, and the antitank company came ashore.37
The 3d Battalion first met resistance about 0400 near the Arzew barracks and
naval base southwest of the harbor. The barracks was readily seized, with sixty-two prisoners taken, but the naval base on the south jetty required a concentration from 60-mm. mortars before it would capitulate. Thirteen seaplanes, fueled and loaded with torpedoes, were captured ashore intact.38 By midmorning the entire city had been mopped up and only snipers on the outskirts remained to be cleared.
The 1st Battalion encountered French opposition for the first time about three miles west of Rénan where it was attacked by five armored cars. All were destroyed or immobilized by antitank rifle grenades, and the advance continued as far as the village of St. Cloud, astride the main road about one third of the way from the beach to the edge of Oran. St. Cloud lay in the center of an open agricultural area, its 3,500 inhabitants protected by walls and houses of masonry and concrete. Although a lone American reconnaissance car had passed through the village without incident in the early morning, the small local guard had been roused and reinforced from a barracks along the road toward Oran when the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, approached to seize it.39 The advance guard was met just before noon by a heavy volume of rifle and machine gun fire from the 16th Tunisian Infantry Regiment, and from a battalion of the Foreign Legion concealed among the houses. The first American attack was quickly repulsed by this fire, augmented by the 75-mm. and 155-mm. shellfire of a battalion of the 68th African Artillery Regiment along a line northwest of the town. The self-propelled 105-mm. assault guns of the Cannon Company, 18th Infantry, were sent up from the beach and with the 2d Battalion, 18th Infantry, reinforced the 1st Battalion in time for a second unsuccessful attack from the south at 1530. Late in the afternoon, the 3d Battalion (less Company K) arrived from Arzew and assembled on the high ground north of St. Cloud preparatory to an attack from that direction. During the night, plans were issued for a concerted attack to open at 0700, 9 November.40
Combat Team 16 on D Day
The 16th Combat Team (Col. Henry B. Cheadle), numbering 5,608, landed on Z WHITE and Z RED beginning at 0100. The 3d Battalion on the west advanced against light opposition from isolated farms to the vicinity of Fleurus, a few miles south southwest of St. Cloud. Fleurus was developed as a block to French road communications. The 1st Battalion on the east first took Damesme and St. Leu by surprise and ahead of schedule, and cleared Z RED for the later landing of Task Force RED, Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division. It then moved eastward through Port-aux-Poules and sent a force southeastward to En Nekala, occupying each place with one infantry company. At La Macta, some opposition from elements of the 2d Algerian Infantry Regiment was met. The first Americans to enter were ambushed. A co-ordinated attack by Company B and Headquarters Company, 16th Infantry, with a few guns, and with H.M.S. Farndale standing by for naval gunfire support, opened at
THE "MARACAIBO" H.M.S. MISOA, a converted shallow-draft oiler used as a tank landing ship. At Z RED Beach, light tanks were discharged through doors in the bow over bridge sections to the shore.
1230.41 An hour later they had captured La Macta, and by 1400 a defense line east of the village, beyond the highway and railroad bridges over the La Macta river, barred the French reinforcements which were expected to be sent toward Oran from Mostaganem and Perrégaux. Company A, 16th Infantry, was placed on the southwest flank. The 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry, after coming ashore on the initiative of its commander at 1000, was released from corps reserve and sent toward Fleurus on the southern flank of the division.42
Task Force RED Takes Tafaraoui Airfield
The armored task force of 4,772 men, under command of General Oliver, which had the mission of capturing Tafaraoui and La Sénia airdromes, was brought to Z Beach and Arzew on the transports Durban Castle and Derbyshire and the Maracaibos Misoa and Tasajera. After Z RED Beach had been reported cleared, the Maracaibos beached a little before and a little after 0400, put out their ponton bridges, and began unloading
at 0600. They were fully unloaded at 0759 despite fire from a battery near St. Leu.43 Combat Command B's plans for Task Force RED were in outline much like those for the smaller Task Force GREEN, described earlier in this chapter. The shore party on Z RED Beach consisted of the 2d Battalion, 591st Boat Regiment, less Company F (at Mersa bou Zedjar). A reconnaissance force consisting of the Reconnaissance Company (less one platoon in Task Force GREEN), 13th Armored Regiment, was expected to land first from the Maracaibos, to assemble near the beach, and at H plus 3½ hours to move inland expeditiously to the village of Ste. Barbe-du-Tlélat, a distance of about twenty miles to the southwest. That small village was the hub of a network of main and secondary roads along which the reconnaissance force [Reconnaissance Company, 13th Armored Regiment (-)] could disperse to reconnoiter the areas near Sidi bel Abbès, Oggaz, St. Denis-du-Sig, Perrégaux, Tafaraoui, and Mascara, and toward La Sénia to establish contact with Task Force GREEN. A flying column (Lt. Col. John K. Waters) consisting of the 1st Battalion, 1st Armored Regiment (less Company C), Company E, 6th Armored Infantry, one heavy platoon of Company B, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion, one platoon of the 16th Armored Engineer Battalion and a reconnaissance section, attached, was to assemble near St. Leu and advance swiftly along the same road to Tafaraoui airfield via Ste. Barbedu-Tlélat. If the Paratroop Task Force were found already in control, Colonel Waters was authorized to transfer to its commander the responsibility for protecting the airfield and to continue on further missions, including that of covering the assembly near Tafaraoui of the main body of Task Force RED and preparing for an advance on the La Sénia airport and, after that, on Oran. The parachute force was to be attached to Colonel Waters' command during joint operations should they be required to seize and hold Tafaraoui airfield. The main body of Task Force RED would assemble at St. Leu, where General Oliver's command post was to be established. In addition to some vehicles from the Maracaibos, the main body would include others from the Derbyshire and Durban Castle and light tanks of Company C, 1st Armored Regiment, which were to be unloaded at the Arzew docks. It would include Company B, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion (less the heavy platoon with the flying column) and all but one battery of the 106th Coast Artillery (AA) Battalion, which was to furnish antiaircraft protection both on Z RED Beach and at Tafaraoui airfield.44
FRENCH PRISONERS captured by men of Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division, are guarded by MP's on the beach near St. Leu, 8 November 1942.
The reconnaissance force moved out at 0820, followed some fifteen minutes later by the light flying column.45 Headquarters, Combat Command B, was set up in a police station in St. Leu while Colonel Waters' force hastened through Ste. Barbe-du-Tlélat to Tafaraoui airfield, north of the village and more than twenty-five miles inland. Brushing aside all resistance, it arrived at the airdrome at 1112, and deployed for the attack. The airborne troops had not yet arrived. Roads north and northeast of the airdrome were blocked to prevent escapes as Company A, 1st Armored Regiment, attacked from the south and Company B, 1st Armored Regiment, with the 1st Platoon of Company E, 6th Armored Infantry, attacked from the east. A vigorous assault by the tanks quickly took the airfield, with some 300 prisoners, while an ammunition train approaching from Oran was seized as it neared the field. It was now possible to order Task Force GREEN to approach La Sénia by the more direct route north of the Sebkra d'Oran. At 1215, Tafaraoui airfield was declared ready to receive Allied planes from Gibraltar. La Sénia airfield, on the other hand, had not yet been captured, and the French there sent bombers the few miles to Tafaraoui to counterattack. Carrier planes, with the loss of one, knocked down four French aircraft. When the first two squadrons of Twelfth Air Force Spitfires from Gibraltar were landed at 1630 at Tafaraoui, four French planes, which had been mistaken for an expected carrier plane escort, jumped them and killed one American
pilot before they were themselves destroyed or driven off.46
The armored advance by Colonel Waters' force from Tafaraoui airfield against La Sénia airdrome was deterred by French air attacks, by enemy batteries, and by the threat of counterattacks from the south. During the night, as part of the main body of Task Force RED reinforced the flying column, a section prepared to start for La Sénia at 0600, 9 November.47
The Airborne Troops of the Center Task Force
Back in England, late on 7 November, as the men of the Paratroop Task Force (Col. William C. Bentley, Jr.) stood by the transport planes at St. Eval and Predanneck in Cornwall on five-minute alert, word arrived that the "Peace" Plan would be used.48 The take-off would be set back. The planes did not assemble over the southwest tip of England, therefore, until 2200. Rain, fog, faulty radio intercommunication, and defective running lights interfered with the maintenance of formation. When the airplanes climbed through clouds to 10,000 feet above sea level to surmount the crests of Spain's northern mountains, they became completely dispersed. The beacon signal from the ship off Oran, being sent on a frequency other than that expected by the transport planes, was never received. The widely separated aircraft, unaware that the "War" Plan had been reinstated while they were in flight, were heading toward a hostile reception.49
Six of the air transports wandered far to the west of Oran. One landed at Gibraltar; two in French Morocco; and three in Spanish Morocco. The parachutists of a seventh Cñ47 were dropped while over another point in Spanish Morocco. Sixty-one paratroopers were interned by the Spanish Government. Of the thirty-two planes which arrived over Algeria about 0600 at various points along the coast, all were low in fuel. The troops were exhausted by the long, cramped flight. Southeast of Lourmel, near Source Blanche, a group of twelve planes on Colonel Bentley's order dropped their passengers by parachute. Before long they were trudging toward Tafaraoui, which they reached the next day.50 One of the C-47's continued over Tafaraoui airfield only to receive antiaircraft fire and to turn off while sending warning by radio that the "War" Plan was in effect after all. All but four of the Cñ47's then landed at the western end of the Sebkra d'Oran, beginning at
about 0830, and there established a defensive position, reinforced later by a platoon of light tanks. Meanwhile Colonel Bentley, after his plane had dropped the paratroopers, continued over Tafaraoui and La Sénia, where he observed evidence of hostile forces. He was then forced to land on a salt flat south of Oran before he could rejoin the others. Two other transports settled down near his, one still loaded with troops. All these Americans were captured and imprisoned by French civilian police. Thus the morning passed with the paratroopers scattered and ineffective.
By afternoon of D Day, with Tafaraoui airdrome in Allied hands, Col. Edson D. Raff attempted to have the flyable Cñ47's at the western end of the Sebkra d'Oran assembled on the field, but the French continued their resistance. Fighters from La Sénia forced down several of the transports and inflicted casualties on the crews and paratroopers. Artillery in the hills within range of Tafaraoui dropped 75-mm. shells on the airfield for about an hour, damaging some newly arrived Cñ47's. By nightfall, only fourteen of the transports remained operational.51 Of the 556 paratroopers, only about 300 could be assembled on 15 November at Maison Blanche airfield, near Algiers, for the next operations.
The Situation as D Day Ends
Commodore Troubridge and General Fredendall on the Largs could assess the situation of the Center Task Force twenty-four hours after its arrival off Oran as distinctly promising despite some setbacks and some uncertain prospects. The beach landings had been successful, although the pace had fallen behind expectations. Arzew had been captured intact, and its small port was being used to the full. Repeated weak challenges to the Allied naval blockade off Oran and Mers el Kébir had been repulsed without any interference in the landing operations and with loss of three small French warships. French aviation had offered negligible opposition. Each of the three major beachheads had been established. From the beachhead on the western flank, Task Force GREEN was firmly established in possession of Lourmel airstrip and on its way to La Sénia airfield, slated for attack at dawn.
Combat Team 26, 1st Infantry Division, under General Roosevelt had crossed the Plaine des Andalouses to occupy the road centers at El Ancor, Bou Sfer, and Aïn et Turk, and was scheduled to attack next the coastal battery on Cap Falcon and to push through Ferme Combier and past Djebel Santon. To the south, Task Force RED had occupied Tafaraoui airdrome and was preparing a detachment to push northwestward to the La Sénia airfield in the early morning. In the beachhead inland from the Golfe d'Arzew, General Allen had advanced to the prescribed division beachhead line, except in the area of St. Cloud, where the French had stopped the 18th Infantry. Already ashore were 10,472 men of the reinforced 1st Infantry Division and 1,026 men of General Oliver's Task Force RED, 1st Armored Division. Corps troops numbering 2,522 had been landed, of which the 1st Battalion, 19th Engineers (Combat), was the one striking force in reserve. Only 340 vehicles belonging to these units had been landed. The increasing roughness of the surf, after damaging scores of landing craft, forced the suspension of all beach landings, before daylight, both along the Golfe d'Arzew
and at Les Andalouses. The cove near Mersa bou Zedjar remained usable, if considerably hampered by the swell.52 The direct assault on Oran harbor and the airborne attack on Tafaraoui airdrome had each badly miscarried, although the extent of the losses remained unknown at Center Task Force headquarters.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (10) * Next Chapter (12)
1. See Ch. III above.
2. Other batteries from west to east were as follows: Cap Falcon, two 75-mm. guns; Aïn et Turk and Bouisseville, each four 75-mm. guns; Mers el Kébir, six 75-mm. guns; area of Ferme Ste. Marie and Ferme Combier, about four miles west of the harbor, four 90-mm. guns; Fort Lamoune, at the base of the breakwater, two 90-mm. guns; Ravin Blanc and Gambetta, each four 75-mm. guns (Gambetta also four 120-mm. guns); Pointe d'Espagnole, last of the eastern harbor defenses, two 75-mm. guns: Fort du Nord, at Arzew, four 105-mm. guns; and Fort de la Pointe, at Arzew, two 75-mm. guns. CTF FO 1, 4 Oct 42 Annex 1, App. A. (rev by Intell Sum 1, 12 Oct 42, and by 33d FA Bn AAR, 15 Nov 42).
3. Memo by Sgt Gene J. Elzas, Co K 16th Inf, in Eyewitness Accounts of Battles by Camp Ellis Veterans of Foreign Campaigns, European Theater. OCMH.
4. Rpt, CG CTF to CinC AF, 13 Nov 42, sub: Opn TORCH, with attached opns rpts of Parachute TF, TF GREEN, TF RED, and CCB 1st Armd Div. DRB AGO 95TF1ñ0.3, 24091 Master.
5. The total complement of Task Force GREEN was 103 officers, 4 warrant officers, and 2,150 enlisted men. Assault troops (Lt. Col. William B. Kern commanding) consisted of 1st Battalion, 6th Armored Infantry (less Company B and detachments). Shore party (Capt. Kenneth Kennedy commanding) was Company F, 591st Boat Regiment, 1st Engineer Amphibious Brigade. Flying column (Lt. Col. John Todd commanding) included the 1st Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment (less Companies A and B and a detachment of Headquarters Company); Company B, 6th Armored Infantry (less two platoons); the 2d Platoon, Company C, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion; and the 1st Platoon, Company A, 16th Armored Engineer Battalion (reinforced). Main body (Col. Robinett commanding) was comprised of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Armored Regiment (less detachments); a detachment of the 141st Armored Signal Company; 1st Platoon, Reconnaissance Company, and Companies A and B, 13th Armored Regiment; Battery C, 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion; Battery D, 106th Separate Coast Artillery (AA) Battalion; two platoons of Company B, 6th Armored Infantry; Company C, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion (less one platoon); a platoon of Company B, 16th Armored Engineer Battalion (less detachment): and a detachment of Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion. Info from CTF Troop List, 21 Sep 42.
6. TF GREEN CCB 1st Armd Div FO 1, 12 Oct 42.
7. Morison, U.S. Naval Operations, II, 234.
8. (1) NCXF, Report of Proceedings, Operation TORCH (cited hereafter as NCXF, TORCH Despatch), Incl 1 (Rpt of The Naval Commander, Center Task Force), App. I (Rpt of Capt G. R. G. Allen). AFHQ Micro Job 8, Reels 16A-17A. (2) The landing tables are in TF GREEN CCB 1st Armd Div FO 1, 12 Oct 42, Annex 1.
9. The first landing at X Beach was reported at 0136. Msg, Col Robinett to CG CTF, 8 Nov 42, Entry 50, in CTF G-3 Jnl.
10. (1) Br. Battle Sum 38, Opn "TORCH," p. 35. (2) Msg, CO 13th Armd Regt to CG CTF, 0401, 8 Nov 42, Entry 47, in CTF G-3 Jnl.
11. 16th Armd Engr Bn AAR, 3 Sep 43.
12. CTF Rpt, Lessons From Operation TORCH, 29 Dec 42. DRB AGO.
13. Msgs, SNOL (X) to CG CTF, 8 Nov 42, Entries 91 and 110, in CTF G-3 Jnl. The ship pulled out at 0815. Other vehicles included six motorcycles, twenty-seven half-tracks, one self-propelled 37-mm. gun, four 37-mm. towed guns, sixteen quarter-ton trucks, and a signal truck and trailer.
14. Interv with Brig Gen Paul M. Robinett, 7 Mar 49.
15. (1) 13th Armd Regt S-2 Jnl, 8 Nov 42-9 May 43. (2) 1st Bn 6th Armd Inf Sum Jnl, 8 Nov 42-9 May 43. (3) CTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Nov 42.
16. (1) Msgs, CCB to CO 13th Armd Regt, 1135, 8 Nov 42, and CO 13th Armd Regt to 1st Bn 13th Armd Regt, 1204, 8 Nov 42, in 13th Armd Regt Opns Jnl, Beach Landing at Oran. (2) Intervs with Gen Robinett, 7 Mar 49, 24 Jun 49, and 11 Jan 51, and with Maj Gen Lunsford E. Oliver (Ret.), 11 Jan 51. (3) Lt. Col. Bogardus S. Cairns, "Employment of Armor in the Invasion of Oran," Military Review, XXVIII, No. 6 (September, 1948), pp. 46-56.
17. (1) Combat Team 26 included 5,262 officers, warrant officers, and enlisted men, the larger elements being the 26th Infantry Regiment, the 33d Field Artillery Battalion, Batteries C and D of the 105th Coast Artillery (AA), and the 2d Battalion of the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment. CT 26 AAR, 21 Nov 42. (2) The report of the Senior Naval Officer Landings, Y Beach, sets the figures at 5,578 men with 395 vehicles. Rpt in App. II to Incl 1 of NCXF, TORCH Despatch.
18. (1) Msg, CT 26 to CG CTF, 8 Nov 32, Entry 68 in CTF G-3 Jnl. (2) Rpt of SNOL (Y), 13 Nov 42, in App. II to Incl 1 of NCXF, TORCH Despatch.
19. CT 26 AAR, 21 Nov 42.
20. (1) Br. Battle Sum 38, Opn "TORCH," p. 39. (2) CT 26 AAR, 21 Nov 42. (3) Rpt of SNOL (Y), 13 Nov 42, in App. II to Incl 1 of NCXF TORCH Despatch.
21. Formerly U.S. Coast Guard vessels transferred to the British more than a year earlier.
22. Numerical strength of the RESERVIST Force from: (1) Memo, Maj Gen Orlando Ward for CinC AF, 12 Dec 42, and Gen L. E. Oliver for TAG, 19 Nov 42, sub: Authorization of spec fourragère and battle streamer. Both in AFHQ AG 330.13 Micro Job 24 Reel 78D. (2) 6th Armd Inf AAR, 2 Sep 43. (3) Morison, U.S. Naval Operations, II, 225. (4) The U.S. Navy participants are listed by name in Report of Commander U.S. Naval Bases, Oran Area, which is Incl 6 of NCXF, TORCH Despatch.
23. (1) Interv with Harold Leo Disher, 21 Feb 49. Mr. Disher, a war correspondent, made the journey with the RESERVIST Force from the Clyde to Oran, and was on the bridge of the Walney during this operation. (2) See also John A. Parris, Jr., et al., Springboard to Berlin (New York, 1943), pp. 93-125, which contains an extensive account by Mr. Disher written soon after the operation. (3) Rpt of Lt Comdr Dickey, USNR, in Incl 6 of NCXF, TORCH Despatch.
24. Msg, NC CTF to Walney, 0250, 8 Nov 42, Entry 17, in CTF G-3, Jnl.
25. (1) Br. Battle Sum 38, Opn "TORCH," pp. 37-39. (2) See above, n. 22.
26. (1) Rpt of Lt Comdr Dickey, USNR, in Incl 6 of NCXF, TORCH Despatch. (2) Info supplied by Cabinet Office, London.
27. Air operations from these vessels are recorded in Incl IV (Furious' Reports), Incl V (Biter's Report), and Incl VI (Dasher's Report), in App. X to Incl 1 of NCXF, TORCH Despatch. A liaison team of two U.S. Army officers (Lt. Col. S. C. Sloane and Maj. John T. Honeycutt) and two radio operators had gone aboard the Furious at Gibraltar.
28. Br. Battle Sum 38, Opn "TORCH," pp. 36-37, and App. A-7.
29. "For purpose of coordination and control," the Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division, initially commanded all units landing at Z Beach; for all other purposes, the Commanding General, Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division, retained complete responsibility for the tactical employment of his command. The Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division, was responsible for expediting as rapidly as possible the landing of the armored force and retained no control over its elements once they had passed through the beachhead. CTF FO 1, 4 Oct 42, Annex 16.
30. (1) Lt. James J. Altieri, Darby's Rangers (Durham, N.C., 1945), pp. 32-35. (2) Maj Weldon E. Laiche, The Oran Operation, 8 November 1942, MS. The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Ga., 1948-49.
31. Rpt of Capt Ansel, USN, Port of Arzeu [Arzew], 30 Nov 42, in Incl 6 of NCXF, TORCH Despatch. Capt. Walter Ansel was in command of the Navy party. Comdr. H. Archdale (RN) commanded the British component.
32. The assault force was aided by a Foreign Legionnaire, Capt. Edgar Guerard Hamilton, an American whose duty at Fort de la Pointe had almost ended, but who was still there when the attack began, and was known to be a likely source of help. He is said to have identified himself to captors by discovering among them a fellow townsman from a small New England community. TORCH Anthology, Vol. I, Ch. 9, p. 9. CIA OSS Archives.
33. (1) Msg, SNOL (Z) to Largs, 0605, 8 Nov 42, Entry 83, in CTF G-3 Jnl. (2) Capt Ansel's Rpt cited in n. 31.
34. Br. Battle Sum 38, Opn "TORCH," p. 37. (2) 1st Div AAR, 12 Nov 42.
35. CT 18 AAR, 19 Nov 42. Strength from Master Landing Schedule, in CTF FO 1, 4 Oct 42, Annex 3D. Including the period of training in ship-to-shore landings and of waiting for final loading, these troops had lived on the ships for more than six weeks.
36. (1) Ibid. (2) Br. Battle Sum 38, Opn "TORCH," p. 37.
37. CT 18 AAR, 19 Nov 42.
38. (1) Ibid. (2) Incl 1 (Rpt of the Naval Commander, Center Task Force) of NCXF, TORCH Despatch.
39. Interv with Lt Col Frederick W. Gibb (then CO 3d Bn 16th Inf), 13 Nov 50.
40. CT 18 AAR, 19 Nov 42.
41. (1) Msg, Jamaica to NC CTF, 1229, 8 Nov Entry 213, in CTF G-3 Jnl. (2) Interv with Lt Col William A. Cunningham, III (then CO 1st Bn 16th Inf), 1 Aug 49. (3) Strength of Combat Team 16 from Master Landing List, Annex 3D to CTF FO 1, 4 Oct 42.
42. (1) CT 16 AAR, 21-24 Nov 42. (2) Spec Periodic Rpt, 0200, 9 Nov 42; Msg, SNOL (Z) to Senior Officer CTF, 0100, 8 Nov 42 (msg cited but not filed); Msg, Farndale to NC CTF, 1610, 8 Nov 42, Entry 281. All in CTF G-3 Jnl. (3) Capt S. V. Ralph, The Operations of the 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry, in the Invasion of North Africa, 8 November-11 November 1942, MS. The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Ga., 1947ñ48. This manuscript relates the personal experience of a battalion adjutant.
43. (1) Msg, CT 18 to CT 18 rear (intercept), 0704, 8 Nov 42, Entry 90, in CTF G-3 Jnl. (2) Task Force RED, Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division, contained: Headquarters, Combat Command B; Reconnaissance Company (less a platoon), Maintenance Company (less a detachment), Service Company (less a detachment), a detachment of Headquarters Company, and the 2d Battalion--all of the 13th Armored Regiment; the 1st Battalion, 1st Armored Regiment; the 2d Battalion, 6th Armored Infantry (+); the 27th Field Artillery Battalion (less Battery C); Company B, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion (+); Company B, 16th Armored Engineer Battalion (ñ); a detachment of Company E, 16th Armored Engineer Battalion; the 106th Coast Artillery (AA) Battalion (less Battery D); Company B, 47th Medical Battalion; the 2d Battalion, 591st Engineer Boat Regiment (less Company F); Company B, 1st Armored Support Battalion (ñ); and a detachment of the 141st Armored Signal Company.
44. (1) CCB 1st Armd Div FO 1, 11 Oct 42. (2) TF RED CCB 1st Armd Div FO 1 with Intell Annex, 11 Oct 42.
45. (1) TF RED 1st Armd Div AAR, 12 Nov 42. (2) 1st Bn 1st Armd Regt, 31 Dec 42. (3) 2d Bn 6th Armd Inf Hist, 11 Oct 42ñ12 May 43. (4) Msg, 8 Nov 42, Entry 149, in CTF G-3 Jnl.
46. The two squadrons were from the 31st Fighter Group commanded by Col. John R. Hawkins. They had been the first such unit to reach the United Kingdom, had been part of the Allied air cover for the Dieppe raid on 19 August 1942, and were in aircraft which had been assembled at the Gibraltar airdrome. The 52d Fighter Group (Col. Richard Allison) was ready for the mission but unable to take off until after Hawkins' unit cleared the airstrip.
47. (1) 1st Bn 1st Armd Regt AAR, 31 Dec 42. (2) TF RED 1st Armd Div AAR, 12 Nov 42. (3) Co B 701st TD Bn AAR, 27 Sep 42ñ12 Feb 43, 24 Sep 43.
48. Instead of parachute drops, aircraft would land troops.
49. A warning that General Boissau in Oran had been apprised of the imminent Allied arrival, that the fifth column plans had broken down, and that a state of full alert existed was reported by Office of Strategic Services radio from Oran to Colonel Eddy on 7 November 1942. OSS Rpt, TORCH and the SOE Signal Stations at Gibraltar, p. 5. CIA OSS Archives. General Eisenhower transmitted this report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff in a message (Review 2) sent at 0232, 8 November 1942.
50. They were reported by Headquarters, Combat Command B, at 1340 to be at Source Blanche and Oggaz. Msgs, 8 Nov 42, Entries 230 and 233, in CTF G-3 Jnl.
51. This account appears in the History of the 51st Troop Carrier Wing, pp. 9ff. It is also reprinted in Wings at War Series 6: The AAF in Northwest Africa, published by AAF, 1945.
52. Msg, Principal Mil Landing Officer (Z) to CG CTF, 0705, 9 Nov 42, Entry 377, in CTF G-3 Jnl.