Wednesday marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Torch, America’s first ground offensive against Nazi Germany in World War II.
Centered on North Africa, American troops in Operation Torch would join a tug-of-war campaign between Britain and Germany that was already well into its third year. The operation lasted two days, from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, 1942. American forces were tasked with beating back French and Germans at three sites across Algeria and the Atlantic coast of Morocco.
Maj. Gen. George Patton lead the first American forces landing in Morocco to take the city of Casablanca.
Patton and the other Americans landing in Morocco hoped to encounter half-hearted or nonexistent resistance from Axis French forces. But those hopes were smashed by intense fire from the city of Casablanca as Americans moved to surround it. The Allies would take advantage of overwhelming air power to take the city two days later, bringing an end to the Morocco operation.
The landing sites in Algeria had better luck with the French, as the Allies convinced one commander, Francois Darlan, to order his troops to surrender in exchange for keeping his post after the Allies took over.
The two-day operation marked the beginning of the end of the Axis presence in North Africa. With fresh troops and a steady stream of supplies, the Allies would begin their final eastern push across North Africa, forcing German and Italian forces to evacuate to Sicily and eventually Italy itself in 1943.
It was the victories in North Africa and Sicily from Patton and British General Bernard Law Montgomery that made them obvious choices for playing large roles in the eventual Allied invasion of France.
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