It Was Seventy Years Ago Today…


No, not that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play-instead, November 8th, 1942, was the opening of Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa by the Allies.  It would be the first time that the American army would go up against the Germans, something the British had been doing there for some time themselves.

Stalin had been pestering Roosevelt and Churchill to open up a second front and relieve pressure off of his forces in the East.  Roosevelt and many in the American command wanted to invade Europe, but it was still only 1943, and the British were aghast at such suggestions.  And even though the Wehrmacht was in the beginnings of its decline because Hitler had spread his forces too thin, were the Americans too green to confront a combat-hardened German army in France?  Some would argue that the first major battle in which the Americans faced the Germans, at Kasserine Pass, would say yes.  Due to Kasserine, Eisenhower had to fire General Lloyd Fredendall and put his mad dog Patton in charge.  As Rick Atkinson has said of the American Army in his book An Army at Dawn, and I’m paraphrasing more than a little here, the Americans learned several things in North Africa, but mostly how to fight and how to fight with hate in their hearts.  Yes, the Americans were exceptionally green, but the eventual defeat of German and Italian forces in North Africa led directly to the invasions of Sicily and then Italy, freeing up the Mediterranean and opening the way for the invasion of Southern France in 1944.

And speaking of Rick Atkinson, I found this link to a speaking event he is giving in Ogden, Utah, this weekend:

‘An Army at Dawn’ Author’s Speaking Event Coincides with North Africa 70th Anniversary


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