Letters bolster spirits of Guadalcanal troops
By Sgt. James W. Hurlbut, Marine Corps combat writer
Former AP chief in Berlin offers alert views on Germany
By Ed Werkman
Mrs. Roosevelt collaborates to illustrate faith in America
By Harry Hansen
Survivor’s story brings you colorful drama behind terse bulletin
By Tom Wolf, special to the Pittsburgh Press
Völkischer Beobachter (November 9, 1942)
vb. Wien. 8. November –
Unter Verletzung der primitivsten Gesetze der Menschlichkeit und des Völkerrechts haben am Sonntagmorgen zahlenmäßig erhebliche nordamerikanische und englische Streitkräfte einen brutalen Überfall auf Französisch-Nordafrika unternommen. Wie von amtlicher französischer Seite mitgeteilt wird‚ begann dieses neue Gangster unternehmen Roosevelts am Sonntagmorgen um 3,30 Uhr in der Gegend der, Stadt Algier, gleichzeitig kam es auch bei Oran zu heftigen Kämpfen. In verlogenen Erklärungen des Präsidenten Roosevelt, der us.-amerikanischen und der englischen Regierung sowie der Emigrantenregierungen in London an das französische Volk wurde gleichzeitig versucht, diesen gemeinen Überfall als einen Befreiungsakt hinzustellen. Marschall Petain hat diese Erklärungen mit Entschiedenheit zurückgewiesen und den Befehl zur Verteidigung erlassen.
Die militärische Entwicklung der Operationen läßt sich noch nicht mit Klarheit übersehen. Nach den vorliegenden Meldungen scheint es so, als ob die Amerikaner, die diesmal den Vortrupp bildeten‚ an einigen kleineren Plätzen in Marokko und Algerien Fuß zu fassen vermochten, während sie in den Haupthäfen, wie Algier, Oran und Casablanca zurückgewiesen wurden.
Mit vollendeter Klarheit jedoch liegt wieder einmal die Skrupellosigkeit und Unmoral der amerikanisch-britischen Politik zutage. Frankreich, das nicht zuletzt durch die hetzerischen Einﬂüsterungen Roosevelts in den Krieg getrieben wurde das dann für die Engländer die Hauptlast des Kampfes zu tragen hatte und im Augenblick seines Zusammenbruches von Churchill ebenso erbärmlich wie von Roosevelt in Stich gelassen wurde, wird abermals von seinen früheren Freunden angegriffen‚ sein Kolonialgebiet erlebt die Greuel des Krieges.
„Die zweite Front gebildet“
Die Nichtswürdigkeit dieser Verhöhnung des letzten Restes von Völkerrecht wirkt noch erbärmlicher durch die verlogenen Erklärungen‚ mit denen Roosevelt dieses neueste Heldenstück begleitet. Die Rollen sind offenbar so verteilt worden‚ daß diesmal die Yankees die erste Geige spielen. Ein amerikanischer General, der schon seit längerem als Kommandeur der USA.-Truppen in Europa proklamierte Eisenhower, führt das Kommando, amerikanische Truppen haben die erste Landung durchgeführt – die Briten sollen nachfolgen, falls das Unternehmen sich erfolgreich entwickelt. Mit allem Aufwand jüdisch-amerikanischer Reklame wird in Neuyork und Washington erklärt, dies sei die erste Großaktion, mit denen die USA. in den Krieg eingriffen, hiemit eröffne Roosevelt die zweite Front. Daß Stalin sich mit dieser Deutung einverstanden erklärt, wird man bezweifeln dürfen.
Ebenso scheinheilig wie dumm
Roosevelt hatte die Schamlosigkeit, sich zu Beginn seines heimtückischen Überfalles mit einer Proklamation an das französische Volk zu wenden. Gleichzeitig gab er über das Weiße Haus eine Erklärung über Sinn und Ziel der Aktion ab. Die beiden Schriftstücke sind klassische Zeugnisse nicht nur der ekelhaften Heuchelei, in der der amerikanische Diktator selbst einen Churchill übertrumpft, sondern auch der unbegrenzten Dummheit, zu der sich amerikanische Hirne in ernstgemeinten Staatsdokumenten auszuschweigen vermögen. So behauptet Roosevelt, das amerikanischen Unternehmen diene ausschließlich dem Ziel, einen geplanten Eingriff der Achsenmächte in Französisch-Nordafrika zuvorzukommen,
Deutschland und Italien beabsichtigten nämlich, von Französisch-Westafrika aus einen Angriff auf die Atlantikküsten Nord- und Südamerikas durchzuführen.
Wenn unsere italienischen Bundesgenossen und wir jemals die Absicht gehabt hätten, so wären wir in den letzten Jahren dazu nach Belieben imstande gewesen, ohne daß uns jemand daran hätte hindern können. Die Achsenmächte haben das nicht getan. Sie haben sich getreu an die Abmachungen der Waffenstillstandsverträge mit der französischen Regierung gehalten, deren Souveränität und Verfügungsgewalt in ihren nordafrikanischen Gebieten unangetastet zu lassen. Die Beschönigung, mit der Roosevelt seinen infamen Rechtsbruch gegenüber Frankreich zu rechtfertigen sucht, bricht damit in sich selbst zusammen. Sie wirkt ebenso albern wie das törichte Geschwätz, die Amerikaner kämen nach Nordafrika, um…
…die Franzosen von den grausamen deutschen Eindringlingen zu befreien‚ die euch für immer das Recht nehmen wollen, Gott so zu verehren, wie ihr es wünscht.
Als ob es uns irgendwie interessierte, welchem religiösen Ritus die Franzosen im Mutterland oder ihre Untertanen in den Kolonien den Vorzug geben. Man sieht aus dieser dummen Phrase den Bocksfuß des jüdischen Verfassers verräterisch hervorlugen.
Getreulich auf Churchills Spuren wandelt der amerikanische Kriegsverbrecher‚ wenn er seine blutigen Angriffe auf das französische Gebiet mit öligen Beteuerungen seiner Freundschaft für das französische Volk begleitet. So wie der britische Verräter des ehemaligen Bundesgenossen seine schweren Luftangriffe auf Paris, die Hunderte von Menschen das Leben kosteten‚ durch Flugblätter und Rundfunk als einen Akt zu bezeichnen wagte, der sich nicht etwa gegen die Franzosen richte, sondern vielmehr von seiner Sympathie für sie zeuge‚ so erdreistet sich Roosevelt heute zu der widrigen Heuchelei…
…ich habe während meines ganzen Lebens eine tiefe Freundschaft für das französische Volk gewahrt, ich kenne eure Bauernhöfe‚ eure Dörfer, eure Städte ich weiß, wie wertvoll das Erbe eurer Heimat, eurer KuItur und das; Prinzip der Demokratie für das französische Volk ist. Ich grüße euch und erkläre immer und immer wieder meinen Glauben an die Freiheit, Gleichheit und Brüderlichkeit.
Das sagt der Mann, über dessen Haupt ein gut Teil der Schuld des EIends liegt, das Frankreich 1940 erdulden mußte, das sagt er im selben Augenblick, in dem Bomben und Granaten seiner Flugzeuge und Kriegsschiffe die Häuser der nordafrikanischen Küstenstädte zerfetzten und dem französischen Volk neue Blutopfer abverlangten.
Schlecht getarnter Imperialismus
Roosevelt schließt mit dem Versprechen‚ Amerika und England würden die französischen Gebiete sofort räumen, „wenn die Bedrohung durch Deutschland und Italien beseitigt sei und gibt der Erwartung Ausdruck, die französische Bevölkerung in Nordafrika werde die Amerikaner freundschaftlich empfangen und ihnen keinerlei Widerstand entgegensetzen. Was von diesen Beteuerungen zu halten ist, braucht angesichts der imperialistischen Politik, die die USA. in diesem Kriege mit schlecht getarnter Konsequenz verfolgen, wohl nicht erst des längeren erörtert zu werden. Unter der Devise, das amerikanische Jahrhundert sei angebrochen, Amerika müsse die beherrschende Macht der Welt werden, trieben Roosevelts propagandistische Spießgesellen das amerikanische Volk in den Krieg. Die englischen Stützpunkte in Westindien, Grönland, Island, Australien – das waren die einzelnen Etappen des grenzenlosen amerikanischen Expansionswillens. Schon länger als ein Jahr, richten amerikanische Zeitschriften auch ihre begehrlichen Blicke auf Nordafrika. Heute führt Roosevelt das aus, was er propagandistisch von langer Hand vorbereiten ließ. Er sucht auch in Afrika Fuß zu fassen, um sich hier zu dauerndem Besitz einzunisten. Das meint er, wenn er von dem Tag spricht, an dem in der Welt einst „Frieden und Freiheit herrschen werden.“
Die Engländer gaben unmittelbar nach der Veröffentlichung der amerikanischen Botschaften ihrerseits eine Erklärung ab, in der sie sich voll und ganz mit den Ansichten Roosevelts identifizieren. Das Unternehmen der Vereinigten Staaten trage die volle Unterstützung Großbritanniens und finde auch ihre aktive Mitwirkung.
Petain antwortet Roosevelt
In Vichy überreichte der Geschäftsträger der USA. dem französischen Staatschef die amerikanischen Erklärungen. Marschall Petain trat im Namen Frankreichs am Sonntagmorgen dein feigen Angriff und den verlogenen Winkelzügen des amerikanischen Präsidenten mit einer Antwort folgenden Wortlautes entgegen:
Mit größtem Erstaunen und mit Trauer habe ich in dieser Nacht von der Aggression Ihrer Truppen auf Nordafrika erfahren. Sie berufen sich in Ihrer Botschaft auf Vorwände, die durch nichts gerechtfertigt sind. Sie unterschieben Ihren Feinden Absichten, die niemals in die Tat umgesetzt worden sind. Ich habe immer erklärt, daß wir unser Kolonialreich verteidigen werden, falls man es angreifen sollte. Sie wußten auch, daß wir es gegen jeden Angreifer verteidigen werden, wer er auch immer sei. Sie wußten, daß ich mein Wort halten werde. In unserem Unglück hatte ich, als ich um den Waffenstillstand nachsuchte, unser Kolonialreich bewahrt. Sie sind es nun, der im Namen eines Landes, mit dem uns so viele Erinnerungen und Freundschaftsbande verbinden, einen so großen rücksichtslosen Schritt ergreifen. Frankreich und seine Ehre stehen auf dem Spiel. Wir sind angegriffen. Wir werden uns verteidigen. Das ist der Befehl, den ich erteile.
Der Chef der französischen Regierung, Laval, empfing am Sonntagnachmittag den amerikanischen Geschäftsträger, um ihm die Auffassung Frankreichs zu den amerikanischen Gewaltakten eingehend zu erläutern. Am Nachmittag trat das französische Kabinett zu einer Sitzung zusammen. Über seine Entschlüsse wurde jedoch nichts bekanntgegeben. Die Briten beeilten sich, in Spanien und Portugal zu beteuern, daß ihr Angriff auf das französische Kolonialgebiet in Madrid und Lissabon keinen Anlaß zu Besorgnissen zu geben brauche. England wünsche, daß die amerikanisch-britische Aktion Spanien und Portugal unberührt lasse. Spanien ist in der Angelegenheit in einen offiziellen Gedankenaustausch mit der französischen Regierung eingetreten.
dnb. Vichy, 8. November –
General Nogues ist zum Kommandierenden sämtlicher Truppen in Marokko ernannt worden. General Nogues hat in seiner Eigenschaft als Generalresident von Marokko am Sonntag eine Rundfunkbotschaft an die Bevölkerung von Marokko gerichtet, in der es unter anderem heißt:
Franzosen und Marokkaner! Eine örtliche Abtrünnigkeitsbewegung ist im Laufe der Nacht zum Sonntag in Marokko unter dem Vorwand ausgebrochen, daß die Amerikaner im Begriff seien, eine Landung in ganz Nordafrika vorzunehmen. Diese Abtrünnigkeitsbewegung war schon bis 8,30 Uhr ohne Blutvergießen vollständig niedergeschlagen. Die wenigen Kaders, die sich hatten täuschen lassen und die ihré Truppen getäuscht hatten, haben sich wieder dem Gesetz der Pﬂicht unterstellt.
Während sich diese Ereignisse abspielten, versuchten mehrere amerikanische und englische Kriegsschiffe, die vor den marokkanischen Küsten kreuzten, Landungen vorzunehmen. Alle Angriffe wurden abgewiesen. Der Belagerungszustand wurde proklamiert.
Franzosen und Marokkaner! Bewahrt die Ruhe! Laßt Euch durch keine ausländische Agitation verführen. Folgt dem Marschall! Es geht um unsere Ehre und um unsere Zukunft.
dnb. Vichy, 8. November –
Von amtlicher französischer Seite wurde heute nachmittag folgendes erklärt:
Die amerikanische Regierung hat den Krieg auf französisches Territorium getragen und dadurch die Beziehungen mit Frankreich abgebrochen.
U.S. State Department (November 9, 1942)
November 9, 1942
The representative of this Government at Vichy has reported that last evening M. Laval, Chief of the Government at Vichy, notified him that diplomatic relations between Vichy and this Government had been severed. I regret this action on the part of M. Laval.
He is evidently still speaking the language prescribed by Hitler.
The Government of the United States can do nothing about this severance of relations on the part of the Vichy Government.
Nevertheless, no act of Hitler, or of any of his puppets, can sever relations between the American people and the people of France. We have not broken relations with the French. We never will.
This Government will continue as heretofore to devote its thought, its sympathy and its aid to the rescue of the 45 million people of France from enslavement and from a permanent loss of their liberties and free institutions.
U.S. Navy Department (November 9, 1942)
On November 7:
U.S. troops continued to advance from the area near the Metapona River to the eastward along the northern coast of Guadalcanal Island.
There was no fighting in the area west of our positions on Guadalcanal.
On November 8:
U.S. planes attacked ground installations and destroyed six landing boats on the beaches to the westward of our positions on Guadalcanal.
U.S. aircraft destroyed three float-type biplanes at Rekata Bay.
A U.S. destroyer bombarded enemy areas cast of Koli Point on the north coast of Guadalcanal.
Early on the night of November 8-9, U.S. motor torpedo boats attacked two enemy destroyers in Indispensable Strait and scored a torpedo hit on one of the destroyers.
The U.S. destroyer announced in Navy Department Communiqué No. 149 as having been sunk during the night action of October 11-12 was the USS DUNCAN (DD-485). The next of kin of the 5 officers and 58 enlisted men who were killed or are missing have been notified.
Indian felons as American Indians or British Indians?
The latter. They were talking about the Andamans, after all.
The Pittsburgh Press (November 9, 1942)
German bombers reported attacking our troops landing at Algiers
By C. R. Cunningham, United Press staff writer
London, England –
Fresh waves of U.S. and British troops swarmed into French African shores and captured Algiers today despite Nazi dive-bombing attacks.
The Allied forces also fought ahead in Morocco, closing in on the French naval base at Casablanca and sweeping east toward the Tunisian frontier in a move designed to trap Marshal Rommel’s army fleeing through Libya.
Reports from Algiers said that German dive bombers attacked disembarking U.S. troops in the harbor and hit two U.S. transports. U.S. and British fighter planes went into action, the report said, and dispersed the Nazi bombing squadron.
Attacking along a 3,000-mile front, U.S. troops today were reported achieving their objectives of all points.
1. City of Casablanca directly threatened by U.S. land forces. French suffer heavy naval losses in battle off coast.
2. Americans encounter heaviest opposition at Oran.
3. Algiers capitulates and U.S. soldiers occupy city and Allied fleet steams into harbor after brief fighting.
4. Axis reports insist that major French naval units are leaving Toulon to engage the Allied fleet.
5. London reports American landings less than 60 miles west of Tunis.
6. Rommel’s broken army flees farther into Libya and is reported near Bardia. Main British force sweeps beyond Matruh.
Allied HQ, French North Africa –
U.S. troops were occupying the surrendered city of Algiers today, approximately 27 hours after they made simultaneous landings at many points along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of French Africa.
London reported that U.S. forces were mopping up in Algiers and driving eastward to the Tunisian frontier while powerful reinforcements streamed ashore at the Algerian and Moroccan bridgeheads already firmly in U.S. hands.
This correspondent was permitted to report that, as of this morning, the American advance was going even better than had been anticipated, but reports were still too meager to give a complete picture of operations.
The speed of the American invasion was even greater than the German overnight invasion of Norway. The American air attacks struck like lightning and the ground fighters, moving in with the greatest of speed, captured three strategic airfields in short order.
The tempo of the greatest American offensive in history has never slackened. Successful landings were made at numerous points along a thousand miles of coastline exactly on schedule and the troops dashed into the interior with speed that exceeded all expectations.
U.S. planes landed at the airdromes only a few minutes after the fields were taken by U.S. ground troops. In one instance, U.S. fighter planes coming in for a landing aided in the capture of an airport by ground strafing on its way down.
The rapid capitulation of the largest and most important city of French Africa, which contained facilities for a prolonged and spirited defense, suggested that President Roosevelt’s appeal to the French and widespread French sympathy with the Allied cause was bearing fruit.
To support such a suggestion were a number of significant reports from jittery Vichy and Axis radios and one from London indicating that Gen. Henri Giraud, one of France’s most beloved military heroes, was in Africa rallying the French Army there to the United Nations’ cause.
Vichy itself reported a “de Gaullist uprising” in Casablanca and said a French general had been arrested.
Radio Rome said there had been a mutiny of French Armed Forces in North Africa against their Vichy officers. Radio Vichy claimed this morning, however, that its forces had been “reinforced during the night” and were “attacking the Americans everywhere.”
Hostilities ceased at Algiers, which has a population of 240,000 and a strategic and highly developed harbor, at 8 p.m. Under an armistice concluded by Maj. Gen. Charles W. Ryder, commander of U.S. troops there, acting for Lt. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, supreme Allied commander in French Africa, and a French military commander, the Americans began occupying the city at dawn.
Vichy reported that the French troops were permitted to retain their arms – perhaps a significant indication of a lack of hostile intent.
The Fighting French radio at Brazzaville, French Equatorial Africa, was heard saying that British reinforcements to the Americans were landing and that the United Nations command was confident all fighting would cease soon. The first announcement of the invasion had said that British divisions would follow the Americans at once.
Vichy radio reported that a huge Anglo-American fleet of warships and transports anchored in the splendid Algiers Harbor this morning and U.S. soldiers poured ashore. A large crowd watched.
The offensive was “proceeding according to plan” at Oran, where an airfield had been taken, and along the Moroccan coast of the Atlantic. At both places, the opposition was stiffer than had been encountered at Algiers.
Two airfields had been taken at Algiers, the capital of French Algeria, and U.S. planes had moved in, giving the U.S. Air Force, commanded by Brig. Gen. James Doolittle, land bases for air fleets with which to control the Western Mediterranean and carry on the North African offensive.
Maj. Gen. Mark W. Clark, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces in North Africa under Gen. Eisenhower, left for the front today to establish an advanced headquarters.
Until he sends his reports back to Gen. Eisenhower’s headquarters, an inclusive, official picture of the offensive which began early Sunday morning will be difficult to draw.
At this early stage, however, the situation may be broken down as follows:
ALGIERS: The city and its airfields in American possession after stiff resistance from the harbor defenses on the western point of Cape Matifou. French guns there for a long time prevented American supplies from entering the harbor, delaying progress of the American push inland.
The Maison Blanche and Blida Airfields were in American possession and Allied fighter squadrons were operating from them.
ORAN: The situation was more difficult at this Mediterranean port, 225 miles west of Algiers. Tafraoui Airport was captured in a brilliant action by a U.S. combat team after it had been heavily strafed by U.S. and British planes. La Sénia, Oran’s other airport, was understood to still be in French hands, although heavy fighting was proceeding.
Reports said the French offered “serious resistance” at Oran, with heavy fighting resulting in the harbor area. The bitterest combat was at Arzew Point, overlooking Oran’s beautiful harbor, which was finally taken by the Americans.
MOROCCO AND THE ATLANTIC COAST: Reports from the U.S. Western Force were sketchy, but landing parties along the Moroccan coast were meeting “reasonably tough” resistance. Fighting was in progress at many points.
Vichy broadcast a report of a heavy naval engagement in the Atlantic off Casablanca, the largest and most important city of Morocco, 300 miles south of Gibraltar. Berlin reported that the Casablanca naval engagement had been broken off by the Americans yesterday afternoon, and added that “weak” U.S. forces had landed on the Moroccan coast but were being kept in check.
Radio Morocco reported that the air base at Rabat, 75 miles north of Casablanca on the Atlantic coast, had been evacuated “for reasons of military order.” The station failed to broadcast this morning.
Regarding Algiers, Radio Vichy said the armistice was effective for the city only, and that resistance would continue in the surrounding countryside.
The French Havas News Agency’s version of the surrender of Algiers, as broadcast by Vichy, said:
The American shock troops were equipped with automatic weapons and were far superior in numbers and material. Their attacks were supported by machine-gun lorries and even tanks. An engagement occurred before the gates of the town, but French tanks were inferior to the enemy’s modern material. The enemy was also supported by planes flying over the town and by the guns of a heavy naval squadron.
The seizure of the Algiers area so early in the campaign will be of the greatest benefit to the Americans in the succeeding stages of the operation. The city, its spacious harbor and its airfields, were well-protected before U.S. troops swooped in on them.
U.S. planes based at the Maison Blanche and Blida Airports will be able to beat off Axis air attacks from Sicily and Sardinia and will also provide the strongest shore-based protection for Allied convoy movements in the Mediterranean.
From Algiers, in addition to dominating, to a large extent, a major portion of the Western Mediterranean, the Americans are also in position to drive across Tunisia (also a French possession) into Italian Libya, 450 miles southwest of the Algerian capital, in a pincer movement supporting the British drive against Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Axis armies.
The surrender of Algiers came unexpectedly. It was reported only an hour and a half after an operational report from that area said strong resistance was still being encountered at all points.
U.S. Rangers – the American version of the British Commandos – led the attacks which were launched at 3 a.m. Sunday morning. Aided in some instances by paratroops and a small number of Marines and sailors, the U.S. infantry swept inland onto their objectives.
Carrier-based aircraft from the world’s greatest armada, comprising strong units of both the British and U.S. fleets, covered the landings. An overpowering umbrella of U.S. and Royal Air Force planes supported the ground operations.
Gen. Eisenhower, as commander of the U.S. units – it was emphasized that he was not an Allied generalissimo for the European Theater – told the French by radio that U.S. forces had no designs on their territory.
As the offensive started, Allied planes showered tens of thousands of leaflets on the countryside. The leaflets contained the messages of President Roosevelt and Gen. Eisenhower to the French people.
The Anglo-American naval force, reported in Axis broadcasts during last week to have assembled 125 vessels at Gibraltar, were under the command of Adm. Sir Andrew Cunningham, British naval expert who had distinguished himself in the Mediterranean earlier in the war.
At Algiers, Oran and along the Moroccan coast, Adm. Jean François Darlan’s Vichy French Navy offered exceptionally stiff resistance.
There was no indication that the entire French Fleet had entered into naval operations. Many of the Vichy ships heeded Gen. Eisenhower’s order and stayed at their berths, but at Algiers, light naval units sailed out of the harbor to be driven back by Allied warships.
Coastal defenses at Algiers sank two Allied light vessels in the harbor, but the big guns of the mighty British and U.S. warships – which included some of the greatest battlewagons afloat – poured punishment into the coastal batteries.
At one base, a troop transport was torpedoed as it neared its objective. The troops embarked in their small landing barges and headed for the African coast 120 miles away. They made the landing successfully, although some of the landing barges were unable to travel the entire distance and their occupants were taken aboard a destroyer.
Adm. Cunningham was anxious for reports on the Allied naval operations, particularly because of Vichy and Axis broadcasts concerning French naval strength at Dakar, in French West Africa, and a report that the French Home Fleet based at Toulon was ready for action.
The Allied offensive was the largest mass movement of troops since World War I and involved the successful transportation of the forces the longest distance in this war on this side of the Atlantic.
The transportation problem involved hundreds of Allied planes and thousands of tons of shipping.
The initial stages of the assault were carried out by U.S. amphibious troops under the canopy of Allied planes. Their immediate objective, outlined by their commanders, was to seize the vital airfields and control communication channels and roads.
I accompanied the American forces on one of the convoys. There were thousands of bright, eager tough lads waiting eagerly for their first offensive action.
Some of them were in the assault forces which paved the way for the landing of regular ground forces, including some of the finest units of the U.S. Army.
By Edward W. Beattie, United Press staff writer
London, England –
U.S. forces in Africa mopped up Algiers today and drove east toward the Tunisian frontier as powerful reinforcements streamed ashore at the Algerian and Moroccan bridgeheads already firmly in U.S. control.
U.S. forces, according to Vichy reports, swarmed ashore at Philippeville, only 100 miles west of Tunisia, and other unconfirmed reports said there had been landings within 60 miles of Tunisia, which is the backdoor to the Axis positions in Tripolitania.
Fanning out westward from Algiers, U.S. forces were closing in on Oran, which appeared to be the scene of some of the most severe action on the North African coast.
U.S. fighter planes were operating from French African airfields and massive reinforcements, including hundreds of U.S. bombers, were reported streaming up to the African shore.
British infantry was following U.S. assault forces ashore at many points. With the exception of French naval opposition and heavy firing from shore batteries, U.S. troops had not met with notably determined resistance.
A report from the African headquarters of Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham, British admiral in command of the joint naval force, said the only naval losses in the initial action were two small craft lost in forcing an entry into Oran Harbor.
Action off Casablanca
However, the Nazi-controlled Radio Paris insisted three U.S. warships were damaged by Casablanca’s coastal batteries. The French admitted they had lost severely in a naval action off Casablanca.
While Allied advices on the Moroccan situation were skimpy, Vichy radio reports indicated this key to the French Northwest African coast may be in imminent danger of falling to the Americans,
Vichy said that several U.S. regiments have driven to the environs of the town and it appeared likely that such Moroccan strongpoints as Agadir, Mogador and Mehdya are about ready to capitulate, if they are not already in American hands.
U.S. landings around Oran were said to be progressing and it was believed that, with Algiers safely in American control, heavy forces would quickly sweep westward to get control of Oran and the coast between Oran and Algiers.
The eastward sweep of U.S. forces had taken the American vanguard almost halfway to Bizerte, the Tunisian strongpoint directly opposite Italian-held Pantelleria and Sicily.
Bizerte is known to be strongly fortified and, in American hands, would provide a base not only for carrying the war to Sicily but also for advancing on Tripoli, 250 miles to the east. Such a drive would squeeze Rommel firmly in a nutcracker, since he is already racing westward with the British 8th Army chewing at his heels.
Bombers poised to raid Italy
It was understood that hundreds of Allied heavy and medium bombers are awaiting capture of eastern French African airdromes ready to open continuous bombing operations against Italy.
An Allied spokesman said U.S. and British invasion units had made four landings on the Atlantic coast, and had put troops ashore at Oran, Algiers and at several adjacent points along the Mediterranean coast. He said:
Operations are continuing throughout North Africa. There are no reports of American casualties, but it has been indicated they certainly are not heavy.
Airdromes seized early
The spokesman continued:
The landing fields were seized early and our planes were operating from them within a very short time.
There was no confirmation of German reports that the French Fleet had left Toulon, he said, and added it could not be speculated whether the French resistance at Morocco would be stiffer than it had in Algeria, where Americans took over the capital within 27 hours.
The spokesman said:
We anticipated French naval opposition to a greater or less degree. There has been some naval action and some air resistance – how great I do not know.
Vichy nearing crisis
Berlin radio, speaking for the Nazis who overran neutral Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium, fumed that the American action was “immoral” and a violation of “human rights,” while other Axis stations frenziedly tried to jam U.S. shortwave stations still repeating, at frequent intervals, President Roosevelt’s message to the French people.
As the Vichy French government moved to intern U.S. diplomats and newspaper correspondents, following its break of diplomatic relations with the United States, evidences filtered out that American move to protect the French Empire from the Axis might bring it to a crisis with the people of Metropolitan France it claims to represent. Already it had been compelled to prohibit all public meetings and to urge Frenchmen not to listen to foreign radio stations – meaning President Roosevelt’s message.
Immediate returns to Russia
North Africa is not the second front which the Russians demand, but, in the opinion of Allied military leaders, it is not only the best assistance possible at the moment, but promises immediate returns in a drain on German strength from Russia.
Italy is by far the weakest spot in the Axis – weaker even than Romania or Hungary. Her North African army is almost gone, her cities are being pounded by the RAF, her economic situation is desperate and her people have long been war-weary.
The Axis seems faced with a tremendous handicap if Hitler decides upon an attempt to defend the Mediterranean – the overwhelming Allied air force superiority in Egypt and Algeria. The air units assigned to the American end of the front are very large numerically. With the exception of a few squadrons in Sicily assigned to attack Malta and a purely defensive force based in occupied France and the Low Countries, Hitler’s only extensive pool of combat aviation is on the Russian front.
Alternative holds dangers
Hitler’s only alternative to withdrawing troops from Russia would be to pull some divisions away from the French Channel coast. That would be dangerous.
Hitler was given a splendid, fresh topic for his annual “Beer Hall” speech at Munich yesterday, but his oratory was definitely defensive. He cursed American “brigandage and gangsterism” and said he was willing to take his time subduing Stalingrad.
Tokyo parroted Hitler, declaiming the North African invasion constituted “international banditry.”
De Gaulle urges uprising
Gen. Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Fighting French, appealed for an uprising by the French Armed Forces and colonial officials in North Africa, where, he said, “enormous” forces were landing to make:
…our Algeria, our Morocco, our Tunisia the jumping-off place for the liberation of France.
Help our allies. Join them without reserve. The France which fights calls upon you.
If African drive succeeds, Hitler could lose by next summer
By William Philip Simms Scripps-Howard staff writer
The whole course of the war now hinges on the success or failure of the American Expeditionary Force in French North and West Africa.
If it succeeds, the Axis will be thrown out of Africa, Italy can be invaded, the simmering Balkans may rise, the Nazi effort in Russia will bog down and Hitler will face almost certain defeat, hardly later than the summer of 1943.
But the American job in North Africa is colossal. With gaps here and there, the Anglo-American battle line extends from south of Casablanca, on the Atlantic, along the coast to Cairo, a distance of 3,500 miles. That is farther than from New York to San Francisco.
Much depends on natives
Much, therefore, depends on the native populations, the French overlords and the extent of the collaboration between Vichy and Berlin.
Morocco is about the size of California. It has a population of 6,500,000. Algeria is much larger. It is about three times the size of Texas, with a population of 7,500,000. Tunisia, with 2,600,000 inhabitants, is a trifle smaller than Alabama. But French West Africa, of which Dakar is the principal port, has an area nearly two-thirds as large as the United States and a population of 15 million.
Here, then, is a total of approximately 30 million French colonials. They are excellent fighters. The Senegalese, Moroccans and Algerians were some of France’s toughest warriors in World War I. They were led, of course, by French officers.
Troops strength unknown
Just before the present war broke out, France kept about 90,000 troops in Algeria and Tunisia. These included the famous Foreign Legion, six regiments of Zouaves, six of Chasseurs d’Afrique, 12 of Algerian Tirailleurs, six of Spahis and six of artillery, engineers, airmen and so on. At Dakar and in Senegal, there were still more.
The armistice in June 1940 changed all this. At home, France was deprived of all but 100,000 troops for police purposes. She was allowed no military planes whatsoever. In the colonies, she was permitted to keep a few obsolescent “crates,” plus some troops, but the exact figures have not been divulged.
Hitler faces real problem
Now Hitler has a real problem. He must decide whether to trust Vichy or not. If he were certain they would not go over to the Allies, he would rearm France’s trained personnel, call up additional reserves and put them under the command of Marshal Rommel. Were he to do so, the Americans might not find the going so easy.
But there are reasons to believe Hitler will be afraid to rely too much on the French. They are reported to be anti-Axis and pro-American. Already Vichy has reported mutinies among its African troops, certain units of which refused to fight against the Allies.
Policy put to test
American policy toward Vichy was now to be put to the test. Ever since 1940, the President and State Department have consistently done everything they could to cultivate the friendship not only of the Metropolitan French but of the anti-Axis peoples of North Africa as well. We have sent fuel and foodstuffs to the natives and in return received a vast amount of information concerning Axis activities not only in Europe but in the French colonies.
Vichy’s policy, especially since the advent of Pierre Laval, has been to offset our diplomacy as much as possible. Vichy had allowed German “tourists” to infiltrate French Africa, especially around Dakar, Casablanca, Rabat, Oran, Algiers, Bizerte, Tunis and other key places. These “tourists” are known to have been Nazi officers and spies.
Now comes the showdown. We shall see whether Washington or Berlin has drawn the winning cards.
Roosevelt notifies ruler of U.S. intention to smash at Axis
By Merriman Smith, United Press staff writer
The U.S. government formally announced the breaking off of diplomatic relations with Vichy France as American invasion troops in French North Africa prepared to drive across Tunisia and attack from the rear the remnants of Axis power in Libya.
White House disclosures and statements by Secretary of State Cordell Hull at a press conference left no doubt that the unprecedented American operations started Saturday night were a prelude to efforts to smash the Axis in Africa and then to invade Europe.
In announcing the breach with France, formally ending relations between the two countries dating back to the American Revolution, Mr. Hull revealed that he had not waited for French Ambassador Gaston Henry-Haye to call for his passport. The document was sent to the handsome, dapper representative of Vichy by messenger.
The government, however, did not order the break first. It acted only after Vichy informed our representatives there that relations were at an end. Mr. Hull said the matter of a declaration of war was not presently involved.
Allied intentions to drive through Tunisia were confirmed by White House announcement that President Roosevelt had notified Tunisian authorities that U.S. forces would pass through Tunisia. This means they will drive eastward from beachheads in Algeria to catch Rommel’s forces in a nutcracker between the Americans and the British chasing him into Libya.
Vichy ships taken over
The sole Allied aim, Mr. Roosevelt’s messages said, is:
…the elimination of the forces of evil from North Africa.
Mr. Hull disclosed that the scope of the new operations is expected to assume even greater proportions. He said the present expedition is a preliminary step to an eventual campaign to come to the relief of all enslaved people on Europe.
Mr. Hull also revealed that the United States is taking into protective custody. Vichy merchant ships now in American ports. He said he thought the number was small. Earlier, the Treasury had formally classed Vichy France as “enemy territory" for all trade and financial purposes.
Washington (UP) –
French Ambassador Gaston Henry-Haye was not permitted to go through the formality of asking for his passport today – it was sent to him by messenger.
The messenger was the State Department’s Chief of Protocol, George S. Summerlin, who delivered the passport at the French Embassy before Embassy officials had been formally notified by Vichy that their government had broken off diplomatic relations with the United States.
Henry-Haye arrived late at the Embassy, driving up after Mr. Summerlin had gone inside. The two met on the porch as the American emerged. They looked at each other a moment, spoke a few words inaudible to observers, and shook heads.
Officials at the Embassy were stunned by press reports of the break. One attaché cried:
Mon Dieu! After 150 years of unbroken relations! It is too bad!
Diplomatic observers predicted some Embassy members would resign rather than return to Vichy France. Some Embassy personnel has resigned previously.
Bern, Switzerland –
Switzerland is taking over U.S. interests in France and is assuming protection of British interests there which were formerly entrusted to the United States, it was announced today.
London, England (UP) –
The German radio reported late today that rioting broke out in Paris this afternoon after the radical pro-Nazi Jacques Doriot called on France to declare war on the United States.
Doriot also called for immediate adhesion of France to the Anti-Comintern Pact.
Police and demonstrators were said to have clashed at several points in Paris.
The outbreaks occurred, it was said, when a procession tried to march to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Gen. Henri Giraud, who last spring escaped from a Nazi prison where had been jailed after his capture during the German drive through France in 1940, will be in command of all French forces in Africa who come over to the Allied side, it was learned today. Gen. Giraud yesterday broadcast to French forces in Africa urging them not to resist Allied landings.
Madrid, Spain –
Reports from La Línea said today that great activity was observed at Gibraltar all night and continuing into the day. Planes, warships and transports were seen arriving and departing by the hour. One report said a number of Allied wounded had been taken to Gibraltar, some by plane and some by boat.
London, England –
The Vichy radio claimed today that the French garrison at Port Lyautey, about 50 miles northeast of Rabat, Morocco, had pushed back U.S. troops from a nearby beach. The broadcast asserted that French soldiers taken prisoner by the Americans had been freed, and that control had been reestablished over transportation routes between Port Lyautey and Rabat.
London, England –
Two U-boats were sunk and several others were probably damaged by British naval ships in the five-day battle with enemy submarines in the North Atlantic recently, the Admiralty announced today.
Stockholm, Sweden –
The newspaper Allehanda reported the French Navy at the Toulon Naval Base, in southern France, is making feverish preparations for an attack on the British-American fleet in the Mediterranean.
Stockholm, Sweden –
A Swedish Telegraph Agency report from Vichy asserted that Algiers’ capitulation was due “to traitorous propaganda” and the refusal of French fliers to attack the American convoys.
11 months after Pearl Harbor, U.S. gets biggest ‘lift’ of war as Saturday night zero hour starts unfolding drama of historic weekend