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Second World War History > Operation Torch - the Allied Invasion of Africa Timeline

Operation Torch - the Allied Invasion of Africa Timeline

North Africa seemed like a good enough place to start dismantling the German empire.

Authored By Staff Writer

In their boldest move yet, the Allies planned out the invasion of North Africa through Operation Torch. With the Americans onboard, the British now had some substantial meat added to their war-weary legs. The combined invasion force - numbering some 102 vessels - would be comprised of the US Western Task Force, the US Central Task Force and the combined US/British Eastern Task Force. Each task force would yield between 23,000 and 39,000 troops.


Though many US generals wanted an all-out invasion of Europe, American President Franklin Roosevelt trusted his counterpart, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in establishing a second front across Northern Africa. The move, if successful, would contain German expansion to Europe, block off vital shipping lanes in the Mediterranean and provide the Allies with a jumping off point into Italy.


On November 8th, 1942, the Operation Torch landings took place supported by air power. Despite the thinking on the Allies part that the French would greet them as liberators, pockets of Vichy French soldiers battled it out as hard-core enemies. In other places, fighting was not in the cards and areas fell without so much as a shot being fired. The invasions marked the formal beginning of American General George S. Patton into the war.


As news of the invasion spread, German General Irwin Rommel - fresh off his defeat at El Alamein - diverted his Panzer forces to the West. In Germany, Hitler was so enraged by the success of the Allied invasion over his Vichy French allies that he ordered his forces to take the south of France into his reach (to this point, Southern France was under the control of Vichy French forces loyal to Hitler's Germany). At the news of this, most all Vichy French forces in North Africa officially surrendered to Allied forces.


For a bulk of the invasion progress was relatively steady and strategic routes, cities and airfields all fell under Allied control within time. It wasn't until the arrival of a more stout German defense that the Allied push became bogged down by November 30th.


The German defense would remain in place into 1943 but the damage was done.

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Total Operation Torch Events: 21

1942
Tuesday
September 1st - September 30th

The month is spent ironing out plans for the Allied invasion of German-occupied North Africa.

1942
Saturday
November 7th

Three Allied task forces - the US Western, Central and the British Eastern - approach the coast of North Africa.

1942
Sunday
November 8th

The Allied invasion forces reach North African shores.

1942
Sunday
November 8th

The US Western and Central task forces tangle with Vichy French opposition.

1942
Sunday
November 8th

At Oran, French coastal guns destroya US transport with 200 soldiers aboard.

1942
Sunday
November 8th

French General Mast surrenders to the British Eastern Task Force.

1942
Monday
November 9th

The first French cease-fires begin to ring out across Algeria and Morocco.

1942
Monday
November 9th

US forces tangle with a suprisingly stout French defense. It was believed that the two country's histories would have brought France to surrender rather than fight a former ally.

1942
Wednesday
November 11th

The British Eastern Task force capture the strategic airfield at Djidjelli via Bougie from Algiers.

1942
Wednesday
November 11th

French Admiral Jean Francios Darlan joins French General Alphonse Juin in calling an all-out cease fire for French forces throughout Africa.

1942
Thursday
November 12th

German paratroopers move into the area near the airfield at Bone.

1942
Thursday
November 12th

British paratroopers land near Bone and take the nearby airfield.

1942
Thursday
November 12th

German paratrooper forces attack the British paratroopers near Bone but are repelled.

1942
Sunday
November 15th

American paratroopers land at the airfield near Youks les Bains

1942
Monday
November 16th

British paratroopers land and capture the airfield at Soul el Arba.

1942
Monday
November 16th

Allied forces begin their move into German-held Tunisia.

1942
Tuesday
November 17th

The Allies capture Beja.

1942
Wednesday
November 18th

The Allies take Sidi Nsir.

1942
Friday
November 20th

The Allied assault on the strategic city of Medjez el Bab begins.

1942
Thursday
November 26th

Medjez el Bab falls to the Allies.

1942
Monday
November 30th

Despite the consistent progression throughout North Africa, the Allied invasion offensive grounds to a halt in the face of growing German resistance at key junctions. The total liberation of North Africa will have to wait.
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