Saturday, July 14, 2018

Articles: Operation TORCH, N. Africa, Nov. 1942 (Pt 6).

Allied Work Continues in North Africa.
News Clips from Nov. 13 - 16, 1942.

[Photo: WHITE BEACH on the bay of Mersa Bou Zedjar.
Photo Credit - From HyperWar - Page 197 Chapter XI

Introduction:

Canadians worked alongside British and American troops during the initial landings and later (transporting reinforcements and their supplies) in their 10 - 11 day stay near the shores of Algiers, Oran and Arzew in North Africa.

As mentioned earlier, they worked under pressure. Lloyd Evans (RCNVR, Combined Ops), working as part of the Central Task Force near Arzew (east of Oran) reports:

We spent the next week or so unloading troop ships, cargo ships and ammunition ships that had just come from the USA Other than the RN and RCN naval personnel this was strictly an American operation. It was strange for us to see the jeeps and trucks we took ashore loaded with cigarettes, gum and chocolate bars. One night we had to make an emergency trip ashore with a load of Tommy gun ammo for an American group who were almost surrounded by the French Foreign Legion and fast running out of ammo.

Link - LIFE ON A WW2 LANDING CRAFT

The Canadians in Combined Operations initially also worked without rest. When my father did get a break, he was sent to the Reina del Pacifico (nearby troop ship). Getting there was half the fun:

Our Coxswain was L/S Jack Dean of Toronto and our officer was Lt. McDonald RNR. After the 92 hours my officer said, “Well done. An excellent job, Harrison. Go to Reina Del Pacifico and rest.” 

But first the Americans brought in a half track (they found out snipers were in a train station) and shelled the building to the ground level. No more snipers. I then had to climb hand over hand up a large hawser (braided rope) to reach the hand rail of Reina Del Pacifico and here my weakness showed itself.

I got to the hand rail completely exhausted and couldn’t let one hand go to grab the rail or I would have fallen forty feet into an LCM bobbing below. I managed to nod my head at a cook in a Petty Officer’s uniform and he hauled me in. My throat was so dry I only managed to say, “Thanks, you saved my life.”

The Reina was a ship purposely for fellows like me who were tired out, and I was fed everything good, given a big tot of rum and placed in a hammock. I slept the clock around twice - 24 hours - then went back to work.

In seven days I went back aboard the Reina Del and headed for Gibraltar to regroup for the trip back to England. During the trip I noticed the ship carried an unexploded three inch shell in her side all the way back to England. (Page 25, "Dad, Well Done")

Below: Readers will find more news clipping from The Winnipeg Tribune (digitized), a link to more information about the U.S. involvement in the invasion of North Africa, and a few superior photographs from the Imperial War Museum.



Y WHITE BEACH, LES ANDALOUSES. Landing craft at left is an LCM.
Photo Credit - Page 201, HyperWar 

Please link to HyperWar for more information about landings in North Africa - Page 201 Chapter XI


Would the war be over in 1944? Opinions were formed based on Allied progress to date, including successes in North Africa:


The role of some members of the Canadian Air Force are mentioned in the following piece, and Canadians in Combined Ops, operating landing crafts, were part of the "largest amphibious operations" ever conducted:


In one of the previous posts related to my father's experiences in North Africa he mentioned the following:

At around midnight over the sides (of the Derwentdale) went the LCMs, ours with a bulldozer and heavy mesh wire, and about 500 feet from shore we ran aground.... There was little or no resistance, only snipers, and I kept behind the bulldozer blade when they opened up at us. We were towed off eventually and landed in another spot...

The 'bulldozer blade' made for good cover. So did the "wrecked Nazi truck" mentioned below:


More details about Canada's "hero of the air":


Submarines still were a menace in The Med, and in 1943 the menace forced Allied war planners to send convoys around the continent of Africa on their way to the invasion of Sicily (75 years ago on July 10 of this year):




The streets in some towns and cities along the north shore of Algeria were eventually calm and sailors went ashore on leave.

The next photo below is a screen capture from a video made in N. Africa in Nov. 1942.

The 3rd and 5th sailors from the left look very familiar. 



Could the 3rd from left, wearing a black sailors' cap, be Kermit Storey, Dieppe survivor? Kermit is in the centre of the front row in the next photo, from St. Nazaire to Singapore, Volume 1:


Though I am not certain of that match, I believe the 5th sailor from the left in the screen capture (wearing a white cap, and with a fresh cigarette in his mouth) may very well be P. Bowers, Canada (see below).

Five Canadians in Combined Operations. Photo taken in Glasgow, likely in 1942.
Back row, L - R: J. Dale, P. Bowers, Joe Watson (Simcoe, Ontario)
Front row, L - R: Chuck Rose, Chippawa, Ontario and Joe Spencer, Toronto.
Photo Credit - From the collection of Joe Spencer. Used with permission. 


P. Bowers appears in this photo, as well, sitting 2nd from left. S. England, 1943
Don Linder, Kitchener, first on left. Don Westbrook, Hamilton, first on right.
D. Harrison (my father), centre, sticking his head out from behind Bowers.
Photo Credit - From the collection of Lloyd Evans (RCNVR, Combined Ops)

And now, back to the news clips:






The next three photographs and captions, related to Operation Torch and North Africa, are from the Imperial War Museum, U.K.:

A12665. American troops making their way inland after landing at Arzeu.
Photo by RN Photographer F.A. Hudson. Imperial War Museum (IWM)

A12730. Landing craft on their way to the beaches.
Photo Credit - RN Photogr. J.A. Hampton, IWM.

A12732 General view of transports anchored off shore near Algiers. Two lorries
are parked on the beach, whilst two landing craft are beached and several more
can be seen between the beach and the large number of supply and troopships
stretching across the horizon. J.A. Hampton. IWM.


The following clip reveals more information about the variety and amount of supplies that the U.S. forces landed in North Africa, often on landing crafts manned by Canadians in Combined Operations:


The first action my father and his mates (RCNVR, Combined Operations) trained for was Dieppe - unbeknownst to them, of course. Known to them as Operation RUTTER (scheduled for July, 1942; cancelled on the day of the raid) and then as Operation JUBILEE (scheduled for Aug. 19; "it should have been cancelled too" said my father), their experiences would never have been forgotten. More details about the raid are supplied below, about three months after the event:



[Editor's Note: I only added the above clip because I got an angel food cake pan stuck to my head as a child and a local metalworker had to be called to remove it.... with metal cutting shears.]





Does the next photo look familiar? It should. See top of page!

WHITE BEACH on the bay of Mersa Bou Zedjar, North Africa.
Photo Credit - A.P. Wirephoto, The Winnipeg Tribune...
And from HyperWar - Page 197 Chapter XI



A connection to London, Ontario is found in the next clipping, along with a connection to the Canadians in Combined Ops (i.e. "Mac" Ruttan):




More news to follow from North Africa.

For an earlier post, please link to Articles: Operation TORCH, N. Africa, Nov. 1942 (Pt 5).

Unattributed Photos GH