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Operation Torch Timeline

Authored By Dan Alex | Last Updated: 7/22/2014

North Africa seemed like a good enough place to start when the Allies went to work on dismantling the Axis empire.

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In their boldest move yet, the Allies planned out the invasion of North Africa through Operation Torch. With the Americans now onboard, the British had some substantial new-blood to reinforce their war-weary legs. The combined invasion force - numbering some 102 naval vessels - would be comprised of the U.S. Western Task Force, the U.S. Central Task Force and a combined U.S./British Eastern Task Force. Each task force would yield between 23,000 and 39,000 troops for the all-out invasion of North Africa - the first step required in retaking Europe proper.


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


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


As news of the invasion spread, German General Irwin Rommel - fresh off of 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 under his control (to this point, Southern France was under the management 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 proved relatively steady as strategic routes, cities, and critical airfields all fell under Allied control within time. It was not 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 though the damage to the Axis hold on North Africa was all but done.


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There are a total of 21 Operation Torch Timeline Events. Entries are listed below by date of occurrence.

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.