Operation Torch: was the Anglo-American invasion of French Morocco and Algeria during the North African Campaign of WW2. It began on November 8 and concluded on November 16, 1942. It resulted from an uneasy compromise between the Western Allies, and was intended to relieve pressure on the Soviet Union by threatening Axis forces in the region and by enabling an invasion of Southern Europe in 1943.
Commanded by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the operation was designed as a pincer movement with American landings at Morocco’s Atlantic coast and Anglo-American landings on Algeria’s Mediterranean coast. The primary objective was to secure bridgeheads for opening a second front to the rear of German and Italian forces battling the British in Libya and Egypt. On the night of November 8, after undetected crossings from the United States and the United Kingdom, an Anglo-American fleet consisting of 350 warships and 500 transports carrying some 107,000 troops assembled off the coast of French North Africa. The following morning, the Allied assault commenced as three task forces sought to seize key ports and airports at Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers before advancing eastwards into Tunisia. The invasion forces had to overcome French opposition in territories controlled by the Vichy Regime under Marshall Philippe Pétain. His government had some 125,000 soldiers stationed in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria, as well as powerful coastal artillery, numerous tanks, aircraft, and warships. Optimistic British intelligence suggested that the French would offer minimal resistance. This would prove wrong.
On November 7, Vichy forces thwarted an attempted coup d’etat by pro-Allied General Antoine Béthouart against the French command in Morocco. Stiff French resistance then caused significant losses at several of the Moroccan assault points before the Western Task Force achieved its landing objectives. On November 10, the Allied troops readied to assault Casablanca. After a brief naval engagement, the French surrendered the city before an all-out attack was launched. At Oran, the Center Task Force also encountered stubborn French resistance before Oran’s surrender on November 9. The Eastern Task Force was aided by a successful coup by the French resistance in Algiers, which neutralized the French XIX Corps before the Allied landings there. Allied troops quickly pushed inland, and General Juin surrendered the city in the early evening of November 9. Urged by General Mark Clark, Eisenhower’s deputy, Admiral Jean Francois Darlan, Vichy High Commissioner for North Africa, and General Juin also ordered French forces to cease armed resistance in Oran and Morocco on November 10–11.
NOTES ON THE FRENCH ARMY 1942 Operation Torch: Vichy French Forces Handbook
A WW2 British War Office Handbook, marked ‘Not To Be Published’, and ‘Not To Be Taken Into The Front Line’. Produced as part of the preparations for Operation Torch – the invasion of French North Africa which was planned for late 1942. This handbook would initially have been used by Allied intelligence officers involved in the planning of Operation torch, and later by those serving in the operations in North Africa. It would have been a vital source of information on the French Vichy forces in North Africa. The book includes details of the organisation, equipment, weapons and uniforms of the Vichy French Forces. Illustrated with colour plates of uniform badges and flags.