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. ©www.SecondWorldWarHistory.com
There are a total of (21) entries in the Timeline of Operation Torch (November 1942). Entries are listed below by earliest date to latest date.