Inspiration for the Day for Jan. 25: What You Think Is What you Get



What You Think Is What you Get


You don’t have to know how it will come into your life, just lay the groundwork, follow leads, and prepare for its arrival.

The law of attraction is surprisingly simple: Like attracts like. It becomes a bit more complicated when it comes to training our minds to think in ways that will bring what we desire into our lives. The term “self-fulfilling prophecy” describes the same law. This well-known term explains that we create the circumstances our mind dwells upon, whether positive or negative. So our goal is to practice consistent presence of mind to make sure our thoughts are always directed toward the positive and what we want to create.

A key to the process is the word “frequency.” This is true for two reasons: 1) The frequency you use when you passionately dwell upon or revisit a thought, dream, desire, or goal provides the energy your musings need for creation; and 2) just like a radio station broadcasts on a certain frequency, like the radio you must be “tuned in” to receive it. This means preparing for the arrival of your dream on every possible level–material, physical, and spiritual. You don’t have to know how it will come into your life, just trust that it will. Your job is to lay the groundwork, follow any leads you can find, and prepare for its arrival. This can mean cleaning out your garage to make space for a new car, taking a tour of a model home to get the feel of it in order to feed your fantasies, or thinking of what you want in a mate and then living up to that list yourself.

Just like with any skill, the law of attraction must be practiced. We must decide what makes us feel abundant and use our imagination to create the feeling. It isn’t enough to just want something–you must use the power of your thoughts to attract it. A series of choices is what brings us everything in our lives right now, every moment. When we know the direction in which we want our choices to take us, it is as if we’ve placed an order with the universe. We can then await its arrival with joyful anticipation. If we find ways to experience our dreams right now, we make creating joy a treasure hunt in which the seeking is just as much fun as the finding.


Get A Jump On Tomorrow, Your Horoscopes for Saturday, January 25

Moon Alert

We have the “all clear” today to shop and do business. The Moon is in Libra.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

Be diplomatic when dealing with partners and close friends today because emotions will be volatile! You might be tempted to lay a guilt trip on someone. Or perhaps someone tries to do this to you? Take the high road. Don’t get involved – and think before you speak.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

Don’t be pushy at work today, which you will be tempted to be because you are focused and sold on your own idea. You might even be obsessed about something, especially if you’re trying to improve things or get rid of junk. (And of course, you are right.) Go gently.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

Avoid romantic quarrels today. Likewise, parents must be patient with their kids because it’s easy to be on a power trip. Remember – despite your challenges, you are the adult and you have to act like an adult. Kids do what you do — not what you say – that’s why you’re the role model.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

This is not an ideal day for a family discussion because people will be opinionated and will want everyone to agree with them. Sound familiar? Ideally, postpone this discussion for Monday. The difference will be dramatic! And people will cooperate.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)

You’re hell-bent for leather today, which is why you want to convince others to agree with you. You might want to sell, promote or teach an idea that you believe in. Ironically, the harder you come on, the more you will create opposition to you. Lighten up.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

You have strong ideas about money and cash flow today. You might be obsessed about buying something, for example. This is the worst frame of mind to make a major purchase. I know because I’ve done it many times. Ha, ha. Take a step back and assess things. If you wait till Monday – that’s smart.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

Today the Moon is in your sign dancing with many planets; however, it is at odds with Pluto, which promotes compulsive behaviour, which in turn, will promote power struggles with others, especially friends and partners. Yikes! (You don’t need this.)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

You have an opportunity today to do some emotional self inquiry or self-analysis because you’re willing to take a look at who you are, especially your desires and compulsions. If you can learn anything – wonderful because the ancient dictum “Know thyself” is true.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

Avoid quarrels with friends, especially female acquaintances, today because they could get nasty. Is it that important that you have your own way? Admittedly, you believe your ideas are best. (And they probably are.) Do you want to lose a friendship over this? Think about it.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Avoid quarrels and ego battles with parents and power figures today, especially bosses. They will get nasty because people’s emotions are involved. Furthermore, people are blindly compulsive today about certain issues. Where is the logic? Wait until Monday for important discussions.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

Avoid political, racial and religious discussions today because they will go South in a New York minute. People are attached to their emotions and their compulsive beliefs today. Therefore, these arguments will be pointless. Get the picture?

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)

You will be at loggerheads with someone if you try to convince them to agree with your ideas about shared property, inheritances and insurance disputes. Today people are entrenched in their views because it is an emotional identification. Wait until Monday for important decisions.

If Your Birthday Is Today

TV host/comedienne Ellen DeGeneres (1958) shares your birthday today. You have a bold, generous spirit. You are self-confident and kind. You are also idealistic and somewhat rebellious. This is a fun-loving, social year! Enjoy the blessing of heightened popularity and warm friendships. Be grateful for who you are and what you have. Appreciate the happiness and beauty around you. You will make an important choice this year. Happiness is having alternatives.


Your Daily Horoscopes for Friday, January 25

Moon Alert

We have the “all clear” today to shop and do business. The Moon is in Libra.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

This is a marvellous day! You feel upbeat, optimistic and energetic. In particular, you are willing to help others, especially people from afar or from other countries. You might also be enthusiastic about making travel plans or plans for further training and education.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

This is a feel-good day. Bosses and VIPs admire you. You feel confident and hopeful about your future. You might set something in action that boosts your portion of shared property or your fair share of something. You might also help a partner or friend today.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

You are empowered when dealing with groups, clubs and organizations today, especially competitive, athletic sports and such. People will follow your lead because you’re gung ho and enthusiastic! In turn, you will enjoy boosting everyone’s spirits.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

Today you are pumped about achieving something at work or with your career or your public reputation. Whatever it is you want to do – you will do it, and you will do it successfully! You will inspire people to behind you and support your project. You will enjoy work-related travel.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)

This is a wonderful day to schmooze, party and enjoy the company of others! Grab every chance to entertain others or to be entertained. Accept all invitations to social occasions. Sports events, playful times with children, the arts, the theatre and musical performances will delight you.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

This is a solid day for business and commerce, especially if you have to decide how to deal with a shared project or shared property. People will endorse your ideas. It’s also a good day to ask for money from a bank for a loan or mortgage because doors will open for you today.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

You are a social sign and today is a social day! Enjoy the company of partners and close friends. Short trips, appointments and conversations with others will be empowering and upbeat. Today you have the ability to inspire and enthuse other people to do better.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

You’re PowerPoint on steroids at work today! Whatever you have to do – you will crush it. You are confident, capable and energetic. Not only that, your enthusiasm will affect those working around you, which is why you are such a positive force in the world today.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

You are flirtatious, romantic and playful today! Grab every chance to enjoy fun activities with children and social interactions with others because you are high energy and you feel good! This is also a lucky day for you. Do whatever you can to advance your own interests.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

You can improve your domestic digs today because you have energy to burn. Start shoving furniture around or de-cluttering and getting rid of what you no longer need. This is also an excellent day to explore real-estate opportunities. Enjoy entertaining at home.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

If you are in sales, marketing, teaching, acting or writing – you will be successful today because you are convincing, persuasive and enthusiastic! (Where do I sign?) Your optimism will create a positive energy around you that attracts people to you who believe in you.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)

This is an excellent day for business and commerce. What you do today will ultimately boost your income because you can do this. Whatever you do will indirectly or directly lead to an increase in future earnings. Ka-ching! You will also think big when it comes to money-making ideas.

If Your Birthday Is Today

Singer/songwriter/musician Alicia Keys (1981) shares your birthday today. You are intellectual and you set yourself high goals. You have the ability to inspire others to do better. This year is your turn to take a rest. Naturally, you must cooperate with others. Start by looking for ways to practice kindness and be helpful. Be relaxed and easy going. Business and personal relationships will be helpful to you.


World War Two: Papuan Campaign (14A); Buna: Second Two Weeks

The 32nd Division’s supply situation, hopelessly inadequate in late November, began to improve in early December. There were many reasons for the improvement. Airdrops and emergency movements by sea had staved off disaster, and the arrival of supplies which General Harding had requisitioned some time before helped the division to overcome the most pressing of its logistical difficulties. The opening of additional airfields at Dobodura and Popondetta, the completion of the Dobodura-Simemi jeep track and other tracks, the arrival of a new flotilla of luggers to replace those which had been destroyed in November, the establishment of a separate service organization at Dobodura known as ALMA Force, General Eichelberger’s efforts, the efforts of Colonel George DeGraaf, his quartermaster officer, and the continuing efforts of the division’s supply officers—all these things helped to improve the situation, and, for the first time since operations began, the pipeline began to fill.

The Attack of 5 December; Regrouping the Troops

On both the Warren and Urbana fronts the inspection of 2 December found the Allied units, in the words of General Eichelberger, “scrambled like eggs.” He at once ordered them regrouped and reorganized. On the Warren front, Company I, 128th Infantry, which had been operating under Colonel Carrier’s command off the southwest end of the strip, was returned to Colonel Miller, and Company A, 126th Infantry, which had been under Colonel McCoy’s command off the southeast end of the strip, was returned to Colonel Carrier.

Colonel Miller’s 3rd Battalion, 128th Infantry, was disposed to the right of the strip and took up position in an arc extending from the sea to a point just below the dispersal bays at the eastern end of the strip. Colonel McCoy’s 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, moved in on Miller’s left, just below (south of) the strip, and Major Harcourt’s 2/6 Independent Company covered the gap between Carrier and McCoy. Warren Force had no reserve, but each battalion held small reserve elements out of the line.

On the Urbana front, units of the 2nd Battalion, 126th Infantry, which had been out-posting Entrance Creek north of the Coconut Grove rejoined their battalion and the Cannon Company, 128th Infantry, in front of Buna Village. The 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, took over the sector following the west bank of Entrance Creek. Company F, 128th Infantry, continued as before to hold the blocking positions between the Girua River and Siwori Creek. During the previous week the average daily ration for troops on both fronts had consisted of a single can of meat component and an emergency bar of concentrated chocolate, just enough to subsist on. Though the stockpile of rations was still short, the men ate their first full meal in some time on 3 December, and preparations began for a scheduled attack the next day.

The New Commanders Take Over

When Colonel Martin went forward to the Warren front early on 3 December to take command, he discovered first of all that the troops “had little in the nature of weapons and equipment of what was normally considered necessary to dislodge an enemy from a dug in, concealed position.” His forward CP, he found, was “a single shelter half suspended horizontally about five feet from the ground, under which the CP telephone rested against a log on the ground.” Major Milton F. Ziebell, the regimental S-3, had with him, Martin remembers, a printed map “inaccurate for artillery fire,” and “half of a small writing tablet, the kind selling in ten cent stores for a dime, and a pencil.” When Martin asked the adjutant for his files, the latter “patted the pocket of his denim jacket which was a shade of black from the swamp mud, and said that he was keeping what he could there.”

Colonel Martin set himself to improve conditions, despite the prevailing “lack of almost everything with which to operate.” One of the first things he did upon taking command was to call an officers’ meeting at which he told his officers that the men “would be required to do all they could to better their conditions, their personal appearance, and their equipment.” Sanitation would be improved. More attention would be paid to the care of equipment, and officers would cease commiserating with the troops and abetting them in the “feeling sorry for ourselves attitude” that he had noticed during his inspection the day before.

The command was to be informed, he said further, that there would be no relief until “after Buna was taken.” Martin knew that this news would come as a shock, “but I was certain,” he adds, “that after the shock was over, the troops knowing their task would fight better than those just hanging on and continually looking over their shoulders for relief to come.”

Unlike Colonel Martin, Colonel Grose had little opportunity to inspect his forces before he took command. He came in by air from Australia on the morning of 3 December and made a hurried inspection of the Urbana front that afternoon. Next day when he took command, he found Colonel McCreary supervising a reorganization of the positions, and he asked General Eichelberger to postpone the attack for a day. General Eichelberger granted the request, though with considerable reluctance, and the attack there and on the Warren front was set for 5 December.

The Arrival of the Bren Carriers

Late on the evening of 3 December a section of five Bren gun carriers arrived by boat from Porlock Harbor. The rest of the cargo included forty tons of food and ammunition, a shipment that was particularly welcome inasmuch as Warren Force had run out of rations that day. The carriers were quickly unloaded and given to Colonel Martin for use on the 5th in the attack on the Japanese positions in the Duropa Plantation.

As soon as they could, Colonel Martin and Colonel MacNab gave Lieutenant T. St. D. Fergusson, who commanded the carriers, a briefing on the terrain. They stressed the likelihood that his carriers might be “bellied” by stumps and other obstacles in the plantation area.

The next day, MacNab sent Fergusson and 1st Lieutenant David Anderson, commanding officer of the regimental Reconnaissance Platoon, to make a daylight reconnaissance of the area. Though under no illusions about the risk of the attack, Fergusson reported that he believed his carriers could negotiate the ground. To provide insurance against unforeseen contingencies he requested additional automatic weapons for his men, and was promptly given all the weapons he asked for.

Sending the thin-skinned vehicles, open at the top and unarmored below, against the formidable enemy positions in the plantation area was a desperate venture at best. The least the Americans could do was to give the Australian crews, who were to spearhead the attack, all the weapons they could use.

Reorganization and regrouping were completed on 4 December. Fortified by an unwonted and much-needed two-day rest, the troops received rations and ammunition and prepared to resume operations under their new commanders.

Colonel Yamamoto’s forces and those of Captain Yasuda were ready. Yamamoto had the bulk of his relatively fresh 144th and 229th Infantry troops in the plantation and at the northeast end of the New Strip. The rest were holding the bridge between the strips, together with the troops of the 15th Independent Engineer Regiment and of the 47th Field Antiaircraft Battalion originally assigned there. Captain Yasuda had his Yokosuka 5th and Sasebo 5th Special Naval Landing troops, supported by naval pioneer units in the village, the Triangle, and the mission. The Japanese had thrown back every attack thus far, and they were ready to continue doing so.

The plan for the American-Australian attack scheduled for 5 December was embodied in a field order drawn up the day before by General Waldron. Warren Force and the five Bren gun carriers, supported by elements of the Fifth Air Force and the artillery, were to attack the Japanese positions in the Duropa Plantation-Buna Strips area at 0830. Their objective encompassed the entire area east of a line drawn along the coast southwest from Strip Point and extending inland to the Old Strip. Urbana Force, also supported by artillery and air bombardment, was to jump off at 1000 with the mission of taking Buna Village. Both attacking forces were to make an all-out effort.

The Attack on the Right

On the Warren front Colonel Miller’s battalion was to be on the right, nearest the sea. Colonel McCoy’s battalion was to be on Miller’s left, and Colonel Carrier was to be on the far left, with the 2/6 Independent Company intervening between him and McCoy. Company L and the Bren carriers were to attack straight up the coast on a 200-yard front. Company I was to follow in column on Company L’s left rear, and machine gun crews of Company M were to be disposed along the line of departure and immediately to the rear to clean out snipers in trees and give direct support to the advance. Colonel McCoy’s leading unit, Company A, 128th Infantry, was to move in on Company L’s left and attempt to cross the eastern end of the New Strip. Colonel Carrier’s 1st Battalion, 126th Infantry, was to advance northward against the bridge between the strips. Patrols of the Australian Independent Company were to make whatever gains they could in the area between Carrier and McCoy.

Between 0820 and 0835 on the morning of 5 December, six A-20’s bombed and strafed the area between the Old Strip and Cape Endaiadere. The artillery began to fire at 0830. Supported by mortar and machine gun fire from Company M, the Bren carriers and Company L left the line of departure at 0842. They immediately ran into heavy fire from a barricade near the coast, and from concealed positions on their left front and left. As had been feared, the Bren carriers bellied up badly on the uneven stump-filled ground and their progress was slow. As they rose high in the air to clear stumps and other obstacles, they were easy targets for enemy machine gunners. To complete the job, the Japanese tossed hand grenades over the sides, threw “sticky” bombs that clung to the superstructures, and scored several direct hits with an antitank gun.

Within twenty minutes they had knocked out all five vehicles—three just outside the Allied lines and two within their own. The carrier crews suffered heavily. Lieutenant Fergusson was wounded, and thirteen of the twenty others in the carriers were killed, wounded, or missing.

Fergusson’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Ian Walker, heard of the disaster shortly after it happened. From his post at the rear where he had been attending to the housekeeping needs of the platoon, he left for the front on the run, accompanied by a single enlisted man of his command. Covered by fire from Company L, 128th Infantry, the two men methodically removed the guns and ammunition from the three closest carriers. Walker then ordered the enlisted man back, took up a submachine gun, and went forward alone toward the two remaining carriers intending to recover their guns as well. Before he could reach the nearer of the two carriers, he fell mortally wounded. The Japanese succeeded in stripping the gutted hulks of the two carriers that night before a patrol of Warren Force sent out to recover the guns could get to them. Walker was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The citation is in GHQSWPA GO No. 7, 15 January.

In attempting to support the Bren carriers in their disastrous attack, Captain Samuel M. Morton’s Company L, 128th Infantry, had also been hit hard. The center platoon suffered so many casualties during the first half-hour of the fighting that it had to have help from the left platoon, which was itself under heavy fire. A platoon of Company I had to plug the resulting gap on the left before the attack could continue.

The men tried to push forward but were unable to. They were blocked, not only by the heavy fire that came from behind the still-unreduced log barricade a few yards in from the coast and from the hidden and carefully sited strongpoints in the plantation, but by the intense heat of the morning. Man after man of Colonel Miller’s battalion gave way to heat prostration. By 1010 the battalion had gained less than forty yards, and it could make no further advance that day.

A few minutes after the 3rd Battalion attack, the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry began its move. At 0855 the eighty-three men of Company A, under 1st Lieutenant Samuel J. Scott, pushed off in the Y-shaped dispersal area at the eastern end of the New Strip.

Company B was on Scott’s left rear, waiting to go in. Company D was disposed along the line of departure, supporting the advance by fire. Scott’s troops moved slowly and cautiously through the tall grass. Despite the heat and heavy casualties from enemy fire, they made good progress at first, and by 1100 most of them were across the lower arm of the Y. There they were halted by rifle grenade, mortar, and machine gun fire from three directions. By noon Japanese action and heat prostration had cut deep into Company A’s strength, and Company B, under 1st Lieutenant Milan J. Bloecher, had to be ordered in on its left to relieve the pressure.

Company B reached the southeastern end of the strip two hours later at a point just west of the dispersal area occupied by Company A. Setting up light machine guns on the left to cover the strip, Bloecher tried to move his men across, but without success. As the men crawled out of the sheltering tall grass into the heat-ridden strip, heavy enemy fire from bunkers and hidden firing positions in the area immobilized them. Those who managed to get halfway across the strip could move neither forward nor back. Since further advance was impossible, the company began to consolidate at the eastern end of the strip.

Company A was meanwhile having an even rougher time than in the morning. At the center of the Y the troops encountered almost point-blank fire that came at them from three directions. All attempts to cross the northern prong of the Y failed. Men who tried to advance were caught in the enemy’s crossfire and either wounded or killed. By late afternoon the situation was seen to be hopeless, and Colonel Martin ordered the company to pull back as soon as it could. That evening he relieved it.

At the western end of the strip Colonel Carrier’s battalion did little better. The two companies in attack—A on the right and C on the left—moved out against the bridge between the strips at 0850 and at first reported good progress. Aided by the mortars and the detachment’s 37-mm. gun, they succeeded in knocking out seven enemy pillboxes during the first two hours of fighting.

With the enemy fire from the pillboxes suppressed, the troops began to close on the bridge, only to be halted by heavy fire from front and left when they were only 150 yards from their objective. Artillery fire was called for, but it proved ineffective. The Japanese fire only increased in intensity.

Colonel Carrier’s troops, suffering from the heat like the companies on the right, made repeated attempts to advance, but the enemy fire was too heavy. Frontal attack was abandoned; Company B relieved Company A, and an attempt was made to cross Simemi Creek in the hope of flanking the bridge. The attempt was given up because there was quicksand reported in the crossing area and the creek was too deep. At the end of the day’s fighting the Japanese still-held the bridge between the strips, and Colonel Carrier’s troops were dug in about 200 yards south of it. The “all-out” attack of Warren Force had failed all along the line, and Colonel Yamamoto had the situation in hand. As Colonel Martin put it in a phone call to General Byers that night: “We have hit them and bounced off.”

Bottcher’s Break-Through

On 4 December Colonel Tomlinson and 126th Infantry headquarters moved from Sanananda to the Urbana front, and advance parties of the 127th Infantry—which was also to be committed to the Urbana front—began reaching Dobodura. By this time the troops in the line—the 2nd Battalion, 126th Infantry, the 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, and the Cannon Company, 128th Infantry—had had a little rest. They would now have another chance to finish the job that they had not been quite able to complete on the 2nd.

The plan of attack called for the Cannon Company, 128th Infantry, and the 2nd Battalion, 126th Infantry, to attack at specified points on the perimeter of Buna Village. Having suffered very heavy losses during previous attacks, Company F would be in reserve. The Cannon Company would remain on the left of the 126th Infantry and continue as before to support its operations.

Colonel Smith’s 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, on Major Smith’s right would complete the investiture of the left bank of Entrance Creek. Air and artillery bombardment would support the attacks. From positions behind the large grassy strip west of Entrance Creek, eight 81-mm. mortars would fire on the village. The troops of Company F, 128th Infantry, from their positions on the west side of the Girua River, would fire upon it with two 81-mm. mortars, a 37-mm. gun, and an assortment of light and heavy machine guns.

Colonel Grose went to the front early on the morning of 5 December. After getting the men into line and making a final check of their positions, he returned to his CP about 1015 to find both General Eichelberger and General Waldron there. A number of other officers were present including December Japanese bombers, escorted by Zeros, had parachuted food and ammunition onto the northern end of the Old Strip for Yamamoto’s troops. Colonel DeGraaf, Colonel Rogers, Colonel McCreary, Colonel Tomlinson, Lieutenant Colonel Merle H. Howe, the division G-3, and General Eichelberger’s aide, Captain Edwards.

The attack had opened at 1000 with a raid on the mission by nine B-25’s. Eichelberger and his party were briefed on how the action was progressing and then went forward to observe the fighting. After the B-25’s hit the target area, the artillery and the mortars began firing on the village. At 1030 the fire ceased, and the infantry moved forward. The Cannon Company, 128th Infantry, attacked along the east bank of the Girua River. On its right Companies E and G attacked abreast, with Company H supporting the attack with fire. Pivoting short from the line of departure, the units fanned out against the enemy perimeter, and Companies E and G in the center hit directly against the village.

The Japanese commander in the area, Navy Captain Yosuda, had a few hundred men in the village—enough for his immediate purpose. With the help of the bunkers, barricades, and trenches available to his men, he could count on holding the village for some time, even though it was his least defensible position.

The attack met strong opposition. On the far left the Cannon Company ran into heavy fire when it emerged onto an open space south of the village. The company sent out patrols to flank the enemy, the mortar men on the west side of the Girua River began firing on the village to relieve the pressure, and a platoon of Company F, 126th Infantry, under 1st Lieutenant Paul L. Schwartz, moved in to reinforce the Cannon Company. None of these measures worked. The enemy fire continued, and the company could not advance.

Late in the afternoon Major Chester M. Beaver of the divisional staff took over command of the company. Organizing a patrol with Lieutenant Schwartz as his second-in-command, Beaver managed to clear out the enemy positions immediately to the front and then crawled through muck to bring his patrol to a point just outside the village. Beaver and Schwartz had to withdraw when night fell, but by the following morning the Cannon Company and the Company F platoon were on the outskirts of the village, the position they had tried in vain to reach the day before.

Company E, under Captain Schultz, also met tough opposition from the entrenched enemy. By dint of hard fighting, the line moved forward until it reached the Japanese main line of resistance about fifty yards from the village. There the advance was stopped completely, and the troops had to dig in. Both Beaver and Schwartz were later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The citations are in GHQ SWPA, GO No. 1, 1 January 1943.

That the company pushed even that far in the face of the heavy enemy fire was due principally to the able leadership of two platoon leaders, 1st Lieutenant Thomas E. Knode and 1st Sergeant Paul R. Lutjens, who were severely wounded as they led their men in the day’s fighting. The combat performance of a member of Lutjens’ platoon, Sergeant Harold E. Graber, had also helped to push the line forward. When the platoon was pinned down, Sergeant Graber leaped to his feet, fired his light machine gun from the hip, and cleaned out a main Japanese strongpoint which had been holding up the advance—an act that cost him his life.

Company G, under Captain Bailey, was also finding it difficult to make any progress. Disappointed that the attack had bogged down just outside the village, General Eichelberger took direct control of operations. He called Grose forward to the observation post and sent Colonel Tomlinson back to the command post. Then he ordered Company F to pass through Company E and take the village. Colonel Grose immediately protested the order. Instead of committing Company F, his last reserve, to the center of the line, Grose had hoped to use it at a more propitious moment on the left. He told General Eichelberger that there was nothing to be gained by hurrying the attack, that it was the kind of attack that might take “a day or two,” but General Eichelberger had apparently set his heart on taking Buna Village that day and overruled his protest.

Summoned to the observation post, 1st Lieutenant Robert H. Odell, who had taken command of Company F a few days before, was, as he put it, “surprised to see a couple of generals—one a three star—in addition to the usual array of majors and colonels.” To continue in Odell’s own words, The Lieutenant General explained what he wanted, and after a brief delay, I brought up the company and deployed accordingly.

Pravda [1st Sergeant George Pravda] was to take half the company up one side of the trail, and I the other half on the other side. We were given ten minutes to make our reconnaissance and to gather information from the most forward troops which we were to pass. It was intended that we finish the job—actually take the Village—and [it was thought] that we needed little more than our bayonets to do it. Well, off we went, and within a few minutes our rush forward had been definitely and completely halted. Of the 40 men who started with me, 4 had been (known) killed, and 18 were lying wounded. We were within a few yards of the village, but with … no chance of going a step further. . . . [Pravda] was among the wounded, and casualties were about as heavy on his side. Knode, Lutjens, and Graber were all later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and Lutjens was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant. The citations for Knode and Lutjens are in GHQ SWPA GO No. 64, 28 December 1942. Graber’s posthumous award is in GO No. 1, 1 January 1943.

Scarcely had Company F’s attack in the center been brought to a halt when electrifying news was received from Captain Bailey on the right. Instead of continuing the profitless attack directly on the village, a platoon of Company H under Staff Sergeant Herman J. F. Bottcher, which had been attached to Company G, had pushed north from its position on the far right. Knocking out several pillboxes en route, Bottcher had successfully crossed a creek under enemy fire and by late afternoon had reached the beach with eighteen men and one machine gun. Bottcher, an experienced soldier who had served with the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, ordered his men to dig in at once on the edge of the beach. Attacks followed from both the village and the mission, but Bottcher and his riflemen, with Bottcher himself at the machine gun, made short work of the enemy. The beach on either side of Bottcher’s Corner (as the position came to be known) was soon piled with Japanese corpses, whom neither friend nor foe could immediately bury.

Bottcher’s break-through completed the isolation of the village. The Cannon Company, 128th Infantry, and the 2nd Battalion, 126th Infantry, less Bottcher’s platoon, were now pressed tightly against its inner defenses, and the troops at Bottcher’s Corner made its reinforcement from the mission extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Colonel Smith’s 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry had meanwhile invested the entire west bank of Entrance Creek except for the Coconut Grove. It was now in position to reduce the grove as well. With the village cut off and Entrance Creek out-posted along its entire length, the early fall of the village was assured, provided the Japanese did not in the meantime succeed in their attempts to evict the attackers, particularly those at Bottcher’s Corner.

With Colonel Howe, his G-3, General Waldron had been pushing the assault personally in the right center of the line. During Company F’s attack he received a shoulder wound and had to be evacuated. On General Eichelberger’s orders, General Byers, his chief of staff, succeeded Waldron as commander of the troops at the front.

Colonel Bradley, whom General Waldron had chosen to be his chief of staff, continued to serve in the same capacity under General Byers. Colonel McCreary, for two days commander of Urbana Force, and before that deputy to General Waldron when the latter was division artillery commander, took command of the artillery and mortars on the Urbana front. Bottcher was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and given a direct battlefield commission as a captain. His citation for the DSC is in GHQ SWPA GO No. 64, 28 December 1942.

[NOTE 2PC7: Byers did not take command of the 32nd Division, since Brigadier General Frayne Baker, commander of the division’s rear echelon in Australia and, after Waldron, senior officer of the division, became division commander when Waldron was wounded and evacuated. Ltr, Gen Eichelberger to Gen Sutherland, 18 Dec 42, copy in OCMH files; Ltr, Gen Sutherland to Gen Ward, 6 April 51. Both Waldron and Howe were later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Waldron’s citation is in GHQ SWPA GO No. 60, 18 Dec 42; Howe’s, in GO No. 64, 28 Dec. 42.]

General Eichelberger and his party departed for the rear about 1800, less Captain Edwards who had been wounded and evacuated earlier in the day. Colonel Grose was left to reorganize. While he had not taken kindly to the way General Eichelberger had thrown Company F into the battle against his protest, Grose had nothing but praise for the way the troops had performed. “The battalion’s men,” he wrote that night in his diary, “have been courageous and willing, but they have been pushed almost beyond the limit of human endurance.” They were, he continued, “courageous, fine men,” and all of them had given him “the utmost cooperation.”

Although the troops had not taken the village, General Eichelberger, who, with members of his staff, had taken a personal hand in the battle, had revised the opinion he expressed on 2 December that they lacked fight. Writing to General Sutherland the next day, Eichelberger noted that the troops had fought hard, that morale had been high, and that there had been “much to be proud of during the day’s operations.” General Herring, he said, had praised the bravery of the 32nd Division highly. As far as he personally was concerned, Eichelberger went on, General MacArthur could begin to stop worrying about its conduct in battle.

SOURCE: Victory in Papua, BY: Samuel Milner (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (14B); Buna: The Second Two Weeks

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (13); Fighting West of the Girua



Have you been waiting for your most luminous dreams to come true? You’re in luck! The stars are officially here to help. Venus conjunct Jupiter is considered a minor transit, but it’s also one of the most exciting and highly-anticipated in the minds of astrologers and astronomers alike.

Astronomically speaking, the early morning conjunction of Venus and Jupiter on January 22 is of note for stargazers, as it will be visible sans telescope. Venus and Jupiter are the third and fourth brightest objects in the celestial sphere respectively, after the sun and moon. In measurable space, they are of course very far apart, but occasionally they align to create the appearance of a single gorgeous, twinkling megastar positioned in the eastern sky. You’ll have to get up ahead of sunrise, but it’s a sight worth setting an alarm for.

Some historians suggest that the famed Star of Bethlehem was actually a Venus-Jupiter conjunction that was spectacularly aligned. In this case, we’ll be able to see the conjunction for quite a while as it occurs with Venus—by far the brighter of the two planets—46 degrees west of the sun, which is about as far away as she can get; her distance from the sun makes her own luminosity all the more obvious and compelling. Venus will set below the horizon after the conjunction, while Jupiter will rise into the sky and fade away as the day progresses.

Astrologically, this conjunction is equally captivating. Venus and Jupiter are referred to as the great benefics—the most benevolent and expansive planets—so when they get together, conditions are bound to be bolstered. They offer abundance, sparkle, and excitement to everything they touch, effects only enhanced with Jupiter in his home sign of Sagittarius. This is an ideal time for manifestation work and generally living your best life.

After all of the heaviness that came with Capricorn season and an extremely potent start to the 2019 eclipse cycle, everyone deserves a moment to bask in the extravagant shimmer of this conjunction. The mood is lush, romantic, fun-loving, and larger than life.

But there are some cautionary points: superficiality, excess flirtation, and overspending are all potential issues at this time. Remember that all that glitters is not gold; stay in alignment with your true goals and avoid getting side-tracked by some less-than-tangible Venus-Jupiter glitz. Pay special attention to areas of your chart ruled by Sagittarius, as they’ll be supercharged with high vibes during this transit.

So throw on some sequins, get social, prioritize play, and focus on your wildest, most abundant daydreams—this conjunction radiates potential along with light.


Published on

Daily Cosmic Calendar for January 25


For the most part, today and tomorrow provide you with an opportunity to catch your breath after the recent blitzkrieg of alignments energized by Mercury. A trio of uplifting sky configurations can turn your fondest dreams closer to reality as the moon in Libra trines the sun in Aquarius (4:50 a.m.), Mars in Aries trines Jupiter in Sagittarius (9:54 a.m.), and productivity-maven Ceres enters Sagittarius (10:09 a.m.) for an extended time-period until November 15. Think along progressive lines on numerous fronts while avoiding a downcast temperament that can temporarily disrupt your forward march as the moon squares Saturn (8:11 p.m.).

[Note to readers: All times are calculated as Pacific Standard Time. Be sure to adjust all times according to your own local time so the alignments noted above will be exact for your location.]

Copyright 2018 Mark Lerner & Great Bear Enterprises, Ltd.

World War Two: North Africa (2-5); French decide to fight

Operation TORCH had two major phases. The first, amphibious landings, included widely separated operations on the Atlantic coast of Morocco and on the Mediterranean shores of western and central Algeria. The second phase was an overland advance through eastern Algeria into Tunisia, supplemented by the consolidation of each of the three task forces near Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers, and by the increase of air strength at the newly acquired French airdromes.

The amphibious phase was to be conducted against such resistance as the French might choose to offer in spite of extraordinary efforts by the Allies to avert it. The second phase would begin while the French deliberated over joining the Allies in active opposition to the Axis powers or remaining passively neutral.

The amphibious landings were all to begin in the predawn hours of 8 November; the hostilities which ensued, as will later appear, were concluded successively in Algiers, Oran, and Casablanca: Although D Day was the same for all, H Hour was a matter of discretion with each task force commander, for with more than 700 airline miles intervening between Casablanca and Algiers, the conditions of tide, moonlight, wind, and sunrise at these widely separated beaches would vary. The commanders were free to delay after 0100 in order to grasp favorable conditions, rather than under compulsion to meet a precise over-all schedule regardless of the immediate situation.

[NOTE 5-1DS: In this part of the narrative, and in the section which follows, the geographical pattern of Allied advance from west to east has been allowed to prevail over a strictly chronological pattern, with an account of first the operations of the Western, then of the Center, and lastly of the Eastern landing forces.]

The Eastern and Center Naval Task

Forces adopted 0100, Greenwich time; the Western Task Force planned for 0400. The landing forces expected to be put ashore by American methods off Morocco and by British methods off Algeria. The Western Naval Task Force intended, within the limits imposed by its incomplete and hurried training for such an undertaking, to anchor the troop transports in a designated area several miles offshore and to release the landing craft which had been swinging from their davits. These boats would then assemble alongside certain ships to take aboard the troops, temporarily organized into boat teams. Once loaded, the boats would circle until time to assemble in waves at a line of departure between two control vessels. From that line they would proceed in formation and on schedule toward shore, escorted by guiding vessels equipped with radar and other navigational aids. No preliminary bombardment was to soften resistance at the beachhead, but fire support ships would take stations from which to shell targets ashore as required.

The waves of landing craft would go in at intervals which allowed each wave to unload and retract from the beach in time to make room for the wave behind it. The first troops to land were to capture the beach and prepare it to receive succeeding waves. Later arrivals would reconnoiter inland, expand the beachhead, and penetrate the interior to reach special objectives. After being unloaded and withdrawn from the beaches, the landing craft were to be guided back for later loads according to a schedule which would bring them alongside various transports rather than only to their own parent ships. After daylight the transports could be brought in closer or taken out farther to sea, depending on the progress of operations ashore and the enemy’s ability to retaliate. The fast convoy approaching the Strait of Gibraltar from the United Kingdom had been practically unobserved, the only warning being an unconfirmed report on 2 November from the German submarine U-514 of seven large ships, probably transports, moving eastward toward the Mediterranean.

The Western Naval Task Force, as already noted, crossed the Atlantic without being detected by either French or Axis reconnaissance. The main indication to the enemy that the Allies were preparing a landing on the Atlantic coast was the extraordinary accumulation of ships and aircraft at Gibraltar in October and nearly November, a process interpreted to mean that an attack might be imminent at Dakar as well as inside the Mediterranean. The convoys which were observed passing into the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar and which were kept under enemy air observation at fairly frequent intervals on 6 and 7 November attracted much attention, but Admiral Hewitt’s convoy succeeded in keeping out of sight until after nightfall. It then sped to the three major areas from which its attack on French Morocco was to be launched. Thus, off Safi, Fedala, and Mehdia, the three naval attack groups carrying the sub-task forces under General Patton’s command were taking their positions as D Day arrived.

French military forces in the Casablanca defense sector had been allowed to relax the state of readiness during the evening of 7 November, but the events of the early morning were to bring about a general alert throughout French Morocco. These warnings seem to have been instigated not by receipt of reports from Algiers or Oran, or by the recorded broadcast to the French people from the President transmitted from London, but rather by the efforts of the pro-Allied French in Casablanca to forestall resistance to the landings.

For these men had been actively at work to help bring about a peaceful occupation of western Morocco. The few Americans engaged for well over a year in preparing for such events awaited the arrival of the Western Task Force with mounting excitement. They heard the British Broadcasting Corporation’s warning signal, “Robert arrive,” shortly after sundown on 7 November. The U.S. Consul General, H. Earle Russell, was informed by one of his staff that landings were being made in Algeria and would begin on the west Moroccan coast at 0500, local time (0400, Greenwich time), on 8 November.

President Roosevelt’s notes to the Sultan of Morocco and to the Resident General, which were to be delivered in Rabat, more than fifty miles away, were entrusted to two vice-consuls with directions to present them as soon as the landings were in progress. A secret radio station (“Lincoin“) was in operation on the roof of a building not far from the port with an alternative apparatus at another point in case of emergency, and with storage batteries at hand to use when the city’s electric power should be cut off. Waiting in a small shelter near his instruments was the French operator (” Ajax” ). A messenger linked the operator with the consulate, where Vice-Consul W. Stafford Reid encoded and. Decoded messages. All radio contact with the approaching force was channeled by specific orders through Gibraltar. Unwillingness of the operator at Gibraltar to adopt the procedures which the operator at Casablanca deemed necessary in the light of experience, rendered contact imperfect, particularly at night.

All arrangements for sabotage, seizure of key points, and capture of leading Vichyites and German Control Commissioners in Morocco, which had been so long in preparation by French civilian groups organized by Vice-Consul David W. King, were set aside by an order from Mr. Robert Murphy in Algiers, scarcely three days earlier. This step transferred complete control to General Bethouart, commanding general of the Casablanca Division. King issued instructions on 7 November for a forty-eight-hour practice alert which would place his civilian groups in position to act when they discovered that the invasion was actually taking place, but even these orders failed to reach Port-Lyautey until much too late.

General Bethouart, acting for the organization headed by General Mast and others in Algiers, was expected to prevent resistance by the French forces ashore and to expedite an association in arms with the Allies against the Axis powers. He planned to seize temporary control at Rabat by a military coup, then to order the garrisons along the coast to remain in their barracks while the landings were executed, and to hold potential reinforcements at their interior stations.

French military plans for defending Morocco were elaborate and well established. They had been brought up to date by a series of directives from General Georges Lascroux, Commander in Chief of Moroccan Troops, dated 19 August 1942, The western coast from Spanish Morocco to Rio de Oro was divided by these plans into four sectors, of which all but the most southerly were within the objective attacked by the Western Task Force. These three sectors, from north to south, were headed respectively by the Commanding General, Meknes Division (Major General Andre Dody) ; the vice admiral commanding Moroccan Naval Forces (Vice Admiral François Michelier); and the Commanding General, Marrakech (Major General Henri Martin). Garrisons and auxiliary troops, which were normally stationed at various points within each area, were to be concentrated as needed in order to reinforce the defenders of the ports. Defense in depth for approximately fifty miles along routes to the interior was also planned.

Three sections of mobile reserves were available inland under the control of the theater commander (the Resident General), one group to assemble near Khemisset, a second, near Settat, and the third, a light armored brigade, in the Boulhaut-Marchand area. On the north, protection of the frontier between the French and Spanish protectorates was furnished mainly by garrisons controlled from Oujda and Guercif. Auxiliary native troops from the interior would be used either on the northern front or, eventually, on the western coast if that proved necessary.

Although the plans were primarily designed for the repulse of enemy forces pressing toward the interior from the west or north, they were also arranged with a view to defending firmly the Moroccan capital, Rabat, by a particularly large proportion of the available strength.

The Center Attack Group was just arriving off Fedala as General Bethouart sped past that town en route to Rabat to take there the first critical overt steps in his projected military coup. At 0200, he sent a letter to General Nogues in which he explained that General Giraud, aided by American troops, was taking command in all French North Africa and had designated General Bethouart both to take command in Morocco over all Army troops and to assist an American expedition about to land there. General Nogues was also apprised of the fact that orders were being issued to all Moroccan garrisons and airdromes not to oppose the landings. He was asked either to issue confirming orders or, if he preferred, to absent himself until he could simply accept a fait accompli.

 While this letter, with accompanying documents, was being delivered at the Residency, General Bethouart proceeded to the command post of the Moroccan Army headquarters. He was protected there by a battalion of Colonial Moroccan Infantry, recruited chiefly from young men who had escaped from France hoping to resume the war against the Axis, soldiers to whom the current mission was congenial. General Lascroux, whose post General Bethouart was assuming, was sent to Meknes under nominal duress. General Lahoulle, commanding French air forces in Morocco, agreed not to resist the landing if the ground forces also refrained. When he tried by telephone to persuade Admiral Michelier to adopt the same policy, and was induced instead to reverse his own stand, he too was placed under arrest. Orders to keep all planes grounded were issued to the air bases.

In Casablanca, at the Admiralty, General Bethouart’s chief of staff, Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Molle, handed to Admiral Michelier a letter from General Bethouart similar in character to that sent to General Nogues. The recently arrived admiral, commander of all French naval units in Morocco and commander in chief of the Casablanca defense sector, was urged to join the elements under General Giraud in receiving the Americans without resistance as a preliminary to joint action against the Axis. The American consular staff in Casablanca had had ample grounds for believing that the upper grades in the French naval establishment there were pro-Axis. For the American task force to occupy Casablanca and subsidiary ports unmolested, the French naval commander would have to issue orders of unmistakable force and clarity.

The situation placed Admiral Michelier under the necessity of making a critical choice. His responsibilities were large. The standing orders for defense charged him, as Naval Commander in Chief in Morocco, with defense against an enemy afloat, and, as the immediate commander of the Casablanca defense sector, with the employment of sea, air, and ground forces against landing parties. Only when the success of an invading force required commitment of the general reserves would the command over defensive operations pass from Admiral Michelier to General Nogues as Commander of the Moroccan Theater of Operations.

The unity of command over all armed elements was thus arranged in a sector extending inland for fifty miles in order to prevent a transfer of leadership at the critical point of an attack when an enemy began establishing his foothold ashore. Permanent, detailed instructions for all echelons had been issued, instructions to be enforced automatically in case of attack, whoever the aggressor might be. The mechanism of defense could be stopped only by very positive intervention. When the Admiral received Bethouart’s message, he scouted the possibility that the Americans could land a force during the night capable of holding any of the ports under his protection. The weather, the surf, and the failure of his coastal air or submarine patrols to detect the Western Naval Task Force within cruising distance of the shore before darkness–all seemed to warrant disbelief. He therefore decided that General Bethouart was the victim of a hoax, and assured General Nogues and others by telephone at intervals during the night that no large force was offshore.

Admiral Michelier directed the assistant commander of the Casablanca Division, Brigadier General Raymond Desres, to cancel General Bethouart’s orders holding the unit immobilized and, instead, to place its components where the standing orders prescribed. By 0300, the Americans in the consulate observed truckloads of soldiers, a stream of little “Citroens,” and many motorcycles and bicycles hastening through the city toward the port and coastal batteries.

The choice before General Nogues, when he received General Bethouart’s letter and found the Residency surrounded by insubordinate forces, depended directly upon the nature of the impending attack. He might have been placed in command of Moroccan defensive operations by direction of General Juin, who was his superior in such matters, and who was at the time, along with Admiral Darlan, under arrest in Algiers. He might have assumed the command on his own initiative had he recognized that the magnitude of the American forces about to land required the commitment of reserves from the interior stations. He could not have countermanded Admiral Michelier’s orders to the crews of the coastal batteries and the units of the Casablanca Division along the coast without being “dissident.” The most which could have been expected by those who knew him, in view of his determination to keep French Morocco from German military occupation and of his professional concern with the discipline of the French Army, was a course leading to token resistance.

Casualties might have been held to a minimum while at least an appearance of defense was being created. French failure to resist an American attack by forces manifestly weak and insufficient to control French Morocco, or any Commando raid of the hit-and-run variety, could not fail to cause Axis reprisals. Whether General Nogues assumed control with a view to confining French resistance to “token” proportions or allowed the Casablanca defense sector to resist manfully under Admiral Michelier’s direction would depend directly on the size of the American invading expedition.

With these considerations in mind, and before replying to General Bethouart’s letter, General Nogues began a cautious appraisal of the situation and ordered a general alert. The naval authorities denied the presence of large forces offshore. The landings did not begin at the time announced by General Bethouart, nor did any American force arrive at Rabat. By telephone General Nogues communicated with the commanders of the Meknes and Marrakech military sectors and ascertained that they remained subordinate to his authority rather than accepting the leadership of General Bethouart, as the latter had claimed.

President Roosevelt’s note to General Nogues was delivered considerably later than the plans called for, and was laid aside unrecognized for a later perusal. Any doubts concerning its authenticity might have been dispelled if the President’s radio broadcast had been heard by the Resident General, but by the time the document was read the size and strength of the landings were apparent.

General Nogues finally replied to General Bethouart by telephone after planes had strafed the antiaircraft batteries at Rabat and the airdromes at Casablanca, Sale, and Port-Lyautey, after ground troops had seized Safi and Fedala, and after naval gunfire had silenced the principal batteries near both ports. He then knew that fighting was also occurring at Oran and Algiers and that General Giraud had not been generally accepted as the leader in North Africa. He ordered General Bethouart to dismiss the protective battalion of Moroccan Colonials at once. To avoid bloodshed within the army, Bethouart and his principal associates sent away the guard and went to the Residency. There they were kept in custody until evening and then sent to Meknes to stand trial for treason.

In Casablanca just after 0630, leaflets containing General Eisenhower’s proclamation showered down over the city. An hour later, a cordon of guards ringed the U.S. Consulate; in the park across the street an antiaircraft battery was set up; and the air battle against Cazes airfield opened. Colonel William H. Wilbur, a member of Patton’s staff, had the mission of persuading the commanders in the city to co-operate with the Americans. But by 0800 as he arrived at the Admiralty after a trip in a small car that bore a huge flag of truce, the big guns on EI Hank, on the Jean Bart, and on other ships in the harbor had opened fire against Admiral Hewitt’s Covering Group. Shells from the Massachusetts, the Wichita, and the Tuscaloosa began to fall in the harbor in reply. Soon the port area was blanketed with smoke which rolled in over the city.

Hostilities had come to Morocco in a manner perhaps determined at Vichy but certainly attributable to the resolute French admiral at Casablanca and accepted by the Resident General at Rabat. The latter assumed command later in the morning and announced that a state of siege prevailed throughout French Morocco.

SOURCE: Northwest Africa: Seizing The Initiative In The West; by George F. Howe (United States Army Center of Military History)

World war Two: North Africa (2-6); Taking Safi

World War Two: North Africa(1-4); Completing the Preparations-Invasion Forces Sail

World War Two: North Africa(1-4); Completing the Preparations-Invasion Forces Sail

The pace of preparations for Operation TORCH accelerated in October, when decisions already made at higher levels had their greatest effect on those engaged in training troops, loading convoys, and arranging for reinforcement and subsequent logistical support. A dramatic change was impending in the Mediterranean theater of war. The carefully prepared offensive of the British Eighth Army in Egypt was scheduled to begin on 23 October in the hope that a victory over Field Marshal Rommel’s forces would be clearly won a few days before the Allied landings in French North Africa.

While the convoys were putting out to sea, decisive negotiations linked the Allied Force with elements of the French armed forces there. These matters were the major aspects of the last period of planning, preparation, and overseas approach to the objective.

Training for the Assault

Although under his Army directive all training of the Western Task Force was General Patton’s responsibility as its commander, his units were actually to be trained in the methods of amphibious warfare while assigned to the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet. Rear Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt assumed command of that new agency on 28 April, about six weeks after its activation under the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had an Army section in his force headquarters, an Army as well as a Navy chief of staff, and parallel staff sections under each, organized in conformity with Army practice. He was eventually to have warships, transports, and troops in a forward echelon for overseas operations, while a rear echelon gave logistical support and continued training and intelligence activities whenever the forward echelon was at sea.

A training center which took form during the summer and autumn of 1942 in the Norfolk area included schools for commanders and staffs, and for the various specialists that had been found indispensable to successful amphibious operations. There, under instructors from both the Army and Navy, men were trained to serve as transport quartermasters, as members of shore fire control parties, as members of shore and beach parties, as boat wave commanders, boat operating crews, or amphibious scouts or raiders.

The complex requirements of successful landings on hostile shores had for several years been studied in a series of exercises employing elements of the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Army. Joint training forces, uniting the 1st Infantry Division with the 1st Marine Division on the Atlantic coast and the 3rd Infantry Division with the 2nd Marine Division on the Pacific coast, provided in 1941 some advanced training for units of two Army divisions which were later to participate in Operation TORCH.

An elaborate full-scale exercise at New River, North Carolina, with air and naval support had been planned for December 1941. The U-boat menace caused it to be abruptly transferred to the southern shores of Chesapeake Bay, where the many deficiencies revealed by the exercise made apparent the necessity of improved and amplified training. The 9th Infantry Division began amphibious training early in 1942, taking the place formerly held by the 1st Infantry Division, which soon afterward moved to the United Kingdom.

One of the weaknesses shown in various exercises in 1941 was the inability of the shore and beach parties to unload landing craft swiftly; as long as these boats were unable to retract through the surf for a return trip to a transport, they blocked access to the beach for subsequent boat waves.

The Navy tentatively assigned responsibility for unloading to elements of the landing force rather than to teams formed from ships’ personnel, for the latter were needed for duties afloat. The Marine Corps inserted a Pioneer Battalion in its divisions to unload boats, and the Army seems to have accepted the responsibility in principle, but to have delayed making sufficient provision in its shore parties for actual performance of the task.

Throughout the summer and autumn of 1942 the troops of the Western Task Force completed unit training. The 3rd Infantry Division remained on the west coast until just before the final phase, while the 9th Infantry and 2nd Armored Division’s elements, with supporting units, trained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and elsewhere on the east coast. Amphibious training was to reach its climax in a rehearsal in Chesapeake Bay from the very transports, partly loaded, on which the landing teams would be conveyed to Morocco. The 3rd Infantry Division arrived at Camp Pickett, Virginia, in mid-September, a few days before this rehearsal began.

The troops received insufficient training in air-ground co-operation, for the U.S. Army Air Forces, in the midst of a Herculean effort to expand swiftly, could not spare enough aircraft and personnel for effective training with ground troops. Moreover, the Air Forces differed from the Ground Forces in their conception of proper battlefield support and were disposed to concentrate heavily on strategic bombing.

Sub-task force commanders prepared schemes of maneuver for forces limited by the maximum transport which could be allotted to them, assigning tasks to elements of their commands in a manner which will be described later.8 Training exercises simulated the actual conditions likely to be met ashore. The program of training in the fall of 1942 was hampered by incessant withdrawal of men for assignment to officer candidate schools or to cadres of new Army units. Successive replacements filled out the units with men whose training was necessarily very uneven. The period of planning and preparations came to a close in the latter part of October in an atmosphere of unrelieved improvisation and haste, an unavoidable consequence of the determination to undertake an operation which stretched resources to the limit.

The Center and Eastern Task Forces were trained and rehearsed in ship-to-shore landings at various points in the United Kingdom. The 39th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) was shipped, partly trained, from the United States to reach the United Kingdom on 7-8 October. It had received a considerable amount of battalion and a little regimental ship-to-shore training. Its transports were combat loaded, carried sixty days’ supplies and ten units of fire for all weapons, and vehicles which, unfortunately, had to be waterproofed and re-stowed after reaching the United Kingdom in order to be in the correct tactical order for a night landing. After the voyage the troops spent a few days ashore getting reconditioned and then participated in a rehearsal exercise starting on 17 October from Tail of the Bank, River Clyde. The 168th RCT, from the 34th Infantry Division, had come overseas with normal equipment and maintenance, but depended upon stocks in the United Kingdom for signal, engineer, ordnance, and quartermaster supplies and for ammunition.

[NOTE: The unit of fire (U/F) is a standardized quantity of ammunition for each weapon in service, varying for each type of weapon and, during World War II, in each theater of operation.]

The 1st Engineer Amphibian Brigade (Colonel Henry C. Wolfe, commanding) arrived in the Glasgow area on 17 August 1942 after a headlong embarkation on very short notice, and a voyage of eleven days. The unit was expected, at the time of its departure, to complete training with the 1st Infantry Division in the United Kingdom and to provide the additional specialized units necessary for the Division’s assault landing operations. While it was at sea, a revised Army-Navy agreement concerning landing craft crews and amphibious training went into effect. The brigade was broken up soon after its arrival. The advance headquarters of the U.S. Navy, Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet, was then being established at Rosneath, under Admiral Bennett. Colonel Wolfe was assigned to the admiral’s staff and made responsible for shore party training.

Not far from Rosneath, at Inverary, was the Combined Operations Training Center (British), at the time greatly hampered by the lack of adequate boat maintenance facilities. The 561st Boat Maintenance Company, fully and freshly provided with the requisite equipment, salvaged over 100 landing craft at Inverary. At Toward, the beaches were better for practice exercises than those at Rosneath or Inverary, but the camp site was unsatisfactory. At all three places deepwater anchorages permitted the instruction of troops in combat loading and disembarkation from ships to small boats.

A fourth site, at Gales, some forty-five miles southwest of Glasgow near Irvine, was better in all respects save its exposure to southwest winds, which on occasion forced the suspension of all small-boat operations. But at the rocky beaches of the four training sites, the small boats had to approach the shore with caution to avoid broaching, instead of moving rapidly as if under fire.

The training schedule in the United Kingdom for the Center Task Force assault units was arranged on 25 August 1942, at a meeting between General Clark (U.S. ) , General Anderson (Br.), Commodore John Hughes-Hallett (Br.), and Major General J. C. Haydon (Br.). It was settled that from 31 August to 12 September, one RCT of the 34th Division and a detachment from an RCT of the 1st Division would train at Inverary, to be followed by an RCT of the 1st Division from 14 to 26 September. The next two weeks were allotted to ship loadings.

From 8 to 18 October, rehearsals and the topping off of ships would occur. At Rosneath and Toward facilities would then be available also for boat training of a second RCT from the 1st Division, but no ships could be provided. From 22 September to 5 October, the craft used during training were to be put in condition for the operation itself.

The 16th RCT held landing exercises at Inverchaolain Peninsula (near Dunoon) during the night of 27-28 September, while the 26th RCT engaged in a second such practice operation at Inverary about twenty-four hours later. The 18th RCT and 168th RCT had left these stations about a week earlier, and were completing their training in new areas at that time. Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division, trained in Northern Ireland while the other amphibious assault elements were in Scotland, and while much of the staff were engaged in planning and preparations in London.

The British First Army was activated on 6 July 1942 around the elements of an expeditionary force which had been training in western Scotland for several months. It consisted, at its inception, of 5 Corps (4th and 78th Divisions), 6th Armoured Division, and 22nd Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade.

During the first week of August, the requirements for staging and executing a largescale amphibious landing against opposition had been tested by the British First Army in Exercise DRYS HOD. The tests indicated that the 78th Division, from which troops for the Eastern Assault Force were to be drawn, like the boat crews of the British transports, was then capable of only the sort of weakly resisted operation anticipated near Algiers. The 11th and 36th Brigade Groups and two Commando units (partly maned by volunteers from the U.S. 34th Infantry Division) were scheduled to engage in the amphibious assault.

Training for the amphibious operations in French North Africa, and in some respects for the subsequent phase of TORCH, fell short of what was desired and perhaps below the requirements of victory over a well-armed and determined foe. Whatever misgivings those preparing the expeditionary forces in the United States and the United Kingdom may have felt, they were attempting to do the best thing possible within the limitations imposed by inexperience, uncertainty, and shortness of time, rather than trying to tum out a force completely ready.

Plans for Logistical Support

The logistical planning for Operation TORCH was designed to support an American troop basis of seven divisions, with two more in reserve, and a tenth perhaps available if the military situation elsewhere permitted, plus a British “war establishment” of four divisions, with part of an airborne and a whole small Royal Marine division in force reserve. Two British divisions which were at first included in the schedule for Operation TORCH were retained for the defense of the British Isles, but subject to employment in a special Northern Task Force (Lieutenant General Frederick E. Morgan, commanding) to gain full control of the southern shores at the Strait of Gibraltar if Spain became hostile to the Allies. The initial and early following convoys were expected to bring to Northwest Africa within one month a total of over 200,000 American ground troops, including the ground echelons of Army Air Forces units, and a somewhat smaller total of British troops.

[NOTE 3-10: Ltr, CinC AF to Gen Ismay, II Oct 42. AFHQ AG 3S1.95, Micro Job 24, Reel SID.,. Actual totals in round figures: U.S. troops from the United States, 65,600 and from the United Kingdom, 105,000; British troops from the United Kingdom, 144,000. Control Div US Trans Corps, Monthly Progress Rpt, 31 May 43. OCT HB. If General Eisenhower requested an over-all directive from Combined Chiefs in a telegram (CMIN 3664), 9 October 1942. As prepared by the Combined Staff Planners, the directive was CCSO, 19 October 1942.]

 Large increments were to be brought during the next four months. In view of the Allied character of the expeditionary force, a clear division of supply responsibility was sought. The supplies for the force in the Algiers area, whether British or American, were to be transported from the United Kingdom in British shipping.

Those items normally issued to United States but not to British forces were to be transferred in the United Kingdom by Services of Supply (SOS), ETOUSA, for delivery by the British First Army to American elements of the Eastern Task Force and of AFHQ. Necessary supplies not normally issued to American personnel would be provided by the British. Materiel from the United States required by American forces in the Oran and Algiers areas in the early phase of the operation was estimated at 260,000 ship tons by D plus 5, 84,000 more by D plus 26, and on the latter date also, 11,000 tons of petrol, oil, and lubricants by tankers.

[NOTE 3-CKL: This arrangement meant that Class I (rations), Class III (petrol, oil, and lubricants), and most of Class IV (heavy engineering materials) were to be of British issue; the rest of Class IV, Class II (clothing, weapons, vehicles), and Class V (ammunition of all kinds) would be American supplies. Memo, Colonel George A. Lincoln for CofS SOS ETOUSA, 7 Nov 42, sub: Sum of supply problem for TORCH. Kansas City Reds Ctr, Env 27, x-14567.]

Some items to fill out shortages went by the “first available shipping from the New York Port of Embarkation to the United Kingdom, but supplies in other categories crossed in more than twenty-five complete and balanced shiploads to the United Kingdom, to be convoyed to North Africa without being unloaded.”

The levels of supply in North Africa proposed by AFHQ were fourteen days’ for the total force on D plus 30, thirty days’ for the total force on D plus 60, and forty-five days’ for the total force on D plus 90 and thereafter, with ammunition reserves held at twelve units of fire. A supplementary reserve in the United Kingdom on which to draw was proposed in the event of shipping losses in the convoys from the United States or of other emergencies, to consist of sixty days’ supplies and three units of fire. To reach quickly a moderate reserve level in North Africa of forty-five days’ supplies would, it was discovered, require a shift to the Center and Eastern Task Forces of some sixteen cargoes previously planned for the Western Task Force. It would also compel either a limitation of the Western Task Force to a total strength of 100,000 men on D plus 90, or, if more men were transported, then a reduction in the tonnage for transporting organizational and maintenance equipment to one-half of the normal allowances.

Command decisions made by General Clark on 28 September in Washington, in a conference with General Patton, Brigadier General Arthur R. Wilson, and Brigadier General LeRoy Lutes, fixed the level of supplies for the Western Task Force at forty-five days and ten units of fire, and cut the organic equipment to 50 percent of the normal ship tonnage required. The Western Task Force was to be short of equipment, particularly of vehicles, and of service troops for at least three months in order to meet even more pressing requirements. The supply convoys might reduce this interval only by being enlarged to more than forty-five ships, once North African port facilities permitted.

Each task force was to organize its own service of supply, including base sections to become operative in the ports as soon after the assault as proved feasible. After the 5 September decision, General Wilson was named to command SOS, Western Task Force, and eventually, the Atlantic Base Section at Casablanca. Brigadier General Thomas B. Larkin of SOS, ETOUSA, was to take command of SOS, Center Task Force, and later, the Mediterranean Base Section at Oran. It was expected that these two bases would soon come directly under AFHQ, and that after the merger of the two task forces the two SOS headquarters would be reorganized. In the United States, General Patton planned to leave behind a rear echelon of the Provisional Corps Headquarters, Task Force “A,” commanded by Major General Manton S. Eddy, to supervise the shipment of troops in accordance with the plans for reinforcements and replacements devised before the Western Task Force departed.

Late in the period of planning and preparation, the SOS, War Department, after operating under a series of specific agreements between General Eisenhower’s headquarters and agencies in the War Department concerning supply, requested from AFHQ a “complete plan.” A draft of such a plan, furnished on 27 October 1942, remained the subject of discussion for several more weeks.

The task forces could not establish adequate inventory controls and requisitioning General Eddy, Commanding General, 9th Infantry Division, had had his division split up, Combat Team 39 going to General Ryder’s Eastern Assault Force, Combat Team 47 to General Harmon’s Force BLACKSTONE, and Combat Team 60 to General Truscott, Force GOALPOST, procedures until the base sections should become operative. For the first two months, automatic supply of Class II, IV, and V items was planned in conformity with estimates reached by the chiefs of services or the SOS, War Department. Limited requisition was then to begin. The ports of embarkation, under the standard program for the supply of overseas departments, theaters, and bases adopted by the SOS, War Department, were established as the agencies for controlling the outward flow of supplies.

Almost one month after the Operation TORCH began, on 4 December, the approved supply plan for TORCH, was announced. The Western Task Force was to be supplied directly from the United States on requisitions sent to the New York Port of Embarkation, copies of which would be sent to ETOUSA via AFHQ. The Center Task Force was to be supplied directly from the New York Port of Embarkation, except for supplementary cargoes at the rate of some five ships per month which would go via the United Kingdom, but its requisitions would be routed through AFHQ and SOS, ETOUSA, to the Overseas Supply Division, New York Port of Embarkation.

A ninety days’ level of reserve supplies in North Africa was accepted as a goal. The level in the United Kingdom was set at thirty days of Class I and Class II, and of grease and oil in cans and drums, and two units of fire, but no reserve of Class IV supplies in general. Requisitions might be submitted for a reserve of particular items.

In these terms the supply plan was settled without permitting. the overseas theater organization either to control directly the maintenance of all American contingents of the Allied Force or to operate on too slender a margin of security. Yet the painful pressure of logistical requirements was apparent in the long period allowed for build-up. Faced with choices between men and materiel, and in tum between various kinds of materiel, the planners arrived at compromises and adjustments determined by their expectations concerning the nature of the forthcoming operation.

Departure of the Western Task Force

Except for the seatrain New Jersey, which took on the 39th Combat Team at the New York Port of Embarkation, all combat loaded ships from the United States departed from the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation. An admirable plan provided for loading the transports there in two flights, the second taking on cargo and troops while the first went up the Chesapeake on its rehearsal of ship-to-shore debarkation, each troop unit on the transport which would convey it to the hostile shore.

The second group would then have its rehearsal while the first ships were being topped off. This plan could only be approximated, for the Hamptons Roads Port of Embarkation was not yet the experienced organization which it later became, nor had it then the benefit of a completed staging area or of a holding and re-consignment point system to facilitate the orderliness of such a large and complex loading operation. Adjustments and improvisations had to be continuous. The transport Harry C. Lee, for example, came back from the landing rehearsal with engine trouble which could not be repaired in time for its departure with the assault convoy. What had previously taken several days to load for combat requirements had therefore to be taken out and laboriously re-stowed in the Calvert.

 Despite fresh paint and the change of crews, the task was completed in thirty-five hours and the ship joined the main convoy at sea. The Contessa provided an agitated postscript, for she appeared at Norfolk as the convoy was about to sail and in a leaking condition which required that she be dry-docked. Many of her crew left town while repairs expected to take several days were begun. Extraordinary measures got the Contessa afloat, loaded her with gasoline and ammunition, and filled out her crew in time to sail without escort toward Mehdia-Port-Lyautey. Despite these and other deviations from the loading program, the Western Naval Task Force was ready for departure on 23-24 October 1942.

Admiral Hewitt’s command consisted of five major divisions: the Covering Group (Task Group 34.1), the Air Group (Task Group 34.2), and the Southern, Center, and Northern Attack Groups (Task Groups 10, 9, and 8). Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen’s Covering Group of seven warships and a tanker was intended to furnish a protective barrier between the Center Attack Group off Fedala and the French naval units based at Casablanca. The Air Group, commanded by Rear Admiral Ernest D. McWhorter, consisted of the fleet carrier Ranger, the escort carriers Santee, Suwannee, and Sangamon, and a screen of one light cruiser and nine destroyers.

Each of the three attack groups comprised a division of transports, a group of warships for fire support, one of the auxiliary aircraft carriers, destroyer screens for the transport, fire support, and carrier units, and one or more mine sweepers, mine layers, tankers, beacon submarines (which had been sent ahead), and service ships. The Center Attack Group was approximately twice the strength of either the Southern or Northern Attack Group. The cruiser Augusta served as one of the fire support vessels of Center Attack Group and as the task force headquarters ship. The fire support section of the Center Attack Group was to be in position to assist the Covering Group in containing the French naval threat from Casablanca against the transports off Fedala as well as to aid the landing force near Fedala. This arrangement subjected the Augusta to three somewhat incompatible demands upon her batteries and communications facilities.

The entire task force of more than 100 ships was too large to be sent from anyone port in the United States without attracting undesired attention. It therefore assembled at sea after a series of departures at various times and places, seemingly for different destinations.

First to leave were four reconnoitering submarines which were to assist the attacking groups in finding their exact destinations, and a fifth which was sent to keep watch over the port of Dakar. These submarines had been at sea several days when the first section of the transports and warships emerged from Hampton Roads on the afternoon of 23 October. The Air Group was then ostensibly engaged in maneuvers in Bermuda waters. The troopships and their protectors headed in that direction. Next morning, the second half of the troop transports with screening warships, including the cruiser Augusta with Admiral Hewitt and General Patton aboard, left Hampton Roads and took a northeasterly course as though bound for the United Kingdom.

From Casco Bay, Maine, the Covering Group sortied in time to take its place at the front of the formation on 27 October, while the transports and warships, which had left Hampton Roads in two sections, were reuniting. On 28 October, the Air Group fell in behind the others. The convoy was then complete with two minor exceptions. The seaplane tender Barnegat joined the formation on 6 November after a voyage from Iceland. The Contessa overtook the Southern Attack Group on 7 November and continued under escort by the destroyer Cowie to its proper position off Mehdia among the ships of the Northern Attack Group.

The task force continued in formation from 28 October to 7 November, refueling en route, maintaining radio silence, and avoiding as much as possible all contacts with other ships. One Portuguese and one Spanish vessel were encountered and boarded but then allowed to continue. Detection by the enemy seems to have been prevented. From 4 to 6 November, the weather deteriorated severely, thus confining radioed weather forecasts of adverse conditions at the time and place set for the landings. Offsetting these forecasts was the more hopeful interpretation of Admiral Hewitt’s weather officer that the fast moving storm would have the effect of temporarily abating the high swell and surf at the landing points, perhaps long enough to establish firm beachheads, or to negotiate a surrender by the French. Instead of keeping this force together to cruise well out to sea until the general forecasts indicated feasible landing conditions, Admiral Hewitt decided to accept the risk of dividing it according to plan and to proceed to the three coastal objectives without delay.

At daybreak on 7 November, the Southern Attack Group commanded by Rear Admiral Lyal A. Davidson split from the main formation and headed toward Safi. During the afternoon, the Northern Attack Group under command of Rear Admiral Monroe Kelly also diverged to take a course toward Mehdia. The other three groups, separating slightly, approached the Fedala-Casablanca area, remaining until dark as far offshore as possible while still permitting the transports to reach the debarkation area at midnight.

For the troops, the entire three weeks at sea had been a combination of activity and discomfort, for they were jammed into every available place on the transports, were fed in seemingly endless lines, and suffered sea sickness, particularly during the days of rough weather. Yet they were brought up on deck for periods of exercise and engaged in detailed study or received general instruction on matters hitherto not touched upon in training.

On the approach voyage, there was much to be done in every echelon. General instruction was given to all officers and enlisted men regarding the customs of the Moroccan inhabitants. “The local population will respect strong, quiet men who live up to their promises,’” said a circular issued to the men. “Do not boast nor brag, and keep any agreement you make.” A directive from General Patton to the officers admonished them that “there is not the least doubt but that we are better in all respects than our enemies, but to win, the men must KNOW this. It must be their absolute belief. WE MUST HAVE A SUPERIORITY COMPLEX!”

Departure of the Center and Eastern Task Forces

The assault ships loading in the United Kingdom near Liverpool and Glasgow received their troop units late in September after most of the cargo had been stowed. The movement of troops to ports of embarkation was organized and controlled by the appropriate branch of the War Office, aided by members of the U.S. Transportation Corps. In spite of tendencies to be overly secretive or to reject orders received from a British agency, American ground and air units followed the complex schedule. Equipment, supplies, vehicles, and troops poured into the ports according to a carefully prepared program and, once aboard ship, were taken to the Firth of Clyde.

On 17 October, the entire expedition, both Center Task Force and Eastern Assault Force, began to assemble there. The assault transports proceeded north to the vicinity of Loch Linnhe to hold a final rehearsal just before daylight, 19 October, then returned to the Clyde next day. Except for command post exercises ashore by a small portion of the men, all waited aboard until time to depart. Then the great troop convoy sailed for Africa.

The first convoy, a group of 46 cargo vessels with 18 escorting warships, had already left port on 22 October on a schedule which would permit it to be overtaken by the second. The troop convoy, 39 vessels with 12 escorting warships, comprised the combat-loaded transports of the Eastern Assault Force and Center Task Force. Commanding the consolidated armada was Rear Admiral Sir Harold Burrough (Br.), in the specially designed command ship Bulala. With him were Generals Ryder (U.S.) and Evelegh (Br.), and Air Commodore G. M. Lawson (Br.) .

Second in command of the convoy was Commodore Thomas H. Troubridge (Br.) in another headquarters ship, the Largs. With him were Major General Lloyd R. Fredendall (U.S. ) , Colonel Lauris Norstad (Assistant Commander, U.S. Twelfth Air Force), and Mr. Leland L. Rounds, who had recently been brought out from Oran, where he was an American Vice-Consul, to furnish liaison with friendly French elements ashore and to provide political intelligence to General Fredendall. The escorts and most of the transports were British vessels, but the 39th Regimental Combat Team continued to Algiers in the combat-loaded transports which had brought it across the North Atlantic. Some Polish and Dutch ships were included.

The men and materiel from the United Kingdom reached North Africa by voyages organized in an extremely complicated pattern. One problem of safe transit was solved by sending in advance as far as Gibraltar a number of slow colliers, tankers, tugs, and other auxiliary craft, as well as the three Maracaibo tankers which had been converted into tank landing ships. For the major convoys of troops and materiel, the Strait of Gibraltar was in effect a bottleneck.

Transit into the Mediterranean during the darkness of two successive nights was scheduled for all except one small group of ships, which would enter in daylight. Before nearing the strait, both the slow convoy which had left the Clyde on 22 October and the fast convoy which departed on 26 October were to separate into sections destined for Algiers and Oran. Preceded by a screen of warships (Force H, Royal Navy), the Algiers sections of the slow and fast convoys were to enter the Mediterranean Sea during the night of 5-6 November. During daylight, 6 November, the Oran section of the slow convoy was to follow, and in darkness, 6-7 November, the Oran section of the fast convoy was at last to pass through the narrow waterway. Inside the Mediterranean, the separate sections were to consolidate in the Eastern and Center Naval Task Forces, the process being somewhat further complicated by the successive refueling of some ships in Gibraltar harbor, and by later supply from tankers at an advanced position in the Mediterranean. Two additional convoys from the United Kingdom were to be well along the way to the Algiers and Oran areas by the time the assaulting forces arrived off the landing beaches.

Moving such a large armada in accordance with this pattern required a masterly organization which might have suffered from its unavoidable complexities as well as from enemy attack. Actually, the plan was executed with extraordinary success. Between the Clyde and Gibraltar, no submarine sighted the ships although they passed through an area near which more than a score of Axis submarines were believed to be operating. One submarine, which was sighted at a distance of twenty-five miles from the convoy by a naval air patrol, was kept submerged long enough to permit the ships to pass unreported.

On 4 November, the Algiers and Oran sections of the convoys separated without the benefit of protective, long-range, antisubmarine air patrols. The seaplanes equipped for such missions had all become inoperable and the weather conditions at Gibraltar prevented land-based craft from undertaking the task.

In mid-afternoon, the Oran portion of the fast convoy steamed to the west while its destroyer screen made several aggressive attacks on submarines detected by warning apparatus. No results were observed, but the transports remained unscathed. After an interval of twenty-one and a half hours, the Oran-bound ships reversed course and approached the strait after nightfall, 6 November. Thirty hours remained before the assault landings would begin.

Axis Situation in the Mediterranean on the Eve of the Attack

The convoys were approaching an area in which serious changes had occurred since the Allied decision in July to undertake an operation against French North Africa. At that time, it will be remembered, the British Eighth Army had been driven far into Egypt and had taken its stand on what was known as the EI ‘Alamein line. The British and the Axis forces had then withstood each other’s probing attacks and had prepared for a return to the offensive. Rommel organized a single strong defensive position with considerable depth from which he intended to attack as soon as possible. The Axis leaders had calculated that the relative situation of the two adversaries would be best for the Panzer Army Africa late in August, for thereafter the British ability, in spite of lengthy supply lines, to deliver reinforcements and materiel in great quantities would enable the Eighth Army to acquire an ever-increasing margin of superiority in numbers, weapons, and battlefield resupply.

The Prime Minister devoted close personal attention to the situation and revised the command by installing General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander as Commander in Chief, Middle East, and Lieutenant General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery as Commanding General, Eighth Army. Preparations were made by these leaders to execute exactly the tactics which the enemy would have preferred to adopt himself, that is, to await an offensive, meet it in prepared defensive positions, and, after getting everything in readiness, counterattack.

One major change in the Mediterranean theater had taken place with the revival of Malta as a base for British attacks against the Axis line of sea communications to Tripoli. The use of aircraft carriers from Gibraltar to ferry planes within flying distance of Malta enabled the Royal Air Force to resume powerful attacks from Malta airfields on Axis shipping. Submarines from Malta also claimed many a victim. The enemy resorted to coastal traffic from Tripoli eastward to Bengasi and Derna in small, shallow-draft vessels. Hitler recognized in mid-September that Malta must again be neutralized. The Luftwaffe’s resources were unequal to this added demand, while German and Italian troops that had once been designated to seize the island (the canceled Operation HERKULES) were committed in Libya, a move which left insufficient ground forces. Among the Italian military leaders, daily review of the situation in the Mediterranean brought them back to the same themes, “Malta e nafta” (Malta and fuel) .

That Hitler recognized the danger of an attack by the Allies in 1942 was shown in certain defensive measures which he ordered that summer. Several armored divisions were withdrawn to western France from the Eastern Front; this step deprived his commanders of the means of exploiting the initial successes on the southern section of that front. Hitler acknowledged his concern when Grossadmiral Erich Raeder in August warned that the Allies might be preparing to enter French North Africa with the connivance of the French and thus to inflict a very serious blow to the Axis coalition. He became alarmed lest the Allied reinforcements in the Middle East presage the seizure of Crete rather than an attack against Rommel’s strong defensive position, and he ordered that that island’s garrison be increased to repel seaborne and airborne attacks. To insure that the complicated process of resisting an amphibious attack should be conducted with unity of command, he charged Kesselring, directly under himself, with the defense of all the coasts in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas which were held by German troops, excepting those in “Rommel’s sector.”

The threat of an Allied invasion in the western Mediterranean was met in conformity with German, rather than with Italian, views of appropriate action despite the fiction that the Mediterranean was Mussolini’s theater of war.

German policy from 1940 to 1942 was to refrain from moving into unoccupied France in order to prevent creation of a French government in North Africa opposed to the Axis powers. Comando Supremo professed in October to have much less concern with plans and preparations for seizing unoccupied France than with countermeasures against Allied invasion of French North Africa and West Africa. Moreover, Rommel’s line of supply could, Comando Supremo believed, be much improved if the Axis made full use of Tunisia’s ports and airfields rather than limiting itself as it had thus far in 1942. Two Italian divisions were held in reserve in western Tripolitania at points from which they could speedily enter Tunisia.

Both of the Axis partners recognized that an incursion into Tunisia would arouse French hostility. The Germans, presumably, did not desire a repetition of the Greek fiasco of 1940 and in spite of the Italian attitude decided to continue to adhere to the policy of friendly relations with the Vichy government. The Germans believed that any other course might precipitate a French attachment to the Anglo-American Allies. Axis policy therefore remained, in response to German insistence, that of waiting in readiness to send forces into Tunisia in the role of friendly protectors acceptable to the French government at Vichy. Rommel would have to get along without the Tunisian ports.

In mid-October neither Italian nor German intelligence deemed an Allied invasion of the Mediterranean area to be imminent. No operation was expected until spring. The place where the attack would then come was a matter of disagreement.

When indications of an earlier Allied operation were noted at Gibraltar, the Italians still considered an attack on French Morocco most likely. If unopposed by Axis forces, the Allies would reach Bizerte in about one month and, from that point, were expected to hit the Italian mainland, an operation which it was feared would have a disastrous effect on the Egyptian campaign and the whole Italian war effort.

The Germans were inclined to expect an attack to seize Dakar and thereafter, if the Mediterranean area were invaded at all, most of them thought the Allies would bypass French North Africa to close on Rommel’s rear area or to gain a bridgehead on the other side of the Mediterranean. Actually, both Axis partners were much surprised when the attacking force did in fact appear in the Strait of Gibraltar.

The last opportunity for the Axis forces to attack the British Eighth Army on anything like equal terms came at the end of August. Reserves of fuel and other supplies had been accumulated so slowly that no attack could be undertaken before that date, and, even then, the most careful estimates indicated that the operation would require 400 to 500 cubic meters more of gasoline than was on hand. Kesselring, upon learning that this deficiency alone stood in the path of an attack, undertook to furnish the required amount from Luftwaffe reserves. Thus on 30-31 August, depending upon tankers at sea for fuel which would be needed to continue operations in case of an initial success, the Panzer Army Africa moved to an attack. The battle of ‘Alam el Haifa followed.

[NOTE: The headquarters of the German Armistice Commission was in Wiesbaden, Germany]

The battle was won by the Eighth Army not only because of the scanty resources with which the offensive was begun but also because the British had correctly foreseen the plan of attack and had adopted appropriate countermeasures. To open the gaps in the mine fields through which the Axis armor was expected to pass by moonlight in order to make an early morning assault against Montgomery’s deep southern flank proved much more difficult than the Germans had anticipated. The deep soft sand into which many Axis vehicles were lured slowed progress and used up fuel.

Sandstorms which deterred the Allied air units from maximum effectiveness during the first day ceased to give that protection after nightfall. Parachute flares by night and clear weather by day thereafter enabled bombers to inflict severe injury on Rommel’s forces, supplementing the heavy artillery fire which fell on his units concentrated in the mine-field passages. The attack lost momentum as it neared the main British lines on ‘Alam el Haifa ridge, about 15 miles southeast of El ‘Alamein, and was broken off in failure on 3-5 September. Axis troops were forced to reoccupy their former defensive positions. They maintained contact, but no resumption of the attack could be foreseen. Axis losses in this battle were recorded as 570 killed, 1,800 wounded, and 570 prisoners of the Allies, as well as 50 tanks, 400 trucks, 15 field pieces, and 35 antitank guns.

The British Eighth Army spent the next seven weeks reinforcing its units and replenishing stocks, arriving at an ample margin of superiority not only in troops but in tanks, guns, aviation, and mobility. Its morale was excellent. The plan of battle was well calculated to overcome the enemy’s capabilities and meet his disposition of forces. The attack began on 23 October with a thundering artillery preparation such as the Western Desert had never before experienced.

Panzer Army Africa had remained in defensive positions near El ‘Alamein to receive the British attack. It might have fallen back nearer Tobruk, developing successive positions into which to retire. It might have stationed the major elements in intermediate positions behind a forward screen which simulated a major defense, and have counterattacked when the attacking forces had been somewhat disorganized by the initial operations. But it did neither. Rommel himself departed to take a rest leave on the Continent, turning over command to his deputy, General der Panzertruppen Georg Stumme. General der Panzertruppen Walther Nehring, commander of the German Africa Corps, had been wounded in the battle just concluded, and left Africa to convalesce near Berlin.

Allied planners chose 23 October as D Day to launch the attack of the British Eighth Army in deference to tactical requirements, not to any timetable of high-level strategy. The victory was won barely in time for its impact to be felt by men faced with crucial decisions concerning the Mediterranean.

On 2 November, after ten days of severe combat had worn both armies down, Rommel, who had been recalled from leave and arrived in Africa on 25 October, warned the Axis leadership to expect a serious disaster. His forces were exhausted, quite unable to withstand the armored thrusts which the enemy might be expected to deliver within twenty-four hours. Orderly withdrawal by his non-motorized Italian and German units would not be possible. In this situation “the gradual annihilation of this Army must be expected . . .” were his concluding words. A little later he reported the German Africa Corps down to twenty-four tanks and gave indications of drastic losses, both Italian and German. Hitler replied that no other course could be considered except stubborn resistance.

The troops,” he declared, “can be led only to victory or to death.” M Mussolini’s orders through Comando Supremo were to hold the front in Egypt at any price. The situation on the battlefield deteriorated further on 3 November as these impossible orders were being drafted so far away, and when Kesselring arrived next day by air from Crete to consult with Rommel he was soon persuaded that the commander must have discretionary authority to conduct his battle as the circumstances might dictate. He joined that noon in such a request, which later was conceded by Hitler and Mussolini. It was too late to save thousands of men. Some Italian units had been forced to withdraw even earlier to avoid being cut off, and Rommel intended that all his mobile elements should pull back fighting to the next feasible line of defense. The rest would be left behind. Comando Supremo sent reinforcements toward the Salum-Halfaya area, farther west, while Rommel’s Army was either driven from the battlefield or captured. The prevailing confusion left the extent of his defeat for later computation.

The Allies could look back a few months later to the Battle of EI ‘Alamein and recognize that the tide in the Mediterranean had then turned definitely. This victory was the first of a long series of almost uninterrupted triumphs over Axis forces which ended in the Po River valley. In a sense it was the Gettysburg of the African campaign. The fact that Rommel flew back from Germany to assume the command of his Army shortly after General Stumme died in action, while executing Rommel’s plans, is a circumstance which permitted later analysis of the battle as an encounter between two of the ablest field commanders of the war, and which will no doubt encourage its study for years to come.

The battle of El ‘Alamein yielded certain results distinctly beneficial to the Allies. Axis military prestige suffered most opportunely. Collapse of the Axis advance toward the Nile subjected the German-Italian partnership to the undermining influence of mutual recrimination. Rommel’s position as an Axis field commander suffered an eclipse, partial among Germans and total among Italians. The latter henceforth distrusted Rommel. Some Germans blamed him for disregarding obvious logistical restrictions. Hitler concluded that Rommel needed a rest but postponed replacing him. When the Allies arrived off the African coast, the opposing coalition was already beginning to weaken. That the Allied system of command would function as well during operations as for planning remained to be seen, but it was already apparent that the Axis command structure was defective in both areas.

No unified Axis Mediterranean theater existed. Major operational decisions were ostensibly made either by Mussolini himself, or in his name by the Comando Supremo; but actually they were made in collaboration with the Germans, whose counsel often took the form of completely drawn up orders which the Italians passed on to their troops intact. Each of the German armed services had a headquarters in Rome. That of the German Air Force’s OB SUED was under the senior German officer in the Mediterranean area, Field Marshal Kesselring. He outranked but had not yet superseded the German General, Rome, Enno von Rintelen, as a channel for conveying German views to the Italian high command. This confusing situation was made even more difficult as a result of the fact that Kesselring held the mission of facilitating by sea and air, partly by command and partly by co-ordination, German and Italian support of operations in Africa and the Balkans and defense of the coasts.

Rommel’s operations were not subject to Kesselring’s control. Rommel looked to others, not to Kesselring, for supplies. Although this tangle was eventually simplified, the Allied coalition in the Mediterranean began with a system of command superior to that of the Axis and was, in fact, to retain that superiority to the war’s end.

Finding a French Leader

All other measures taken by the Allies to minimize resistance by the French were subordinate to an understanding with a suitable French leader, one who could rally the armed forces of French North Africa in renewed war against the Axis powers. Such a man must be a personage, a man holding a position of unmistakable patriotism and endowed with such superlative qualities of leadership that he could persuade loyal officers of the French armed forces to seize the opportunity to liberate France. All French officers were bound to Marshal Petain by oaths which they would have to violate, an action which could be expected only in disciplined response to orders from their immediate superiors. Thus the actual problem was to find a new leader to whom the higher command in French North Africa would adhere, and in support of whom it would issue appropriate orders to the lower echelons.

Could such a leader be found in the existing structure of Vichy’s military establishment? Admiral Darlan, next in succession to Marshal Petain, and commander in chief of all the armed forces of his government, had confided to the U.S. Ambassador, Admiral Leahy, late in 1941 that he might be ready to dissociate himself from the policy of collaboration and lead his countrymen to the side of the Allies if he were supported by sufficient American aircraft, tanks, and effective troops. His conduct left doubts whether he was motivated more by ambition or by patriotism. If he were apprised of Allied intentions, would he assist or would he betray the project?

General Alphonse Juin, senior military officer in French North Africa and commander in chief of the French Army there, had been released from prison by the Germans after Weygand’s recall from Algiers late in 1941, but was no collaborationist. He was under orders to defend the French territories against invasion by any forces whatsoever, and he included in his preparations elaborate plans to resist an attack into Tunisia and eastern Algeria which could only come from the Axis countries. He intended to execute his orders, even against the Germans, and believed that he would be supported in such action by Admiral Darlan, if not by all at Vichy. The Allies could not have chosen an associate better able to assist them but more unwilling to take the initiative in defiance of his instructions from above.

General of Morocco, had shown marked zeal in 1940 in organizing and preparing for eventual resumption by the French Army of hostilities against the Axis powers, especially by concealing from the armistice commissioners both troops and materiel in excess of the permitted amounts. But by 1942 he seemed to Mr. Murphy to have become dispirited by the long delay. His intentions as late as 6 October 1942 were to resist any Allied invasion not strong enough to repel probable countermeasures by the Axis forces, and it could be doubted, despite his antagonism toward the Germans and their cordial distrust of him, that he would assume the burden of breaking with Marshal Petain’s authority.

Lieutenant General Louis-Marie Koeltz, commanding the 19th Region Militaire in Algiers, or Major General Georges Barre, commanding the Tunis Division, each the principal troop commander in his territory, and Vice Admiral Raymond Fenard, Secretary-General of French North Africa, or Vice Admiral Jean-Pierre Esteva, Resident General of Tunisia, each a protégé of Admiral Darlan high in the civil administration of French North African territories, had considerable prestige but could not be expected to lead a break with the government at Vichy.

Although a leader taken from Marshal Petain’s military establishment might well provide the greatest immediate advantages to the Allies, those benefits could be gained only at severe risk. The political consequences would be bad wherever, outside French North Africa, the Vichy government was believed to be wholly collaborationist and was an object of distrust or hatred.

But equally important from the strictly military point of view, the vital element of surprise would have to be forfeited as far as the French were concerned and, perhaps, the Axis enemies as well. Axis countermeasures during the approach, the landings, and the advance into Tunisia might be prepared in time to inflict severe injuries. Had the Allies been able to take into their confidence the right Vichy French leaders, the inner core of the resistance organization in the French armed forces might have arranged for only a nominal show of opposition intended to delay Axis retaliation, but the betrayal of such a confidence would have brought disaster. The risk seemed too great.

Could the Allies find an eminent person outside the Vichy establishment able to assume French civil and military leadership in French North Africa, some high-ranking officer who would accept a role of dissidence for reasons of higher patriotism? They would have to take their chances on his ability to win over the higher military commanders in French North Africa. Such a candidate appeared in the person of General Giraud.

Giraud, then in his early sixties, had achieved considerable distinction in a military career which involved many years of service in Morocco; combat, capture, and escape in both World Wars; instruction for three years at L’Ecole Superieure de Guerre in Paris, membership on Le Conseil Superieure de la Guerre, and four-star rank as commander of the French Seventh Army in 1940. His escape from the Koenigstein prison in Saxony through Switzerland to unoccupied France in April 1942 had attracted wide attention. He had undertaken to support Marshal Petain’s authority and had been permitted to retire into southern France, near Lyon. There he wrote a long analyst of the causes of France’s downfall in 1940 and planned for a day when Frenchmen might again fight for their freedom.

Mr. Robert Murphy returned to Algiers from his visits to London and New York in September with instructions to establish communications between Giraud and Eisenhower. He had just reached Algiers when he was approached by a representative of Admiral Darlan, who revealed that Darlan was being rapidly driven toward a choice between far closer collaboration with the Germans and coming over to the side of the United States, bringing with him the French fleet. To adopt the latter alternative, he required guarantees of ample American aid to offset French deficiencies in military equipment. Here was a situation which required not only a choice by Darlan but another choice, more pressing than he realized, by the Allies. Murphy recommended that his government attempt to bring about a co-operative relationship between Giraud and Darlan.

Although General Giraud’s residence in southern France was kept under surveillance, he had established communication with French patriots in Algiers and through them with others in the major centers of French North Africa, as well as with demobilized officers in France, and looked ahead with eagerness to the spring of 1943 when he hoped, with American aid, to bring about a successful return to arms in unoccupied France. His plans and communications were necessarily subject to the utmost secrecy. His principal representative in Algiers was Major General Charles E. Mast, commander of the Algiers Division since September 1942.

In Casablanca, the commander of the Casablanca Division, Major General Emile Bethouart, veteran of Narvik, was also an adherent of Giraud. Other officers of the French Army and various civilians were prepared to uphold Giraud in overthrowing the authority of the government at Vichy if necessary in order to resume the war against the Axis powers. He had channels of communication with the Allied leaders through his friends in Algiers and through the U.S. Military Attaché at Bern, Switzerland, and perhaps for a short time through the American embassy at Vichy.

While Giraud’s willingness to cooperate with the Allies was being ascertained, Mast assured Murphy that Giraud would prefer to act apart from Darlan and that Giraud could alone rally the French Army in North Africa, gain the adherence of the French Navy there, and make it possible for the Allies to “gain entry practically without firing a shot.” Mast was confident that the time had arrived not only to reach an agreement with Giraud but to discuss specific military plans in staff talks; therefore he proposed via Murphy a rendezvous near Cherchel, about ninety miles west of Algiers, on the night of 21 October. Five days’ notice was very short indeed.

Murphy’s reports produced intense concern and lively activity in London and Washington. Generals Eisenhower and Clark, the Prime Minister, and the British Chiefs of Staff concluded that Giraud should be recognized as “our principal collaborator on the French side” and as Governor General of all French North Africa, responsible for civil and military affairs, and as such should receive Allied support and protection.

At the same time, they approved General Eisenhower’s further proposal that Giraud be requested to negotiate with Darlan and to accept him in a military role which would be mutually agreeable. In effect, they agreed that one friendly French leader would be good but that two would be better, especially when one controlled the French fleet at Toulon. General Eisenhower then had in mind the early activation of the American Fifth Army under General Clark and the elevation of the French commander in chief to succeed Clark as deputy commander in chief. The British Chiefs of Staff, however, believed that no civil and military governor general could properly also serve as the Allied deputy commander in chief, so that the latter position would be available only to Darlan. All agreed that, because of insufficient ships, escorts, and ports, it would be impracticable to meet Giraud’s wish for simultaneous assistance to the French Army in southern France during the invasion of French North Africa. As Giraud was thinking of an invasion in the spring, and could not yet be informed of the actual Allied plans, the most that could be told him at this juncture was that the aid he desired would be hastened by an easy occupation of northwestern Africa.

Preparations in London to send a delegation for the projected staff talks at Cherchel on 21 October went forward while in Washington the draft instructions concerning association with Giraud and Darlan were under consideration.

The men selected for the hazardous mission were: General Clark, Brigadier General Lyman L. Lemnitzer (head of the AFHQ G-3 Section) , Colonel Archelaus L. Hamblen (AFHQ G-4), Captain Jerauld Wright, USN (AFHQ liaison officer with the U.S. Navy), and Colonel Julius Holmes (of AFHQ G-1), who had been supervising a civil affairs section and who was able to act as interpreter. Clark’s instructions, which were drafted after the President’s views on this critical matter were reported, covered various aspects of the projected relationship.

Darlan must not be mentioned; to propose him as a future French commander in chief might well disrupt the negotiations. Clark was to declare that selection of a French commander for French forces was “a matter to be handled by the French themselves.” This principle would be joined with the parallel guarantee that the Americans would not interfere with French civil government.

To dispel any fears of a future British hold on French colonial territory, Clark was also to emphasize the American control of the operation. Finally, Clark was authorized to indicate to the French that only under such conditions as General Eisenhower had envisaged in his talks with Murphy near London would a French commander in chief over all North Africa eventually be accepted; in the interim, the Americans would equip and supply French troops engaged in fighting the Axis powers.

The meeting near Cherchel later became one of the better-known exploits of the war. While the Allied commander in chief went to Scotland on a scheduled inspection of final amphibious rehearsals by some of his assault units, General Clark’s group started by air and submarine for a point on the African coast fifteen miles west of Cherchel.

The submarine voyage from Gibraltar to the vicinity of the rendezvous was completed too late to land before daylight of 21 October, so the party remained submerged most of the day. Those waiting at the villa, discouraged by their fruitless vigil, drove back at dawn to Algiers, expecting to make a second try two nights later. A radio sent from the submarine to Gibraltar and relayed to Algiers over the Office of Strategic Services secret radio chain, brought Mr. Murphy, Vice-Consul Ridgeway B. Knight, and some of the French back to the scene at midnight, 21-22 October, while General Mast and his staff appeared shortly before 0500. The meeting was held in a seaside villa loaned by a sympathetic owner.

[NOTE 5-10K: ( 1) Accounts of this submarine trip by several of the participants have been published. The narrative above is based primarily on the unpublished official report by General Clark to General Eisenhower, dated 30 October 1942, augmented by Clark’s memoir, Calculated Risk, pp. 67-89. (2) See also Ridgeway B. Knight, “General Clark’s Secret Mission to Algeria on October 21, 1942,”]

An initial special conference brought together Generals Clark, Lemnitzer, and Mast, Lieutenant Colonel Louis G. M. Jousse, and Mr. Murphy. General Mast was told that the Allies had decided to send to North Africa a large American force, supported in the air and on the sea by British units. He in tum advised the Americans to prepare for the swiftest possible movement into Tunisia to counterbalance the Axis capacity to begin sending in troops by air within thirty-six hours of the first American landings. He also urged the necessity of retaining the bridgehead in southern France by simultaneous aid to French forces waiting there.

The discussion shifted to the role to be played by General Giraud. It was agreed, first, that he should receive directly from the Allies a letter setting forth their intentions and, second, that if Giraud consented to come to North Africa he should be brought out by an American submarine. A draft letter was prepared, subject to approval by General Eisenhower, which proposed: first, the restoration of France to its 1939 boundaries; second, acceptance of France as an ally; and third, assumption of the supreme command in North Africa by the French “at the appropriate time” following the landings, the establishment of bases, and the rearming of French troops.

In a general conference among all the officers, much precise intelligence was furnished by the French and the fact was emphasized that the Blida airdrome at Algiers and the garrison and airdrome at Bone were controlled by adherents of General Giraud.

After barely eluding French police by hiding in an empty wine cellar while the villa was searched, and after braving high surf and rough seas to return in frail landing craft to the submarine, the party set out for Gibraltar, and from there radioed to London a report of its achievement. On 25 October in two B-17’s, they reached England.

[NOTE12-12NA: ( 1) Before approving the letter to General Giraud, General Eisenhower felt compelled to clarify the conditions for transferring command to the French; these conditions called for delay, and even at the time of transfer provided that the American commander would continue controlling French North Africa as a base for operations against the Axis. Only defense would be “turned over to French command.” (2) General Mast estimated the French forces which could be rearmed as: eight infantry and two armored divisions, plus separate tank, artillery and service units-all ready within one month. Msg, London to AGWAR, 29 Oct 42, CM-IN 12,809.]

The Western Task Force had by then already commenced its voyage to the landing beaches. The other task forces were about to sail. Additional intelligence was radioed to Hewitt and Patton on the Augusta and turned to account also in Eastern Task Force plans. The participants scattered to their respective tasks, the French still unaware that the operation was so near, and that part of the expeditionary forces were actually on the way.

The terms of association with Giraud remained to be established. His general position, as he wrote to a fellow countryman, was: “We don’t want the Americans to free us; we want them to help us free ourselves, which is not quite the same.” Preliminary negotiations elicited a provisional draft embodying his views of the Allied proposals, but official proffer of support by the Allies awaited adjustments concerning the matter of command that would meet General Eisenhower’s views. At some point in his negotiations with the Allies, if not through Mr. Murphy, he listed four conditions governing his acceptance, of which one was that he should be commander in chief of Allied troops on French soil where ever French troops were fighting. On a memorandum naming the conditions, which has survived in his handwriting, is written in the lower left comer, “0. K. Roosevelt.”

[NOTE 5-AT: (I) Giraud, Un seul but: la victoire, p. 335. (2) Albert Kammerer, Du dlbarquement Africain au meurtre de Darlan (Paris, 1949), pp. 112-14. .. Search in the records of the President at the White House and Hyde Park, New York, of the Department of State, and the U.S. Army, and inquiries to Mr. Murphy, Miss Constance Harvey (then U.S. Vice-Consul at Lyons), Admiral William D. Leahy (then Ambassador at Vichy), Mr. Douglas MacArthur III, and Mr. S. Pinkney Tuck (then on the embassy staff at Vichy) have failed to elicit a trace of any communication between Giraud and President Roosevelt which could have received the President’s written “O.K.” A photo-static copy of the document in Giraud’s own papers shows it to be a copy of a telegram in his own handwriting rather than the original, if such there be.]

The authenticity of this document cannot be established, but Giraud’s expectations that this condition would be met came as a great surprise to the Allied Commander in chief later, “for the negotiations conducted through Murphy in Algiers with Giraud in southern France had remained inconclusive on the matter of command.”

Giraud had made clear on 27 October that he believed the American command over the landings should be transformed after some forty-eight hours into an inter-Allied command ashore, and that in French North Africa he should be the Allied commander in chief. Murphy stated the three central features of Allied policy: (1) France would be fully restored to her prewar boundaries and sovereign independence; (2) purely French national matters would be left for determination by the French without American interference; ( 3) “the government of the United States regards the French nation as an ally and will deal with it as such.” As to the inter-Allied command, he suggested that the transfer of command from American to French hands might follow the rearmament of French forces in French North Africa with American materiel, but left the decision to be reached directly between Eisenhower and Giraud.

These proposals, officially presented in informal letters dated 2 November, were in Giraud’s possession when he was summoned to leave his retreat and thus catapulted into the situation to which the proposals applied. He had a hard choice, for a decision to cooperate with the Americans required him to advance the date for rallying the French several months; it also meant that simultaneous military action in southern France, which he considered vital to effective liberation of all France, must be abandoned.

He decided to co-operate, but if he answered the letters of 2 November, his reply was not received before he himself appeared to state his views. Thus a friendly French military leader was found by the Allies at the very last minute, and in circumstances certain to produce much subsequent difficulty.

The Climax of the Preparations

The first transports bound for Algiers entered the Mediterranean on the night of 5-6 November and, fully visible, slipped silently past Gibraltar, from which the operation was to be directed. Deep within the Rock, in damp and limited quarters excavated during the previous year, General Eisenhower, Commander in Chief, Allied Force, and his principal staff, who flew from the United Kingdom to Gibraltar on 5 and 6 November in B-17’s, set up an advanced command post. With General Eisenhower were his deputy commander in chief, General Clark (U.S.), his naval commander in chief, Admiral Cunningham (Br.), his air officer, Air Commodore A. P. Sanders (Br. ), the commanders of the two major air elements, General Doolittle (U.S.), and Air Marshal Welsh (Br.), the commanding general of the force which would push eastward from Algeria into Tunisia, General Anderson (Br.), and others. General Eisenhower was nominally in command of Gibraltar’s fortress.

Material which British and Canadian tunneller’s had excavated from the Rock had been used to extend the landing strip on Gibraltar’s airfield into the Bay of Algeria’s. Aircraft which in recent weeks had been brought in crates and assembled now stood wing to wing cramming the field. Gibraltar’s harbor gave temporary refuge to oilers, tugs, refueling warships, and other varied craft.

Such unusual activity did not pass unobserved by the Axis agents on Spanish soil adjacent to airfield and harbor. But where and in what strength the Allies were preparing to strike, and just when the operation would begin, they could only surmise. In the Rock, also, was the signal communications center for the imminent operation. The advanced headquarters was linked with London and Washington, with Tangier and a secret American radio network in French North Africa, and with the vessels of the great naval task forces and their protecting groups. Once the ships could terminate their radio silence, a cascade of messages would be added to the stream already inundating the center of Gibraltar.

Important developments were taking place elsewhere. En route to Gibraltar from southern France, in a British submarine which had been put temporarily under American command, and which was out of communication with Gibraltar for over twenty-four hours because of a defective radio transmitter, was General Giraud. In Algiers, General Mast’s organization was sending warnings to Oran and Casablanca and preparing for its own local operations.

Mr. Robert Murphy was reporting a conference with General Juin to which he had been invited earlier that day. The French commander in chief had discussed the possibility of Allied aid against the threatening Axis initiative in Tunisia. He had warned Murphy that a recent visit to French North and West Africa by Admiral Darlan had brought about no change in the standing defense instructions: if the Allies should invade before the Axis forces did, Juin would be compelled to order that they be opposed; if the Allies would only wait, they could be welcomed and assisted.

[NOTE-4-TT: Reports of the submarine journey, Operation MINERVA, appear in the following sources: (I) Br. Battle Sum 38, Opn “Torch,” App. B3. (2) Memo, Captain Jerauld Wright, for Comdr USN Forces in Europe, 7 Dec 42, sub: Rpt on Opn MINERVA. AFHQ AG 370.2-53, Micro Job 24, Reel 79D. The three companions of General Giraud were Captain Andre Beaufre, Lieutenant de Vaisseau Hubert Vi ret, and Aspirant Bernard Giraud, the general’s son.]

The Allies’ leadership had just been somewhat flustered by the sudden insistence of General Mast’s group, through Murphy, that the Allied landings be postponed for three weeks to permit them to make adequate preparations. The proposal had been rejected as wholly impracticable. Now General Juin’s counsel of delay also had to be ignored. The assaulting force was mounted and moving on an inexorable, predetermined course. The months of planning and preparing were almost at an end.

SOURCE: Northwest Africa: Seizing The Initiative In The West; by George F. Howe (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: North Africa (2-5); French decide to fight

World War Two: North Africa (1-3B); Tactical Plans and Political Preparations

World News Headlines: 01-26-2019


Heiko Maas says Germany ‘not neutral’ on Venezuela, seeking ‘fresh elections’; Germany’s foreign minister told DW that Berlin supports new elections in Venezuela, since Nicolas Maduro “is not a democratically legitimate president.” Meanwhile, Maduro announced Venezuela is closing its US embassy.German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Berlin and the European Union support holding fresh elections in Venezuela after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country’s interim leader. “We are not neutral,” Maas told DW’s Oliver Sallet in New York City, adding that Germany “stands on the side of Guaido” as the leader of the National Assembly. “This is why we we are calling for fresh elections, for the National Assembly to assume responsibility and for the force of constitutional law to be restored to Venezuela. We’ve made that known together with our European partners and that’s going to be our policy in the coming days,” Maas said. “We are not neutral as regards this question, but rather support what Guaido is doing,” he added.

Italy: Court rules far-right leader Salvini can be charged with kidnapping; Prosecutors in Sicily say Interior Minister Matteo Salvini held 177 migrants hostage by stranding them on a ship. The European Council has expressed concern about xenophobia in Italy.A court in Sicily ruled on Thursday that Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini can be charged with kidnapping after he prevented refugees from disembarking an Italian coast guard ship in August. “I confess,” Salvini said in a video posted to his Facebook page, “there is no need for a trial. It’s true, I did it and I’d do it again.” “I risk 3 to 15 years in prison for blocking illegal landings in Italy. I have no words,” wrote Salvini, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Lega (League) party, which now rules Italy in a coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
Salvini also claimed on Facebook that #SaliviniNonMollare (“Salvini, don’t give up”) was the top trending hashtag on Italian Twitter, but many of the tweets were English-language posts declaring solidarity with Italian nationalists.

France, Italy ratchet up rhetoric amid migration dispute; France and Italy are no strangers to a diplomatic war of words. However, a dispute over migration, against the backdrop of rising nationalism, has driven modern ties between two of the EU’s biggest members to a new low.”The dealings between French and Italian leadership haven’t been this bad since the war,” columnist Aldo Cazzullo argued in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. His opinion was not a reaction to the latest verbal attack on French President Emmanuel Macron from Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini. In fact, Cazzullo wrote that line back in June 2018. Last summer, the anti-immigration Salvini, who heads the far-right League party, closed Italy’s ports to ships carrying refugees. When Macron referred to right-wing populism and xenophobia in Europe as a “lesion,” Salvini cried hypocrisy because France, too, was denying refugees entry.

Vietnamese-Australian democracy activist ‘detained’ in Vietnam; A pro-democracy opposition group says a prominent member of the Vietnamese community in Australia has been detained incommunicado in Vietnam. Another Vietnamese activist is also believed to have been detained. A Vietnamese-Australian pro-democracy activist has allegedly been detained in Vietnam, the exiled opposition group Viet Tan said Friday. An Australian citizen, Chau Van Kham was detained on January 13 while on a “fact-finding” mission to assess the human rights situation in Vietnam, Viet Tan spokesman in Australia Phong Nguyen said in a statement.”Mr. Kham has been detained incommunicado for almost two weeks and without Australian consular access,” Viet Tan said, adding that the group and Kham’s family were in contact with the Australian foreign ministry. Kham is well-known in Australia’s Vietnamese community as “a long time democracy activist, working with civil society on the ground in Vietnam as well as campaigning for human rights with elected officials in Canberra,” Viet Tan said. Viet Tan is a self-described pro-democracy opposition group advocating for human rights. It is considered a terrorist organization by Vietnam, although it is peaceful and has a presence in several countries.

Gay congressman Jean Wyllys leaves Brazil, citing death threats; Jean Wyllys told a Brazilian paper that he had left the country and would not be returning to start his third term. The advocate for LGBT rights described the atmosphere under new President Jair Bolsonaro as “unsafe.”Jean Wyllys, a prominent openly gay congressman in Brazil, said he was stepping down from his position in response to death threats. Wyllys made the announcement in an interview published on Thursday in the daily Folha de S. Paulo. In it, he said that he was currently outside of the country and had no plans to return. He told the paper that he intended to work in academia going forward. “This was not an easy decision, and it involved a lot of pain, because I am also giving up being close to my family, my dear friends, and the people who love me and want me near them,” Wyllys said in the interview.

Austrian interior minister accused of ‘attacking rule of law’; Herbert Kickl, Austria’s far-right populist interior minister, came out for tough asylum laws. He even questioned the European Convention on Human Rights, infuriating Austria’s president and Amnesty International. If he meant to provoke, he succeeded. Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl’s comments against the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) drew a sharp rebuke from government officials and President Alexander Van der Bellen. When asked by an Austrian public broadcaster whether curfews for asylum-seekers and speedy deportations could violate the rule of law, Kickl referred to the rights conventions saying that there are “strange legal structures, sometimes many years old and developed under totally different circumstances, that prevent us from doing what is necessary. I would like to take on those rules.”

FRANCE (France24)

Russia, Venezuelan military top brass back Maduro; A day after Venezuela’s National Assembly head Juan Guaido proclaimed himself the country’s interim president in a move welcomed by the US, Canada and several countries in the hemisphere, Venezuela’s top military officials delivered vows of loyalty to Maduro. Around half-dozen generals belonging largely to district commands and with direct control over thousands of troops joined Maduro in accusing the US of meddling in Venezuela’s affairs and said they would uphold the socialist leader’s rule. Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, a key Maduro ally, later delivered his own proclamation, dismissing efforts to install a “de-facto parallel government” as tantamount to a coup. “It’s not a war between Venezuelans that will solve our problems,” he said. “It’s dialogue.” enezuelans are heading into uncharted political waters after Guaido declared himself acting president following the widely contested May 2018 presidential election. Under Venezuela’s constitution, a vacancy in the presidency must be filled by the head of the National Assembly until new elections are held. Shortly after Washington’s recognition of Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, Maduro dug in for fight, breaking diplomatic ties with the US and giving US diplomats in Venezuela 72 hours to leave the country. On Thursday, the US ordered non-emergency embassy staff to leave Venezuela but stopped short of complying with the full expulsion demanded by Maduro. The US State Department also said that US citizens “should strongly consider departing Venezuela”. Earlier, Maduro announced that Venezuela was to close its embassies and all consulates in the US. Russia meanwhile has backed Maduro, with Putin calling his Venezuelan counterpart to express “support for the legitimate authorities of Venezuela in the context of a domestic political crisis that has been provoked from the outside”, said the Kremlin. Moscow has warned Washington against any attempts to militarily intervene in Venezuela. Russia has extensive economic interests in Venezuela and has invested billions of dollars in its energy sector

Greek MPs to vote on Macedonia name change; Greek lawmakers are due to vote Friday on a deal to change the name of neighbouring Macedonia and resolve a diplomatic dispute that has dragged on for nearly 30 years.The vote was originally scheduled for after midnight Thursday but had to be postponed to Friday because some 230 lawmakers wanted to speak on the issue, the parliament speaker said. Hundreds opposed to the deal protested outside parliament on Thursday evening, with police using tear gas to disperse them. The vote on the agreement to rename Macedonia as the Republic of North Macedonia is now planned for around 2:30 pm (1230 GMT). “Tomorrow is a crucial vote… now is the time to break free of the vicious cycle of nationalism and look at… future cooperation,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the chamber. Macedonia’s parliament on January 11 backed a constitutional revision to change the country’s name but for the deal to go through, it must also be approved by Greek MPs. Communist party activists Thursday draped giant banners outside the Acropolis, the ancient citadel on an rocky outcrop overlooking Athens, reading: “No to the Tsipras-Zaev agreement.” That was a reference to the landmark compromise agreed in June between Tsipras and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev.

Frustration and sadness as Italy migrant centre closed; “I found a family here, I worked with the parish priest, I helped with mass, I went to school,” said Nigerian Anthony Ehikwe, one of hundreds of migrants being expelled from Italy’s second-largest migrant centre. “And now I do not even have the time to say goodbye.” Italian authorities are this week removing migrants from the reception centre at Castelnuovo di Porto, just north of Rome, after far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s tough anti-migrant decree became law.

France’s Macron calls election of Venezuela’s Maduro ‘illegitimate’; Macron said in his tweet that Europe supports the restoration of democracy, and “welcomes the courage of the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who march for their freedom”. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim leader on Wednesday, winning the support of Washington and parts of Latin America and prompting Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013, to sever diplomatic ties with the United States. The European Union has imposed sanctions on Venezuela and boycotted Maduro’s swearing-in, but stopped short of following Washington’s line. However, it called on the authorities in Venezuela to respect his “civil rights, freedom and safety” and appeared to support calls for a peaceful transition of power away from Maduro.


Nissan, Renault confirm to cooperate; Nissan President Hiroto Saikawa said he talked with Renault’s new chairman Jean-Dominique Senard on the phone. He said they confirmed they’ll cooperate to help synergize the alliance. Saikawa told reporters on Friday, “I told Mr. Senard we’ll work hard together. It’s a new start, and I’d like to keep close communication.” Saikawa said he intends to endorse Senard as a Nissan director in an extraordinary shareholders meeting planned for mid-April. But there are differences between the two automakers on who will take the lead at Nissan after the arrest of chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Dai-ichi to buy US insurer’s unit for $1.2 bil; Dai-ichi Life Holdings has decided to buy the individual life insurance and annuity unit of a US life insurer. Japanese insurance companies have been looking abroad for growth as their home market shrinks. Dai-ichi Life says its wholly owned US subsidiary will buy a total of about 240 thousand policies from Colorado-based Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance. The 1.2 billion-dollar transaction is expected to close in the first half of this year. Dai-ichi Life has been accelerating its market expansion in the US since 2015. That’s when it purchased local insurer Protective Life and turned it into its US arm.

France: Nissan should abide by agreement; French economy minister Bruno Le Maire says one of the top executives of Nissan should be from Renault, based on an agreement made by the two companies. France apparently wants Renault to maintain its influence over the Japanese partner. Renault announced on Thursday that Jean-Dominique Senard will be the firm’s new chairman, after Carlos Ghosn gave up his executive positions. Senard is currently the CEO of tire manufacturer Michelin. Le Maire spoke to NHK in Switzerland. He said Senard’s first job is to strengthen the alliance with Nissan. Le Maire said, “There is a clear agreement. We have to stick to the agreement between France and Japan about the alliance. That, for us, is the key point.” The French government is the top shareholder in Renault. And Renault is Nissan’s largest shareholder, with a 43-percent stake. Some Nissan executives want the companies to review their capital ties to ensure that the Japanese automaker maintains its managerial autonomy. Le Maire said the issue is not even on the table.

US Navy ships sail through Taiwan Strait; Two US Navy vessels have passed through the Taiwan Strait in an apparent action to keep China in check amid tension between the two countries over trade issues and the South China Sea. The US Pacific Fleet said in a statement that the destroyer USS McCampbell and the replenishment vessel USNS Walter S. Diehl conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit on Thursday. The statement said the transit demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. It added the US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows. The US Navy also sailed ships through the strait in November. US President Donald Trump’s administration has been increasing the pace of dispatch of naval ships to the region. In a related development, Taiwanese defense authorities said multiple Chinese warplanes, including H6 bombers, conducted flight drills near Taiwan on Tuesday and Thursday.

Thai election campaign starts; Political parties in Thailand have officially kicked off their election campaigns. On Wednesday, the country set March 24th as the date for its long-anticipated general election. The vote will be a crucial step toward democracy after nearly five years of military rule. Major parties held a press conference to outline their political positions. A pro-military party stressed that it is not an extension of the military. Palang Pracharath Party leader Uttama Savanayana said, “I can assure everyone that our party is as ready as it can be. Our personnel are ready. Some old faces are rich with experience. Some new faces with passion and ideas.” A rival party that supports former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called for a free and fair election. Pheu Thai Party leader Viroj Pao-in said, “We encourage the Thai people and Pheu Thai members to exercise their right to vote, which will pave the way to complete democracy in this country.” The party criticized the fact that four current ministers have been allowed to establish and run the pro-military party and just months ahead of the vote are using sizeable government funds on projects to boost their popularity. The military has controlled the government since it staged a coup in 2014. It has pledged to hold an election to hand over power to a civilian administration, but it has repeatedly postponed that. The prime minster and former army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha has hinted that he may seek to be re-named the country’s leader after the polls. He could run with one of the pro-military parties or become a so-called “outsider prime minister.” Under new rules, the premier is not required to be a member of parliament.

Choice to be added for base referendum in Okinawa; Members of the prefectural assembly in Japan’s southwestern prefecture of Okinawa have agreed to add another choice for a planned referendum on relocation of a US base in the prefecture. They decided to add “neither” to the initially proposed two options of “yes” or “no” to the relocation plan. The assembly decided to hold the referendum in the wake of wide local objections to a plan to relocate the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City to the less populated Henoko area within the prefecture. The date of the referendum was set for February 24th. But Ginowan and four other cities opted not to take part on the grounds that just the “yes” or “no” options are insufficient to ascertain the people’s will. That would have reduced the number of voting municipalities to 36. On Wednesday, the assembly’s ruling bloc, which supports Governor Denny Tamaki, decided to allow other choices in the upcoming referendum. The next day, all political groups in the assembly agreed to add “neither”. It is widely believed that the agreement will lead to implementation of the referendum at all municipalities in Okinawa.