|Arrival in North Africa||Page 1 - 11|
|Warning of Danger Before Pearl Harbor||Page 11 - 13|
|United States Objectives||Page 13 - 15|
|French Situations in North Africa||Page 17 - 19|
|Broadcasts Before Landing||Page 19 - 25|
|The Strategic Concept||Page 25 - 29|
ARRIVAL IN NORTH AFRICA
COAST GUARD-MANNED TRANSPORTS ARRIVE IN AFRICA
In November 1942, the United States Coast Guard landed troops and supplies in North Africa, having transported them across the Atlantic for the invasion that proved to be the turning point in World War II. With the successful Allied conquest of French North Africa, the Germans were put on the defensive, and the Allies were able to follow through their plans for the liberation of the enslaved nations of Europe. The three Coast Guard manned transports that formed part of the huge fleet off the North African shores on that historic 8th of November were: the LEONARD WOOD, Commander (later Rear Admiral) Merlin O'Neill, USCG; the JOSEPH T. DICKMAN, Commander (later Captain) Charles W. Harwood, USCG; and the SAMUEL CHASE, Commander (later Captain) Roger C. Heimer, USCG. Personnel on the other vessels were from both the Navy and Coast Guard.
OBJECTIVES - NORTH AFRICA AND THE MEDITERRANEAN
American troops, soldiers and sailors, from one of the greatest armadas ever put into a single military operation, swarmed ashore on the Vichy-controlled shores before dawn, striking to break Hitler's hold on the Mediterranean and free the French African colony. From tall, decisive Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the huge forces, down to the youngest seaman in the Coast Guard, all had worked throughout the night for the first great American blow at the Axis. Included in the forces were crack combat troops, rangers, airborne units, and the cream of America's airmen. British naval and air force units supported the American landing forces, who were preceded by a snowstorm of leaflets and a radio barrage promising the French that the United States had no intention of seizing French possessions and only sought to prevent Axis infiltration.
OBJECTIVES AS STATED BY MARSHALL
Allied objectives in North Africa were expressed by General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, in his official report to the Secretary of War, as follows,1 "....the final decision was taken in July (1942) to launch an expedition into northwest Africa in conjunction with the preparations for the advance westward of the British Eighth Army then reorganizing on the El Alamein line. The opening of the Mediterranean would facilitate Allied global operations, and the removal of the constant threat of German activities in western Morocco and at Dakar would add immeasurably to the security of the Allied position while gathering strength to administer the final punishing blows. Furthermore, if our occupation of North Africa could be carried out without fatally embittering the French troops and authorities in that region It would provide a setting for the reconstitution of the French Army in preparation for its return in force to the homeland. The psychological effect of the conquest of North
U.S. COAST GUARD MANNED COMBAT TRANSPORT LEONARD WOOD CARRIES FIGHTING MEN AND VITAL WAR MATERIALS TO THE ENEMY-HELD INVASION SHORES
Africa would be tremendous." Of the air units, General Marshall reported, "The combined air forces, other than carrier-borne and a few transports and heavy bombers, had to be funneled through the single restricted field at Gibraltar which could have been put out of action in less than an hour. There was no choice but to accept this hazard."
THREE TASK FORCES ORGANIZED
Three task forces were formed, to strike simultaneously. One, entirely American, sailed from the United States and carried out the landings along the west coast of Morocco, where the chief objective was Casablanca. Serving with this force were the LEONARD WOOD and the JOSEPH T. DICKMAN. Another task force, consisting of American troops escorted by the British Navy, sailed from Great Britain and landed in the vicinity of Oran. There, two former Coast Guard Cutters, the PONTCHARTRAIN and the SEBAGO, transferred under Lend-Lease to the British, performed a mission that for heroism has been described as on par with the fabulous charge of the Light Brigade. The third task force, a combined British-American ground force escorted by the British Navy, sailed from the British Isles and landed at Algiers. In this task force was the SAMUEL CHASE, who alone of her Division escaped undamaged and won the nickname of "LUCKY CHASE." British and American naval covering forces and air units furnished protection for the task forces.
OPERATION WELL SYNCHRONIZED
Observers reported that our big convoy arrived at its destination with the split-second timing of a subway train, despite storms for many days at sea and danger from planes and submarines. The entire operation was carried out with the delicate synchronization of an expensive watch, justifying the months of careful planning and training. The vastness of the project, not only from the number of troops involved but from the distances covered and military problems overcome, far dwarfed the only similar operation of its kind in that theater of the war - the Nazi invasion of Norway. At the zero hour, khaki-clad soldiers stumbled into their square-nosed assault boats in the darkness under the protecting guns of shadowy warships, while, farther out to sea, planes roared over the speeding carriers and disappeared in the darkness.
LEONARD WOOD HOLDS CROWDED FIVE DEEP
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the SS WESTERN WORLD had been converted into an amphibious assault transport, the LEONARD WOOD, officially known as the APA-12, later dubbed "Sea-Going Taxi No. 1" because of her global activities. A fast, grim ship armed with dual-purpose guns and four types of LC's slung on her davits, she was taken over by the Navy and promptly manned by the Coast Guard. Fighting men traveled five deep in her crowded quarters. The global war required fast tough ships that could get in and out - transports that could ride with a punch while skilled crews set the combat forces ashore. When, a month before Pearl Harbor, the Navy took over the Coast Guard for the duration of the war, the fourth armed service and the oldest seagoing service - founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1790 - was just what the Admirals needed. Its crews were ready-made for assault transports. Captain O'Neill was quoted as
saying, "They wanted men who could take barges right up on the beach through any kind of surf. So we fitted. Though going in under an all-out bombardment was hardly like the job we did in the Louisville flood, it worked out." It "worked out" so well that the WOOD participated gloriously in enough combat zones to make a One Ship's History of the War. Captain O'Neill was later awarded the Legion of Merit.
DICKMAN'S HOLDS BULGED WITH MEN AND EQUIPMENT
Also converted into an army transport, early in 1941, was the USS PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT, renamed the JOSEPH T. DICKMAN, known officially as the APA-13, affectionately called "Old Joe." As a part of Task Force 34, the "Old Joe" had crossed 3,000 miles of ocean, with 1,370 men and 73 officers of the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry, 3rd Division, plus 43 naval officers and 80 enlisted personnel of the U. S. Navy Sea Frontier Unit and Western Task Force Headquarters. Her holds bulged with vehicles, gasoline, ammunition, and general army equipment and gear.2 According to the ship's history, no record is available of her cargo on this first assault but it is safe to say that it was considerable. At 2355 on 7 November, 1942, the following entry was made in the log, "all engines stopped, all hands standby to lower boats." Operation TORCH was underway. Her trip across had been uneventful, her Commanding Officer reported, although there was at that time considerable enemy submarine activity. During the invasion, when enemy guns opened up, Captain Harwood was described by one of his men as "awfully cool under fire." Questioned about this later, the Captain quipped, "Yes, paralyzed with fright." He was said to have lost the least number of landing boats. For his heroic conduct and brilliant leadership, he was later decorated with the Legion of Merit.
"LUCKY CHASE" CROWDED WITH TROOPS AND CARGO
Commissioned in June 1942, as the USS SAMUEL CHASE, the former SS AFRICAN METEOR became officially known as the AP-56, and earned the title of "LUCKY CHASE," due to her ability to get away undamaged from heavy enemy fire. She was the only transport of her Division that survived. Her Commanding Officer, Captain Heimer, praised all the personnel of the CHASE for outstanding devotion to duty and for their heroic conduct in their rescue operations of hundreds of survivors of the LEEDSTOWN (AP-73), sunk by enemy action. As flagship of Transport Division 11, the CHASE sailed from New York, on September 26, 1942, with scarcely anybody knowing where he was going. "All we knew was that Army men aboard were in our charge for safe transportation and landing on a foreign shore," related Ensign Albert Heckman, USCG, some time later. "In addition to the usual scuttlebutt, all signs pointed to Africa. The newly sand-proofed jeeps, the light clothing, mosquito bars, sun and sand goggles, the inoculations
for malaria and sleeping sickness, and the salt tablets were fine indications that we were going some place in Africa. Several days before the attack was to begin, the Commodore opened his orders and told his officers where they were going and briefly what was expected of them. We in turn informed our men that on the morning of 8 November, 1942, our transport division was going to force a landing at Algiers. Simultaneously, the British forces were to take Oran, and other American naval landings were to be effected in French Morocco.
ARMY PLANS LOGISTICS
At little desks in unimpressive offices with assistants who will forever be anonymous, the colonels and generals of the United States Army, early in the summer, began developing the campaign's "logistics" - the art of getting the right men with the right equipment to the right place at the right time. Fifteen weeks later, wonderfully equipped American troops from the United States and from the United Kingdom landed with split-second timing at a dozen different points in three separate areas of French North Africa.
ALL EXCEPT NAVY TRANSPORTS INSPECTED
The Merchant Marine Inspectors of the United States Coast Guard played a very important part in seeing that all ships, with the exception of transports operated by the Navy, carrying American troops and supplies, were in seaworthy condition and properly manned. In its capacity as Technical Adviser to the Water Transportation Corps of the United States Army, the Coast Guard inspected practically all ships, American and foreign, leaving United States ports with American troops on board. The purpose of this inspection was to make sure that vessels were in seaworthy condition and that the lifesaving, fire-fighting and safety equipment on board the vessel for the protection of the troops and crew were in good condition and ready for immediate use. Lifeboat and fire drills were conducted by the Coast Guard Marine Inspectors to make sure that the crew members were familiar with the use of the equipment on board. These inspectors also saw to it that each and every person on board was equipped with a life preserver of a type approved by the Coast Guard. Hence, practically all troop ships carrying American troops from United States ports, as well as all U. S. merchant vessels which took part in the invasion had been inspected and approved by the Coast Guard.
BIGGEST OVERSEAS LANDING FORCE IN HISTORY
It was the biggest overseas landing force in world history. Services of Supply had to provide 700,000 different items - 22,000,000 pounds of food, for example, and 38,000,000 pounds of clothing and equipage. There were 10,000,000 gallons of gasoline, and every gallon had to be scheduled - whether to go ashore in five-gallon cans carried by individual soldiers, or in 50-gallon drums, or landed in bulk from tankers. The Quartermaster Corps had to send seven pairs of shoes for every soldier - and schedule still more pairs to follow every 90 days. The quartermaster supply list for the African expedition was an amazing document. It included 100 alarm clocks and 580 rat traps, stepladders and rubber stamps, butchers' uniforms and steel safes.
RIGID TESTS BY THE U. S. COAST GUARD'S MERCHANT MARINER INSPECTION DIVISION TO FIND PERFECTION IN LIFESAVING EQUIPMENT
Every American soldier went ashore with his own individual water-purifying equipment. If he filled his canteen from some questionable source he had simply to drop in a tablet about one-third the size of an aspirin. A million of these tablets were provided.
ALL DETAILS THOUGHT OUT
Loading plans and techniques were meticulously developed and tested on this side long before ships were assembled at ports of embarkation. All types of equipment - beans to 33-ton tanks - were loaded. Some troops were reported landing with highway signs - 12 miles to Algiers - already painted presumably aboard ship. Stockades for expected prisoners were built in the United States and transported to be put ashore the moment the boats docked.
COAST GUARD EXPERIENCE IN SURF CALLED UPON
In mapping plans for the amphibious warfare, our high command bore in mind that Coast Guardsmen knew more than anyone in either the Army or Navy about the business of handling small boats in surf. Now, the Coast Guard was operating under the jurisdiction of the Navy.3 So in the joint operation of both Services, Army and Navy, as the Amphibious Force, the highest levels of command made the decision: All responsibility for getting the Army ashore was to be the Navy's and the Coast Guard's. The Army had to say when and where and in what order they wanted to be landed.
ORIGIN OF AMPHIBIOUS CRAFT
In the landing craft group, the Amphibious Force had boats of two types: LCP's (Landing Craft, Personnel) and LCM's (Landing Craft, Mechanized) and LCI's, LCT's, LCV's, and LST's.4 These landing boats were developed in co-operation with the British Admiralty, who began planning the invasion of Europe while their troops were still being evacuated from Dunkerque. The LCT's were an outgrowth of the Continental river barges (the British version was considerably longer than the American). The LST, product of joint Anglo-American planning and study, evolved from the shallow-draft Lake Maracaibo tankers. The six types of landing craft described above composed the original landing craft group of the Amphibious Force, and represented all the main types used in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Amphibious Operations.
The difficulties that small boats had in finding their way in the dark led to the adoption of the Control Boat and the Line-of-Departure method of finding position,
and the Scout and Raider technique of beachmarking. Problems of fire support were solved by the little LCSS's (Landing Craft Support, Small). The waves of small craft stood in greatest need of protection as they neared the beach and drew within range of light machine gun, mortar, and small-arm fire. But this was just the time the heavy ships furnishing the preliminary neutralizing bombardment would have to lift their fire for fear of hitting their own men. For this situation, the little support boats were devised, with banks of twelve rocket launching racks on each gunwale. This support craft had shallow draft, easy maneuverability and its rockets "packed a devastating punch."5
WARNINGS OF DANGER BEFORE PEARL HARBOR
DANGEROUS SITUATION IN GERMANY, 1933
As far back as 1933, the United States Consul General at Berlin, Mr. George S. Messersmith, expressed the view, in a letter of June 26, of that year, to Under Secretary of State, Mr. William Phillips, that the United States would have to be exceedingly careful in its dealings with Germany as long as the existing government was in power, as that government had no spokesmen who could really be depended upon and those who held the highest positions were "capable of actions which really outlaw them from ordinary intercourse." The Consul General described some of the men who were running the German Government as "psychopathic cases," and said that others were in a state of exaltation and in a frame of mind that knew no reason. He reported that those men in the party and in responsible positions who were really worthwhile were powerless because they had to follow the orders of superiors who were suffering from the "abnormal psychology" prevailing in Germany. "There is a real revolution here and a dangerous situation," he warned.
MARTIAL SPIRIT DEVELOPED
A martial spirit was being developed in Germany, the Consul reported, and everywhere people were seen drilling. This included children from the age of five or six to persons well into middle age. A psychology was being developed, he said, that the whole world was against Germany, which was defenseless before the world. The people were being trained against gas and airplane attacks, and the idea of war from neighboring countries was constantly harped upon. He emphasized that Germany was headed toward ruin and a situation "dangerous to world peace." Five months later, in a letter of November 23, 1933, to Mr. Phillips, the Consul General reported that the military spirit in Germany was constantly growing and that innumerable measures were being taken to develop the German people into a hardy, sturdy race which would "be able to meet all comers."
DANGER FROM LOSS OF FREEDOM OF THE HIGH SEAS
In an address on April 24, 1941, Secretary Hull warned, that it made a "fateful difference" to us who won the war. That difference would determine whether we would stand with our backs to the wall with the other four
continents against us, and the high seas lost, alone defending the last free territories on earth, or whether we would keep our place in an orderly world.6 Those who felt that a British defeat would not matter to us, Mr. Hull declared, overlooked the fact that the resulting delivery of the high seas to the invader would create colossal danger to our own national defense and security. The breadth of the sea might give us a little time but it did not give us safety. Safety could only come from our ability, in conjunction with other peace-loving nations, "to prevent any aggressor from attaining control of the high seas." When on October 17, 1941, the United States destroyer KEARNY was attacked and hit by a torpedo from a German submarine, eleven men of the Navy were killed and warnings of danger increased, President Roosevelt said in an address on October 27, that we had wished to avoid shooting but the shooting had begun and "history has recorded who fired the first shot." The forward march of Hitler and of Hitlerism could be stopped, the President said, and would be stopped. He concluded his address with the statement that in the face of this newest and greatest challenge "we Americans have cleared our decks and taken our battle stations." We stood ready, the President said, "in the defense of our nation and the faith of our fathers to do what God has given us the power to see as our full duty."
U. S. JOINS THE FRAY
A few weeks later, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States was finally drawn into the terrible armed world conflict. On December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. On December 11, 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. On that date, Congress passed, with no dissenting vote, and the President approved, resolutions formally declaring, the existence of a state of war between the United States and Germany and between the United States and Italy.
UNITED STATES OBJECTIVES
THE FOUR FREEDOMS-OBJECTIVES OF THE UNITED STATES
President Roosevelt told Congress, on January 6, 1942, in his State of the Union message, "The militarists of Berlin and Tokyo started this war. But the massed, angered forces of common humanity will finish it.... Our own objectives are clear: the objective of smashing the militarism imposed by war lords upon their enslaved peoples; the objective of liberating the subjugated nations; the objective of establishing and securing freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear everywhere in the world. We shall not stop short of these objectives. This time we are determined not only to win the war but also to maintain the security of the peace that will follow.... We are fighting to cleanse the world of ancient evils, ancient ills." The speech was interrupted thirty-three times by applause.
AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE THREATENED
"We know where our first lines of defenses are: England, Australia, China, and the Middle East," declared Admiral Waesche,in June, 1942. "We are
SIX NEW LANDING BARGES LASHED INTO ONE MOVE DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI WITH SOME FAR-OFF WAR ZONE AS THEIR DESTINATION
intent on guarding these areas," he continued, "their peoples, and their institutions. These are our first lines of defense in that by protecting them, we can preserve ourselves and our American way of life...."
PREPARATIONS EN ROUTE
The week that followed the departure of the convoys for the African shores, brought to light the most intricate and large-scale planning for an amphibious attack in military and naval history. Army and Coast Guard officers held separate conferences, mulling over the particular problems allotted to each group; then combined conferences and discussions smoothed off the rough edges. Each officer mastered the operations as a whole and then studied his own special job until he was entirely familiar with every detail. There were hundreds of aerial photographs, French and English dictionaries of military and naval terms, performance reports of French tanks and guns, aircraft silhouettes, clay mosaics of beaches and interiors (showing the location of every tree, vineyard, and house) as well as notebooks full of intelligence reports covering every conceivable detail of our operation. Even special American dollars-invasion money-were supplied for our use ashore....
"DO OR DIE" PROPOSITION
In general, the plan was to make a landing and capture an airport, certain villages, and hold road heads and bridges. We learned that it was a do or die proposition, for the airport had to be taken and thereafter held, since there would be Spitfires flown in from Gibraltar which had to land there. If the airfield was not in our hands by that time the fighter planes would have to crash when their small quantities of fuel were exhausted. In addition, it would be necessary to reduce a fort on Cape Matifou under whose big guns we had to land. As a precaution, an alternative landing was developed in case we absolutely could not force a beachhead at Ain Taya. The final stage called for a cessation and settlement of all hostilities In four days in order that the British portion of our convoy could move into Algiers docks and disembark the First British Army destined to push Rommel from the West.
DIPLOMATIC HANDLING OF FRENCH
"Vastly more important than all the preparations for the attack," Ensign Heckman said, "was the mental attitude we had to instill in our men. It was necessary to explain to them that the French were not our enemies, that it was necessary to land on and enter into French territory in order to get at the Boche. If the French fought, we would fight also, and show them that we would go to no end in order to reduce Hitler, The case of the Allies rested on the actions of our men in occupied territory, so each man and officer sewed a small American flag on the left shoulder of his coveralls in order that the old French who remembered the United States in the last war might rekindle the same feeling again. In fact, there were recorded incidents wherein French people wept at the sight of the Stars and Stripes on the shoulders of our boys."
FRENCH SITUATION IN NORTH AFRICA
PRECAUTION NEEDED IN SEEKING FRENCH COOPERATION
In an area teeming with German and Vichy agents, and agents provocateurs, always on the alert to intercept, confuse, and threaten, the success of the invasion depended, above all, on secrecy. This meant that Allied leaders had to use the utmost precaution in seeking cooperation of French leaders, lest a "collaborator," Vichy-controlled, be approached by mistake and the entire plan be divulged to the enemy. Secrecy had to be maintained, yet sympathetic French leaders had to be informed of Allied intentions in order to avoid French resistance. The big questions were whom to let in on the secret, and how and when.
MARSHALL STATES PROBLEM
"The problem of how to avoid fighting with the French forces in North Africa was difficult of approach," General Marshall wrote in his report of the operations. "In the first place, and most important of all," he said, "the hazard to the secrecy with which the operation must be prepared and launched presented an extremely delicate balance in the choice of methods to be followed. Should an approach be made to a single Frenchman who proved unsympathetic to our purpose we risked the slaughter of soldiers on the beaches of North Africa as well as decisive losses in shipping. The psychological impact from such a defeat at that particular moment in the war would have been little short of catastrophic. To a certain degree, however, this risk had to be accepted. Even so, the discussions regarding such an expedition had to be conducted on a more or less indefinite basis as to timing. Not until four days before the convoys would deploy off the beaches at Algiers, Oran, and Casablanca were the few Frenchmen we had contacted informed of the actual date for the operation. This, of course, made it extremely difficult, in cases impossible, for these French officials to take all the steps necessary to facilitate our landings. The consequences of disclosure of our purpose to the enemy, however, involved too great a peril to justify earlier notification."
PROBLEMS OF COOPERATION
Prior to the landings, we continued to recognize Vichy, "not because we loved them," as one State Department official explained, but because of certain tangible things we were getting out of them. Among these were the disposition of the French Fleet, lest it be handed over to the Germans. And, of course, in keeping in touch with the French people directly we were able to give them some support when the Germans tried to get things out of them over and above the terms of the Armistice. Admiral Leahy was the U. S. Ambassador to Vichy. Mr. Robert Murphy was in charge of the specialists sent by the United States to North Africa. Technically, Mr. Murphy was the Counsellor of the U. S. Embassy at Vichy, but actually he was traveling around in North Africa, and it was through him that contacts were made with those French who were to help in the Allied landings.
ORDERS WERE NOT TO SHOOT FIRST
Thus, while it was certain there would be no bitterly prolonged resistance, if any, once General Henri Giraud and other French leaders had spoken, it was still likely that not all French garrisons would get the word in time,
or believe it once it had been passed. Due to the uncertainty of the situation, our forces were given orders not to shoot first, but to be ready to shoot fast and plentifully if necessary. A code signal had been devised to flash throughout the Task Forces that our landings were being opposed, should there be resistance. That signal was "Play Ball."
BROADCASTS BEFORE LANDING
ROOSEVELT'S BROADCAST TO NORTH AFRICA
Because resistance remained problematical, in spits of the negotiations with a few French leaders, steps were taken to insure cooperation just as the landings were about to begin. In a radio broadcast, General Eisenhower issued a proclamation of friendly intentions toward French North Africa, and he instructed French forces to indicate their non-resistance by displaying certain signals. At one o'clock in the morning on November 8, at the moment the landings in Algiers began, President Roosevelt spoke to the French people by short-wave radio, assuring them that the Allies sought no territory and asking for French cooperation against the Nazi regime. He assured the Spanish government also that the invasion was not directed against Spanish Morocco or other Spanish territory in Africa.
EISENHOWER'S BROADCAST TO FRENCH ARMY, NAVY
The text of General Dwight D. Eisenhower's proclamation broadcast to the French armies on the land, sea, and air in North Africa was as follows:
"Frenchmen of North Africa, the forces which I have the honor of commanding come to you as friends to make war against your enemies.
"This is a military operation directed against the Italian-German military forces in North Africa. Our only objective is to defeat the enemy and to free France, I need not tell you that we have no designs either on North Africa or on any part of the French Empire. We count on your friendship and we ask your aid.
"I have given formal orders that no offensive action shall be undertaken against you on condition that for your part you take the same attitude.
"To avoid any possible misunderstanding, make the following signals: "By day, fly the French Tricolor and the American flag, one above the other.
"I repeat, by day, fly the French Tricolor and the American flag, one above the other, or two (I repeat two) Tricolors, one above the other.
"By night turn on a searchlight and direct it vertically towards the sky.
"I repeat, by night turn on a searchlight and direct it vertically towards the sky.
"Moreover, for reasons of military security, we are obliged to give you the following orders. Any refusal to follow them will be interpreted as a proof of hostile intention on your part.
"To all Naval and Merchant Marine units: First, stay where you are. Secondly, make no attempt to scuttle your vessels.
"To Coast Guard units: Withdraw from the neighborhood of your cannon and your stations.
"To aviation units: Do not take off. All airplanes must remain in their usual places.
"General Orders: In general, you must obey all orders given to you by my officers.
"We come, I repeat, as friends, not as enemies. We shall not be the first to fire. Follow exactly the orders which I have given you. Thus you will avoid any possibility of a conflict which could only be useful to our enemies. We summon you as comrades to the common fight against the invaders of France. The war has entered the phase of liberation."
PRESIDENT'S BROADCAST TO AMERICANS
To the people of the United States, President Roosevelt, on November 8, 1942, announced the landing of American troops in North Africa, in the following words: "In order to forestall an invasion of Africa by Germany and Italy, which, if successful, would constitute a direct threat to America across the comparatively narrow sea from western Africa, a powerful American force equipped with adequate weapons of modern warfare and under American command is today landing on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of the French colonies in Africa. The landing of this American army is being assisted by the British Navy and Air Forces, and it will in the immediate future be reinforced by a considerable number of divisions of the British Army. This combined Allied force, under American command, in conjunction with the British campaign in Egypt, is designed to prevent an occupation by the Axis armies of any part of northern or western Africa and to deny to the aggressor nations a starting point from which to launch an attack against the Atlantic coast of the Americas. In addition, it provides an effective second front assistance to our heroic Allies in Russia."
FRENCH LEADERS BROADCAST PLEAS FOR COOPERATION
Speedy cessation of French resistance was urged by French leaders. Both General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Fighting French, and General Henri Giraud, in charge of the French Army in North Africa, broadcast pleas to their countrymen to cooperate with the Allies.
"Arise, every one of you. Help our Allies!" General de Gaulle asked of all French armed forces. "Join them without reserve! France which fights calls on you!" General Giraud, over the Algiers radio appealed to the French forces in North Africa, exclaiming, "This is our chance of revival!"
LANDINGS A SURPRISE TO GERMAN HIGH COMMAND
Allied landings in North Africa came as a surprise to the German High Command. General Marshall sent the following report to the Secretary of War, in 1945. "Field Marshal Kesselring, who, at the time, was commanding all German forces in the Mediterranean except Rommel's desert task force, states that his headquarters
did expect a landing and had requested reinforcement by a division. However, Kesselring's fears were not heeded by Hitler and Goering. Allied security and deception measures for the landing operations were found to have been highly effective. Only when the Allied fleets and convoys were streaming through the Straits of Gibraltar did the Germans realize that something very special was under way, and even then false conclusions were drawn: either that the Allies intended to land in rear of Rommel in the Middle East, or that these were British reinforcements en route to the Far East, or supplies for starving Malta. Since no advance preparations had been made by the Germans to repel such an Allied invasion of North Africa, all subsequent efforts to counter the Allies suffered from hasty improvisation. Defense continued, however, because, as Field Marshal Keitel now states, since evacuation was impossible, the Germans had only the choice of resisting or surrendering," As American GI's later reported, the Germans in North Africa surrendered in droves.
The strategical purposes of the operations were stated by the Combined Chiefs of Staff to he as follows:
- Establishment of firm and mutually supported lodgments in the Oran-Algiers-Tunis area on the north coast, and in the Casablanca area on the northwest coast, in order that appropriate bases for continued and intensified air, ground and sea operations might be readily available.
- Vigorous and rapid exploitation from lodgments obtained in order to acquire complete control of the entire area, including French Morocco, Algeria, and Tunis, to facilitate effective air and ground operations against the enemy, and to create favorable conditions for extension of offensive operations to the east through Libya against the rear of Axis forces in the Western Desert.
- Complete annihilation of the Axis forces opposing the British forces in the Western Desert and intensification of air and sea operations against the Axis on the European continent."
The Joint United States Chiefs of Staff issued the following "concept of United States participation," calling for military and naval forces as follows:
- A Joint Expeditionary Force to seize and occupy the Atlantic coast of French Morocco.
- United States forces required in conjunction with the British forces to seize and occupy the Mediterranean coast of French North Africa.
- Additional Army forces as required to complete the occupation of Northwest Africa.
- Naval local defense forces and sea frontier forces for the Atlantic coast of French Morocco and naval personnel for naval base maintenance and harbor control at Oran.
CRIMEAN CONFERENCE: PRIME MINISTER WINSTON CHURCHILL, PRESIDENT F. D. ROOSEVELT, AND PREMIER JOSEPH STALIN, IN THE PATIO, AT THE PALACE IN MALTA, WHERE THE BIG THREE MET. REAR, ARE ADMIRAL SIR ANDREW CUNNINGHAM, ADMIRAL ERNEST KING, AIR MARSHAL PORTAL, AND ADMIRAL WILLIAM D. LEAHY, WITH OTHER HIGH-RANKING ALLIED OFFICERS. FEBRUARY, 1945.
- The United States to be responsible for logistic support and requirements of all United States Forces."
THE STRATEGIC CONCEPT
AS DESCRIBED IN GENERAL MARSHALL'S REPORT TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, IN 1945
U. S. GAINS TIME BY HEROISM OF HER ALLIES
In the early months of World War II, the element on which the security of the United States most depended was time - time to organize her tremendous resources and time to send them overseas in a global war. As General George S. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, expressed it, in his official re port to the Secretary of War, "We were given this time through the heroic refusal of the Soviet and British peoples to collapse under the smashing blows of the Axis forces. They bought this time for us with the currency of blood and courage." By 1943, our margin of safety was still precarious, but, as the Report stated, "the moment was rapidly approaching when we would be prepared to deal with our enemies on the only terms they understood - overwhelming power."
JOINT CONFERENCE OF DECEMBER, 1941 IN WASHINGTON
In a series of joint conferences, the Allies met to plan the decisions that launched the vast campaigns to crush Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Forces of the United States and Great Britain were deployed under a single strategic control exercised by the group known as the Combined Chiefs of Staff. This structure of Allied control was conceived at the conference of December 1941, when Prime Minister Churchill, accompanied by the chiefs of the British Navy, Army, and Air Forces, came to Washington and met with the President and the American Chiefs of Staff. It was the most complete unification of military effort ever achieved by two Allied nations. Strategic direction of all the forces of both nations, the allocation of manpower and munitions, the coordination of communications, the control of military intelligence, and the administration of captured areas all were accepted as joint responsibilities. The President and the Prime Minister, with the advice of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, made the decision at this first conference that our resources would be concentrated first to defeat Germany, the ^greater and closer enemy, and then Japan.
APRIL 1942 IN LONDON
In April 1942, General Marshall, accompanied by Mr. Harry Hopkins, met in London in conference with Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the War Cabinet, and the British Chiefs of Staff to make a tentative plan for the invasion of the European continent in a cross-Channel operation. "At that time the Red Army was slowly falling back under the full fury of the German assault," said the General in his Report, "and it was accepted at the London Conference that everything practicable must be done to reduce the pressure on the Soviet lest she collapse and the door be opened wide for a complete conquest of Europe and a probable juncture with the Japanese in the Indian Ocean. In
the discussions at this conference, a tentative target date for the cross-Channel operations, designated by the code name ROUNDUP, was set for the summer of 1943. However, the immediate necessity for an emergency plan was recognized. It was given the code name SLEDGEHAMMER and was to provide for a diversionary assault on the French coast at a much earlier date if such a desperate measure became necessary to lend a hand toward saving the situation on the Soviet front.
LACK OF SHIPS AND EQUIPMENT DELAY OPERATIONS
"Here the Western Allies faced a shortage which was to plague us to the final day of the war in Europe - the shortage of assault craft, LST's, LCI's, and smaller vessels," the Marshall Report continues. "At least six divisions would be required for a diversionary action in order to be of any assistance to the Red Army, and all the resources of England and the United States were searched for vessels or barges that could be employed in the Channel. Outboard motors and marine engines in pleasure craft in the United States were appropriated for this purpose. An extensive building program for landing craft was agreed upon, which necessitated a heavy cut-back or delay in the construction then under way of certain major combat ships for the Pacific Fleet. Also there were added to the production program in the United States, a great many items which would be required for build-up - engineering and railroad equipment and rolling stock, pipelines, hospital set-ups, communication materiel, and a multitude of items to be required for airfields, camps, docks, and depots in the British Isles for the actual Channel crossing and for the support of our troops once they were in France."
JUNE 1942 IN WASHINGTON
In June 1942, Winston Churchill and General Sir Alan F. Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, returned to Washington for a conference to further discuss SLEDGEHAMMER and ROUNDUP, and the possibility of an operation in the Mediterranean. While these discussions were in progress, the Allied situation in North Africa "took a more serious turn, culminating in the loss of Tobruk, The discussions thereafter were devoted almost exclusively to the measures to be taken to meet the threat facing Cairo, Rommel's forces having been checked with difficulty on the El Alamein line. Further advances by his Afrika Korps, with its Italian reinforcements, and German success along the southeastern portion of the Soviet front threatened a complete collapse in the Middle East, the loss of the Suez Canal and the vital oil supply in the vicinity of Abadan. It was a very black hour," General Marshall commented of that time.
JULY 1942 IN LONDON
In July 1942, General Marshall and Admiral Ernest J. King, USN, Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations, went to London for further conferences with the British Chiefs of Staff, "to determine if there were not something that could be done immediately to lessen the pressure on the Soviet, whose armies were facing a crisis. Poverty of equipment, especially in landing craft, and the short period remaining when the weather would permit cross-Channel movement of small craft, ruled out the diversionary operation SLEDGEHAMMER for 1942. After prolonged discussions, it became evident that the only operation that could be undertaken with a fair prospect of success that year was TORCH, the assault on North Africa.
Landings there would be a long way from Germany, but should serve to divert at least some German pressure from the Red Army, and would materially improve the critical situation in the Middle East."
OPERATION "TORCH" DECIDED ON
The decision was made to launch the North African invasion at the earliest possible moment, "accepting the fact that this would mean not only the abandonment of the possibility for any operation in Western Europe that year, but that the necessary build-up for the cross-Channel assault could not be completed in 1943. TORCH would bleed most of our resources in the Atlantic, and would confine us in the Pacific to the holding of the Hawaii-Midway line and the preservation of communications to Australia. General Eisenhower, who was then established with his headquarters in London, directing the planning and assembling of American resources, was, with the generous acceptance of the British Government, appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British and American Forces which were to carry out the landings in North Africa. On 13 August he received the formal directive to proceed with the operation. The target date was fixed for early November."
GERMAN PLAN OF "PINCERS" UPSET
"We have since learned," the Marshall Report stated, "that the German plan at that time was to attempt the defeat of Britain by aerial bombardment and by destruction of her army and resources in the Middle East, Colonel General Jodl, Chief of the German Armed Forces Operations Staff, has disclosed that it was Hitler's plan to break through Stalingrad and Egypt, and join these two salient's in the Middle East. The heroic defense of Stalingrad and General Montgomery's crushing defeat of Rommel at El Alamein dislocated these gigantic pincers. The further development of the operations in North Africa from the east and the west, and the Soviet offensive from the Volga proved to be the turning points at which the Axis was forced on the strategic defensive."7
TWO MAJOR EXPEDITIONS
The landings which accomplished the occupation of French North Africa were carried out in accordance with plans and with a boldness and efficiency which secured the initial objectives, the major air fields and ports in North Africa, within a period of forty-eight hours. Geographically, the three operations fell into two regions based on the seas to which they were related: the Moroccan Expedition and the Algerian Expedition.
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1. See Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, July 1, 1941 to June 30, 1943.
2. See Coast Guard publication "History of the USS JOSEPH T. DICKMAN (APA-13) 10 June, 1941 - 1 October, 1945," prepared by the vessel and forwarded by its Commanding Officer at that time, Captain F. A. Leamy, USCG.
3. See Appendix A - "Executive Order 8929, November 1, 1941."
4. See "Symbols of United States Navy Ships" for complete description of these craft, pp. 178-180.
5. According to Commander Walter Karig in "Battle Report II."
6. See Appendix B. - "The War and Human Freedom."
7. For full account, see "Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, July 1, 1943 to June 30, 1945, to the Secretary of War."