- The Anglo-American Landings In North Africa - 8th November 1942 Operation Torch And The End Of The Desert War.
The objectives of Operation Torch were to secure French North Africa and then strike Eastwards and take Rommel`s German Italian Panzer Army in the rear.1 With 65,000 Allied troops and around 650 Warships under the overall command of Commander In Chief Eisenhower it was to strike in French Morocco and Algeria and later link up with Montgomery's Eighth Army.
The landings initially went well, achieving complete strategic surprise and with the resistance that was given by the French Forces only being short lived. Oran, Cassablanca and Algiers were the main landing points whilst the ports Bougie and Bone were soon occupied by Paratroopers. The Axis forces knowing the seriousness of the situation poured over 17,000 Axis troops into Tunisia via Air and Sea and reorganised them under the command of General Arnim and formed the 5th Panzer Army with the 10th Panzer Division as its main striking force. Arnim and Rommel held out against the Allied attacks and after launching the offensive Eilbote and Rommel`s attack at The Kasserine Pass the Axis forces were in a position to inflict a horrendous blow upon the Allies, but this opportunity was missed due to the Italian High Command (Commando Supremo) blocking Rommel`s plans to attack at the Allies weak point and secure strategically important high ground. Instead Rommel was ordered to attack nearer the coast, where Allied reinforcements were coming through and it was not long before the offensive was abandoned.
The Commander In Chief General Eisenhower (left) and US troops landing in North Africa during operation Torch (right).
It was at this point that the Allies realised that a reorganisation was needed as divisions were acting on their own initiative without an overall master plan. National sectors were introduced and French divisions were re-equipped. The initiative was with the Allies once again and with the blockade of the Tunisian ports strangling the Axis forces of supplies and new equipment (See Supplies) the outcome of the campaign was slowly but surely coming to an end.
1. The Oxford Companion To The Second World War, Oxford University Press 1995 (page 814)
Diverted and Committed Troops
Weapons In North Africa
Commanders and their tactics
High Command Disputes And Interference
Concluding thoughts on the North African Campaign