The invasion force was 107,000, commanded
by Lt. General Dwight D. Eisenhower.They
were split into 3 invasion Task Forces.
Western Task Force - West Morocco: Safi, Fedala & Port Lyautey
Major General George S. Patton, Jr 47th and 60th Regimental Combat Teams (9th
Infantry Division) 2nd Armored Division (one combat command and
one armored battalion)
Central Task Force - Algiers: Les Andalouses, Oran & Arzew
Major General Lloyd Fredendall 1st Infantry Division Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division 1st Ranger battalion Corps Troops
Eastern Task Force - Algiers: Algiers, Ain-Taya & Bougie
Major General C. W. Ryder 39th Regimental Combat Team (9th Infantry
Division) 168th Regimental Combat Team (34th Infantry
Division) 1st and 6th Battalions, Commandos (American
and British troops) 11th and 36th Regimental Groups (British
78th Infantry Division)
About 850 ships, the largest amphibious task force
ever assembled for warfare, sailed to North Africa and D-Day. Some sailed from
the British Isles and the others, such as those transporting the 47th and 60th
Combat Teams, sailed directly from the US.They met in the Atlantic and proceeded South then East to the
Mediterranean Sea and their D-Day.They
went directly to their pre-assigned invasion points and proceeded to work for
their first of Eight Stars.
was 23 October 1942.Rommel’s
Afrika Corps and General Montgomery’s Desert Rats were in their famous
historical battle at Al Alamein.A
major British victory was in the process of being executed.A Second Front had to be established to relieve the Russians. Operation
Torch was that second front. Operation Torch began with planning by the Combined
Chiefs of Staff of America and Britain. The staffs in England devoted
exceptionally long hours to the minutest of details.The Vichy French were siding with the Germans and major political efforts
were made to attempt to get them to capitulate. The especially chosen pro Allied
French leaders were involved to assist with the capitulation’s of French
Garrisons and airfields in French Northern Africa. It was not known whether
Spain would enter the fray on the side of the Germans and let them traverse
Spain to North Africa.Were the
planes of the Luftwaffe and submarines of the German Navy going to cause major
disruption to the pending invasion.? Fortunately,
sufficient deception and misinformation was about, causing the German Air Force
to withdraw to Sicily, Sardinia and southern Italy with most of its supplies.They expected action somewhere on mainland Europe.The Germans thought the fleet was going to Malta
Operation Torch was to be a coordinated effort of simultaneous landings
and thus surprise the French and Italians at the Western, Central and Eastern
Task Force North African landings.D-Day
was scheduled for 8 November 1942.
On 7 November the USS Thomas Stone transport, carrying the entire 2nd
Battalion of the 39th Combat Team, was struck and disabled by torpedo one day
prior to the landing.The convoy
had to proceed without them, possibly leaving them at the mercy of the enemy and
not knowing whether they would survive.So
much for surprise.The 3rd
Battalion had to be substituted.The
2nd Battalion of the 39th Combat Team did attempt to use its landing craft to
get into the action, but most of the craft broke up and sank long before they
reached land. (They were 160 miles from their invasion site.)A naval destroyer picked up the men.
On 8 November 1942 Operation Torch began with landings in the pre dawn,
about 1:30 AM.The Forces met with
differing amounts of opposition from the French. The 39th Combat Team’s 1st
and 2nd Battalions were successful in achieving their objectives of the 1st day
with varying amounts of opposition from the French in Algiers Eastern Sector.The 3rd Battalion moved inland and was successful in achieving their
objectives of the 1st day at 6:15 AM.Admiral
Darlan was visiting in the area and was captured. Discussions took place with
Admiral Darlan, who was commander in chief of all Vichy French Forces.These discussions resulted in a formal surrender. Occupation of Algiers
started at 7 PM.
"General Patton's Western Task Force mission was to attack western
Morocco, seize and secure the port of Casablanca as a base for future operations
to the north and northeast, and eliminate or cripple the enemy air force and
secure by dark of D-Day at least one airfield as a base for land-based
The 47th and 60th Combat Teams encountered more resistance in French
Morocco.Their opposition was the
famed French Foreign Legion.They
had sailed directly from the US to their invasion point. Not only were the
cliffs, rocks and hills an additional challenge of the Western Task Force, but
they got underway late and after President Roosevelt had broadcast a message in
French, asking the French for their help, ”.... we have come among you to
repulse the cruel invaders“.Company
E of the 2nd Battalion of the 60th CT had lost 5 of its 6 officers in the
battles for Kasba-Mehdia. Distinguished
Service Crosses (DSC)
were posthumously awarded to several of these officers. On the morning of 10
November the 2nd Battalion had suffered 215 casualties.The French finally capitulated on 11 November 1942 and an Armistice was
signed. After 4 days of fighting, the bulk of French North Africa was in Allied
Teams of the 9th had won their first battle.
This did not conclude the fighting in North Africa, but it did bring
peace to French North Africa and was an important message to the Axis, that the
War had taken a turn against them.The
Forces now turned their attention toward the East and Tunisia, where the
Luftwaffe and amphibious units were landing 1500 German troops a day.The Vichy French government under Petain had blessed this infiltration.
This buildup of German troops delayed the Allied plan to invade Sicily by up to
Desert kits were issued to all army personnel
in North Africa.The kit contained
a dust mask, dust glasses, and isinglass eye shields.Ernie Pyle was in Oran, Algiers at the time and speaking about the dust
mask in his book, "This is your War", I quote, "and the dust mask
was a frightful-looking contraption.It
consisted of a big black rubber schnozzle that covered the nose and half the
face.To this were attached two
circular devices, about saucer size, which looked like wheels and which hung
over each jaw.Apparently the
theory was to scare the dust away."
Nobody used the dust equipment during this season; it was raining a good
part of the time.
"... But soon the dust would blow ... even after a few rainless days... we noticed a thin film of dust on the furniture. We really couldn't
sense dust in the air, but it was there.
The doctors said this invisible dust, plus the rapid drop in temperature
at sundown was responsible for what we called, or at least I called, 'sundown
throat'.Almost everyone I knew got
a sore throat just about sundown. It was a strange, seemingly unaccountable
thing.It came on just after the
sun went down behind the hills and the evening chill started coming down.Our throats got so sore we could hardly swallow.It was gone the next morning".
Africa was not clean, and we knew we could expect a good bit of disease
before we finally got out.Our sore
throats and flu were known to doctors as ‘winter respiratory diseases.’The malaria, dysentery, and stuff we’d have come spring would be known
On 11 November 1942 there were 130,000 Spanish and Moroccan desert
soldiers of Generalissimo Franco’s army in Spanish Morocco.They were a threat, since no one knew the intentions of Generalissimo
Franco. Would he side with Hitler?
Shortly, the 47th and 60th Combat Teams were to return to Division
control and be positioned along the Spanish Moroccan border.Up until this time the 9th Infantry Combat Teams were operating as units,
but attached to different commands.
The 60th Combat team was located at Mamora Cork Forest, guarding the
Spanish border.The 60th C.T. was
soon to be joined by the 47th Combat Team, after they foot marched 238 miles
from Safi, stopping on the way to participate in a French-American parade in
Casablanca on 13 December 1942.
The Ninth Infantry Division was reassembling in late December 1942.The 47th C.T. joined the 60th C.T. on 19 December.Division Headquarters, Diverty and the remainder of regimental and
attached troops were on their way in ships and started to dock at Casablanca on
Christmas Eve, except for the 39th, which was in the Oran, Algiers area and a
few units still to arrive from America. The last of which arrived on 25 January
1943 on the Swedish Liner Kungsholm.
The 9th Infantry Division had responsibility for Port Lyautey, a key port
in the supply chain for North Africa.
Weeks of guard duty, training, writing letters home, etc. followed.They had entertainment by Martha Raye and her troupe, Carol Landis, Kay
Francis, and Mitzi Mayfair at Port Lyautey.
President Roosevelt and Prime Minster Winston Churchill met in Casablanca
during January 1943. On 22 January units of the Ninth staged a review for
The British had more troops and more experienced troops in North African
than the Americans. The British 8th Army was arriving in Tunisia.It was to be a predominately British win in North Africa. This had been
the agreement between all parties involved.