Operation Torch, Nov 1942.

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by bexley84, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    To commemorate the 70th anniversary (last week) of the first Allied landings in Algeria and Morocco.

    My Dad left the Clyde tomorrow, Nov 14th 1942, arriving in Algiers on Nov 22nd, so he was a little bit slack - but didn't go home again until June 1945, so made up for lost time, no doubt.

    I was sent this clip from You Tube this morning ... I'm half way through it at the moment : looks good, although the title is a bit misleading.

    Tunisian Victory 1944 (entire movie) - YouTube

    I wonder if George Metcalfe's (at min 13:00) family are around..

    thanks
     
    4jonboy likes this.
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Richard

    Thanks for that.......

    Watching it at the moment.

    Ron
     
  3. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    This is the correct title.

    Cheers
    Paul
     

    Attached Files:

  4. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Paul,

    Thanks.

    The IWM put its name to it... explains why (in my opinion) it's really good. Must buy a copy of the DVD.

    The "long bloody road" was an apt comment made by George Metcalfe near the end..and there was plenty more "bloody roads, rivers and mountains" to come before 2nd May 1945.

    I also liked the segued mixing of American / British talk overs.

    I thought that the "only" misstep was the Andrew Marr like recreation of the Mareth Line assault.

    best
     
  5. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    To commemorate the 70th anniversary (last week) of the first Allied landings in Algeria and Morocco.

    My Dad left the Clyde tomorrow, Nov 14th 1942, arriving in Algiers on Nov 22nd, so he was a little bit slack - but didn't go home again until June 1945, so made up for lost time, no doubt.

    I was sent this clip from You Tube this morning ... I'm half way through it at the moment : looks good, although the title is a bit misleading.

    Tunisian Victory 1944 (entire movie) - YouTube

    I wonder if George Metcalfe's (at min 13:00) family are around..

    thanks

    Thanks for posting the link, never come across that before, goes well with Desert Victory
     
  6. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Can some in the know share their thoughts or info on the possibility of Spain joining the Axis as a result of Torch and what would have happened to Gibraltar if they had? There was a lot of worry about this during the Torch planning, wasn't there?

    Thanks,

    Dave
     
  7. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    I can't remember the details but I seem to remember there was a good chance of Spain joining the Axis so they could get their hands on Gibraltar.
    I'd have to skim through a few books to find the info but it would be next week before I had time, I'm sure someone will come up with the answer before then though.
     
  8. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    In the early planning for Gymnast, there was thought of occupying Tangiers and Madeira but this was kiboshed as there was fear that it would be opposed by Franco. There were 150,000 troops in Spanish Morocco. It was felt at an early stage that being "invited" by the France to occupy French Morocco would be a better bet.

    Later as planning went forward, there was also a fear that Spain would "invite" German forces to march through and occupy Gibraltar and seek to bottle up the Mediterranean. Seemingly, though Hitler and Franco weren't particularly close, and as time for the landings approached, the German Army setbacks on the Eastern front militated against that possibility. But it was only really when the landings started that the facts became clear -there would be no German counterattacks through Spain although the fear of this would continue into 1943.

    My source for these comments is Andrew Roberts' "Masters and Commanders"
     
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    I always prick up my my ears when Operation Torch is mentioned.

    I was called up on the 1st of October in 1942 and five weeks later, on the 8th of November to be precise, the landings were made which included the one at Algiers.

    I remember seeing the newsreels of the event (in a fleapit of a cinema in Bury St. Edmunds) but could never have guessed at the time that in April '43, only 5 months later, I would be disembarking at Algiers as a re-enforcement to the 1st Army.

    In the mysterious way that the Army seemed to work, I kicked my heels in a transit camp and didn't join my unit until the fighting had actually finished in North Africa.

    Looking back now, I suppose that might have even saved my life ?

    What funny thoughts to be having some seventy years later :)

    Ron
     
  10. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce

    QUOTE Ron: I always prick up my my ears when Operation Torch is mentioned

    Me too Ron!!


    Thank you for posting Richard.
    My thoughts have been with my father last week as I suddenly realised that a party of C Squadron, 56 Recce landed on 8th November at Algiers. He would have had his 20th birthday on 24th November 1942.


    As I posted elsewhere:
    It is interesting to note that the SS Viceroy of India (which I am almost sure my father was on) was sunk at 05.24 hours on the morning of 11th November after having disembarked her troops for Operation Torch and was returning empty to Gibraltar

    Lesley
     
  11. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Ron, Lesley and others,

    That "might even have saved my life" comment certainly rings very true....I'm sure fate and luck were everyone's constant bed/trench/tank fellows for those 2 or 3 years.

    Many 90th birthday thoughts for your late father, Lesley..

    That period is also etched on my psyche - though I was only a dim and distant prospect in 1942, of course.

    Meeting with my Dad's mate Charles 'Pip' Ward (they joined up together on 18/10/39, and served with E and G Coys, 2 LIR in Tunisia) last week always reminds me of that time. And it was really good to see Pip on the BBC still high stepping at 140 marching pace (ok 30 then) at the Cenotaph with the 1st Army Assn on Sunday - his caubeen and hackle at attention too.

    A raised glass to the memory and current presence of the many..

    best,
     
  12. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Just been watching the video.

    Mention of New Tiger tanks being knocked out with new 17 pounder AT guns, but only Mk IV's shown destroyed.

    Regards
    Tom
     
    Ken P likes this.
  13. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce

    Many thanks Richard for your very kind thoughts

    Lesley
     
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Richard

    will have look for this later as we don't always get these articles from the Uk too often

    Cheers
     
  15. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Dad landed at Algiers 13 Nov from the "Cameronia"

    13 November - Landed at Algiers Docks with HQ and B Squadrons of 56thth Recce as part of Operation Torch. Spent their first night(s?) in the Botanical Gardens.

    Cheers \
    Paul
     
  16. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    My Dad remembered leaving Glasgow:

    “Our ship was RMS The Duchess of York, a vessel of 22,000 tons deadweight. I knew it as one of the Canadian Pacific Railways’ liners which Mr Harris, the Hawkes’ traveller, used on one of his Canadian trips. On the dock, we bought a copy of the Daily Express which had headlines telling of an Anglo-American invasion of North Africa. We were to sail that evening and we guessed where. The date was 11 November 1942, the twenty-fourth anniversary of Armistice Day 1918.”

    “The sergeants were called down to the mess decks where the men were quartered. It was hot and crowded. The men’s kits, hammocks and life jackets were kept on long tables. A demonstration was being given of how to rig hammocks and how to stow them afterwards. I was glad I was on the boat deck. The saloon where the officers and WOs were to eat was luxurious and had been used by first class passengers. The officers’ cabins were in the 1st and 2nd class accommodation. The WOs were more closely packed. Our cabins were former third class and tourist accommodation and our mess was their former saloon. There were 3,000 people aboard. The majority, all below sergeant’s rank, had been packed into what had been the hold space which had been converted into navy-style mess decks.”

    “The Come to the Cookhouse bugle call was sounded over the tannoy and I went to the mess. Here, I was served the best meal I’d had for years. The WOs and officers had a peace-time menu. The men’s fare, though good, had to be eaten in the furnace below. We pulled away from the quay in the late afternoon, steamed into the Clyde estuary and down into the Firth of Clyde where we were joined by other vessels. We had lifebelt and boat drill and went to bed. As darkness fell, everything was closed up. We could use the boat deck but dare not show a light. I slept badly. I felt queasy though the sea was like a millpond.”

    “Next day, I could see from the boat deck the extent of our vast armada. It comprised about 80 vessels and spread over many square miles of ocean. I was able to identify the Orient Liner's Orion, the CPR’s Empress of Britain and many other great vessels as we steamed out into the Atlantic. We did not zig-zag a great deal as we were a fast convoy. Destroyers and other naval vessels moved around us sounding their sirens.”
     
  17. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    This is all Dad said about his time on the Cameronia.

    "On the ship we didn’t see much but we saw and felt depth charges going off….the whole ship vibrated with the concussion. We didn’t see many planes either."

    Cheers
    Paul
     
  18. 696kelvin

    696kelvin Junior Member

    Can some in the know share their thoughts or info on the possibility of Spain joining the Axis as a result of Torch and what would have happened to Gibraltar if they had? There was a lot of worry about this during the Torch planning, wasn't there?

    Thanks,

    Dave
    You are right, there was some worry about Spain during the planning for Torch.
    While researching my Dad's time, including Operation Torch, I found a memo in the National Archive in London which referred to this. Apparently the way round it was to ensure that at least one of the ships in the convoy from England included a cargo of coal and , I seem to remember another ship was carrying potatoes. The logic was that the Spanish government had deals with the British government to supply these commodities and the logic was that if they made sure the Spanish got their potatoes and coal, they would be happy. If they didn't get them, they may use this as an excuse to join the Axis. Sounds silly but it seems to have worked!
    By the way, years ago I had a work colleague who joined the RN as a boy in 1936. He told me of going through the straits of Gibraltar on HMS Rodney (or it could have been Nelson) while the Spanish civil war was getting serious. A Spanish navy gunboat came alongside and ordered the battleship to "get out of Spanish waters". The Admiral in charge of the fleet signalled "Piss off or I will hoist you inboard"!
     
  19. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    I guess that Franco, by the autumn 1942, clearly saw the way it was all going. The question, which may be obvious, is why he didn't try a land grab in 1940..

    A quick Google throws this up

    "On this day (Nov 19th) in 1940, Adolf Hitler tells Spanish Foreign Minister Serano Suner to make good on an agreement for Spain to attack Gibraltar, a British-controlled region. This would seal off the Mediterranean and trap British troops in North Africa.

    Spain had just emerged from a three-year (1936-39) civil war, leaving Gen. Francisco Franco in dictatorial control of the nation. Although Franco had accepted aid for his Nationalist forces from the fascist governments of Germany and Italy during his war against the left-wing Republicans, he had maintained a posture of "neutrality" once the Second World War broke out. Two factors led the Caudillo, or chief of state, to reconsider this stance: (1) the fact that early Italian victories in Africa and German victories in Europe made a fascist victory more than just a possibility, and (2) his own desire to regain control of Gibraltar, a tiny peninsula south of Spain and a British colony. Toward this end, Franco began manipulating his own people to the point of exercising frenzied mobs to demand war against England to retake Gibraltar, which Spain lost during the War of Spanish Succession in 1704.

    Gibraltar was a key strategic region, the only point of access to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean and long a significant air and naval base for the United Kingdom. If Spain could occupy Gibraltar, it would cut Britain off from its own troops in North Africa and frustrate plans to drive back Rommel and his Afrika Korps, as well as stop any British plans to invade Italy. Hitler was keen on pushing Spain in this direction. But when the Fuhrer emphasized the need to move quickly, the Spanish foreign minister, on orders from Franco, insisted that Spain would need 400,000 tons of grain before it could wage war against Britain. Hitler knew this was merely a delaying tactic; Franco did not want to commit his country to the war, even as he allowed German subs to refuel in Spanish ports and German spies to keep tabs on British naval forces in Gibraltar.

    But as the war began to turn against the Axis powers, so did Franco, who saw a future of negotiating trade deals with the Western democracies. The Caudillo began to cooperate with the Allies in a variety of ways, including allowing Free French forces to cross Spain from Vichy France to Resistance bases in North Africa. But the Allies saw Franco as a mere opportunist, and Spain was not allowed into the United Nations until 1955."

    As I'm a mere youngster, I wouldn't wish to add the requisite choice expletives to the comments in that last sentence.
     
  20. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting the link, never come across that before, goes well with Desert Victory

    and Burma Victory!

    Burma Victory on Vimeo ;)

    I look forward to watching Tunisia later,
    I hadn't heard of it before.

    Thumbs up for the link!
     

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