Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 6)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Operation Torch was the Allied operation to capture French North Africa.  On November 8th, over 650 British and American ships were massed in this region.  Many landings in Algiers proved to be a surprise and encountered no serious opposition.  The Fleet Air Arm saw friendly signals from the ground and landed at Blida airfield, holding it with cooperation of the local French commander till Allied troops arrive.  But there was opposition in the port of Algiers and Oran.  Oran did not surrender until the 10th.  The attack on the Moroccan coast near Casablanca also was difficult, and there was severe fighting for a time.  On November 11th, however,  the French in North Africa surrendered and 100,000 French troops were now on the Allies' side.  
On January 12th, Churchill and Roosevelt as well as Giraud and De Gaulle were present at the Casablanca conference.    

Tripoli was taken by the 8th Army on January 23rd.  General Alexander reported to Churchill, "Sir, the orders you gave me on August [10], 1942, have been fulfilled.  His Majesty's enemies, together with their impedimenta, have been completely eliminated from Egypt, Cyrenaica, Libya, and Tripolitania.  I now await your further instructions."

The Allied troops in North Africa from the east met with those who had landed in the west.  Tunis was captured, and all enemies in Africa had surrendered by May 13th.   

The Russians also had enjoyed a great victory at Stalingrad.

The Americans and British agreed to attack Sicily next, and if that fell quickly, to invade Italy.  The air attack on Sicily began on July 3rd.  On July 10th, the invasion began, and on August 17th General Alexander reported, "By 10 AM this morning, August 17, 1943, the last German soldier was flung out of Sicily and the whole island is now in our hands."  

In Italy, Mussolini fell from power.  The Italians surrendered on September 3rd.  The Germans captured Rome.  The Allies won the Battle of Salerno against the Germans and entered Naples on October 1st.  The Germans formed a line [a "Winterstellung"] in Italy, and gains for the Allies were thenceforward slow.  

Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill met at Teheran for the first conference of the "Big Three."  They agreed on "Operation Overlord" with a Russian offensive to begin at about the same time.  They also agreed on the "Curzon Line" as a border for Poland.

Eisenhower was chosen to command "Overlord" with Montgomery commanding the actual cross-channel invasion force till Eisenhower could transfer to France and assume direct operational command.  

Churchill tells the story of the Chetniks and Partisans in Yugoslavia, and the continuing struggle in Italy.

On June 4th, the Allies entered the heart of Rome.  

Preparations for Overlord continued and deceptions were used effectively to make the Germans believe the Allies intended to land at Pas de Calais.  Bad weather delayed the attack on Normandy from the 5th to the 6th.  Because of the bad weather, the Germans did not believe the Allies would attempt a landing at all.  Thus, the landing at Normandy was a great success.
Stay tuned, Part 7 will be published soon!