Thursday, November 08, 2007

Remembering Torch

This is one in an intermittent series of posts on the history of the United States Navy.

Today is the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Allied amphibious invasion of North Africa, code-named Operation Torch. Under the overall command of General Dwight Eisenhower,with subordinate officers including Major General George S. Patton and Army Air Corps Major General James Doolittle, Allied forces simultaneously attacked Casablanca, Oran and Algiers on the night of November 8, 1942. Although Vichy French naval units fought back, the U.S. Navy suffered no casualties, while sinking thirteen French ships.

Torch's main importance was a test run for the great invasions of France on June 6, 1944. Torch provided the first chance for a combined Allied amphibious operation, and until D-Day, was the largest amphibious operation ever attempted. In addition, many of the techniques used successfully in the invasion of France were first tested during the North African campaign, including the use of a split British-American air command and multiple simultaneous landings.

Torch led to the eventual defeat of the German Army in North Africa, and was an important step in the path that eventually led to the invasion of France in 1944. In addition, Torch provided the first experience for Eisenhower as a combined Commander-in-Chief, and proved the Allies could carry off a combined campaign of extreme complexity with success.

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