US Military in North Africa during Second War

The second world II was a world wide conflict. One started in Asia at around 1937, the others in Europein 1939 with the invasion. It was also fought in Africa continent. It led the nations split into two, that is allies-Britain andAmericaand the axis which were Germany and Italy.

The Second World War sparked off when Hitler invadedPolandon September first in 1939. About million Australians fought in the Second World War in campaigns againstGermanyandItalyin Europe, North Africa, Mediterranean and againstJapaninSouth East Asiaas well as in other parts of the Pacific. My main focus in this paper will be to discuss on theUSmilitary involvement inNorth Africaduring the Second World War.

In 1942, November,United Kingdommilitary forces in conjunction with US military forces staged war against the France North Africa. To be precise, they attackedAlgeria,Tunisiaand morocco. It was the result of the long contentious argument between American planners of war and those ofBritain. The turbulence of this argument was calmed by the American president’s Franklin D Roosevelt intervention. This attack inevitably postponed the landing inFrancenot until 1944 though it allowed US to continue with accumulation of its big battles that were common to the allied campaigns of 1944.

American dream about the Second World War in 1942 was to attack and defeatGermanybefore proceeding toAsiato see the harm the Japanese were causing to Pacific territories. As Marshal C. the army chief of staff viewed the in order further American to succeed in the war inEuropethat they had to first of all concentrate on the army building.

In the same year, the Soviet Army was far much pressed by the Germany-panzers division who were leveling attacks onRussia. Some American planners thought it was not necessary to attackNorth Western Europe. They planned that come 1943, the American army would be well prepared, trained and equipped to meet theGermany’s aggressive troops. The American planners believed that its army’s knowledge and resources could help them to accomplish their mission of bringing theGermanytroops down.

The British military leaders under the field marshal Alan Brooke (Dennis P. 2002; 78) adopted a different approach. They never thought it wise to start launching their attacks in 1942. The main reason why they were opposed to this idea is because, by taking such a move would forceUnited Kingdomto bear much of the military burden. At this time, they could not have afforded to have a division in the army because they were experiencing a fierce fight againstGermanywhich had already inflicted a lot of harm to their army. Most of their military had met stiff resistance of the Wehrmatch inFranceduring the disastrous 1940 campaign. At this time their forces under field marshal Erwin Rommel, they had done practically nothing to end or reduce the German military process in North Africa and inLibya.

After the war, Brooke said he found the strategy of the marshal very incompatible and that he did not appreciated what the operations inFrancewould mean. He could not figure out how the Germans could reinforce their attacks about three to four times faster than theirs and he could not just understand that they could suffer from the shortage of sea transport if theMediterraneanwas not opened. The British opposed this idea thoughAmericawould have supplied the invading forces. They wanted the Americans to clear the axis force in the Mediterranean shores ofNorth Americaand open up that great inland sea for the allied convoys to move in.

This culminated into a deadlock that made Brooke to consider switching theAmericaarmy’s emphasis from European theatre of operations to the pacific, but Roosevelt the then president ofAmericawould not accept such an idea that was centrally to their war strategy. This emphasy fromBritainnever worked to the Americans instead it ledRooseveltto do something that Winston Churchill would never dream of doing. In fact he intervened and overruled his advisers who used to advise him on war matters. This was in the summer of 1942. He ordered his generals to direct their forces to the French North Africa to support the British proposal for landing along the coast ofNorth Africa. He did this so that he could reduce his concentration on what the Germans were doing inEurope. He wanted to divide his concentration on German because he though that if he did not do that, then he had to come face to face with German some where inEurope.

He knew that his move would be embraced byBritainthough it was only done with political necessity and interests.

At this time the British soldiers had no choice but to gang withUSAin attacking morocco andAlgeria. From this time the attention that was being given off German half of it shifted to the battle for the control of theMediterranean.

This plan was well strategised; about 65,000 men under lieutenant General Durlght D. Eisenhower were to be transported by the allies to invadeCasablanca, Roan and Algers. These were the possessions of theFranceNorth Africa. Everything went according o the plan and they had a lot of success. This is attributed to the fact that the Axis attention was focused elsewhere. That is in Western Europe as well as inEastern Europe. This time the Germans were trying to subjugate Stalingrad and theCaucasus.

InEgyptin the same period, the Rummel’s African Korps renewed their offensive attacks on the British area of interests. The British forces under Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery organized his army to liaise the move of the Rummel’s theMontgomery’s force entered into a fierce battle with the axis forces. The axis powers had no hope of winning this war and by early November Rummer’s armies yielded back toLibya. This move they took was against the wishes of Hitler who had ordered them to keep soldering on. Hitler never at any time contemplated of defeat. He would rather die that witness such humiliations (Ambrose S

York.2001; 58)

At the onset of November 1942, the allied forces had started to build up their ships atGibraltar. The German spies had noted this but they down played the idea as simply as another large supply convoy for reinforcingMalta.

TheGermany’s companion had a different view,Italywas not so sure of this thoughGermanynever thought about this seriously. He had been ignoringItaly’s decision. In November eighth 1942 the foreign German foreign minister Ulrich Joachim who was also known as Von Ribbentrop was so sure about the American troops had landed in Algerian as well as in Moroccan ports.

The allied forces attack had positive results as it was expected, the allied forces thought that the dissident France military officers who had supported them would turn against them however, this did not happen but to their surprise the richly France government just as it happened in Dakar and in Syria in the following year, they fought against the allied forces though they did not manage to keep off the invading Germans in France and in Tunisia in the same year, that is 1942.

The Vichy French military men couldn’t have resisted the German who were very adamant and determined to crash the French’s down. TheVichy’s weapons were not up to the standard when compared with those of the Germans. They used tanks while he German possessed combat aircrafts though they were not enough. The Germans never trusted the French Vichy government and that was why they could never let them to modify their war technology. They thought that French’s would rise up against them if let to acquire modern weapons. Due to lack of proper weapons the Vichy French’s were unable to keep sustained resistance against the allied forces who comprised of British soldiers and America soldiers(Atkinson R 2003;152)

In the initial stage of the war,Americathought the French North Africa would not attack the Americans though this is not what resulted. Though they tried to resist they could never stand up to the American’s advancements. They had no effective troops that would manage to keep Americans at bay. Though the American’s landings defeated the Frenchs, not all of them were successful. In fact a landing at Fedela costed the transport Leonard wood its 21 landing crafts and a lot of lives perished. Also in another landing, the transport Thomas Jefferson 16 crafts was destroyed completely beyond revival. The most affected landing was of the transport canal which lost 18 out of its 25 crafts and in the second wave; five of them were ruined leaving only two boats that could carry troops and other supplies.

There was serious landing opposition at Mehdia by the French forces. The landing was not safe and was very dangerous. By November 10th, the Americans under major general Lucian Truscott were able to capture the airfield from the hands of French military men. This was as a result of a very heavy naval gun fire between French’s and Americans but later after the negotiations between French leader and the allies inAlgeria, fighting stopped.

The landing forces along the coast ofAlgeriaalso met a lot of resistance which that ofOranwas successful. Some how the Americans were supported by the fact that French’s had no air back up favored the Americans.

On 8th November 1992, the infantry division had already actualized its dreams in almost all areas apart from St. Cloud where they met a very strong French force. During this time the combat was spearheaded by Roosevelt who was by then who was brigadier general. However, the landings begun to be interfered with by the rising surfs on 8th of November, the landing activities were to be suspended.

In the following day theVichygovernment tried to counter attack but they met a lot of resistance from allied force who had support from air bases and naval base

Oranwas secured from the hands by the American though the French looked like they would never go but an armistice was signed when the confronting parties came together. The most operation assignment that the allied forces faced was at theportofAlgiers. The French had enough ground force plus 52 fighter aircrafts. They also had 39 bombers.

The port was heavily guarded so there was no way the British’s and Americans could have had an easy access to the port. The American troops of the 168th regimental combat landed on the West while the 39th combat team went to the East of the port and they raided the port. They used two British destroyers which carried the royal navy personnel and the American troops. Before they could succeed, one of the destroyers was destroyed and it had to go back immediately while the other one succeeded and crossed the barriers.

These forces that succeeded captured the power station and petroleum tank farm. The French responded to this attack. After some time when the 168th combat group failed to turn up the American commander was forced to surrender his troops. The attack that was going on in North Africa betweenBritain andAmerica was called “operation torch” and the city that was their target wasCasablanca. It was bombarded under the command of Eisenhower.

The North Africa battle (Sam M. 2006; 102) struggle for the control of the Suez Canal because it linked Africa with theMiddle East. This means that Suez Canal was the inlet of the oil from the Middle East and other raw materials fromAsia. Due to the mechanization of their armies, oil was a very crucial commodity and becauseBritainwhich had already a mechanized army it totally relied on oil from theMiddle East.BritainusedSuez Canalas a link to her overseas dominions. This was all made possible by theMediterranean Sea. Hence, the struggle over theMediterranean Seacontrols.

This struggle sparked off at around 1935 whenEthiopiawas invaded byItalywhich by then had made Somali land its colony. The move frightenedEgyptwhich was not yet a British colony. They started getting worried of its imperialistic aspirations. So, in order to protect its interest and country, it allowedBritainto station its army in its territory so as to keep any advances that would result fromItalythereafter,BritainandFrancetook upon themselves the responsibility of maintaining naval control of the Mediterranean with the main British base located atAlexandria,Egypt.

The British and American troops met little resistance atAlgiers,OranandCasablancaon November 8 1942, American troops were for the first time narrow Mediterranean full of islands and peninsular ships always faced attack from land as well as air and sea. The war took place in the North African desert. By the time the war took place the Italian dictator Bennito Mussolini had better equipped army than that of theBritainandAmerica. He had about a million soldiers who were based inLibyawhileBritainhad only 3600 soldiers who were based inEgypt. They were supposed to protect the Suez Canal and the oil fields inArabia. At this time the Italians were a threat toBritain. They had already started showing interest in the red sea andSuez Canalsupply routes. TheNorth Africacampaign in the beginning was hampered by lack of enough supplies on both sides. Tough battles took place which either rendered one group to advance against the other along the supply routes. Many of the fights took place in the Far East region out of theMediterraneanwhere they enjoyed free transport (Breuer W. 1985; 26)

In April 1941(Funk A.L. 1974; 86) the allied forces were under the leadership of General Bernard Montgomery. While the British troops worked to keep Germans forces at bay to the West. The US forces were supposed to confront the Frenchs in North Africa under” Operation Touch” The main reason for this reason for this operation was to take over Morocco which was already a French colony, to take Algeria and Tunisia. They wanted to offer support to their colleague in theLibyan Desert. They also wanted to make Mediterranean in theLibyan Desert. They also wanted to make Mediterranean shipping route free to their ships and for other major operations inNorth Africa. They hoped that they would force the axis of power out of the region. They also wanted the axis to reduce their concentration on the Russian forces or in other words, they wanted the Axis forces to divide their war attention between North Africa andRussia.

The attack took Germans by surprise because they did not expect it to happen. Later, the French stopped to be very hostile to the allied forces and allowed them to nave an access toTunisia.

Rommel who steered the ‘operation torch’ led his armies to various defensive operations. One of the most key operations was of the Kasserine pass where American defenses were crashed by Germans modern tanks. This operation saw 1000 allied troops dead and hundred of them were held prisoners by Germans. They also lost most of their fighting equipments. Though the axis powers thought they were winners, to the allied forces was an awakening call. They went back to their drawing board, assessed their weaknesses and came up with the way forward (Funk A.L.1974; 86)

Americans never gave up; they sent Rommel back to conquer the Kasserine pass so that they could get the Merith line. This time, the axis forces gained morale and suppressed the resistance that they met until they let 275000 prisoners free. The axis forces inAfricasurrendered on may 2 1943 after about 350,000 soldiers were captured by the allied forces and 70,000 were casualties. After they quit from the war, the stage was left open for Italian campaign.

The axis surrendered because of ruthlessness of the operation retribution which was designed to evacuate German and Italian forces fromTunisia. About 897 were held captives, 653 escaped the wrath and it was assumed that might have drowned.

In conclusion, we can say that the North African war costed a lot of lives. Many people perished and others were injured. Though the war was taking place in Africa, it was not as fierce as it was inEurope. Most of these wars were based on national interests. No country wanted another country to go near its spheres of influence. Another reason was fight for supremacy. The Allied Forces were determined to silenceGermanywhich was proving to a threat inEurope.



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Breuer W. Operation Torch: The Allied Gamble to Invade North.St. Martins Press.1985; 26

Funk A.L. The Politics of Torch, University press.1974; 86

Sam M. At all costs: How crippled and two American Merchant mariners Turned the         Tide of world WarII.Random House.2006; 102

Ambrose S. The good Fight: How World War II Was Won. Atheneum.New          York.2001; 58

Atkinson R.An army at Dawn The war in North Africa 1942-1943.Newyork: Henry          Holt.2003;152